Sketching Now Foundations

Essential Concepts for Spontaneous Sketching

Self Directed 12 Lesson Online Sketching Course

ONLY $129 USD for 12 in-depth lessons!

Enrol Foundations Course $129USD

This course will explain how I apply fundamental drawing concepts to sketching fast and spontaneously. Central to everything is the importance of constantly sharpening your visual thinking  – and so this is the core of the course.

Edges, shapes, volumes – Playing with line and colour – Having a strong focus

We will be exploring concepts first with objects around the home and then applying this out on the streets – sketching on location.

This is a Self Directed Course – click here for more details.


All lessons and videos remain accessible indefinitely – you can come back and review them over and over, whenever you like!

For those who enrolled in Foundations the first time (in November 2014):

This is the same course and you still have access to all lessons in the original classroom.


Read some reviews of the Foundations course here

Who is the course for?

This course has been designed for people of all levels of drawing experience.
– If you are a beginner, it will give you the essential skills to start recording the world around you on the page.
– If you are an seasoned sketcher, revisiting the basics is always healthy for your development as an artist. I will be giving you special challenges – encouragement to test new ideas.
– This course will also help those that want to ‘speed up’ their sketching – a more structured way of visual thinking certainly helps the ability to work faster.

This is not a watercolour technique class, nor is it specifically designed as a sketching architecture course. However with my architectural background and predominant use of ink and wash you will pick up a lot of tips along the way.

Why is this course special?

–  one essential concept per lesson,  each lesson building on the previous
– in depth content – the concepts are clearly explained and then applied
– 12 lessons give time to absorb and develop
– specific assignment each week has been designed to explain the concept

I want to share my personal approach which combines 20 years experience as an architect with the obsessive sketching that has filled over 100 sketchbooks in 7 years.
Loose spontaneous sketching but a strongly structured architectural foundation.

How will the course work?

The course will be run through a private WordPress site with unlimited access.
– This is a self-directed course with all lessons available on registration.
– There will be a private Flickr group for sharing the work. A Flickr group has been specifically chosen for the course community as it provides everyone with the means of creating their own portfolio of work. I think this is very important so you can review individual sketches in the context of a body of work and the development of each participant rather than just relying on a collection of images in a group setting.

Work at your own pace

– This course contains 12 lessons that you can work through at your own pace.
– All lessons are available at registration meaning that you can review them all initially before beginning the assignments.

What each lesson contains

1. In-depth instruction with optional downloadable pdf of the whole lesson.
Each lesson contains a single concept that will be
– Clearly explained with notated diagrams – perfect for beginners
– Demonstrated by a specific exercise – high quality video demonstrations in the studio or out on location
– Applied and expanded upon by use of examples from my sketchbooks over the years – from simple applications to more complex (perfect for the ‘seasoned sketchers’!)
– Special challenges for ‘seasoned sketchers’
– Thought for the week to carry with you no matter how busy you are
– Two assignments. One indoors: applying the concept to a object or two, one outdoors: applying the concept to a more complex scene

2. A fresh step by step demonstration from the streets of Sydney.
During the first run of Foundations, I went out each week for a new sketching adventure in Sydney, showing how I put the week’s concept into practice with a specific step by step demo. I checked out numerous new suburbs and of course each weeks adventure included finding the best cafes in town!

3. Additional tips and FAQ
Although this is a self-directed course, each lesson includes additional tips and frequently asked questions for each lesson. These consist mainly of the feedback that was given during the first run of the course and address common queries and trends that come up from the lesson’s exercises. If you have further questions you can start a discussion thread in the Flickr group or fill out a Lesson Query Form in the classroom.

Course Outline

1. Three ways of seeing and thinking visually. Each will be explained and applied to objects and more complex scenes.
– Feeling Edges –  how to see edges and convert them to lines on the page. Ways of improving eye and hand coordination, and how to prioritize the edges you see.
– Abstracting Shapes – how to simplify what we see into an abstract shape of colour, how shapes add form and tone to sketches.
– Constructing Volumes – how to ‘see-through’ objects to understand visually the underlying volumes and 3D forms, how to construct these using edges and shapes.
2. Dynamic setup – Ways of starting and developing your sketch depending on time and subject matter. To setup or not? Different degrees of setup and tools that can be used. My minimal setup rule.
3. Playing with Line and Colour – Look at the choices you have depending on subject matter and time.
4. Basic approaches to composition – how to fit your drawing on the page, ways of using a view finder and different approaches to using the rule of thirds in a spontaneous way out on location.
5. How to simplify a complex scene, create a strong focus and tell a story about where you are. How to work in a spontaneous way from a focus and let the sketch develop itself.


The lesson demonstrations use a range of materials – mostly ink and watercolour with some watercolour pencils – but it is more important to use what you are familiar with. There will be no need to go and spend a lot of money up front getting any of my art tools!

More detailed material list can be found here.

If you want to find out more about  the Foundations course, I wrote these three articles on my blog to explain how many of the concepts I was implementing in my own work at the completion of the course.

Part 1: Sharing the framework
Part 2: Beginning the Sketch and Balancing Line and Colour
Part 3: Heading out on Location

Sketching Now Foundations

Essential Concepts for Spontaneous Sketching : Self Directed 12 Lesson Online Sketching Course

ONLY $129 USD for 12 in-depth lessons!

Enrol Foundations Course $129USD




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Liz Steel SketchingNow

Liz Steel SketchingNow

Liz Steel SketchingNow

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Liz Steel SketchingNow

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