Welcome to Scene School! Raise your hand if you are guilty of leaving white backgrounds on all your drawings! Do you feel overwhelmed by putting together a scene? Do you want to tell more of a story in your illustrations? Scene School is here to help! Follow along and learn how to draw scenes and discover your style, one piece at a time.

For the next month, we are going to dedicate each entire week to building a single scene. We’ll do this in an easy, approachable way, by researching, drawing, and developing each scene’s component individually before bringing everything together to build an entire scene. I’ll also teach you about drawing fundamentals like atmospheric perspective, background/middle ground/foreground, one and two-point perspective, and more. The types of scenes we’ll be covering are: Nature, Rural, Interior, and Urban.

Here's how it works:

You will develop a single scene over the course of a week.

Part One: Visual Brainstorm

For the first 5 days of the week, you will create a visual brainstorm for your scene’s components. These days are all about looking at references, sketching the components and figuring out how YOU want to depict it.

First, sketch from observation. Try to get an understanding of how the thing looks. You don’t need to be very detailed, just focus on drawing what you see in a simple way without worrying about taking any creative license.

Next, put away your reference and draw from your memory and imagination. Filter the thing you are drawing through your brain and apply some artistic license. For example, If you are trying to draw a palm tree, the goal is to find “your way” of drawing a palm tree. These should also be quick sketches as the purpose is to generate ideas!

Finally, make some notes which ideas you like best! You’ll use these ideas in your finished scene at the end of the week.

Part Two: Put it All Together

After completing your brainstorms, you now have a visual library of components to pull from as you build your scene. It’s time to put everything together!

First, lay out everything in a rough sketch using basic shapes. For each type of scene, I’ll recommend what order you should add in all the scene components. But generally, you should begin by adding the most massive elements (like land formations, buildings, furniture, etc.) and then incorporate the next largest, and so on, until you’ve added the final details.

Next, Refine your initial sketch, drawing in what all of the final details will look like. This is the stage when you’ll draw everything as you want it to look in the final piece.

Finally, you’ll color and finish your scene. Start by blocking in colors, then add texture, details, and lighting. Stand back, pat yourself on the back for your hard work, and admire your amazing scene!

Let's Draw!

WEEK 1: Nature Scene

Your focus for this week’s scene should be a predominately natural environment, with little to no human-made elements. Choose a climate as a jumping-off point! Don’t worry about having your scene fulled flesh out in your head, that is what we’ll spend most of the week doing. Just think about what kind of environment you want to draw.

IDEAS: desert scene, oceanside, forest, mountains, a lake, jungle, etc. 

Below are some nature scene illustrations to get you inspired!

Video Tutorial

Play Video

Part 1: Scene Components

Visual Brainstorm

Spend one day per component doing study sketches learning how to draw each piece of your scene.

The first five days are about figuring how to draw the different things that will be in your scene. For example, on “Plants & Trees” day, you should look up pictures of the types of trees and plant life that will be in your scene and learn how you want to draw them. Don’t worry about making a full composition or a finished piece at this point. Figure out how you want to draw your trees and plants so that when you draw the final piece on the last two days of the week, you will know how to depict trees and plants in the scene.

I have included examples below. I decided my nature scene will be inspired by Lake Tahoe a place our family likes to go to often. 

Water Features

An aquatic element can add a lot of interest to your scene. In what unique ways can you depict the texture and shape of water? Water is Can your scene incorporate one of the following?: river, lake, stream, ocean/coastline, waterfall…or maybe a puddle!

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Animals & Creatures

The natural world would not be complete without critters and creatures. Choose one or two to incorporate in your scene. Consider furry friends, reptiles, birds, fish, bugs, etc.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Land Formations

What is the land formation that is characteristic of the environment you’ve chosen? Here are some ideas: mountains, hills, dunes, cliffs, rocks or boulders, canyon, volcano, island.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Clouds & Sky

The sky is an essential part of any outdoor scene and can add a ton of character to a scene. Clouds can come in a lot of shapes and sizes, depending on the weather. 

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Part 2: Putting it All Together

Sketch, Refine, Color, Finish

Welcome to the main event! It’s time to build a scene out of your visual brainstorms.

Step 1a: Layout components as basic shapes

Create a rough sketch of your scene’s layout. In this step you are determining the placement and scale of the different components in your scene. Use basic shapes, like ovals, rectangles, cubes, etc., and leave out the details. Start with the largest parts first and work your way to the smaller elements of your scene. Here is the order I recommend:

Building Plan: Nature Scene

1. Land Formations
2. Water Feature
3. Plants & Trees
4. Clouds & Sky
5. Animals & Creatures

Step 1b: Refine sketch & add details

In Procreate, reduce the opacity of your initial sketch, then create a new layer. Trace over all the components of your scene, this time drawing shapes and details that you’ll use in your final piece. This is the stage when you’ll draw everything as you want it to look in the final art.

Step 2: Color and finish your scene

a. Color: Start by coloring in everything in the composition in flat colors. TIP: IF you are unsure about what colors to use, it can help to scribble in colors on a temporary layer to get your color palette figured out.

b. Basic Shading: Apply basic shading to the elements of your scene to give them form and volume. Be sure to consider your light source as you add shading!

c. Texture & Detail: add linework and detail to depict texture and fine details

d. Highlights & Shadows: Finish your piece by adding additional cast shadows created by your light source as well as highlights.

My Final Nature Scene

Be sure to watch the video tutorial to see how this all came together.

WEEK 2: Rural Scene

This week for Scene School, you will draw a Rural Scene. This is a mostly natural environment with at least one humanmade structure. After last week, I hope you are a bit more comfortable drawing wild and organic things, so this week we will introduce some inorganic things such as a building, tools, and other objects. My plan for the week is to draw a garden and greenhouse. What will you draw?

IDEAS: a farmhouse, barn, treehouse, cabin, desert home, greenhouse, lighthouse, etc. 

Below are some rural scene illustrations to get you inspired!

Video Tutorial

Play Video

Part 1: Scene Components

Visual Brainstorm

Spend one day per component doing study sketches learning how to draw each piece of your scene.

I have included examples below. I decided my rural scene will be a garden and greenhouse.

Doors & Windows

Drawing an entire house can be a challenge, so we’ll start by brainstorming styles of doors and windows that will add character to your structure. Look up photos of lots of buildings and houses and draw some of the more interesting doors and windows you see.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

House or Building

Now you get to figure out what your house or building will look like! Make a lot of sketches and try drawing it from a couple of different angles. Spend some time figuring out the colors you want to use as well, but don’t worry about making a fully detailed or finished drawing. Think of this as making a plan for the house you’ll draw in your final art.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Plants & Trees

This week’s scene will be in a different type of environment than last week, so spend some time today learning about the plant life that exists in your chosen rural setting. Don’t forget to experiment with style too!

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Tools & Objects

The type of building you choose will dictate what kinds of tools and objects might be found in your scene. If it’s a farm, you might find some farm tools, fencing, or a wheelbarrow. At a cabin, you might find piles of chopped wood, an outdoor chair, or a lantern.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Animals & Creatures

Rural settings are largely natural environments, so there will be animals! This week domesticated animals could make an appearance in your scene. Think farm animals, family pets, etc. There may be wild animals too! What creatures will you include?

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Part 2: Putting it All Together

Sketch, Refine, Color, Finish

Welcome to the main event! It’s time to build a scene out of your visual brainstorms.

Building Plan: Rural Scene

1. Lay of the Land
2. House or Building
3. Plants & Tress
4. Animals & Creatures
5. Tools & Objects

My Final Rural Scene

Be sure to watch the video tutorial to see how this all came together.

WEEK 3: Interior Scene

This week’s Scene School Scene School assignment is to draw an Interior Scene. For this, you should choose a room from inside a home such as a living room, kitchen, office, bedroom, bathroom, etc. The question is…who’s house will you be drawing? 

IDEAS: You could create a scene based on your own home. You could pick a character you created earlier or a character from pop culture and imagine what a room in their house would look like. Or just begin by drawing pictures of all the furniture and decor items you want to buy and put together your dream room!

One more thing…I’m working on a tutorial about one and two-point perspective that will be out later this week! This information will help you a ton when it comes to drawing your final interior scene. Be sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel, so you don’t miss it!

Below are some rural scene illustrations to get you inspired!

Video Tutorial

Play Video
The video above will teach you how to draw an interior scene in one and two point perspective. Download the FREE Perspective Worksheet and learn more on the Perspective Tutorial page.

Part 1: Scene Components

Visual Brainstorm

Spend one day per component doing study sketches learning how to draw each piece of your scene.

As you are doing your interior scene visual brainstorms, look up lots of photos of furniture and interior scenes. Pinterest is a great search engine to find interesting styles of things. Where do you like to shop for the home? You can also try visiting the site of a home furnishings store you love to get ideas for furniture styles. Or if you are creating a scene based on a room in your home, finding references is as simple as looking around.

Seating

Any room you can imagine will home somewhere to sit. What kinds of seating might your room have? Examples: dining chair, rocking chair, office chair, toilet, couch/sofas, bed, etc.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Decor Items

Have some fun with this one! Draw some things that will give the room personality. Examples are wall art, clocks, rugs, pillows, baskets, picture frames, etc.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

House Plants

Bring the outdoors in with some domestic vegetation. Have fun designing containers for your plants! Examples: potted plants and trees, vase of flowers, hanging plants, etc.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Furniture

In addition to the seating you already drew, what other furniture exists in your room? Some ideas are end tables, appliances, cabinetry, etc.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Lighting

Every room needs light! The lighting in your room might be used as light sources for shading or just as decorative elements. Examples are lamps, sconces, windows, a ceiling fan, etc.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Part 2: Putting it All Together

Sketch, Refine, Color, Finish

Welcome to the main event! It’s time to build a scene out of your visual brainstorms.

Building Plan: Interior Scene

1. Walls
2. Largest Furniture Pieces
3. Smaller Furniture
4. Lamps & Lighting
5. House Plants & Decor

It can be difficult to visualize and layout the elements of a room in three dimensions, so I recommend putting together a two-dimensional floor plan.

My Final Interior Scene

Be sure to watch the video tutorial to see how this all came together.

WEEK 4: Urban Scene

It’s our final week of Scene School…are you ready for some city life? This week we’ll be drawing an urban scene.

IDEAS: You could draw some storefronts, a street corner, or a cityscape. Your scene could be inspired by a country or famous city. You could draw a city from the future or a place with an old-word vibe.

For this final week, I’d like you to consider two things for your urban scene: Season and Time of Day

Season

Decide now what season it will be in your scene: winter, spring, summer, or fall? Choosing a season will give your scene a special mood and feeling and help you think of extra details you can include.

Time of Day

The time of day you choose will significantly impact how you choose to draw and render your scene, especially in an urban environment. In the morning or afternoon, buildings and objects will cast long shadows on the ground. If it’s night, you’ll see the glow of electric lights through the windows. What time of day will you choose?

Below are some rural scene illustrations to get you inspired!

Video Tutorial

Play Video

Part 1: Scene Components

Visual Brainstorm

Spend one day per component doing study sketches learning how to draw each piece of your scene.

Windows, Awnings, Doors

Much like we did for Rural week, let’s imagine what will go ON our buildings before drawing the buildings themselves. Today you should draw many different styles of architectural details.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Signs & Window Displays

What business will be in all those buildings? A restaurant? Grocer? Dry cleaner? Boutique? Imagine some signage for these shops and establishments and what kinds of things you might see in the windows.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Urban Greenery

The plant life you might find in the city can be quite eclectic! Consider lots of different trees and plants to sketch. Also, think about the containers these plants might be in: plant pots, balcony planter boxes, tree grates, barriers and fences around plants, concrete planters, etc.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Building Shapes & Rooflines

Time to create some buildings! The focus of today’s studies is to brainstorm interesting urban building silhouettes. You can also start to sketch in where some of the details you brainstormed earlier this week.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Vehicles

What city scene would be complete without cars, buses, bikes, and other vehicles? Choose a couple of different types of vehicles to study and sketch today.

(Swipe to see examples. Tap to expand)

Part 2: Putting it All Together

Sketch, Refine, Color, Finish

Welcome to the main event! It’s time to build a scene out of your visual brainstorms.

Building Plan: Urban Scene

1. Roads & Sidewalks
2. Building Shapes & Rooflines
3. Windows, Doors, & Signs
4. Window Displays &
Architectural Details
5. Vehicles
6. Urban Greenery

My Final Rural Scene

Be sure to watch the video tutorial to see how this all came together.

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