Workshop 14: Sketch NOW, Think Later

Instructor: Mike Daikubara

Workshop Description

Have you ever given up a sketching situation since you felt you didn’t have enough time to even start? Have you ever given up since you were around family/friends that were non-sketchers and didn’t want to make them wait for you? Have you ever wanted to incorporate more sketching time into your daily life but couldn’t find the time to do so?

If you answered yes, this workshop is for you!

This workshop will cover the tools, techniques and tips that have worked for me over the years to be able to fully dive into any sketching situation with limited time and tools and still be able to produce memorable, great looking fun sketches.

Here’s a list of some highlighting Techniques we’ll be covering:

1. Pen to paper – no pencils, no underlay, no erasing for faster sketching.

Ink drawing will be contour and some details. Minimal to no shading (since it takes too much time and can be achieved much faster with watercolor)

Sketch the focal point in detail (what you wanted to sketch in the first place) and much less of other areas.

Start sketching from the closest subject to furthest (large to small) which achieves depth.

Understand Horizon line and basic perspective points, which is essentially: are you looking up at a subject? Looking down? Looking straight? Or looking away at the subject? – This is all you need to understand for this basic perspective.

2. Color straight to paper – no premixing on palette saves time and provides much more vibrancy from the pure color pigments.

Mix color on paper – wet on wet.

Clean brush on sponge – easy setup, less hassle than using a tissue/rag.

Minimal color painting layers (glazing) – for speed, less drying time, and being able to use a non-thick sketching paper.

Don’t color everything. Leave areas unpainted. Not only saves time but adds life, more interest and space for graphics/annotation later on.

3. Additional techniques and tips

Repetition and pattern: eliminate having to draw repeating elements over and over to save time. Draw a few and the human brain fills in the rest.

Symmetry: don’t completely draw both sides. The brain can fill in the missing elements.

(If possible) Sketch standing: great for finding the perfect angle since you can easily move around. It’s also uncomfortable and tiring – forcing you to concentrate better and sketch faster.

Completely finish sketch on location (ink, color, annotation) – or understand your personal time/energy level and finish later if needed. Do not force yourself. At minimal do most of the ink on location.

Tips on finishing coloring and annotation later on.

Learning Goals

Sketching with a limited amount of tools allows you to approach sketching situations faster.

Sketching with a limited amount of techniques allows you to capture the moment faster.

Sketching within a limited amount of time allows you to create better-looking work since it allows you to concentrate harder.


To fully dive into the core points of this workshop, I recommend the following items:

Medium sized Sketchbook Any sketchbook is fine but I personally prefer the Stillman and Birn Alpha Series in wire bound landscape format. Please pick a sketchbook size that you can comfortably carry around and use standing up (if possible)

Fountain Pen with Converter Strongly Recommended: A fude nib (bent tip) fountain pen. These pens can draw variable lines from thin to thick and thus gained the name of a Fude (brush) pen. My personal favorite is the Sailor Naginata Fude de Mannen, but Sailor also makes much more affordable fude pens which works nicely too. Other manufacturers that make Fude nib fountain pens are companies such as HERO and DUKE which can be found on Amazon, ebay. Take a look at Parka blogs great article on fude nib fountain pen comparisons.

Water color kit: Any portable watercolor kit you have is fine but for people looking into buying one, a nice intro kit is by Sakura Koi. The 18 or 24 color works well. It also carries a sponge inside which we will use frequently. I still use the Koi case with these colors removed with new colors added in from Holbein.

Water brush. Strongly recommended instead of a regular brush and small container of water. I use a medium sized Pentel water brush for 100% of my work.

Ink: I strongly recommend a non-water diluting ink for your fountain Pen. I personally use Noodlers Lexington gray and have used Noodlers black and platinum carbon ink for quick drying waterproof ink as well.

(Optional) Mini spray mister. This is great for rewetting color that has dried out.

(Optional) Folding chair. I have a tiny one that I always keep in my bag but for faster sketching situations, I prefer sketching standing up.

Workshop Schedule

Location is still TBD but whether we go to the Museum to sketch planes, dinosaurs or nice looking building out on the street corner, this sketching approach will apply and be fun. The following is a rough estimate on schedule timing.

1. First Part (90 min)

Travel to workshop location

Introduction/Tools/Technique/Tips overview

Demo. Overall approach/ Straight to ink

Sketch on own (I will work one on one with people)

2. Second Part (90 min)

Demo: Straight color to paper, adding annotation and graphics

Sketch on own (I will work one on one with people)

3. Third part (30 min)

Look at everyone’s results, critique and discussion

Cover tips of being able to finish sketches afterwards when time is extremely limiting

Take a group photo

Return from Work shop location


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