Category Archives: cars

sketching cars

I draw cars – not very often, but I do draw cars. In the last few weeks I have attended a few events which provided the opportunity to practice and enjoy this.

2016 Historic Sandown

On Saturday Bernard Hornblower (sketcher) and Adam (photographer) went to Sandown Motor Racing for the Victorian Historic Racing Register (VHRR) raceday. It was a  full day of sketching from 9am til 4pm in chilly (but not rainy) conditions. VHRR  cater for people interested in cars from the early 1920s through to the racing and sports cars of the 1990s. We could walk in amongst the pits and sit close to the cars to sketch and to talk to the owners, support crew (ie their friends and family)  and the officials at the track. There were lots of interesting people with great tales to tell. And they are all passionate about their car ! It was exhilarating to hear the noise and see these old cars racing around the track, especially if I had been sketching it previously in the day.


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Drawing cars is a challenge.

In general, cars in the street in everyday life are hard enough.  You think you know what a car looks like ! but when you sketch you really need to LOOK at it .  Look at  where the wheels are  – how far from the door, how close to the edge of the bonnet…

For me, everyday sketching of a car, building, people, objects or my surroundings comes from practicing and thinking about the following concepts:

  • measuring the relative distance between parts of the object
  • measuring comparative sizes within an object
  • drawing a line down (or across a page) to see what it intersects

 Australian International Concour’s d’Elegance & Classic Motor Show

A few weekends ago I had the opportunity to sketch at Motorclassica Australian International Concour’s d’Elegance & Classic Motor Show in Melbourne at the Royal Exhibition Building with a few Melbourne Urban Sketchers.

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These are the from that day.

Sports cars are even more of a challenge than everyday cars,  as they present unusual shapes: from the large, sweeping and aerodynamic to the small and angular.

My method on the day is to make marks in pencil on the pages to show where the car is going to go on the page.  I put in some basic shapes and lines (using the concepts I mentioned above)  then I take out the ink pen and just start to draw !

Regular readers may recall the recent workshop I attended at Urban Symposium  in Manchester on Drawing Cars in the City. What did I learn and put into practice at these recent events? The concept of the angle of the axels and wheels ! It is small but important. A drawing of the body of a car can be wonderful, but if the wheel and tyres are at the wrong angle it stands out straight away. I try to avoid drawing an entire circle or ellipsis of the wheel and give the impression of it (and then let the viewer’s eye and mind fill on the rest of the detail).

I have my other car drawings together in an album on flickr Here are a few of themscan0018 10jun15-carsscan0005

Australia Day long weekend sketching

January 26th is Australia Day and this year there is a holiday on the Monday, so a long weekend for many of us. It was a big weekend for sketching, which also means catching up with lots of friends. The sketching community is full of friends.

This sketch was actually done just before the long weekend, but these ferries are an iconic part of Sydney. I had half an hour to spare and stood at Circular Quay sketching as they arrived and departed. I was sketching the one at the bottom of the page and a man stopped to say “that’s fabulous”. I thanked him and said – they keep moving so quickly. He replied that this one would not go til 12 (in 10 min) as he was the ferry driver !

Saturday 25th January  International Sketchcrawl
What is it ?  SketchCrawl is a World Wide event: having people from different corners of the world join in a day of sketching and journalling ALL ON THE SAME DAY !!!  and then, thanks to the Internet, having everyone share the results on an online forum.
It was started by Enrico Casarosa, San Francisco, California in 2006. Sketchcrawls happen every couple of months on a date named on the forum. Then on the forum, organise your city/town/village Sketchcrawl and then post the drawings and comment on others. It is so fascinating to see what and where people draw. Just create an account and you can comment
Today there were a few Sydney Sketchers – I sketched with Chris, Lisa and Erin. Wendy & Rod were close by, but we missed them. Our little group had lots of catching up to do . As usual, I journalled my day, starting with the trip into the city. I decided to continue my ferry theme and catch the ferry in, instead of the bus.


I spent over an hour on this sketch of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. It is always a challenge.  I spent some time setting up the lines in pencil, just a few lines in pencil. It took some time. Once I was happy with the basic lines and curves I started sketching with my Lamy Safari Joy Ink pen. I really wanted to concentrate on the features of the areas that were closest to me. I kept adding lines and shading. I stopped when I thought that I was just adding lines for the sake of it and making it muddy. Chris and Lisa also did the same angle and had the same issue . The area at the far end of the bridge was all in  shade and it was difficult to know when to stop and where to add the dark shades. We each had a different approach. Have a look at their sketches and painting and the other Sydney ones here

 Seizing opportunities. We were walking to find some lunch and saw a wedding. So I did this 5 minute sketch of a wedding at the Park Hyatt on the waterfront.  I started with the heads at the moment of the bride and groom kissing.  – just a few lines. Then drew the lines of their bodies and the stances. Then sketched in groomsmen, who were standing still, the bridesmaids, the other figures. Then they all started to move and hug. I filled in the ink after.


After lunch I got a bit silly and took out a larger spiral book cartridge paper sketchbook and played with drawing bigger and in colour and later added the sunglasses at home. I quickly learn that my watercolour pencils can get limited realistic effects on cartridge paper. I cannot get the detail, and it does not like layers or lots of water. But drawing bigger was fun and next time I will do it on watercolour paper.


Australia Day Sunday 26th
There are so many activities in the Sydney in the city and elsewhere on Australia Day. I could have been very distracted to sketch all the way on my 30 min walk to State Library where Sydney Sketch Club were meeting at 10am. In fact if I had not been determined to be there, I would not have made it past Hyde Park.
My first distraction that I did stop to sketch was five minutes from home. The  MS ColourDash. A 5km fun run raising money for multiple sclerosis. At each 1 km a coloured powder is thrown at the runners/walkers. They start off in white t-shirts and 5 colours later are a riot of colour all over. Love it. Maybe next year I will enter.

Although the weather was not great – 24 degrees and not a lot of sunshine and a shower or two, the city had a happy buzz to it, and I did not even go near the actual Harbour events.  Everyone has Australian flags that were given away. Lots of families and people of all ages and plenty to do and be entertained by.  


Sketching with a group of people is so interesting, as they each choose different subjects, and even if they sketch the same subject, no two drawings are alike. That is the excitement and joy. There is no right or wrong. Everyone does their own thing and there is always something to learn from other people. I was able to show how I use watercolour pencils to some girls who were watching me draw my baked bean toastie. I met some lovely new sketchers. 

Macquarie Street is closed to traffic from Hyde Park to Circular Quay. There is a large display of historic and car clubs, as the cars are able parked all the way don the street and people wander in and out, taking photos and talking to owners. It was damp when we started and a little showery so I found the nearest shelter with Rod & Chris. That was overlooking the Rolls Royce club. It does seem strange to draw American cars on Australia Day. Last year I drew MG’s !  But I always make sure to draw some of the people and events of the day as well.
Cars are very difficult to draw, I know that and yet I only draw them once a year. I need to practice more. It is not as if there are no cars around the rest of the year !



 End of the morning ! then off to an Australian Day lunch with a large group of (non sketching) friends