Urban sketching with watercolour pencil

Thanks Tina for the question about using watercolour pencil on location as an urban sketcher.  (in comparison to drawing at object in front of me, often with a more controlled situation and time) 

I had a look though my sketches that I have completed out and about on location.

Many are with ink only or ink and then watercolour pencil added as highlights. The times I  draw with watercolour pencil  I use the same technique as  still life at home. 

It all depends on the time available and situation . I have selected a few sketches completed on location in watercolour pencil. 

If there is a major colour in the building I am going to sketch I use the same technique as at home with an object in front of me. That is, to  draw the outline,/ structure in the colour of the building. I then use this become the colour as I add water to the page and drag the colour across the page.

The examples i have included in this blog range from really quick – capturing the moment to longer sketches of 1/2 hour to an hour. I hope that this gives you idea of how I use watercolour pencil on location. 

Very quick sketches


OR use the sky (it it is blue ) as the outline, Sometimes the sky is the feature – the fact that the sun is shining and it is a beautiful day. The Sydney Opera House (above) and Cruise ship in the Harbour (below) were very quick sketches. 



Thirty minutes to one hour sketches











Longer on location drawings 

Newcastle wharf graffiti – sunburnt and dehydrated but I wanted to finish it




Barcelona in the residential backstreet in the city. The day after Urban Sketchers Symposium 2013 . I  sat quietly and happily drawing 

Please let me know if this has been of assistance or if you have any other questions

One thought on “Urban sketching with watercolour pencil

  1. Tina M Koyama

    Thank you so much, Alissa! I really appreciate the time you took to put together such a thoughtful response. It’s very interesting to see how you adapt the style to whatever time is available and complexity of the subject. I enjoy seeing the full range of the types of sketches you do. I guess I am doing my own version of varied approaches. I use colored pencils for spot color (like a coloring book with lines drawings), more shading with color when I have more time, and when I know I have as much time as I want, I try to take a more painterly approach (using pencils only and no ink lines, and filling in more of the paper with color). Thanks again — very informative as well as inspiring!

    – Tina

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