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15 mins

Five Minute Sketching: Architecture
Now that you have drawn a single tall structure, it’s time to tackle
a whole skyline. Surprisingly, this is often easier than drawing a single building. Because you are normally at a greater distance from your subject matter, the degree of detail visible is much less.
The less detail, the faster your sketch will be.

Posted by Creative Publishing international Published See Creative Publishing international's 96 projects » © 2021 Liz Steel / Apple Press · Reproduced with permission.

You Will Need

  • How to make a drawing. Simple Skylines - Step 1
    Step 1

    Tips to get you started

    Start with the sky shape Drawing the sky shape really is a powerful tool when sketching skylines. Draw the profile of where the tops of the buildings meet the sky, and then project your lines downwards.

    Daniel Green, 12th and Marquette skyline, Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA, 2010.
    Daniel made this skyline appear so beautifully simple by just drawing the overall profile and indicating the main pattern of the façades
    of each building.

  • Step 2

    Look for pattern Once you have the profile, look for the dominant direction of the pattern on each building’s façade. The goal is to create variety between buildings, so there is a degree of interpretation involved. If the building is made up of lots of individual squares, draw a grid that represents the pattern and not the isolated parts.

  • How to make a drawing. Simple Skylines - Step 3
    Step 3

    Don’t stress accuracy When sketching such
    a complex scene within a limited time frame, don’t worry too much about drawing each building in its exact position. Look for the iconic or landmark buildings in the composition and concentrate your efforts on them. It’s OK to compress a long, flat scene in order include the important bits!

    Liz Steel, City skyline
    from Clarkes Point,
    Sydney, Australia, 2016.
    I started with the profile, compressed the view to include the bridge and then painted simple grey shapes to add depth to the buildings.

  • Step 4

    Minimum palette If you are working quickly, you won’t have time to accurately represent the colour of each building, so simplify by using a limited palette. Start with blue, beige and grey, and then subtly adjust those colours to get variation. This will also make your sketch look more harmonious.

  • How to make a drawing. Simple Skylines - Step 5
    Step 5

    Paint the shady side An alternative to adding colour to your skyline sketch is to simply add grey to the shady side of each building. This will quickly give depth to your skyline.

    Rene Fijten, Hell’s Kitchen, New York, USA, 2015.
    Although a more finished sketch, Rene has used quick techniques, such as concentrating on the main components and only suggesting building details.

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