10x10 USK workshops: Building Portraits and People & Spaces

March 27, 2017 | 2 Comments

On Saturday I taught the first of two workshops as part of the 10 x 10 USK programme here in Sydney – a series of 10 workshops to celebrate the 10 year anniversary of Urban Sketchers (click here to find out more).

The workshop was called “Building Portraits” and we were located at Railway Square near Central Station. I have only recently ‘discovered’ this busy part of Sydney as a great sketching location, and it was a perfect venue for this workshop as it gave the participants lots of options.

LizSteel-10x10USK-Building-Portraits-P4We have had a LOT of rain lately in Sydney so I was incredibly thankful that we had a nice dry morning.

It was a short workshop of 2.5 hours but the work produced by everyone was outstanding and we had a lot of fun.

(I don’t know why people think sketching buildings is boring – we all had a blast!)
What is my seven step system? Well, it is a little hard to explain by just listing the steps, but in essence, it involves working in a disciplined way from the overall shapes/volumes to structure and then to details.Here is my quick demo sketch with a few notes on the side.

The seven steps ensure that you don’t get lost even with the most complicated buildings. I describe the seven steps in detail in my SketchingNow Buildings online course (returning in a few months, so make sure you sign up for the waiting list if you are interested) and a simplified version in my book 5-minute Sketching Architecture in the section called ‘Set out the basic structure’ on p20-21.

After the workshop most of the group had lunch together at Spice Alley. It was great – both the food and the company – and it was lovely that the programme for the day allowed for a 2 hour time slot of lunch before the afternoon workshop began.


At 2pm Richard Briggs‘ workshop “People and Spaces” began inside the grand concourse of Central Station. I was in a supporting role (taking photos) so I didn’t actually have time to do the exercises, but I did get a few exciting new ideas just from doing the observation part, listening to Richard talk and seeing the work produced. Basically he is interested in carefully observing how people use space and then finding ways of recording this usage with just enough detail to describe the location. His drawings are mainly simple line drawings and sometimes a little abstract but with a really strong message. I really love them!

It was fun to see people sketching in busy places we would not normally choose to sit and sketch!

A lot of sketchers either draw individual people with a hint of the context, or draw the spaces and include people mainly for scale, but Richard’s approach is all about describing the usage of a space. I am definitely in the second group of sketchers (people as scale), so I am now thinking about how to be more intentional as to how I ‘populate’ my sketches so that they more accurately describe how people are using and interacting with the space. I didn’t do any sketches that responded to the exercise, but I did do this quick scribble sketch to record a few ideas I had from the afternoon.

After Richard’s workshop a few of us went to a local cafe to chill out for an hour and it was a great way to finish off a big day of sketching and exchanging of ideas.

Thanks to everyone who was part of it and especially to Jane Blundell who has done an incredible job organising the whole programme here in Sydney. (Note: all the workshops are fully booked now.) Thanks also to Richard for taking photos during my workshop.


  • Looks like a perfect day of sketching with both classes. We haven’t had any of our 10 x 10 classes here in NY yet…still waiting to see what we will have.

  • Patricia Walters says:

    Was lucky enough to get to two of the workshops, Jane’s and Liz’s. Both were a blast, I learned so much from each of them. Thanks to all involved, let’s have some more….

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