Urban sketching is on the rise! There are many amazing artists who have been around since the start, however, there are new sketchers emerging every day who blow my mind.
I have watched the scene grow into a hugely engaged (and talented) group from across the globe.
These are seven of my favourite urban sketchers to follow. They were either responsible for getting me interested in urban sketching or are more recent discoveries that have blown my mind with their unique style:
- Alicia Aradilla
- Ian Fennelly
- Liz Steel
- Felix Scheinburger
- Tomas Pajdlhauser
- Danny Hawk
I recommend following these urban sketchers for both inspiration and to learn from. Many of them offer in-person workshops or online courses. Now has never been a better time to learn from some of the best in the world.
You may have heard of some of these artists but there may also be someone new for you to discover on this list too.
Alicia stole my heart the moment I saw her artwork, it’s gorgeous. I first noticed the Spanish artist on YouTube. She has a sketching video from Iran and I had just returned from travelling there myself.
Alicia has a very bright bold style. She is great at simplifying scenes into basic shapes. She tends to start her sketches with a faint yet accurate pencil outline. To achieve straight lines, she uses an old credit card or store card (probably wiser) which I think is a great little travel hack. Who has space for a proper ruler in their bag?! I tent to like wonky lines myself (adds character) but I think if you are going for a crisp effect like Alicia, then this is a great tip.
Alicia then applies watercolour, she likes working wet in wet a lot. However, while waiting for one area to dry she will start painting another section which does not touch the wet area. This is essential to ensure your paint does not blend into each other where you don’t want it to.
Once she has finished with the painting she goes in with her Lamy Safari fountain pen (she uses an ‘F’ nib) and draws some lines for extra weight and contrast, sometimes the paint is not always dry and sometimes the ink seeps in a bit but this is an intended effect.
Another little trick Alicia uses is a white Posca pen. This is an opaque paint pen and is great to add some little highlights over the top of the painting. Be careful not to overuse though!
She has amazing video content on her YouTube channel and a beautiful feed on Instagram, and just recently I have become a Patreon supporter as she does demonstrations and I just had to see her painting process. Check out her Patreon here: https://www.patreon.com/aradilla
Alicia also has her very own Domestika class which you can check out here.
I have been a fan of Ian’s for a long time. He is an artist and urban sketcher from Liverpool, UK. He seems like a real character and super fun to be around. I often think he translates the scenes he paints on location through the lens (looking glass??) of Alice in Wonderland. Check out his Instagram feed and tell me if you agree!
Ian uses a Tombow marker to map out some features of his sketch. He then puts some paint on in various areas, followed by building some further layers with Tombow markers in shades of grey and then adding details with Uni Pin fineliner pens.
Ian also teaches workshops in-person and online – you can check out his Urban Sketching for Beginners course here.
Did you know I have a book?
The 60-page PDF ebook contains over 130 of my ink and watercolour illustrations from the last 3 years of my travels through 15 countries across 4 continents!
Liz, based in Sydney, Australia, is one of the first artists I discovered when I stumbled upon the emerging urban sketching scene. Liz is an architect-turned-full-time-sketcher. She is an inspiration to me in multiple ways but I adore her loose style and her daily teacup sketches.
Liz is a regular fixture at Urban Sketching Symposiums each year and also teaches in-person workshops both in Australia but overseas too, such as in Italy. Liz offers a variety of online courses on her website. I love her 5-minute sketching architecture book. I come back to it time and time again.
Lapin was another urban sketcher I discovered almost immediately He is from France but based in Barcelona, Spain. I absolutely adore his style. He is so distinctive, you can recognise an illustration by Lapin straight away. His dress sense is also distinctive – floral shirts and hats!
His sketchbooks are old accounting books from the 1970s which he finds at flea markets. Apparently, the paper is very high quality. You can see the vertical red and blue lines run through his drawings.
He illustrates cars utilising interesting perspectives making the object so much more dynamic. Lapin also uses perspective in interesting ways to capture architecture, distorting the tops of buildings to fit his sketchbook page.
Felix is an illustrator and professor based in Berlin, Germany. I am completely enamoured by the urban sketching style of Felix Scheinberger. It’s a style I love so much yet cannot even fathom how he does what he does. It’s so loose, colourful and messy but depicts the subject matter so well that you can tell this is an accomplished artist. I find my illustration style is so laboured. I’d love to feel the freedom and confidence I see in Felix’s work.
I don’t know too much about Felix’s process. I would love to attend a workshop with him. You need to email him to get on his newsletter to find out when his workshops are. I’m envious of his students at the Münster School of Design!
UPDATE: Felix has a Domestika course! I could not contain my excitement when this class was released. He goes right from the beginning too, I highly recommend checking it out here.
Tomas Pajdlhauser (a.k.a Captain Tom)
What first drew my attention to Tom, an urban sketcher from Canada, are his sketches of motorbikes. He has such an amazing way of capturing objects and scenes in a scribbly loose manner. I’m obsessed.
Tom is big on motorbikes and co-owns a skateboard shop in Ottawa and likes to travel. On his website, he documents some of the road trips he has taken on his motorbike.
Some of Tom’s most recent travels took him to Palestine where (I believe) he was teaching kids skateboarding but also documenting the trip in his sketchbook. He also adds in photographs to his sketchbook spreads which he takes on an Instamatic camera. This adds a bit of a travel journal flavour to things.
Tom offers in-person workshops in Canada and the US. He is absolutely one of my favourite urban sketchers and I hope he will produce an online course in the near future!
Danny is an American living in Germany. I adore his vibrant bold illustrative style. He uses composition very cleverly, framing his sketches in such a beautiful way. He uses negative space to outline elements such as people or vehicles. In this way, he is adding those notes to his sketches whilst not actually drawing them.
Danny’s style is so clean and well-presented. He has sketchbook flip throughs on his YouTube channel as well as few free tutorials that I highly recommend you check out. This is an interesting video of his process, its in German with English subtitles.
Danny tends to map out his sketch very lightly in pencil, making sure he has proportions and perspective correct before moving onto a Platinum Carbon fountain pen to add lines. You’ll notice he doesn’t try and make his lines perfect, wobbly lines can actually add a lot of character to the drawing.
Danny erases his pencil lines after he has completed in his pen drawing and then moves on to painting with watercolour. He uses Schminke watercolour paints in a small paintbox that can fit 10-15 pans, depending on whether they half pans or full pans.
Danny paints in a shaped sky and to fill in excessive white space, he uses dots of watercolour to give some visual interest before moving on to add some lettering to indicate where the scene is.
Danny also offers in-person courses, predominantly through the company Artistravel International, you can see the next few coming up here.
I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the work of some of my favourite urban sketchers. As mentioned above, most of them have books, online courses, in-person workshops, Patreon channels and free content available so you can elevate your urban sketching skills along with them.
And if you have made it this far through the post, I thought why not be a little cheeky and include me as an urban sketcher to follow, ha!