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Painting The Night: A Night-Time Cityscape Of Tokyo

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Step 1: Sketching A Night-Time Cityscape


Painting night scenes are notoriously tricky, but Bill shows how to tackle such a scene in this lesson. Here, he introduces and breaks down his reference picture, which is a night-time cityscape of the Ginza district in Tokyo, Japan.

Next, he does the usual by taping the edges of his watercolor paper and creating a border around his painting area that is to scale with the reference picture. This helps with framing purposes, and like Bill, you can also leave a strip of space to the right to test colors on when painting. Before sketching, he also sprays his paints with water to soften them and make them easier to paint with later.

First, pencil in a horizon line, then start outlining the cityscape, beginning at the vanishing point. Draw from big to small shapes, and keep to the rules of this 1-point perspective composition! You don’t need to make it perfect; just try to capture the impression of a busy cityscape.

Add the road and some simplified vehicles, and draw them in perspective. Details like lampposts, signs, and people can also be added, but keep them to a minimum, as you can always draw with the paintbrush instead. It’s also fine to change your composition to be more interesting than the reference photo! To finish off, pencil in the letters of the “Natsuzakaya” sign. This will help you get the right spacing in this particular sign.

Below is a close-up of Bill’s sketch: