Quick Sketching Tips: Brisbane Customs House

October 12, 2018 | 4 Comments

Here is a quick sketch of Customs House, Brisbane from a few weeks ago.I have had three short trips to Brisbane recently as part of a series of workshops I have been teaching for BVN Architecture.

I did this sketch in order to test the scene for a potential workshop demo and exercise and it only took me a few minutes to do.It turned out to be a good example of a number of very important aspects of my approach to quick sketching.

When I need to sketch something in a short period of time, I always simplify the scene to one object with a little context rather than drawing the whole scene.

I also reduce the hues and leave lots of white space. Reduce the hues is one of my really important quick sketching mantras that I haven’t shared much publicly before, but I devote most of a lesson to it in my SketchingNow Watercolour Online Course.

An expressive fast tool helps as well. In this case it was my Sailor fude pen filled with De Atramentis Urban Grey Document Ink. A pen with a variable line seems to free me up to work faster.

I think it’s really important to have a designated fast tool in your sketch kit – a ‘go-to’ tool when you only have a limited time period to sketch. What this tool is, changes from time to time, and sometimes I have more than one, but I always have a fast option in my kit.

I have lots more fast sketching tricks and tips, but these are three common ones.

Do you use any of these techniques?



  • heather fisher says:

    Beautiful! Just wondering if you are sketching first then adding the watercolor?

  • Bruce Martin says:

    I love to sketch and carry two Sailor fude both with “refillable” cartridges – one with Noodlers Black waterproof the other just “ink”. There seems to be no way to swap to another colour eg grey, so there must be a preparation before going out to sketch which in my case, holding only two fude, would require replacing the cartridge and washing out the pen. Do you have a comment as to how you manage a change to your ink selection?

  • Tina Koyama says:

    “One object with a little context” is probably my most-often-used fast-sketching technique, along with a small page. Using a brush tip marker, I can usually do a sketch in about 10 minutes or less that way. No color at all, which takes away a lot of time-consuming waffling about which colors to put where. I like your limited hues idea — a couple of colors are probably all you need in just about any urban scene.

    – Tina

Leave a Reply