In this post I show the making of an urban landscape illustration through freehand drawing and with traditional tools, using the mixed media technique with graphite, dry soft pastels and ink pen.
The following images show the photo of the development stages of the drawing of a street in the historical district of Pelourinho, in Salvador da Bahia (Brazil).
13 steps of urban landscape illustration
1 – First, sketch with graphite only the main contour lines of the major elements of the composition, using a free and fluid line, typical of gestural drawing.
2 – Then, colorize the facade of the larger object using the soft dry pastel bar, leaving the pigment spread in parallel and equidistant lines. It is not necessary to be rigorous with the precision of the colored strokes.
3 – After that, spread the colored pigment uniformly using a piece of soft toilet paper or absorbent paper towel. This way the pastel pigment has more adhesion to the sheet. You should use this technique several times to color the entire illustration.
4 – With graphite pencil HB draw the internal details of the facades, such as doors and windows. In this first phase of general construction of the drawing, it is not necessary to use a ruler. With a light stroke of gesture drawing, the illustration begins to take some form.
5 – In addition, paint the color of the sky with the soft dry pastel, with parallel lines in the intention of leaving the colored pigment on the paper. After the sky, repeat the same procedure with the colors of the other building facades and the floor.
6 – Moreover, with the soft absorbent paper technique (as already shown in figure 3), you spread the colored pigment on the surface making circular movements and pressing the paper with more intensity to fix the colors on the paper.
7 – Besides, over the color base, mark more strongly and accurately the lines of doors, windows, lamp, flowerpots, and all architectural decorations.
8 – In addition, reinforce the colors of the buildings and the sky using another layer of dry pastel, in order to homogenize the completed surface and give more intensity to the colors.
Urban landscape illustration detailing steps
9 – Now is the time to draw the lines with more precision and using traditional instruments such as a ruler or setsquare. At this step it is important to use a fine graphite line (0.5 mm), and pay close attention to the details, because this will be the definitive drawing of the image.
10 – After that, trace the drawing with ink pen (0.1 mm) over the graphite lines. You can use a ruler or setsquare to obtain the precision of the lines.
11 – Moreover, clean the highlighted areas using the kneaded eraser, which will remove the excess pastel in the light parts of the drawing. The intention is to give a more realistic effect to the surfaces.
12 – Then, with the help of a soft graphite pencil (example 6B), it is important to mark the dark parts of the sky and accentuate the shadow gradients on the other surfaces of the buildings. In this way, the dry pastel is integrated into the graphite. To blend the pigment of the colors with graphite, you can use a brush or a soft piece of paper.
13 – In this step you need to be very dedicated to the details. Lastly, draw with graphite the stones of the floor, the plants and the details of the walkway. Then, use graphite overlapped with colors to make the shadows projected from the objects (window frames, plants). In addition, reinforce some darker lines with ink pen. Finally, you have to protect the drawing using a matte spray fixative.
As it was shown, the dry pastel technique was used in a fully integrated manner with graphite. It is possible to paint first and draw the contour lines afterwards, overlapping the graphite with the dry pastel, or also do the reverse – first the pastel, then the graphite.
This technique uses the method of overlapping layers, starting from the lightest layer to the darkest and most defined layer. You can add as many layers as necessary until you get a satisfactory illustration result.
To read this same post in Portuguese, please click here.