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Freehand Drawing and Discovery: Urban Sketching and Concept Drawing for Designers by James Richards

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Chapter Four

Creating Believable Worlds

Figure 4.1: The strong line at the base of the building is softened and linked to the ground plane by the foreground figures, which also lend life, energy, and a sense of depth to the sketch.

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I was sketching soccer players on the LSU parade ground one afternoon while a crew from the ESPN sports network assembled their College Game Day stage nearby. One of the film crew members looked over my shoulder, then at the scene I was sketching, smiled and said, “You have the power to make it better than it is.”

He was right. There is an element of power in being able to create a convincing three-dimensional (3-D) illusion with nothing but your mind, hands, pen, and paper. The magic of sketching is in its ability to create believable worlds in the form of two-dimensional images. The key is the arrangement of the individual elements so that they create an illusion of depth, and beyond that, a sense of place and even mood. It’s a very valuable skill that puts the sketcher in a role much like that of a film director, making choices that best tell the story you want to tell. You choose the message, the viewpoint, whether to record literally, to enhance, or completely change the scene.

This is a skill easily learned through knowledge of relatively simple principles of design and perspective. It is mastered, of course, through a daily routine of sketching ...

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