Sketching Landscape Thumbnails from Imagination

In this lesson, we will be making small, quick thumbnail sketches of landscapes from imagination. Starting with basic gestural lines before adding light and dark masses of tone to flesh out the scene.


  • Toned paper
  • Graphite Pencils
  • White chalk pencil (or white pen)
  • Eraser
  • Begin by drawing a set of different shaped boxes.
  • They can be square or rectangular – whatever you like.
  • The more varied their shapes are the better.
  • Make them no larger than about 5-8cms at their longest edge.
  • Begin with a horizon line, this will separate the land from the sky.
  • If you want to give the impression of hills. the horizon will be blocked or maybe curved.
  • Then add some features, this may include winding paths, rivers, trees or clouds etc.
  • Decide the direction of light from the sun and begin shading the land in accordingly.
  • If the land or feature is facing towards the light, it will be light, if it faces away, it will be darker.
  • Trees are usually darker than grass as well.
  • Once you have added darker tones, you can use the white chalk or pen to add the lighter tones.
  • Usually the lightest tones will be the sky or clouds and reflections of the sky and clouds in water.
  • Finally, spend as long as you like adding gradients and detail to your sketch.
  • Try to get a strong sense of luminous light if possible!

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