Some time ago I did a sketch of Los Angeles to make into a painting for my living room. The idea was to stitch together a made-up perspective of the architecture of different neighborhoods. Since the drawing turned out better than the painting I went back to the sketch, added a little color and put it in my portfolio. Then recently someone asked if I could do a version for Santa Barbara. Well there it is. Can you tell all the different spots in the drawing?
My first step is to do a bit of research, find photos for what I want to include. I don’t know Santa Barbara as intimately as Los Angeles so I ended up picking more “touristy” places than my LA drawing . But I also looked for interesting houses and places, ones that would stand out and be fun to draw (I couldn’t resist Lotusland, though I have not even been there.. yet!). Then once I have a collection of photos, I lay them out in photoshop to get a general idea of what will go where and make that white page a little less intimidating.
It takes a good amount of sketches to get a feel for the buildings and how to fill in the gaps to create that made-up world. Sometimes I have to change the perspective from the photo and I use Google Maps and Street View a lot to get a sense of the space and where things are located. But it’s certainly not an exact science and there’s a lot of fudging! Like Stearns Wharf, I ended up making up a distorted bird’s eye view to fit it in that lower corner.
The most fun part is to make little stories by adding people here and there: the surfers, the couple getting married, the pelican eating fish, the guy sitting by the coffee shop with his dog…, and did you spot Jack Johnson playing his guitar? Well, you’d have to know that he went to school in Santa Barbara ;).
What would the next city be.. San Francisco?