USk Workshop: In search of urban characters

A city is a cauldron of numerous ‘characters’ telling their individual stories. The author finds a few and develops a cohesive narrative out of them. The narrative can be in the form of a novel, a short story, a film or even an urban sketch. The ‘characters’ may be living or non-living playing their specific roles in the city they ‘live’ in. These ‘urban characters’ can be a sculpture or a statue, a building, a gateway, a tree, pet dogs on the streets and of course people.

In this one day workshop (10AM to 1PM and 2PM to 5PM) we will sketch a cityscape and present a host of ‘urban characters’. Subsequently, two of them would be chosen for detailing. In the process, while searching for and acknowledging the presence of many ‘characters’ which are diverse and play their individual roles, we will highlight two of them and present detailed studies of these ‘characters’.

The Method this workshop uses

· We’ll start with one or a few urban ‘character(s). This may be called stage 1. See the visual:

The statue and the streetlight

· We’ll keep populating the cityscape with more ‘characters’ in the process of discovery. See the second visual:

More characters: old and new buildings, a dead tree in the backdrop

· Finally, we complete the cityscape with more characters, work on the backdrop and foreground, use bigger city artefacts and humans to achieve scale and depth. See the third and final visual:

Adding human figures and more urban furniture; establishing the cityscape with backdrop, foreground and scale

At every stage we sketch out the ‘characters’ and finish the sketch with water colour. This is the end of the first half of the workshop. Subsequently, we choose two ‘characters’ from the sketch and detail them out. In this case we detail out the statue and a branch of the dead tree:


Learning goals

· Identify a starting point of sketching the cityscape by finding a couple of immediate ‘urban characters’.

· Achieve density by populating the urban scene with more ‘characters’.

· Understand depth and scale through emphasising the backdrop and foreground. Use of human figures to achieve the right scale in the composition. Get the overall cityscape right.

· Zoom in on two characters of interest. Make detailed study of that urban artefact/natural element/human character.

· Use quick watercolour techniques at all stages.

Workshop location

Times Square, New York City. USA.


26th May, 2019.


6 hours for the whole day of Sunday, 26th May.

10 AM – 1 PM 

2 PM – 5 PM 

(lunch break – 1p.m to 2 p.m).

Workshop Schedule details

The workshop will commence with a demo and description of the workshop for half an hour. Thereafter, the participants start sketching cityscape and identify ‘urban characters’ as stated in the workshop description for two and half hours till 1 p.m. We will take a one hour lunch break from 1 p.m to 2 p.m and commence again at 2 p.m. During two and half hours of the second half of the workshop we will sketch two characters in detail. The last half hour of the workshop will discuss the work done and trace path of developing this method of urban sketching.

Maximum number of participants

The maximum number of participants is 20 (Twenty). No formal sketching training/experience is required.

Supply list

· A3 and A4 size sketchbooks with not less than 200 gsm fine grain paper. A3 sketchbook will be used for the cityscape sketch, while the smaller sketchbook can be used for detailed studies. Participants comfortable with the A3 size may continue with the same for the detailed sketches.

· Micron drawing pens with waterproof ink (.2 to .8 mm) or pencils from 2B upwards.

· Watercolour set and a range of brushes, round, pointed round and flat.

· Plastic water holder.

· Pieces of cloth.

· A lightweight stool.

Registration fee

The Registration fee for the workshop is USD 200.


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