Many peeps from Virtual Sketchwalk (Facebook group)
are having a bit of a nutty right now.
It has to do with a Paris walk, and wanting to try Notre Dame, and being a bit overwhelmed! It is a complex building, no doubt.
So I am offering tips, things I’ve thought about teaching or have taught in past,
and if even one of them allows anyone a way into complex scenarios, I am happy!
I start with a study… One thing I do sometimes, either in my head
(remember, architect here so I see things you may not)
or with a pen on a drawing…. I study the shapes….
What lines up? Proportions. I look for important lines and shapes,
and do it right on a print of the image from Google Streets.
Then I start on my page looking for the base line, which can be the horizon line….
in this image it is good for us because there is an edge (the retaining wall) that goes almost straight across about a third of the way up the paper.
I did a pencil sketch of roughly what I saw in terms of the lines of the building I discovered in the study above, lining up in relation to the base line.
*and crapity crap crap, i will now forever see the spider in notre dame!*
Then I inked right over the pencil in the same manner,
with a fatter pen so I could NOT get caught in details.
(I used a JOWO Medium nib on a cheap 750 Jinhao pen, if you know what that is…
or a medium sharpie or some other not-fine point pen.)
I began low and worked up, wanting to get the easier stuff below — a bridge, a big retaining wall, and trees — because frankly some of the building is hidden by these things.
Then I started with what protrude toward us — and gradually moved back.
The flying buttresses and long arm of the church that sits out on the island,
followed by the cross piece (the church is shaped like a cross in plan) with the spire
and two towers behind. Not a lot of detail, but you know it is Notre Dame.
In this blocky brush drawing use the same basic approach
with a waterbrush filled with diluted waterproof grey ink.
I start with blocked shapes in the same basic manner,
and darkened or built up the solids, sometimes adding thin lines for texture,
and because it is waterproof the layers build up color.
BTW I swear by Pentel Aquash waterbrushes, buy them in packs from Amazon,
because the points and the threads last a long time.
So now I will take you through one that you absolutely can do…
It cuts through proper details, mistakes are hidden, it explores volume and
you can get a handle on even a complex building!
You will need a pen that holds water-soluble ink,
not waterproof, unless you skip the last step.
Start with a point on one side of the horizon, and draw your base line.
Try not to pick your pen up too often, and let this be a scribble contour drawing.
Start making your base shapes… some volumes to scribble into!
What do you see in the building on the drawing when you studied it?.
Keep going adding basic lines as you see them, and let it be wonky and
just look at it as a study in the contours of the BIG SPIDER!!!
*now i am doomed for nightmares on spider buildings…*
As you go, some things will darken with scribbles,
and use that to begin to add value to the line drawing.
*i hoped that i would soon not see the big bug eyes…*
I added just a bit more line to this one before I decided to take
the big plunge and possibly ruin the whole drawing…
it’s only paper, a drawing in my sketchbook, so wht?
Waterbrush, touching the lines lightly and not overdoing it, letting some white breathe through the trees, and I kinda like the end result, a wet scribble!
Tell me what worked for you!
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“Memory is more indelible than ink.”
Anita Loos, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
“I think not….”
Me… why I journal!
Hahnemühle Nostalgie Sketchbook,
Jinhao 750 with JoWo nib and Super5 Darmstadt ink,
Note: now you can get Super5 inks in the states from Blue Rooster:
Support them so we always have it, as Amazon comes and goes!
Diplomat Aero with Robert Oster Fire Engine Red ink,
Noodler’s Lexington Grey Ink in Pentel Aquash waterbrushes.
I started a Facebook group page (you must join to view) to allow everyone to share their virtual sketches, and also where we will, from time to time, take virtual sketch walks together. Come join us On Facebook if you are inclined!
If you want to know more about what a virtual sketchwalk is review my first post.
There are a few more notes/pointers on our first walk through Laguna Beach, California.
I also created an accompanying Flickr group!
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I teach architectural sketching,
art journaling (art+writing), creativity, watercolors.
That annoying loud-mouth editor/critic in your head? GONE! How great would that be?
Dang it Kate! Now all I can see is the spider! I never saw it before! Ack! Great post BTW! Love you! ♥
Thanks for this post, Kate! And I can’t not see the spider in your sketches. I’m hoping that I won’t see alien sized spiders and insects in other old buildings! I hope to try out your scribble sketch soon.
I know — terrible thing to have crawling around in my sketchbook!