How to Draw a City Landscape

Cities are amazing places, and the landscape of a city is a great thing to use as a backdrop for your artistic talents. Cityscape art is very popular part of Map Art and Map Illustration both for contemporary map artworks and for historic maps as well. Towering skyscrapers, parks, statues and church spires are all interesting focal points that you can use to create your skyline. Here’s a quick guide to help you draw your own city landscape.

Using Perspective in Illustration

The hardest part of drawing a city is adding depth to your illustration. The technique that most illustrators use to create depth and make some buildings look further away than others is to use perspective. Buildings which are further away are smaller and narrower. They shrink as you get further away, towards the horizon.

Creating the Horizon

Start by deciding on your field of view – this will take up most of the page. Pick a point for the horizon, and draw two diagonal lines coming out of the horizon and down to the front of the image. These lines will be used as guides to help you get the right size and angle for each building in your image.

Detail and Distance

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In a drawing, there is little stopping you having the same amount of detail on each building, but to create the illusion of distance you should reduce the level of detail on images further away. Consider smudging your pencil marks or using gentle shading to soften the image slightly.

Artistic License

Drawing a city skyline is not the same as producing a book illustrations or even illustrated maps. You do not have to draw every building, or keep the scale perfect if you do not want to. Feel free to use artistic license to make certain buildings “pop” out of the drawing or to encourage the viewer to focus on your favorite part of the illustration. The beauty of an artistic image is that you can make your landscape look however you want it to.