Someone asked me recently what’s in my urban sketching kit so I thought I’d share that with you today. I don’t carry all these things with me every day. I have a small sketchbook, pen, pencil and a tiny watercolour set that I sometimes keep in my bag in case I want to sketch while I’m out doing other things. This bigger kit is what I take when I go out for a full day’s sketching.
This is a black quilted zip pouch that I got from Paperchase and it’s actually an iPad case. When I bought this one I also bought one that’s about half this size, which I use to carry my smaller, day-to-day sketching kit. I’m able to fit almost everything in here – minus the stool and the big sketchbook – and it keeps everything together inside my bag so it’s easier for me to find what I need.
It also means that when I get home I can take the whole thing out of my bag easily and store it so it’s ready to go when I next need it. It’s kind of my portable studio.
I usually have one dedicated urban sketching sketchbook on the go and until recently that was the big A4 Moleskine watercolour sketchbook that’s at the bottom of this stack. I’ve just finished that one and I already have my next sketchbook lined up. It’s a spiral bound Daler Rowney sketchbook which is 7 x 10 inches and has a sturdy hard cover.
I don’t usually go for spiral bound sketchbooks because they’re difficult to scan but for urban sketching I think this could be a good choice because it’s not too cumbersome and should sit nicely on my lap.
The smaller black sketchbook on top is a Hahnemuhle sketchbook with grey paper which fits easily inside the zip pouch and is quite lightweight so I sometimes take that with me for quicker pen/pencil sketches or to use in places where paints aren’t allowed.
This is a pocket chair which folds flat and has its own storage pouch so it fits neatly in my bag. I usually take this out with me but it’s surprisingly heavy for its size so if I’m going somewhere where I know there’ll be plenty of seating I don’t always bother packing it.
This is my small Schmincke watercolour palette which contains a mixture of Schmincke, Winsor and Newton, and Daniel Smith watercolours. They’re slightly different colours from what I use when I’m drawing at home and I’ll share more information about what specific colours I use some other time.
This is a Neo Kritz pencil-case which is durable, holds a lot and stands vertically on a flat surface if you need it to.
Pens, Pencils and Brushes
The contents of my pencil-case vary a little bit but this is what I carry most of the time:
- A black Uniball pen, which is waterproof and glides easily over coloured pencil
- My Lamy Safari which is filled with waterproof carbon ink. If it runs out the Uniball is an excellent back-up
- A fine Unipin pen which works well for basic ink sketches
- A white Gelly Roll pen to use in my grey sketchbook
- A while pencil to use in my grey sketchbook
- A few watercolour pencils to use for my initial sketches. These blend in with the paints so there aren’t too many visible pencil lines.
- A size 10 Escoda travel brush. It’s a decent size brush for washes but also has a fine point and the handle detaches and acts as a cap to protect the bristles
My current water container is a dipper for oil painting and it’s a bit on the small side but it clips onto my sketchbook which is handy. A spray bottle for reactivating my paints can be useful, clips are a necessity on windy days for holding sketchbook pages down and paper towels are always part of my sketching kit too.
So that’s my comprehensive urban sketching kit and it can be heavy so I don’t like to carry all of it around with me very often. My smaller, pared down kit is much simpler and obviously, the bare minimum I’d need is a pen or pencil and a piece of paper.
Do you ever sketch on location? What do you take with you?