I just want to share with you a few thoughts about my sketch of the Main Quadrangle Building at Sydney Uni from Saturday’s Urban Sketchers Sydney event. I’m always analysising my sketches, looking for ways to improve all the time, and I thought it would be fun to describe my personal review of this sketch.
I was attempting to sketch a challenging building from a challenging angle and just after I started, a fellow sketcher came up and sat beside me. We then started chatting and as a result I went into ‘reflex sketching mode’. Over the years I have trained myself to rely on my reflexes when I am sketching and chatting at the same time and to suspend any judgment of the end result. Note: Developing this ‘reflex sketching’ is one of the reasons why I sketch so much as it works best when my eye-hand coordination is good.
On this occasion I had just started with a painted shape when the conversation began. I wasn’t concentrating 100% on my work nor was I thinking about perspective, but I was aware that there was something tricky about relationship between the top of the elements A and B and the top of the tower C. Note: this photo was taken from a standing position and not the exact view I had sitting on the ground.
Because the main tower is in reality a lot taller than the side tower A and the gable end B, I was fighting my ‘object brain’ at the time, and had to switch off from the conversation for a few moments to concentrate on getting the relationships correct between A, B and C.
UPDATE: If you want to see a photo of the building check out this image.
This markup of my sketch shows the overall shape that I painted and the correction I made to this tricky area. I don’t think I made A and B tall enough even with this correction, but at least the final version is better than my original attempt.
I thought I would also check to see how accurate my sketch was in terms of perspective and was very pleased to discover that the tops of the gable ends more or less aligned, and most of my lines were evenly converging. There were a few wayward angles, but as I was sketching very loosely without thinking about perspective at all, that is to be expected.
So what’s the point I’m trying to make?
Although I didn’t use a perspective setup while sketching, I have such a working knowledge of it (due to my architectural background and my obsessive sketching in the last 10 years) that it has been second nature for me. So even when I am working loosely with shapes, this feeling of perspective helps with accuracy and speed (or in this case conversation distraction). The important point to note is that even with this knowledge of perspective I still had to rely heavily on checking relationships between edges from my particular point of view. Also my angles aren’t perfect but they are good enough!
I wasn’t born with this knowledge of perspective, it is something that I have developed and worked on for years. So if you are a beginner sketcher, and don’t understand perspective, don’t beat yourself up, it does take time and diligence. Just take it one sketch at a time. But most of all I would just encourage you to take it slowly and work on your observations skills and draw slowly, one edge at a time!
This approach to sketching architecture is what I taught in my recent SketchingNow Buildings course. Check here for more details.