Urban Sketching: Create Expressive Cityscapes

A course by eleanor doughty
Illustrator. Seattle, United States.
Joined December 2021
, Illustrator

Learn to create a lively and dynamic illustration of an urban scene using pencil, ink, marker, and watercolor to capture its mood and energy

  • 100% positive reviews (42)
  • 1653 students
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch

Learn to create a lively and dynamic illustration of an urban scene using pencil, ink, marker, and watercolor to capture its mood and energy

  • 100% positive reviews (42)
  • 1653 students
  • 16 lessons (2h 7m)
  • 27 additional resources (12 files)
  • Online and at your own pace
  • Available on the app
  • Audio: English
  • English, Spanish, Portuguese, German, French, Italian, Polish, Dutch
  • Level: Beginner
  • Unlimited access forever

Each cityscape encapsulates a fleeting moment in time. From the silhouetted skyline to the bustling crowd, everything changes by the second, and sketching on location is a chance to immortalize it all on paper. Illustrator Eleanor Doughty embraced this opportunity and found her niche as an urban sketcher. Her drawings, which have been featured in publications like VICE, offer expressive portrayals of the hidden gems she uncovers during her travels.

In this online course, take your urban sketching to the next level by experimenting with mixed media. Hit the streets and illustrate a spot that inspires you, applying an intuitive approach to create evocative depictions that capture the essence and movement of a city. Invite the world to view a scene through your eyes with immersive works of art.

What will you learn in this online course?

Course table of contents

  • U1
    U1. Introduction
  • U2
    U2. Basics of Drawing on Location and Water-Based Media
  • U3
    U3. Building the Foundation
  • U4
    U4. Water-Soluble Details and Movement
  • U5
    U5. Sharing Locally and Globally
  • FP
    FP Final project
View details

Start by getting to know Eleanor and discovering how she found her place in the art world as an urban illustrator. Take a look at her eclectic sources of inspiration, from films and graphic novels to the art of kintsugi.

Prepare for your adventure by choosing a location that moves you and packing the essential mediums. Experiment with watercolor to achieve organic textures before exploring other effects with water-soluble materials. Once you’ve gained an understanding of composition and perspective, create several thumbnails to identify your focal point and framing.

Head outside and let your intuition guide you as you sketch out the overall structure of your scene. Loosely apply the first few layers of watercolor to highlight the main elements and establish the overall mood. Then use dark ink to make the buildings in the foreground leap off the page with crisp linework and flesh out the secondary details in permanent marker to add hints of color and depth.

Infuse your piece with a burst of motion, harnessing the fluidity of water-soluble ink to convey the aliveness of your street scene. Fill in empty spaces with details that tell an intriguing story and top it all off by incorporating some white highlights for maximum definition and contrast.

To wrap up the course, Eleanor shares tips on how to scan and photograph your piece. Explore different ways to showcase and sell it, sharing your unique corner of the world within a lively urban illustration.

What is this course's project?

Create an expressive illustration of an urban scene using mixed media.

Projects by course students

Who is this online course for?

Anyone who wants to take their urban sketching practice to the next level.

Requirements and materials

Solid drawing skills and familiarity with watercolor are necessary.

As for materials, you need a sketchbook, a small watercolor set, and brushes, as well as any assortment of water-soluble and permanent pens, pencils, or markers.


1653 Students
42 Reviews
100% Positive ratings
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eleanor doughty

A course by eleanor doughty

Teacher Plus

Eleanor Doughty is an illustrator, painter, and teacher who specializes in urban sketching. After exploring the creative world while growing up near Washington DC, she studied communication arts with a focus on illustration at Virginia Commonwealth University, which led to collaborations in the editorial field. Combining her love for travel and drawing, she discovered her niche as a freelance location illustrator.

Using mixed media to create expressive sketches of urban scenes, Eleanor embraces a gestural approach to convey the vibe and energy of a place whimsically and authentically. She has collaborated with magazines and newspapers such as VICE, The Seattle Times, Lion’s Roar, and The Boston Globe, as well as companies like Hilton Hotels, Penguin Random House, and Kroger.


  • U1


    • About Me
    • Influences
  • U2

    Basics of Drawing on Location and Water-Based Media

    • Finding a Location
    • The Materials
    • Watercolor Techniques
    • How to Use Water-Soluble Materials
    • Composition and Intuitive Perspective
  • U3

    Building the Foundation

    • Rough Sketch
    • Gestural Watercolor
    • A Solid Foreground
    • Color Linework and Details
  • U4

    Water-Soluble Details and Movement

    • Adding Movement with Water-Soluble Ink
    • Drawing in the Finishing Touches
    • Perfecting with Watercolor and Details in White
  • U5

    Sharing Locally and Globally

    • Documenting Your Drawing
    • Sharing the Project
  • FP

    Final project

    • Urban Sketching: Create Expressive Cityscapes

What to expect from a Domestika course

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    Ask questions, request feedback, or offer solutions. Share your learning experience with other students in the community who are as passionate about creativity as you are.

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Domestika's courses are online classes that provide you with the tools and skills you need to complete a specific project. Every step of the project combines video lessons with complementary instructional material, so you can learn by doing. Domestika's courses also allow you to share your own projects with the teacher and with other students, creating a dynamic course community.

All courses are 100% online, so once they're published, courses start and finish whenever you want. You set the pace of the class. You can go back to review what interests you most and skip what you already know, ask questions, answer questions, share your projects, and more.

The courses are divided into different units. Each one includes lessons, informational text, tasks, and practice exercises to help you carry out your project step by step, with additional complementary resources and downloads. You'll also have access to an exclusive forum where you can interact with the teacher and with other students, as well as share your work and your course project, creating a community around the course.

You can redeem the course you received by accessing the redeeming page and entering your gift code.

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Urban Sketching: Create Expressive Cityscapes. Illustration course by eleanor doughty

Urban Sketching: Create Expressive Cityscapes

A course by eleanor doughty
Illustrator. Seattle, United States.
Joined December 2021
  • 100% positive reviews (42)
  • 1653 students