Part of the fun of travel sketching is comparing different artists’ renditions of the same place. Everyone has their unique approach, and the more you practice, the more distinct your style will become!

A great way to develop your style is to practice other peoples’ methods, so today, we’re going to recreate one of Melissa Lakey’s travel sketches from Prague. All you will need are markers and coloured pencils, as well as some tape for the borders if you like defined edges. Let us begin!

Step 1: Defining the Houses

We’re going to go straight in with markers for this whimsical style. Draw the basic frame of the building and differentiate the different floors from each other. Relax and let it be a bit cartoony.

Use any markers you like. Melissa uses water-based markers, while I used alcohol-based markers since that’s what I own currently. You can even paint with watercolour and recreate the same marks!

Use different colours to keep the variety strong. A limited palette will keep your drawing balanced and professional-looking, but this is such a casual style that you can focus on having fun with the colours.

This art style will help you focus on the basic shapes of buildings instead of getting too bogged down in tiny details and not knowing what to paint first. Let’s continue drawing and add some distinguishing features to each building!

Step 2: Adding Details

We’re going to look a little more closely at each building now and add defining features. The first thing you may want to do is add more marker lines to define the window areas.

The real details will be in coloured pencil. Instead of using a black pencil, Melissa uses a very dark grey one. That way there’s the overall effect of black without so much contrast that it throws off the pastel effect of the picture.

Once you’ve added the windows, it’s fun to define ledges and the other features of the building with a more intense shade of the base colour.

Play around with different types of lines and colour combinations when you add the pencil details. By making green shutters on the windows, I tied this building in with the one next to it. Notice how the roof details are the same colours as the building we just finished so that the overall picture gets some consistency.

Adding little yellow and orange touches on all the buildings is an easy way to tie the whole picture together. Also, try playing around with what shapes of windows and details you put on each house. Melissa doesn’t worry about precision at all, so don’t panic if nothing is very proportionate.

Leaving plenty of white space on a building can be quite striking! Oftentimes less is more, and on this tall thin building, I think that is the case.

Look at this lovely row of houses! Each one is so different from the next, and yet there’s that current of the yellow and orange details keeping the image united.

Notice how despite the style being rather imprecise and whimsical, the character of historical architecture in Prague is still there. It’s a balance between being observant and being playful.

Step 3: Finishing Touches

Before you call the picture done, look around to see if there’s anything else you’d like to do. In this case, Melissa added a bit more pencil detail onto the buildings and coloured the sky with pale golden yellow for seam atmosphere.

This project takes less than an hour, which is perfect for travelling when you’re busy! Try mixing up your colour palette depending on what location you’re drawing, so that the character of each new city can shine through when you put all the pictures together and look at them.

If you enjoy working in this style, you’ll love Melissa’s 90-minute class! Also, feel free to check out our email newsletter and share your work with us on social media! Happy sketching!

Elsa Wahlstrom is an illustrator/writer living in the south Idaho hill country. She  loves to create cozy, homey pictures and populate them with funny little creatures  having surreal little adventures. Her biggest inspiration is the music and comedy that  came out of England in the late 60s. When she’s not busy making art, she goes for long  hikes, plays a few instruments, and collects vinyl.


  • Catherine Paver said:

    Thanks for this! I learnt some right away, from the title alone, about cheerfulness in a travel sketch. That’s a great idea and relaxes you already, which is always good in sketching, for me at least. I also love be the advice to make it a bit cartoony. Nice! Thanks again! :0)
    Etchr Studio replied:
    Hey Catherine, we’re so glad you enjoyed reading this blog and picked up a trick or two! We hope you enjoy making more art. :)

    June 13, 2022

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