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The Art of Urban Sketching



As hobbies go, urban sketching gives you a lot of bang for your buck. With nothing more than a piece of paper and a pencil, you are equipped to start drawing your city or village, the people who live there, and the things that are happening in it.

gabriel campanario sketching

Becoming an Urban Sketcher

No extravagant tools or formal artistic training is needed to draw on location. Let your hand interpret what your eyes see, as you explore your city, making marks on paper.

The Urban Sketchers' Manifesto

  1. We draw on location, indoors or outdoors, capturing what we see from direct observation. Urban sketching is a raw and pure form of art that requires drawing from life, rather than from photographs or the imagination. In most cases, urban sketching is practiced on the street. Some sketchers lean up against a tree or the corner of a building or sit on a stair or bench. Others bring along a folding stool. In daylight or at night, whether it's hot or cold, in rain or sunshine, urban sketchers draw what they witness.
  2. Our drawings tell the story of our surroundings, the places we live, and where we travel. Sketching the urban environment produces more than a hand-drawn representation of a given place. Behind each drawing is a story of what was happening before our eyes: a building being torn down, a business closing its doors, or an encounter with a stranger in the subway. Sketches become first-person accounts of life as it happens.
urban sketching tips

The beauty of sketching is that, almost by definition, a sketch can be completed as simply and quickly as you like. It can involve making a fifteen-minute sketch of the view from your window or whipping out a collapsible sketching stool and spending an hour or two capturing the way the light hits that beautiful old church. In either case, sketching stops the clock and lets your mind turn off all the noise.

Images and text excerpted from The Art of Urban Sketching by

Gabriel Campanario

Coming this Fall: two new handbooks on urban sketching by Gabriel Campanario!




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An empty canvas is a living wonder, far lovelier than certain pictures.

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