Meet the Correspondent: Luis Ruiz > Malaga, Spain$show=/search/label/Luis%20Ruiz

"Since I was a child, I have always loved drawing. As an architect, I was trained to sketch on site in my first year of my studies. I have always considered sketching a wonderful tool in my job to understand things, more in the field of spatial relations than in their material aspect. On the other hand, I have always brought a sketchbook with me in my travels as a much more effective way of keeping a memory than a photograph. But lately my travel sketches tended to be too few and too quick. I have recently found Urban Sketchers, and then discovered the immense joy of sketching outside with no particular task. Reading Usk’s manifesto, I feel especially sensitive with the point of keeping a record of time and place, and I’m changing from sketching just architecture to understand the city as a big scenario for human activity. I live in Málaga, a city in the south of Spain with more than half a million residents and 2,500 years of age; but also the center of a busy and lively metropolitan area, home of an active harbour and a big tourist destination. Now that I have two small children and I do not travel as much as before, I’m trying to show this mixture of old and new in my drawings. It is so rewarding to share my work with so many excellent artists and receive continuous feedback from other members! And, last but not least, to learn from other parts of the world. I'm delighted to join Urban Sketchers." • Luis' art on flickr.

Workshop G: Improvising with line and color: The Urban Sketcher as a Storyteller

Parque Colón/Catedral

Orling Domínguez
Inma Serrano

Worskhop description
There is a story in every corner of the Colonial Zone, historical facts, and architectural details inherited during the 500 hundred following the arrival of the first Europeans settlers, plus the local characters who live in the area. In this workshop, we will focus on capturing those stories and details of the first city of America using a combination of the following elements and concepts: line, color, serendipity, emphasis in the composition, and storytelling through images and words.

First part
In the first part of the workshop we will focus on “Lines, Colors and Serendipity” that are themselves abstract elements which combined allow us to represent things figuratively. The fundamental difference between each of our sketches lies in the expressiveness of combining, in a personal and unique way, these two essential elements: color and line.

Beginner sketchers sometimes feel their drawings "lack a personal style" and their trouble is finding a personal way of drawing that identifies all their works and give them an "unmistakable identity." Most of the time the essential components that are missing from our designs, to make them our own and different from others, are precisely the three we will focused on in this first part: Line, Color and Serendipity.

Participants will be encouraged to work with different types of lines according to the importance of the elements that we are seeing and we will combine in the sheet and use colour to create specific service points that emphasize the meaning of our drawings. We will look for different ways to get carried away and feel free to understand that our sketch is the one that is telling us where we have to continue. Because the accident and the serendipity of life must be definitely present in our drawings.

Second part
In the second part of the workshop we will focus on composition, emphasis and storytelling in images and words. Participants will be invited, once again, to draw the stories that will unfold in front of them in “the zone”, but this time adding text to enhance their pages with the use of typography, handwritten text or lettering designs, viewing their pages as complete layouts, finding a balance between the actual sketch and the written narrative. Participants will have the opportunity to continue working with different types of lines and with the same spontaneity encouraged during the first part of the workshop, but this time listening and recording in text what’s going on around them, to create a layout in their sketchbook that reinforces the concept of emphasis and storytelling.

Learning goals
  • Lines: Look for a personal line type in its different thicknesses and proposals to create different points of attention in our drawings: close-ups, overlays, writing, etc.
  • Color: Search points of interest in our sketch using a small range of colour, trying to create specific focus to guide the eye of the person who is watching our sketch.
  • Improvisation: Take advantage of "drawing mistakes" and incidents that develop along the creative process, the moments of uncertainty should be harnessed to provide new and personal solutions to our sketch.
  • Composition: Will look at serendipity and spontaneity but keeping in mind “composition”. Finding the balance between written text and images, using typography as a design tool to empower your drawing and the composition of your designs.
  • Emphasis: The use of the following tricks to create a focus point: Black and white vs color, contrast between details of the scene vs. the open view scene, unfinished parts of the drawing vs. more detailed areas, handwritten text vs. actual typography and/or lettering.
  • Storytelling: Participants will reflect on the following questions: What’s happening in front of me? How fast can I draw it and take notes of the conversations or facts involved in the scene? What’s really important in the entire scene? Who or what is the main character of my story? What’s the story? Include in the sketch unexpected situations and incidents that happen around you, surrounded sounds, moments of uncertainty... Try to take advantage of the chance to describe not only a place but a moment that is changeable, concrete and personal. (Note: Participants will be given a little brochure with a sample of different typography families and lettering for them to use as reference and a list of historical facts as well as photocopies of images showing success in the use of our main learning goals.)

Workshop flow

First part
Introduction. 5-7 minutes
Warm-up and thumbnailing: 10 minutes
Sketching time: 45 min. to 1 hour, in order to accommodate slow and fast sketchers
Questions, doubts and sharing of sketchbooks: 10-15 minutes.

Second Part
Introduction: 5-7 minutes
Warm-up and thumbnailing: 10 minutes
1 hour approx. to create the final drawings that incorporate the concepts of the fist part of the workshop (lines, color and serendipity) and the second part (composition, emphasis and storytelling); We will do one to two drawings, depending on individual speed of each sketcher.
Final wrap-up and sharing of sketchbooks and questions: 10-15 minutes.

Reference images

By Inma Serrano

By Inma Serrano

By Orling Domínguez

By Orling Domínguez



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Test USk Blog: Workshop G: Improvising with line and color: The Urban Sketcher as a Storyteller
Workshop G: Improvising with line and color: The Urban Sketcher as a Storyteller
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