Category Archives: cars in the city

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.


5nov2016-3 5nov2016-5 5nov2016-6

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.

. 22oct2016-motorclassica 22oct2016-motorclassica322oct2016-motorclassica2
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

USK Day 1 Cars in the city LAPIN & GERARD MICHEL

Cars in the city

Thursday morning with Lapin and Gerard Michel Read more About the instructors

This workshop  was originally to be co-taught with Florian Afflerbach (Flaf) , well known as a  sketcher of cars who sadly passed away earlier this year. A tribute wall of sketches of cars in fish eye style was at the Benzie Building at Symposium

Part 1 Car Portraits (quck sketch)


Gerard explained the elipse of wheels and axels – going through the axis of the wheels . Of course it all makes sense now !



The first part of the  Workshop was to sketch a car from a distance of about a metre or so, maybe a little more. We sat on the sidewalk or near a car and sketched three quarter view. The instructors  provided an example of how to work out the shape using simple boxes and we worked from that . I have no idea what I  wrote  here at the end of the page or what I was trying to make a note of. I think we had about 10 minutes each sketch.

and then the rain got heavier…so we moved

Part 2 (detailed sketch)

We found a nearby carpark and choose the car of our choice . I tried to find something interesting or obscure ( does nobody drive a gogomobile or a P1800S or Old Bentley to work ?) but a nice shiny black AUDI A5 was sporty enough for me. A hour here.


I sat at the far end of the carpark and was adding  lines to the page. After a while, Lapin arrived and said no – move closer, move closer to the car. I was really close – but you can see how it changes the view of the car.

We were encouraged to start with the headlight and then draw organically through the reflections in the light (including your self if you were there). I found this very difficult without the context of the rest of the car, so sketched it in pencil. There is an immense amount of comparative measuring involved , as nothing your mind tells you is correct actually is!

I am so proud of this sketch, I cannot believed that I produced something so amazing that is outside my comfort zone. It is a character and almost a monster car. Each time I look  at it I amaze myself .


We gathered to discuss what we had learned, but the parking attendant in charge of the car-park turned up and moved us on as it was a private carpark. oops .

Part 3 Cars in the City

We walked around the corner and found a sheltered area outside an office for the final part of the Workshop (and asked permission to use it). It had a row of parked cars and the city skyline (thanks to some building demolition). This final part was about drawing cars in context with the city around them. Gerard explained how to add depth by adding the foreground anchor to help understand the perspective of the scene. Cold and raining . an hour here.



I was more comfortable with this scene. I enjoy drawing cars. But the challenge here was how and what to emphasize. I decided where to add colour right at the end of the session.

dscf1199 dscf1204 dscf1205


  • The perspective of an object can dramatically change as you get closer to it or you change your angle or height.
  • Draw what you see and the perspective can figures itself out
  • Dress warmly as you are going to sit on the ground outside