Sketching the city

A sketch is a quick drawing that depicts an image or an idea, and that sometimes it is only readable by the author. The sketching technique considers the main lines of a drawing, so for an educated eye this operation is usually performed in a short time.

In this course we will work illustration in the urban environment, learning to focus our attention on an interesting thing (a building, cityscape, group of people or a particular detail) and translate it into a notebook by means of a quick drawing. We will combine drawing with typography (text), and we will review the basics of color with watercolors. We may also experiment with different mapping techniques to see what results we get, and how we can strengthen the result of our work exploiting the potential of each of these techniques (dry, wet and mixed).

One of the possibilities offered by our environment is to use it as if it was a live model, grasping instantly what we want to retain in a notebook. When you draw something you make it more personal, more of your own. When you spend some time observing something, it finally shows the substance of what you want to capture, you enjoy from the first moment you start to watch, as if you already knew in advance that it was going to be part of your notebook.

The urban design lets you take the time you want to anything that may catch your attention. You can capture simple moments of the things happening around you, such as the waiting time in a health care room, which suddenly turns this instant into a pleasant moment in which time flows differently. At the end you get an illustration of one form or another, which has reported you a moment of calmness and relaxation. A lot of sketchers enjoy their daily routine capturing certain moments of their life in a notebook, building an illustrated chronicle.

Some artists’ sketchbooks have become valuable art objects.


  • A minimum of 8 students is required to run this workshop.
  • Places will be assigned under a strict order of registration.
  • Maximum of 20 students.


During six days, students will tour the city with 5 different instructors. Every day a different instructor will teach essential concepts which intervene in the sketch drawing.

Every day we will visit a different route through the city to get the most out of each session. Wewill start at the meeting point, where we will receive the first instructions by the instructor during a period of approximately 15/20 minutes. Little by little the student will recognise an improvement in his/her sketches as the workshop progresses.


Day #1: Introduction to Urban Sketch

Place: Barcelona Academy of Art
Instructor: ShiemBcn
Contents: Welcome students at the center. The presentation of the course will be held with multimedia support. In this introductory session, all information about the workshop will be provided.

  • what is urban sketching?
  • materials
  • bibliography reference pages
  • techniques used
  • course syllabus
  • presentation of the instructors and their works
  • locations to visit during the sessions
Day #2: colour applied to drawing

Place: Borne (Barcelona)
Instructor: Santi Sallés
Route: Santa Maria del Mar | Born Market Cultural Centre | Passeig del Born | Estació de França | Terraces and their people, etc.

Content: The sketch book as a piece of art and fetish object

  • Introduction to the session.
  • Materials and techniques used by the instructor to draw in his notebooks.
  • Brief notion of the color palette and thow to use it.
  • Samples of some of the instructor’s sketch notebooks.

We will create figure representations by means of lines and colour, we will mix them together and play with the colour stains as a basis for drawing structure. We use color to give light and shadow to the figures represented by letting the pigment flow and playing with the richness of the colour overlay.

Students will work several drawings in their sketch notebooks throughout the morning. Exercises are performed as:

  • Color processing with different materials all at once.
  • Treatment of shadows.
  • Line processing and stains.
  • At the end of each exercise the sketch notebooks will be (voluntarily) exhibited and the instructor will provide a general assessment of the works.
Day #3: line and the importance of environment

Location: Glorias, 22@ (Barcelona)
Instructor: Lluïsot
Route: Plaza de Las Glorias | The Encants | Torre Agbar | Design Hub Barcelona

Content: The book as object and the human presence

  • Introduction to the session.
  • Materials and techniques used by the instructor to draw in his notebooks.
  • Brief notion of using the line and capture the characters.
  • Material sample.

Each artist has a rather different way of seeing reality, or to translate it. One of this ways is by using the line. The line is the search for the essence of everything around us. It is working voluntarily without colour, volume, lights and shadows. However, with the simple and humble line we can get to express many feelings, define volumes and explain spaces.

Human activity has been a constant in the history of art. The presence of a person in a landscape humanizes it and enlivens it. This activity will explain how to integrate through the line, the human habitat that surrounds it.

Day #4: drawing the architecture

Location: Raval (Barcelona)
Instructor: Daniel Castro
Tour: Old tuberculosis dispensary | Church of Sant Pere Nolasc | Museum of Contemporary Art (MACBA) | Convent dels Angels | Patio of the House of Charity

Content: The architecture sketch book and the environment around us

  • Introduction to workshop
  • Materials and techniques used by the instructor to draw in their notebooks.
  • Brief introduction to the basic architecture.
  • Samples.

We will go through the different ways of drawing architectures, trying to highlight the characteristic features of each building and its surroundings. We will learn to select and frame the topic, and adapt the visual information means with which to work. The goal will be to emphasize the vision and understanding of what it is seen as a way to draw it.

Use different strategies to represent spaces and volumes, you can select the elements that define the model and the application of the most appropriate techniques. We will use the deformations in the drawing to give greater expressiveness to the representation.

Day #5: stain, volume and texture

Location: Eixample (Barcelona)
Instructor: Mercè Godàs
Route: Can Serra (Current Provincial of Barcelona) | Casa Comalat | Casa Batlló | Casa LLeó Morera | Plaça Catalunya

Content: Sketch book and form

  • Introduction to the workshop.
  • Materials and techniques used by the instructor to draw in their notebooks.
  • Brief notion of using the stain in black or color.
  • Samples.

When mixing line and spot we describe surfaces in the images, forming objects, places or shapes. The spot has a vague boundary, while the line has a real feature.

During the tour we will mark the guidelines that will help us use the stain, either ink or colour as a means of separating layers, creating atmospheres, lighting or texturing, always stopping to draw the magnificent monuments, buildings and people living in the city. We will also work the gradient technique and we will approach composition and perspective aspects.

  • Schedule
  • Tutors
  • Materials
  • Price
  • Reservations

9 – 13 July, 2018



More information

Santi Salles

Santi Salles

More information



More information

Daniel Castro

Daniel Castro

More information

Mercè Godàs

Mercè Godàs

More information

Sketch book included.

Students will need:

  • watercolours
  • calibrated tip pen 0.1 (Uni Pin, for instance)

Training hours





  • Applications will only be accepted online [forms available on the website of each course] or by filling out the form at the Academy.
  • Places will be assigned following a strict order of received applications.
  • When groups are complete, extra applications will be part of the reservation list.

Payment method

  • Once admitted, the student will receive an email to confirm the place. In this email, the administration team will include all the necessary information and instructions on payment dues.
  • If the student fails to pay the fee/s on the date/s specified in the confirmation email, the place will automatically be available for a student in the reservation list.

This is a unique website which will require a more modern browser to work!

Please upgrade today!