Sydney Opera House in Edges, Shapes and Volumes

June 28, 2023 | Leave your thoughts

Recently I did an edges, shapes and volumes study of the Sydney Opera House(SOH) because I’m gearing up for a Group Self-Paced Version of my Foundations course starting next week 5 July. This will be a chance to work through the lessons with a group over the next 12 weeks and I’ll be hosting a bonus Q&A Livestream in the middle of the course.

Feeling Edges, Abstracting Shapes and Constructing Volumes are the three ways of seeing that I use for all of my sketching. I might not draw in a Constructing Volumes way all the time, but I nearly always think about volumes at the start of my sketch.

These concepts form not only the basis of my Foundations course but my other SketchingNow courses as well (in particular Teacups, Buildings, Edges, and Watercolour On Location).

In this case…

  • Feeling Edges involved drawing with a continuous line and switching from drawing ‘the shells’ and the glazing of the SOH to the steps and to the people on the steps.
  • The Abstracting Shapes sketch started with the negative shape of the sky, I then merged the shapes of the shells and steps and finally added shadow shapes.
  • Constructing Volumes normally involves seeing the underlying volumes (boxes) and drawing them first. There are no boxes in this scene but I did start by looking at the geometry of the shells and then drew the major divisions.

And then in the fading light, I did this sketch at the top of the steps of the building – thinking about shapes and edges. There are so many cool views of this building and doing this sketch made me realise that I should visit the building and walk around it more often!

But back to Foundations…

The secret to becoming a confident urban sketcher is to be well-grounded in the three ways of visual thinking: feeling edges, abstracting shapes and constructing volumes.

The in-depth instruction in Foundations will give you a system to follow and will help you to see the world differently, in a way that will make it much easier to sketch.

So whether you are starting out or simply want to improve and sketch faster, there is plenty in this course for you.

In the Foundations course you will learn how to:

– build a solid foundation with all the essential skills you need in order to start sketching
– develop the most effective techniques for sketching out on location regardless of the subject matter
– improve your ability to sketch faster and more spontaneously

You’ll be part of an inspiring community of sketchers from around the world who will share their unique styles. You’ll never lack inspiration!

You can use these techniques for any subject matter, for a variety of different sketching styles and any level of experience.

Find out more about Foundations here

Note: If you have purchased Foundations at any time you can be part of this group event – simply visit the Foundations classroom (via My Account- My Courses at and follow the instructions on the course homepage.


If it’s a good fit for you, I’d love to see you inside the Foundations classroom during this Group Event!

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