The other day I sat down on a ledge of the Queen Victoria statue in Sydney and proceeded to do a fun detailed sketch of the magnificent Queen Victoria Building (QVB). I’ve been wanting to sketch from this spot for ages… but this particular ledge is normally occupied.
I’ve sketched QVB a number of times (it has its own tag here on the blog) but I’ve never done a dedicated sketch of the facade.
As it’s so complex I wasn’t sure that I’d have the energy for all the details so I started in a loose way with the plan of mapping out the whole quickly and then working in a way that I could stop at any time.
Being able to see the structure in this way is one of the most important skills to develop when sketching complex buildings.
I generally recommend that sketchers take their time when doing this stage – do some sight measuring and make sure that all the main elements fit within the overall configuration. This is what I teach in detail inside my Buildings course.
However, with my experience and love of sketching architecture in a fun and lively way, I did my pencil setup for the QVB quickly and loosely knowing that I would be able to refine and adjust if needed when I started drawing in ink.
And yes, I decided at the outset to do a little bit of curved perspective and ’embrace the wonkiness’.
As you can see from these two photos, for each section I still worked structurally – making sure all the main components were drawn before I started with the details.
Shortly after finishing this first section of the building I suddenly got very excited because I discovered some very cool aspects of this building design.
I know that some people think buildings are boring subjects to sketch… but I absolutely love sketching complex buildings as I feel connected to the mind of the architect.
In this case, I started geeking out when I discovered the variations in the designs of the curved windows. In particular the configuration of the moulding above the arches and the number of shafts (round columns) in each pier. And how the two are related!
I found myself thinking about this particular aspect of the facade for the next few days so I did the following diagram to record my discovery!
This is the sketch at the 25-minute mark once I had finished this step. The fude pen I was using wasn’t flowing well, so this pause gave me the chance to get my other fude out.
I got a bit distracted at one point by something that was happening around me (the joys of urban sketching) and this momentary lapse in concentration led to a fairly big mistake (ie. a big mistake for me!) I wasn’t able to correct it so I just kept working. Of course, if I hadn’t mentioned my mistake, I doubt any of you would have noticed it! 🙂
Another 25 minutes of line and colour…
While I was working on this sketch I had two thoughts:
1. This was very reminiscent of the pattern study exercises in my Teacups course. I’ve often said that teacups and complex buildings are very similar!
2. Once you have a system in place, sketching a complex building is so much fun and remarkably forgiving!
I’m increasingly getting excited about the Live Version of my Buildings course – starting on 4th October.
I have so many tricks and techniques to share that will change the way you see buildings and which will enable you to sketch any building (no matter how complex) with confidence and in your own style.
Note: If you have purchased the Buildings course at any time in the past – you can join this Live Version for free. Simply go to the the Buildings classroom via My Account – My Courses at SketchingNow.com and follow the instructions on the course homepage.