Urban Sketching in Burano: Watercolour Line and Wash

Watercolour Mentor
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Hi and welcome to Urban Sketching in Burano: Pen and Watercolor Essentials. We've all been to places that stick with us, whether it be a new city, town or even a nearby park. It's easy to take photos, but how can we preserve that memory in an easy, unique way?

In this class, we're going to learn how to draw and paint a lively Burano urban landscape. By the end of this class, you'll feel confident to draw and paint your very own urban landscape from any photo.

We'll go through simple sketching techniques in pencil and eventually pen. This will form the foundation for our final illustration and painting.

Once you're happy with your ink drawing, it's time to add some life to it. Splashes of colour add personality and depth. I'll walk you through my simple two-step process to paint anything. It's easy. First, you paint lighter areas such as the sky or sunlight on the buildings. Wait for it to dry, then add the darker shadows and colours. Anyone can do it, you included!

In this course, I will cover basics such as:

  • how to draw simple to complex buildings with a pen, and how to use watercolour to imply light, shade and mood with a variety of colours.
  • Materials - what paints, paper, brushes and pens you will need
  • Hands-on pen sketching techniques - follow along and sketch with me. Learn how to hold your pen for different effects, draw basic lines and shapes, and how to create depth and light/darkness in your drawing.
  • Understanding light sources and how to paint realistic shadows.
  • How to sketch a subject easily by simplifying an urban landscape into basic shapes, and using a combination of loose and accurate drawing styles.
  • Hands-on lessons on essential watercolour techniques such as wet-in-wet and wet-on-dry.
  • How to paint skies, buildings, land, figures, shrubs, and other objects.

So join me in this class - I'm excited to get started, and to share with you my knowledge on creating an amazing urban landscape sketch.


Your class project is to draw and paint your own urban landscape! This can be the scene featured in this class or based on one of your own photographs or scenes you have observed outside.

You can also refer to the scanned drawing/painting templates attached below which will allow you to trace the drawings if you choose to do so. I recommend drawing each scene freehand. Drawing is an important step in improving your painting skills. This provides you with an opportunity to compose and plan your painting. Once you've finished the drawing, use the watercolour steps and processes included in the class demonstrations to complete your painting.


Use any permanent black ink pens, watercolour paper, and brushes you have available. I recommend:

  • Lightfast/Permanent ballpoint ink pen (0.5mm nib) or pigment liners
  • 100% cotton watercolour paper or sketchbook
  • Watercolour Brushes - mop brush and a variety of round brushes for detailing.
  • Pencil
  • Artist-grade watercolour paints (red, blue, yellow, white gouache, neutral tint)

Getting Started:

Review the class demonstration videos first. You can also download the tracing templates to transfer over your drawing if you wish.

Looking to sketch and paint another scene? Research some free reference photo websites, pick one of your own reference photos, or simply find an outdoor location where you can sit and paint. Using the steps and processes included in this class, create your own unique urban sketch.

Sharing Your Work:

Share your final illustration and progress shots with the class by uploading them to www.facebook.com/groups/watercolourmentor. If you have any questions or need more tips, please let me know. I'm happy to help.

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