Sketching People, Places, and Landscapes

Taught By Multiple Professors
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent course for learning! Excellent lectures, and I enjoyed seeing their well-illustrated drawings. If you think you might be interested in sketching or watercolor painting, this course will make you excited about getting started and doing it!,
Date published: 2019-04-03
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I have been hoping to find “Learning to Draw” at an affordable price. I selected “Sketching etc” as an affordable option.
Date published: 2019-04-01
Rated 1 out of 5 by from The instructors paintings are pretty sloppy. He is not a very good painter.
Date published: 2019-03-12
Rated 5 out of 5 by from The best way to learn urban sketching This is THE urban-sketching course I've been waiting for! I've tried others online, but they can't compare to Jim Richard's course. He's a great instructor, and I highly recommend his course to anyone interested in urban sketching and watercolor.
Date published: 2019-03-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Very valuable! Excellent instruction from a variety of artists. I learned a lot and feel much more confident about taking my watercolors and sketchbook on the road with me. I highly recommend this course.
Date published: 2019-01-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent introduction to urban sketching My husband gave this to me for my birthday and now I am an urban sketcher. The teachers are all excellent. I have watched many of the lessons multiple times. I joined Facebook urban sketchers groups and I meet people out in the world urban sketching. What a fun activity with great results.
Date published: 2018-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I have rarely enjoyed a course as much as this one! It was great fun to watch and very up-to-the-minute for those who want to join the urban sketching and plein air movement or just want to record the memorable moments and places one visits. I hope Great Courses adds more like this. One on travel sketching would be great!
Date published: 2018-12-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from wonderful Have completed the first four lessons and have gotten many new hints for me to use when drawing outdoors!
Date published: 2018-12-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it Thought this would be a great family class. Drove my kids nuts. Haha not a beginner class - i love his style and would love to continue to practice this look and style. Great advice easy lecture and learning continues each time as well
Date published: 2018-11-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I can say that I wished the colleges that I attended in my past were as well presented as the courses I have purchased here. The presentation on all of them are magnificent and so easy to follow. The course, “Sketching People, Places and Landscapes is excellent in every way. Very easy to follow and extremely informative, … love it! The price you pay for this course is unbelievably low especially when you realize how much you will be paying for college classes and not get as much information. Great course, easy to follow and lots of valuable information!
Date published: 2018-10-22
Rated 5 out of 5 by from A great overview of sketching! The course provided an excellent overview of everything you need to know to get started in sketching. Four instructors provided lessons for the course, and I particularly liked the fact that while each had a slightly different style, they all provided relevant information. Now the rest is up to me--practice, practice, practice!
Date published: 2018-10-09
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Great course (no pun intended) Very enjoyable and informative. Teachers were very good.
Date published: 2018-09-24
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Valuable Course I enjoyed the course, overall but thought the organization could have been improved. All 4 teachers were good but I would have liked to have the initial unit talking about different paper, pencils, pens and water color. In my opinion, Paul Heaston did this best and should have been first. i would have preferred Stephanie Bowers to follow because it would have been useful to get a feeling for perspective early in the course. I thought Shari Blaukopf was good with water coloring. James Richards focussed on urban scenes. Overall, I would have preferred more landscapes. I don't think I ever want to see the Denver train station again!
Date published: 2018-09-17
Rated 4 out of 5 by from I like the modular format and different professors I really like having different professors talk about their approaches to drawing and painting the urban environments. I especially enjoyed Richard's approach. I liked how he used simple techniques to make people come alive. I'm new to drawing and watercolor but found a few things helpful here. First, the different approaches to the different urban scenes were helpful. But I found uninspiring the same building Union Station done by the different artists. I would have found more helpful different views of urban scenes. I wanted to see through an artist's eye! They all seem to have a sameness about them. I liked that the different artists talked about their different techniques, but basically they seemed mostly the same with some small variation. I'm not sure where my own interests are yet, so this did not help me find a home in this style. The landscape of the Flatirons and Rockies in Shari's modules were really just pretty much boring to me. I love outdoor landscapes especially in the western US, but I got bored with views of these mountains as painting subjects. I wanted daring and bold! I wanted to be inspired by dramatic perspectives and colors. I'm new to this discipline and hope to learn more. I will continue to watch for watercolor courses with The Great Courses. I will continue to review the modules and look for what I need. I'm prepared to say that I may have missed something here.
Date published: 2018-08-30
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Exactly what I was looking for I bought this course about 1 month ago and have found it to be well organized, the instructors are very good and walk you through the steps so you learn at a reasonable pace. The subject material is excellent and I am so excited to use what I have learned in my own projects.
Date published: 2018-08-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best Sketching Video Ever I am watching the whole thing again and I will continue watching from time to time for both inspiration and tips. Already my sketching has vastly improved. I found the answers to so many questions I have had that I could not find in the half dozen books I have read on Urban Sketching. I think that there is something for everyone interested in sketching, urban sketching, and watercolor painting. This course is a real gold mine for me.
Date published: 2018-08-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I've only watched the first two lessons and I love the course already. James Richards is a wonderful teacher--inspiring and fun.
Date published: 2018-08-03
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Sketching People, Places, and Landscapes
Course Trailer
Finding the Perfect Place
1: Finding the Perfect Place

Meet James Richards and begin by exploring the ingredients that make a place perfect for sketching. From graphic elements and repetition to color and movement, learn to see a space with an artist’s eye. Plus, learn to select a “stimulus-rich” environment, perfect for capturing energy.

13 min
Drawing People in the City
2: Drawing People in the City

Public spaces wouldn’t exist without people. Learn some basic building blocks for drawing believable people and crowds. Learn proper proportions and understand how to create a sense of depth within a crowd using your eye level line, diminishing size, and overlapping. Learn a quick shorthand for capturing people on the move.

20 min
Buildings as Backdrop
3: Buildings as Backdrop

Learn to draw large, impressive buildings without getting overwhelmed by the architectural details. Follow along as Jim takes you through drawing Denver’s Union Station by first breaking the building into basic shapes and then simplifying details into a visual texture.

21 min
The Entourage
4: The Entourage

The entourage is the supporting cast that brings visual energy to a scene. In this lesson, learn to draw trees and cars step by step. Then, look for elements that are unique to your city or space. Plus, learn how to position elements within your frame to better serve the drawing.

21 min
Adding Color
5: Adding Color

Color can really bring your sketches to life. In this lesson, you’ll learn to make strategic decisions about where to add darks and colors. Use watercolor washes to create a vibrant look to your drawing. Then, refine the details with more opaque colors.

23 min
Hitting the Streets: On Location
6: Hitting the Streets: On Location

In this lesson, hit the streets and put it all together. Get over your fears about sketching in public as you join Jim on Denver’s 16th Street Mall. Learn helpful hints and tools and get tips on determining where to start. Plus, get a step-by-step approach to bringing a lively city scene to life.

19 min
Thumbnails & Composition
7: Thumbnails & Composition

Meet your instructor, sketch artist, and graphic designer Shari Blaukopf, and learn how to compose your sketches on the page. Shari shows you how to assess the scene in front of you before roughing in valuable details in the form of quick, informative thumbnails.

19 min
Drawing Facades
8: Drawing Facades

Whether you’re sketching skyscrapers or a small strip of row houses, Shari shows you the best techniques for breaking up buildings into manageable proportions and basic shapes. Learn how to subdivide your sketch before starting to add specific textures and details in ink.

29 min
Urban Texture
9: Urban Texture

Add a vibrant splash of color to your work as you integrate watercolor into your sketches. Shari walks you through the steps needed to capture the look of a wide variety of building materials ranging from stone façades to metal awnings, and she’ll help you bring greater dimension to your scene.

29 min
Doors & Windows
10: Doors & Windows

Windows and doors add a great deal of character to each city neighborhood, and Shari shows you how to observe and capture those unique details with flair. Learn how to study the structure of each door and window, add color washes to enhance areas of light and shadow, and explore ways to depict reflections.

23 min
Details That Give Cities Life
11: Details That Give Cities Life

There’s no shortage of fascinating details when you sketch in an urban area. Learn how to incorporate a symphony of people, pets, foliage, power lines, and much more into your scene without overwhelming your drawing with minutiae. Shari also shares professional tips on how to render signage and lettering.

25 min
Light & Shadow
12: Light & Shadow

Delve deeper into ways to depict light and shadow, which can transform an ordinary sketch into a true work of art. Shari helps you identify the best ways to record shadow patterns as you sketch, and how to mix and apply paint to create transparent shadows or large, dark shadows.

23 min
Panoramic Cityscapes
13: Panoramic Cityscapes

In the final lesson, step back from the immediacy of street scenes to gain a larger view of your city or town. Shari shares helpful techniques for creating panoramic scenes, beginning with identifying the foreground, middle ground, and background elements and finding key focal points.

27 min
Choosing & Using Sketchbooks
14: Choosing & Using Sketchbooks

Meet your instructor, sketch artist Paul Heaston, as you discover the joy that sketching can offer and how it can improve your skills by leaps and bounds. You’ll begin with an overview of Paul’s favorite sketchbook and media choices before loosening up your drawing hand with some contour drawings.

27 min
Sketching with Pencil
15: Sketching with Pencil

Indulge in one of sketching’s most joyfully simple forms: carrying a pencil and sketchbook into the field to explore your surroundings. Paul explains graphite grading scales and shows you how to use this forgiving medium to refine your skills in perspective, distance, and more. You’ll learn how to create emphasis and dimension using a variety of line weights and textural details, gaining confidence as you practice.

30 min
Pen & Ink, Light & Shadow
16: Pen & Ink, Light & Shadow

Gain the courage to leave your eraser behind and dive into ink sketches. Paul shares professional tips for developing realistic light, shadow, contour, and value using a variety of pen types and sizes. Beginners and expert artists alike will learn valuable hatching techniques as Paul demonstrates remarkable quick and effective shading methods.

22 min
Color Your World with Watercolors
17: Color Your World with Watercolors

Add color and character to your sketchbook with a bright and versatile watercolor palette. Paul demonstrates ways to apply washes and control your paints using helpful tips that will ensure a fun sketching session. Whether you're using color to fill large spaces or simply accentuating details, Paul's techniques will help you apply watercolor masterfully.

26 min
Sketching on Location
18: Sketching on Location

Pack your bag for the great outdoors as you employ Paul’s tips for sketching comfortably and quickly. You’ll learn what tools you’ll need and anticipate the creature comforts that will come in handy for sketching sessions before assessing your locations for light and shade. Next, discover pro tips for accurately capturing both the permanent and fleeting objects in your scene, including parked cars and people who are strolling by.

16 min
Composing in the Field
19: Composing in the Field

Explore ways to use a viewfinder and your imagination to create a unique and compelling composition for each sketch. Paul shares important considerations for your location and field of view, as well as valuable composition tips that can transform a seemingly simple sketch into a dynamic work of art. Work with horizontal, vertical, cropped, and panoramic scenes as you create thumbnails to take each composition for a test drive.

11 min
Location Sketching Process
20: Location Sketching Process

Examine the construction of a sketch from start to finish as you block in the simple shapes and values in your scene. Next, work from the foreground to the background as you develop basic forms, training your eye to see what’s really there as you work. You’ll learn how to infuse character into your sketch with meaningful details, resulting in sketches that range from the whimsical minutiae of your everyday life to evocative snapshots of your favorite memories.

33 min
Shari’s Sketchbooks
21: Shari’s Sketchbooks

Meet Shari Blaukopf, expert sketcher and graphic designer. Shari begins by introducing the tools of her trade: the various sketchbooks, pencils, watercolors, and brushes she takes with her everywhere. You’ll also get to see a few of her incredible sketches.

22 min
22: Composition

Join Shari in the field as she scouts the beautiful Colorado landscape for a perfect scene. Begin with a quick compositional sketch to help determine the orientation of your drawing. Then, see how to create a value sketch, a helpful roadmap to completing your final drawing.

14 min
23: Skies

Look out the window and you’ll see that no two skies are the same. In this lesson, Shari shows you how to sketch four separate skies—morning, neutral, stormy, and skies with fluffy clouds—each with its own unique challenges. Plus, learn how to use different marks to create depth in your drawings.

37 min
Big Shapes
24: Big Shapes

With your skies painted, it’s time to work on the large middle ground and foreground shapes. Shari revisits her value sketch of the breathtaking Flatirons to add in sun-drenched rock formations. You’ll also discover Shari’s method of illustrating distant mountain ranges and large foreground trees.

32 min
25: Texture

Enliven your scenes and give them a sense of perspective by adding texture. Watch and learn Shari’s effective method of creating a variety of textures. Then, discover how to delineate foreground elements before examining the effects you can create using both wet and dry brushes.

34 min
Adding Depth with Value
26: Adding Depth with Value

Learn how to add depth to your sketches with value. Using her Flatirons drawing as an example, Shari shows how to make jagged rocks even craggier while maintaining variety in the darker tones. Plus, practice Shari’s technique of adding contrast to the foreground with ink.

16 min
Expressing Unique Moments
27: Expressing Unique Moments

Discover the benefits of working with a limited palette. Shari shows you her process of using three colors to enhance one of her completed sketches. In addition, you’ll learn expert tips on sketching everyday scenes in new, exciting ways.

22 min
Measuring Accurate Proportions
28: Measuring Accurate Proportions

Meet architectural illustrator Stephanie Bower and start learning how to apply basic perspective principles to your sketching. Ease into the process with head-on elevation views. Stephanie shows you how to quickly and accurately measure an object’s proportions before blocking in simple shapes and details.

16 min
Building a Sketch in Layers
29: Building a Sketch in Layers

Whether you’re sketching the Taj Mahal, an ornate chateau, or buildings in your hometown, Stephanie shares tips and tricks for effectively capturing the scene. Learn how to break a complex façade into basic geometric shapes. Then, discover Stephanie’s technique for adding multiple layers of detail.

21 min
Concepts of Perspective Space
30: Concepts of Perspective Space

Deepen your understanding of perspective as you practice sketching locations from aerial, eye-level, and worm’s-eye vantage points. With Stephanie’s expert guidance, you’ll see how to achieve a sense of depth from a variety of perspectives using size, spacing, and vanishing points.

23 min
Perspective Angles
31: Perspective Angles

Feeling overwhelmed by the complexity of a scene? Stephanie demonstrates how to develop the basic foundation of a sketch in three easy steps. You’ll also get detailed explanations on how to identify and work with one-point and two-point perspectives.

23 min
Using Watercolor
32: Using Watercolor

Once you’ve finished your sketch, enliven your work by adding watercolor. Get tips on selecting the right paper, pencils, paints, and brushes; then, learn simple techniques for mixing colors while creating a classic color wheel. Plus, find out how to effectively portray shade and shadow with watercolor paints.

21 min
Location Sketching: Interior
33: Location Sketching: Interior

Go on location with Stephanie and practice drawing interior spaces using the techniques you’ve learned so far. You’ll get step-by-step instruction along the way, from blocking in basic shapes and measuring for proportion to sketching smaller details and adding watercolor to complete the look.

14 min
Location Sketching: Streetscape
34: Location Sketching: Streetscape

Move outdoors and apply your perspective skills to a bustling streetscape. Stephanie guides you through the process as she demonstrates how to determine the vanishing point before sketching in the basic shapes of buildings and alleyways. Add layers of shading and detail, then apply watercolor for striking results.

14 min
James Richards

Most important to me are how people respond to these urban spaces and materials—what’s the quality of their experience, and why, and what lessons can we learn for our towns and cities?

About James Richards

As an artist, James Richards crosses many creative boundaries. His work has been shown in numerous exhibitions and he’s a designer, an author, and an Urban Sketchers correspondent. Jim’s book, Freehand Drawing and Discovery, won a National Honor Award from the American Society of Landscape Architects. He teaches urban design and drawing at the University of Texas at Arlington as well as in international workshops.

Also By This Professor

Shari Blaukopf

Learn how to simplify any cityscape to capture the character of your favourite urban scenes.

About Shari Blaukopf

Shari Blaukopf is a graphic design teacher, illustrator, and the cofounder of the Urban Sketchers Montreal regional blog. Shari has a BFA from Concordia University with a specialization in graphic design, but her true love has always been watercolor painting. Her watercolor paintings can be found in corporate, government, and private collections in both Canada and the United States. Shari is passionate about sharing her love and knowledge of watercolors, and she’s taught many watercolor workshops in the United States and Europe.

Also By This Professor

Paul Heaston

Daily sketches are a self-motivating assignment. By knowing that you've got to draw something, you draw something regardless of external influences.

About Paul Heaston

Paul Heaston received his MFA in painting from Montana State University. He’s also a correspondent for, an internationally recognized website that showcases visual journalism. You can find some of Paul’s work on his sketch blog, Three Letter Word for Art. Paul has been teaching college-level drawing and painting since 2005.

Also By This Professor

Stephanie Bower

Drawing the places where you live, work, and play is a great way to show appreciation and creativity. Show your world, one drawing at a time!



About Stephanie Bower

Stephanie Bower is an architectural illustrator, a teacher, a watercolorist, and a correspondent for the blog Urban Sketchers. After working as a licensed architect in New York City, Stephanie gravitated toward a career in architectural illustration and concept design. She has taught architectural sketching at Parsons School of Design, the University of Washington, and Cornish College of the Arts.

Also By This Professor