Sketching People, Places, and Landscapes

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Course No. 4098
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What Will You Learn?

  • numbers Develop your drawing skills as you learn to capture the world around you in expressive compositions.
  • numbers Learn how to sketch four separate skies-morning, neutral, stormy, and skies with fluffy clouds-each with its own unique challenges.
  • numbers Master three simple steps for quickly sketching scenes with accurate perspective, lifelike proportions, and beautiful color.

Course Overview

Take your sketching skills to the next level with this comprehensive, colorful, and constructive course that teaches you to capture the conditions around you as you experience a compilation of some of the best sketching courses Bluprint has to offer, led by four renowned artists.

Taught by accomplished artists, the 34 lessons—divided into five modules—of Sketching People, Places, and Landscapes will teach you to:

  • Sketch lively urban spaces pulsing with movement, providing step-by-step guidance for drawing bustling streets, impressive buildings, and more.
  • Simplify any cityscape to capture the character of your favorite urban scenes as you get tips to sketch building façades, textures, windows, and much more.
  • Develop your drawing skills as you learn to capture the world around you in expressive compositions.
  • Sketch breathtaking landscapes with confidence using fundamental pen, ink, and watercolor techniques.
  • Master three simple steps for quickly sketching scenes with accurate perspective, lifelike proportions, and beautiful color.


Whether you’re an aspiring artist or already adept in the field, you’ll pick up incredible techniques that can be applied in almost any artistic endeavor. Starting with essential sketching techniques and taking you through the complicated concept of capturing perspective, each module is chock full of advice from renowned expert artists, whether you want to learn how to capture a building’s façade from an architectural illustrator or discover the four different skies and how to sketch them from an award-winning water color professor, and so much more.

Module 1: Essential Techniques for Sketching the Energy of Places
Simplify city scenes to create vibrant sketches with video lessons from Urban Sketchers correspondent and professional art instructor James Richards. Start with how to select your scene and draw believable crowds with proper proportions. Next, Jim will share his urban sketching tips for breaking down large buildings into basic shapes and textures. Ready to tackle placing and drawing trees, cars, and other urban features with confidence? Let Jim be your guide. Then, bring your work to life as you discover how to illuminate your sketches with watercolor washes and use opaque colors to refine the details. Jim will even help you use a step-by-step process to avoid being overwhelmed by complex city scenes.

Module 2: Sketching the City in Pen, Ink, & Watercolor
Build the skills you need to draw cities beautifully. With Urban Sketchers blog correspondent Shari Blaukopf as your guide, you’ll start with how to use thumbnails to simplify cityscapes quickly and choose a compelling composition. Kick off your urban sketch with Shari’s tips for drawing any building’s facade by blocking in big shapes and roughing in smaller ones before adding texture and detail in ink. Next, breathe vibrant life into your work by recreating a variety of building surfaces in watercolor. Ready to add key details to your sketches? Find out how to draw doors, windows, people, foliage, signs, and more. Move on to giving your city neighborhood greater form and dimension by refining the light and shadow in your work. Plus, Shari will discuss how to sketch breathtaking urban panoramas.

Module 3: Sketchbooks: Drawing the Everyday
Become a better artist with a portable, versatile companion—your sketchbook. Artist Paul Heaston shares an inspiring range of ways to use pencil, ink, and watercolor in your own on-the-go studio. Explore the world of sketching for beginners as you learn to accurately depict subject matter in dimensional space. Discover an array of texture-building ink techniques, and find out how to use this bold, impactful medium to express light and shadow. Infuse your work with color and character with Paul’s pro tips for painting smooth watercolor washes, and then combine what you’ve learned with valuable lessons on creating eye-catching compositions. Whether you want to depict people, architecture, or nature, you’ll gain the confidence and creative skills to fill up your sketchbook with artful, evocative work.

Module 4: Sketching Landscapes in Pen, Ink & Watercolor
Capture breathtaking landscape scenes with skill and ease. Learn how to sketch landscapes in the field or from a reference with step-by-step guidance from artist and teacher Shari Blaukopf. Start with how to select the right supplies, find the focus of your sketch, and orient your composition. Next, learn to paint the sky in all its glory using wet-on-wet paint application, mark-making techniques, and tips for creating perspective. Begin to bring your landscape features to life by breaking down the scene into manageable shapes. Once your shapes are sketched, you’ll learn to add textures and details that will make your scenes jump off the page. Then, Shari will help you build value to bring greater depth and interest to your sketch. You’ll even take a peek inside Shari’s sketchbooks and get tips for capturing the same subject in a variety of fresh and illuminating ways.

Module 5: Perspective for Sketchers

Easily sketch urban spaces and building interiors in perspective with urban sketcher and renowned instructor Stephanie Bower. Start by expanding your knowledge of foundational perspective sketching concepts. Build on these basics as Stephanie shows you how to simplify a building’s façade so that it’s easy to draw in detail. Gain confidence capturing different points of view as you learn how to draw from aerial, eye-level, and worm’s-eye vantage points. Ready to make complex scenes simple to sketch? Find out how using three easy steps. Move on to using watercolors to recreate the light, shade, and shadow of your scene. Then, put your new skills to use sketching everything from interior spaces to bustling outdoor scenes.

In addition to hours of close-up instruction and essential tips from the experts that will bring your work to life, you’ll receive step-by-step techniques and challenging mini-projects. Each module includes the most important aspects any artist needs to know when it comes to realistic and vibrant sketching, ink, and watercolor works. If you love to draw on location, tell a story of your surroundings, and record the time and place you observe with a vibrant passion, this module will enable you to hone your skills and create fast, bold sketches with whatever tools you have on hand.

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34 lectures
 |  Average 22 minutes each
  • 1
    Finding the Perfect Place
    Meet James Richards and begin by exploring the ingredients that make a place perfect for sketching. From graphic elements and repetition to color and movement, learn to see a space with an artist’s eye. Plus, learn to select a “stimulus-rich” environment, perfect for capturing energy. x
  • 2
    Drawing People in the City
    Public spaces wouldn't exist without people. Learn some basic building blocks for drawing believable people and crowds. Learn proper proportions and understand how to create a sense of depth within a crowd using your eye level line, diminishing size, and overlapping. Learn a quick shorthand for capturing people on the move. x
  • 3
    Buildings as Backdrop
    Learn to draw large, impressive buildings without getting overwhelmed by the architectural details. Follow along as Jim takes you through drawing Denver's Union Station by first breaking the building into basic shapes and then simplifying details into a visual texture. x
  • 4
    The Entourage
    The entourage is the supporting cast that brings visual energy to a scene. In this lesson, learn to draw trees and cars step by step. Then, look for elements that are unique to your city or space. Plus, learn how to position elements within your frame to better serve the drawing. x
  • 5
    Adding Color
    Color can really bring your sketches to life. In this lesson, you'll learn to make strategic decisions about where to add darks and colors. Use watercolor washes to create a vibrant look to your drawing. Then, refine the details with more opaque colors. x
  • 6
    Hitting the Streets: On Location
    In this lesson, hit the streets and put it all together. Get over your fears about sketching in public as you join Jim on Denver's 16th Street Mall. Learn helpful hints and tools and get tips on determining where to start. Plus, get a step-by-step approach to bringing a lively city scene to life. x
  • 7
    Thumbnails & Composition
    Meet your instructor, sketch artist, and graphic designer Shari Blaukopf, and learn how to compose your sketches on the page. Shari shows you how to assess the scene in front of you before roughing in valuable details in the form of quick, informative thumbnails. x
  • 8
    Drawing Façades
    Whether you're sketching skyscrapers or a small strip of row houses, Shari shows you the best techniques for breaking up buildings into manageable proportions and basic shapes. Learn how to subdivide your sketch before starting to add specific textures and details in ink. x
  • 9
    Urban Texture
    Add a vibrant splash of color to your work as you integrate watercolor into your sketches. Shari walks you through the steps needed to capture the look of a wide variety of building materials ranging from stone facades to metal awnings, and she'll help you bring greater dimension to your scene. x
  • 10
    Doors & Windows
    Windows and doors add a great deal of character to each city neighborhood, and Shari shows you how to observe and capture those unique details with flair. Learn how to study the structure of each door and window, add color washes to enhance areas of light and shadow, and explore ways to depict reflections. x
  • 11
    Details That Give Cities Life
    There's no shortage of fascinating details when you sketch in an urban area. Learn how to incorporate a symphony of people, pets, foliage, power lines, and much more into your scene without overwhelming your drawing with minutiae. Shari also shares professional tips on how to render signage and lettering. x
  • 12
    Light & Shadow
    Delve deeper into ways to depict light and shadow, which can transform an ordinary sketch into a true work of art. Shari helps you identify the best ways to record shadow patterns as you sketch, and how to mix and apply paint to create transparent shadows or large, dark shadows. x
  • 13
    Panoramic Cityscapes
    In the final lesson, step back from the immediacy of street scenes to gain a larger view of your city or town. Shari shares helpful techniques for creating panoramic scenes, beginning with identifying the foreground, middle ground, and background elements and finding key focal points. x
  • 14
    Choosing & Using Sketchbooks
    Meet your instructor, sketch artist Paul Heaston, as you discover the joy that sketching can offer and how it can improve your skills by leaps and bounds. You'll begin with an overview of Paul's favorite sketchbook and media choices before loosening up your drawing hand with some contour drawings. x
  • 15
    Sketching with Pencil
    Indulge in one of sketching's most joyfully simple forms: carrying a pencil and sketchbook into the field to explore your surroundings. Paul explains graphite grading scales and shows you how to use this forgiving medium to refine your skills in perspective, distance, and more. You'll learn how to create emphasis and dimension using a variety of line weights and textural details, gaining confidence as you practice. x
  • 16
    Pen & Ink, Light & Shadow
    Gain the courage to leave your eraser behind and dive into ink sketches. Paul shares professional tips for developing realistic light, shadow, contour, and value using a variety of pen types and sizes. Beginners and expert artists alike will learn valuable hatching techniques as Paul demonstrates remarkable quick and effective shading methods. x
  • 17
    Color Your World with Watercolors
    Add color and character to your sketchbook with a bright and versatile watercolor palette. Paul demonstrates ways to apply washes and control your paints using helpful tips that will ensure a fun sketching session. Whether you're using color to fill large spaces or simply accentuating details, Paul's techniques will help you apply watercolor masterfully. x
  • 18
    Sketching on Location
    Pack your bag for the great outdoors as you employ Paul's tips for sketching comfortably and quickly. You'll learn what tools you'll need and anticipate the creature comforts that will come in handy for sketching sessions before assessing your locations for light and shade. Next, discover pro tips for accurately capturing both the permanent and fleeting objects in your scene, including parked cars and people who are strolling by. x
  • 19
    Composing in the Field
    Explore ways to use a viewfinder and your imagination to create a unique and compelling composition for each sketch. Paul shares important considerations for your location and field of view, as well as valuable composition tips that can transform a seemingly simple sketch into a dynamic work of art. Work with horizontal, vertical, cropped, and panoramic scenes as you create thumbnails to take each composition for a test drive. x
  • 20
    Location Sketching Process
    Examine the construction of a sketch from start to finish as you block in the simple shapes and values in your scene. Next, work from the foreground to the background as you develop basic forms, training your eye to see what's really there as you work. You'll learn how to infuse character into your sketch with meaningful details, resulting in sketches that range from the whimsical minutiae of your everyday life to evocative snapshots of your favorite memories. x
  • 21
    Shari's Sketchbooks
    Meet Shari Blaukopf, expert sketcher and graphic designer. Shari begins by introducing the tools of her trade: the various sketchbooks, pencils, watercolors, and brushes she takes with her everywhere. You'll also get to see a few of her incredible sketches. x
  • 22
    Join Shari in the field as she scouts the beautiful Colorado landscape for a perfect scene. Begin with a quick compositional sketch to help determine the orientation of your drawing. Then, see how to create a value sketch, a helpful roadmap to completing your final drawing. x
  • 23
    Look out the window and you’ll see that no two skies are the same. In this lesson, Shari shows you how to sketch four separate skies—morning, neutral, stormy, and skies with fluffy clouds—each with its own unique challenges. Plus, learn how to use different marks to create depth in your drawings. x
  • 24
    Big Shapes
    With your skies painted, it's time to work on the large middle ground and foreground shapes. Shari revisits her value sketch of the breathtaking Flatirons to add in sun-drenched rock formations. You'll also discover Shari's method of illustrating distant mountain ranges and large foreground trees. x
  • 25
    Enliven your scenes and give them a sense of perspective by adding texture. Watch and learn Shari's effective method of creating a variety of textures. Then, discover how to delineate foreground elements before examining the effects you can create using both wet and dry brushes. x
  • 26
    Adding Depth with Value
    Learn how to add depth to your sketches with value. Using her Flatirons drawing as an example, Shari shows how to make jagged rocks even craggier while maintaining variety in the darker tones. Plus, practice Shari's technique of adding contrast to the foreground with ink. x
  • 27
    Expressing Unique Moments
    Discover the benefits of working with a limited palette. Shari shows you her process of using three colors to enhance one of her completed sketches. In addition, you'll learn expert tips on sketching everyday scenes in new, exciting ways. x
  • 28
    Measuring Accurate Proportions
    Meet architectural illustrator Stephanie Bower and start learning how to apply basic perspective principles to your sketching. Ease into the process with head-on elevation views. Stephanie shows you how to quickly and accurately measure an object's proportions before blocking in simple shapes and details. x
  • 29
    Building a Sketch in Layers
    Whether you're sketching the Taj Mahal, an ornate chateau, or buildings in your hometown, Stephanie shares tips and tricks for effectively capturing the scene. Learn how to break a complex facade into basic geometric shapes. Then, discover Stephanie's technique for adding multiple layers of detail. x
  • 30
    Concepts of Perspective Space
    Deepen your understanding of perspective as you practice sketching locations from aerial, eye-level, and worm's-eye vantage points. With Stephanie's expert guidance, you'll see how to achieve a sense of depth from a variety of perspectives using size, spacing, and vanishing points. x
  • 31
    Perspective Angles
    Feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of a scene? Stephanie demonstrates how to develop the basic foundation of a sketch in three easy steps. You'll also get detailed explanations on how to identify and work with one-point and two-point perspectives. x
  • 32
    Using Watercolor
    Once you've finished your sketch, enliven your work by adding watercolor. Get tips on selecting the right paper, pencils, paints, and brushes; then, learn simple techniques for mixing colors while creating a classic color wheel. Plus, find out how to effectively portray shade and shadow with watercolor paints. x
  • 33
    Location Sketching: Interior
    Go on location with Stephanie and practice drawing interior spaces using the techniques you've learned so far. You'll get step-by-step instruction along the way, from blocking in basic shapes and measuring for proportion to sketching smaller details and adding watercolor to complete the look. x
  • 34
    Location Sketching: Streetscape
    Move outdoors and apply your perspective skills to a bustling streetscape. Stephanie guides you through the process as she demonstrates how to determine the vanishing point before sketching in the basic shapes of buildings and alleyways. Add layers of shading and detail, then apply watercolor for striking results. x

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Your professors

James Richards Shari Blaukopf Paul Heaston Stephanie Bower

Professor 1 of 4

James Richards

Professor 2 of 4

Shari Blaukopf

Professor 3 of 4

Paul Heaston

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Stephanie Bower, Architectural Illustrator
As an artist, James Richards crosses many creative boundaries. His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and he’s a designer, an author, and an Urban Sketchers correspondent. Jim’s book, Freehand Drawing and Discovery, won a National Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. He teaches urban design and drawing at the University of Texas at Arlington as well as in international workshops.
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Shari Blaukopf is a graphic design teacher, illustrator, and the cofounder of the Urban Sketchers Montreal regional blog. Shari has a BFA from Concordia University with a specialization in graphic design, but her true love has always been watercolor painting. Her watercolor paintings can be found in corporate, government, and private collections in both Canada and the United States. Shari is passionate about sharing her love...
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Paul Heaston received his MFA in painting from Montana State University. He’s also a correspondent for, an internationally recognized website that showcases visual journalism. You can find some of Paul’s work on his sketch blog, Three Letter Word for Art. Paul has been teaching college-level drawing and painting since 2005.
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Stephanie Bower is an architectural illustrator, a teacher, a watercolorist, and a correspondent for the blog Urban Sketchers. After working as a licensed architect in New York City, Stephanie gravitated toward a career in architectural illustration and concept design. She has taught architectural sketching at Parsons School of Design, the University of Washington, and Cornish College of the Arts.
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Sketching People, Places, and Landscapes is rated 4.5 out of 5 by 24.
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Great entry My 12-year-old artistically-inclined daughter zipped through this course and was completely inspired. Began walking around the neighborhood with her sketch book and new watercolor pens.
Date published: 2020-07-30
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent Opportunity I bought the course for my wife, who totally ignored it so I thought I'd give it a go. What a great course, I've learnt so much in such a short time. I do regularly replay different lectures to firm up on some of the taught concepts but as these are so enjoyable its not a chore. If only I'd been taught art by these people when I was at school I'm sure my appreciation for the subject would have been high on my list of favourites. I highly recommend it for the novice and for people with flair. Its a great opportunity to learn and appreciate a new skill.
Date published: 2020-04-19
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Always had an interest in drawing/sketching. This course definitely made my decision to pursue this as a hobby.Now all equipped and sketching(and also adding watercolors to them!)
Date published: 2020-03-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Every morning Im up and watching this video.I love all the teaching artists.I want all their opinions about how people that want to learn can attack a project with a personal touch, be creative and make it beautiful !
Date published: 2020-02-08
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I started Urban Watercoloring just a few months ago. Never took any official training. Then I came across this set of videos produced by The Great Courses. All I can say is ‘Amazing!’ There is so much knowledge buried into these videos that for a serious beginner like me won’t have to look any where else. And above all these are made available for very reasonable cost. Two thumbs up!
Date published: 2019-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course for any teenage artist! I purchased this for my age 14 artist granddaughter to keep her busy for the summer. At this point she has completed 4 of the 34 lessons. Everyone is very excited to see how her drawings have improved. She loves it! It has gotten me a few hugs and lots of "thank you Grandpa". This course is a must for anyone with artistic talent.
Date published: 2019-07-05
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I love this course. I have always had to be precise and exact in my art work. This course is teaching me to give the impression of people and objects. Completely out of my comfort zone but fun.
Date published: 2019-07-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course for learning! Excellent lectures, and I enjoyed seeing their well-illustrated drawings. If you think you might be interested in sketching or watercolor painting, this course will make you excited about getting started and doing it!,
Date published: 2019-04-03
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