Have you ever wished you could paint a scene from a faraway place, but you couldn’t because you had no travel money? I have had this problem many times. I want to paint everything on earth, except for the part of earth where I currently am.

The talented urban sketch artist Pedro Loureiro found a good way around this problem that doesn’t involve spending any airfare. He uses Google Earth to virtually sketch on location! For his FREE Live Demo painting, he used the satellite map to visit Lisbon, Portugal, but I decided to go to Nærbø, Norway.

Here we are in Nærbø on Google Earth. Sadly I couldn’t get some good user-submitted photos as Pedro Loureiro found for Lisbon. The satellite was somewhat two-dimensional, so I had to search Google Images and go down a bit of a rabbit hole.

I don’t blame the people of Rogaland County for doing things with their time other than submitting images to Google Earth, but it would be more fun if they would do it.

There we go. A path that’s purported to be in Nærbø. Now the sketching can begin.

Loureiro has an excellent pen sketching technique where he sketches things as one big mass that’s all connected, rather than trying to proportion individual objects.

Looking at the subject in that way makes it so you can draw it all in one sweep, rather than go back to add detail only to find that there’s another object in the way. I’m going to use this technique for my pen sketching from now on.

There’s also this genius technique for hatching that Loureiro shared in the demo. Instead of hatching from the same direction each time, go back and forth to have more organic-looking variety in your line.

I used the free-flowing hatching style to shade everything in the picture that looked like it could use some shading. The trees were sort of tricky, but I reassured myself by painting them dark in the end.

Another important thing that Loureiro mentioned is that lines should be less precise and more broken as you get farther away from the focal point. If a distant shrub is rendered with precision, the perspective won’t be as convincing.

I barely did anything to render the trees in the back and notice how my hills are total afterthoughts. That was on purpose because if I drew the hills nicely, they would distract the composition.

Whenever I do the first wash on grassy ground, I like to start with a green mixture that I mute with brown, then go in with some yellow ochre before the water is dry. The yellow ochre is sort of an undertone in the grass.

Don’t be afraid to yellow the grass up. Especially here when it’s a fall scene, you don’t want that grass to be too green. The grass is often way less green than you think it is.

I went in now with my darkest green mixture: a chaotic pudding of different blues, yellow ochre, some green from the pan, and yellow ochre. I just went with my intuition and some trial and error to mix it up. Use it for shadows.

I used the browner end of my green paint pudding to make the fence. I added more yellow ochre for it.

I greyed out the green with some blue and umber, but not so much that the colour’s nature was lost. I then used that in various dilutions on the road and the sky.

I left out the markings on the road because they weren’t adding anything to my painting. Sometimes it’s okay to change a reference photo to serve your composition, and in fact, I had several professors in art college say that it’s better to change the photograph.

Pedro Loureiro uses such lively colours in his work without making any of them muddy. He is a brilliant sketcher, so I recommend that everybody follows this link to his Mini Workshop

His teaching style is wonderfully relaxed and candid, and he doesn’t hide any helpful techniques. I certainly will be following the advice from his Live Demo in my future sketches! 

Elsa Wahlstrom is an illustrator and graphic novelist based in Minnesota. She specializes in all things cozy and calm, but adds humor where she can. When she isn’t drawing, she enjoys playing musical instruments, but you’re more likely to see her staring at some silly tree or something. 


  • Antonio David Gil said:

    Como siempre, una inmejorable oportunidad para mejorar en el urban sketching y en la simplificación del dibujo.
    Gracias, amigo Pedro.

    September 26, 2023

  • jennifer said:

    thanks for this review and for explaining how YOU accomplished the style Pedro provided in his tutorial. I am trying it too:)

    August 13, 2021

  • Susan Browning said:

    Loved this chance to peek over Elsa’s shoulder as she followed Pedro’s instruction. And, I finally got a better idea of how to use Google to find a site. Great!

    August 12, 2021

  • Sherry said:

    Haha, great review, thank you! I’ve signed up and am halfway through Pedro’s course, and you’re right, he is very relaxed, its great so far!

    August 09, 2021

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