Complex Landscapes Made Easy: Paint Las Vegas and Tokyo

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Complex Landscapes Made Easy: Introduction

In this Complex Landscapes Made Easy article and workshop, you’ll learn how to paint Las Vegas and Tokyo.

The paintings below were from a line and wash workshop that I ran recently. These two scenes were requested by one of my patrons Ellen Whitney! I couldn’t decide which one to do, so we’ll try them both 🙂

Complex Landscapes Made Easy: Paint Las Vegas and Tokyo
Vas Vegas Strip – 1/8th Sheet

Las Vegas Line and Wash: Reflection

This was a fun scene to do, I really liked all the lights and movement present in the reference photo. I thought I would try to capture some of this through a line and wash sketch and painting.

One of the main challenges here was preserving the light on the ground and also in the buildings. If I had another go, I’d try to allow the buildings to blend more into the sky wash. You have to be careful with this effect as it can also lead to an undefined edge. But the trick is to leave some sharp edges and some soft edges. An example of where I did this was in the reflections of the vehicles’ headlights on the ground.

I liked the left-hand side of this sketch and the cars too, though I felt I could have added more detail on the right-hand side – perhaps some of those neon highlights with gouache, or by lifting out the paint.

All in all, I think this one worked out well and feels like a spontaneous and loose impression of Vegas!

Complex Landscapes Made Easy: Paint Las Vegas and Tokyo
Tokyo Cityscape – 1/8th Sheet

Tokyo Cityscape: Reflection

I was pleased with how quickly I managed to get through this scene!

The drawing took longer than the painting as usual and I liked the right-hand side of this scene especially. This was a challenging scene and reference photo to translate into a painting due to the sheer amount of detail, and the wide-angle lens used in the reference photo.

I simplified all the details quite dramatically and focused on getting in the silhouette of the buildings in the background and cars, figures walking around.

I think this worked out nicely, especially with the soft shadow in the foreground. The only thing I would change or add here is perhaps some extra gouache in the buildings to create some of those bright and colorful signs which are part and parcel of Tokyo, though I ran out of time in the end to add them. Give it a try!

Here are some other of my line and wash tutorials that I added together in a playlist:

Complex Landscapes Made Easy: More Links and Extra Resources

Basic Materials (Affiliate Links):
Etchr Professional Black Drawing Pens –
Uniball Eye Drawing Pens:
Etchr Perfect Sketchbook –
Etchr Mixed Media Sketchbook –
Daniel Smith Essential Mixing Set –
Daniel Smith Secondary Watercolour Set:
Daniel Smith Primary Watercolour Set:
Daniel Smith Mineral Mixing Set:
Black Tulip Brush Set –
Baohong 100% Cotton Watercolour Paper:

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