Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Surreal Skylines

I've been doing these unusual city scenes lately.

Inspired by a little Sci Fi and surrealism.

I start by drawing a curved horizon line, like the top of a planet or ball, and begin adding buildings.

They become wavy, leaning this way and that.

Then I add bright colours.

A good project to try with the kids at school next term.


- background paper, I used heavy wc paper
- piece of good drawing paper
- a recycled cereal or cracker box
- paint, I used gouache, watercolour, and a bit of acrylic
- tacky glue
- fine sharpie


I'm making this skyline in layers.  Why layers? It's more interesting (little 3D) and you can get a cleaner look.

I cut 2 wavy buildings out of the cereal box.

I placed them on my drawing paper and began sketching out a skyline.

Instead of using a curved horizon line I'm just having the skyline come out of the corner.

Add a few details.  I traced out where the cardboard is going to go.

Add colour.  I used paint to get nice bright colours.

At school we will probably paint the buildings but add the details with coloured pencil and crayon.

Paint the cardboard buildings.

Cut the skyline out of the drawing paper.

Add details to the buildings.

For the background I wanted a deep blue.

The city is a light source so as I work to the corner where the city will be I lighten the blue with some white.

I wanted some stars so I splatter some white paint on the dark blue.

Apply glue to the back of the paper skyline.

By using the corner it's easy to line it up and secure into place.

Glue cardboard buildings into place.

I decided it needed a little something so using the leftover drawing paper I made a lamp post.

Cut out and glue into place.

That's it.  With really young kids we can make some of the buildings out of coloured paper. Should make for an interesting lesson!  I hope I inspired you to give these a try.


  1. I love tutorials for art, the step by step approach is just a wonderful narrative that is lost when many people just post without telling an audience anything!

    Your art is something I have not had a chance to see much in real life! I look forward to seeing more.

  2. sensational !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    love it and love you !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  3. These are terrific. I think this is a must do with my students this year, could link to architecture, creative imagination, cross cultural city planning, or could be a lesson with color focus. Thanks so much! I think I'll make some tracers a head of time so even my kinders can get involved. Now I'm thinking cooperative art as well!

  4. Love your tutorial wonderful art work and ideas thank you for sharing them. Rose

  5. I have to tell you I really like what you show on your blog. Always looking forward for your new ideas:)

  6. This is great - I love the freedom it gives kids. They don't have to worry about everything being perfect. Thank you!

  7. I'm not sure my comment went through so I'm sorry if I posted twice. I was saying that this is my favorite blog and I ADORE your ideas. Thank you so much. It's such a treat. I've done several projects and they are always gorgeous. You're awesome.

  8. I love these cityscapes and have just used the idea with my class of year 6 pupils. We have written a blog post about our work and included your original (with attribution) on our class blog at http://6jdevoil.wordpress.com.
    I love your blog and want to use so many of the ideas with my class! Thank you for all the inspiration.

  9. Fantastic tutorial. Thanks for sharing. I'm going to do this with my clients at the dementia day program in New Zealand. Arohanui.