• Peter at Start Bay Notebooks

Freehand Sketching Principals

How to relax, go with the flow and draw what you see.

Sketching from Start Bay Notebooks
Freehand Sketching

Welcome to my world of freehand sketching. I have a style of impressionistic drawing, looking to capture the mood or spirit of a place rather than the precise details. I tend to draw urban scenes in one or two point perspective, but mostly one, as can be seen in the examples above. That aside, the reason for this form of sketching is to be free from the constraints of what were expected to do at school.

"It's as much about a free mind as a free hand."

My style of sketching lends itself to people that don't have a lot of time or resource It's quick to do and self contained so no great studio set up is required and there isn't much in the way of deliberation over realism and fine detail. I only aim to create a feeling of a place, an impression rather than an exact representation.


What to Use?
Sketching from Start Bay Notebooks

Anything at all, anything that you're comfortable with, pen, pencil, procreate etc. I use different forms of sketching, having previously been a fountain pen and watercolour sketcher. More recently I have been using a hybrid method of sketching, a process I have developed that combines true analogue sketching with digital output, but use whatever you want.


But whatever you use to sketch I think it's much easier to be looking and quickly observing rather than sketching from the imagination.


You can interpret, leave things out, change a few things but it is better to come from something real. And this can be from on location or from photographs. For me, in terms of time, travel limitations and preferring to sketch at night, I tend to sketch a lot from photographs. There are some things to bear in mend with this but the biggest one is that it is allowed!


There are also a few simple things to bear in mind in terms of a kind of framework and the rest can just be intuitive sketching of what you see, not strict adherence to straight lines.


“I sketch, I don't draw - and I remind myself of this every now and then.”

Sketch -

definition: Noun - 'a rough or unfinished drawing or painting, ' Verb - 'make a rough drawing of'. Additionally, my definition would also include freedom and fun. Sketching should be about freedom as opposed to drawing which feels, to me, like it has more of a sense of obligation for a finished product that adheres to rules. If I look through an artists sketchbook I often prefer these sketches to the finished product they were used to create.


What to sketch?

As I said, I think it's easier to sketch what is there. You see details that you wouldn't have included from your imagination. And there are lots of things that you see - food, everyday objects, these are fine and good for practice. But I don't sketch these because I have an obsession with buildings and the stories they tell - someone designed them, someone built them, someone uses them. Buildings have a sense of time and place and context.


Sketching from Start Bay Notebooks


Drawing in one and two point perspective

I draw in one and two point perspective, mostly one, as it guides the eye through a natural path into the scene. And, depending on the perspective and eye level, it can create a sense of being there, within the story.


I intend to do a few blogs on sketching in one and two (and more) point perspective so there is more to come on this. One thing about it is that it is a lot easier than it may look, and a lot easier than some people would lead you to believe.



Urban Sketching

One thing just to clear up is that I am not an urban sketcher, even though I do sketches and the subject matter is often urban. I very much agree with the fundaments of it but there are clearly a couple of things I don't adhere to i.e. 'draw on location' and 'truthful to the scenes'. I often don't draw on location and I add, take away and adapt the scene however I want to as, ultimately, the sketch will be transported in to another time and worldbuilding dimension.


I love the sketching and the enjoyment of doing this is an end in itself. But I am, by nature, a storyteller and the sketches, when interpreted and done the way I wanted had become my creation. So I wanted to put them into the context of a world that was also of my creation. This is why I created my Worldbuilding Journal - I talk more about this in my blogs about worldbuilding.

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