Book Review: Urban Sketching Step by Step, Krause Meier-Pauken

So urban sketching is a thing. It’s a thing I want to do which for me means reading way way too much about it before actually giving it a shot. As a result I’ve got a stupid number of books about it, here’s one.

Urban Sketching Step by Step subtitle: Techniques for Creating Quick & Lively Urban Scenes is a 96 page work written and illustrated by Klaus Meier-Pauken. Klaus is a former architect and urban planner who is now a working artist and professor. I like that I’m getting a book from a person who’s trying to teach me something when that person is actually a teacher, it makes me feel like this book is going to have some solid structure as far as getting me from point A to B.

First impressions on flipping through the book are good. It’s good size, like A4 so things look a size that they could be drawn if you wanted to practice by copying some. There’s a lot of illustration but a fair mix of text as well. The drawings have a real sketchy quality that I love (clean lines and stuff can be nice too, but learning should be messy so I’m glad it looks a bit less neat). There’s a mix of pencil and pen for the line work and it looks like colors come from everything from pencils to pastels and watercolor. There also seems to be progressional drawings as well and they aren’t the stereotypical draw a line, draw a circle, finish drawing the horse type which is nice. It’s a little infuriating when someone trying to teach you something wont show you how to get from blank page to finished sketch so no worries on that front.

Reading the book it’s obvious it’s a translation but it’s still very readable. Klaus takes some firm stances early on as far as the paper you should choose goes but it’s not off-putting. I like that he doesn’t seem to feel you must use a sketchbook; that’s probably just ‘cause I like loose sheets.

There’s solid information about the usual things, composition and perspective, as wells as how to pick a view that’s going to be rewarding to draw. I love that he touches on the one thing about perspective that always seems to get left out, where people will be in relation to the horizon. I feel like everyone gets the lines stretching to a vanishing point right away so it bugs me when there’s no mention of how to position things that don’t follow those same rules.

All in all I say this is a pretty great book. Especially if, like me, you’re ready to start but haven’t got a clue where to start