La belle Paris

louvre sketch

I’ve just been away for a weekend in Paris – glorious weather too. I’m going to talk you in detail through a sketch I made in the Louvre. I always have a good look at my sketches once I get home, to learn from my mistakes.

I found a bench where I had a good view out onto a sunny courtyard of sculptures. I liked the light, it wasn’t crowded with people, and there was more than ‘just’ art in the scene. It was also a challenge because I hate perspective drawing!

I took this photo from higher up in the building.


I did a sketch in soft pencil, ‘measuring’ sizes and angles to try to get the perspective right. I blocked out geometric outlines of the statues, and the trees, and quick rectangles to show a few people passing through.

I then went over it with a fineliner pen, re-drawing the shapes and putting the details in. I ‘fudged’ the arches at the back, because having drawn the first one I had to make the others match it! As you can tell, I don’t use a ruler. For the people, I had to remember roughly what had they looked like when I drew the rectangles.

I erased all the underlying pencil drawing and put in some shadows with blue and brown brown graphite pencils. Then I stopped because I was tired!

I was pleased with the picture but not 100% pleased.  I’ve done some illustrations to explain the mistakes.

Here I’ve drawn some lines perspective on the picture. The green ones I’m pleased with (for me), the yellow aren’t toooo bad, and the red ones are way off. The thing I focused on – the statue of the man on a winged horse – I did pretty well,  but by the time I got the other side of the page I’d completely lost it. Note to self: pay equal attention to all areas of the scene, not just the most interesting element.

louvre perspective.png

The people. I have been very inconsistent with their perspective. The feet of the people are higher and higher up the page, as they should be from my angle, but the heads are all over the place! Of course, people are naturally different heights, but if they are just part of a scene rather than the main subject, sometimes it’s better to fudge that in order to make them look ‘right’.

On the right I have resized and moved the people. Putting a very faint line across the page as I’ve done on this altered version would have helped me judge at what level to put their heads and feet. I think it’s an improvement.

Finally, colour and tone. At the time I considered making the trees green and the colours more distinct.

louvre sketch green trees.png

Glad I didn’t! In fact I wish I had used one colour for all the shading, instead of two.

But what I had really failed to capture was the contrast between light and dark. I thought it would muddle the picture too much to put much shading in, but I think I was wrong… what do you think?

louvre sketch dark

So I hope you liked this photo essay.  See you next time!





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