7 Tips for Urban Landscape Painting Inspiration
Written by  Daisie Team
Published on 7 min read


  1. Find inspiration in architecture
  2. Paint at different times of day
  3. Use weather to your advantage
  4. Incorporate urban wildlife
  5. Experiment with perspective
  6. Observe and capture the hustle and bustle
  7. Play with light and shadow

Looking for new ways to bring your canvas alive with the energy and vibrancy of city life? Urban landscape painting inspiration is all around you. From the towering skyscrapers to the quaint cafes, every corner of the city has a story to tell. In this blog post, we'll explore seven practical tips to capture that urban magic in your artwork. Ready to transform your cityscapes? Let's dive in!

Find Inspiration in Architecture

The city is a treasure trove of architectural wonders. Do you ever find yourself looking up, captivated by the geometric patterns of a high-rise building, or the intricate details of a historic façade? That's your urban landscape painting inspiration calling out to you!

  • Study the shapes: The city is a mix of rectangular skyscrapers, circular towers, and everything in between. Look at the variety of shapes around you. The more you observe, the more you'll start to see your city as a mosaic of captivating forms.
  • Notice the textures: From the smooth glass windows of a modern office building to the rough bricks of an old warehouse, each structure offers unique textures. Try to capture these in your painting. It will add a touch of realism to your artwork.
  • Find beauty in the mundane: It's not just the iconic landmarks that are worth painting. Even the most ordinary buildings can become extraordinary when observed closely. The repeating pattern of apartment windows or the sharp lines of a parking garage can serve as a great subject for your next piece.

So, next time you're out in the city, take a moment to admire the architecture. It's not just about the buildings themselves, but about how they interact with the surrounding environment — the way the sunlight bounces off a glass tower or how an old church stands proudly amidst modern structures. These interactions are what make urban landscapes so interesting and inspiring to paint.

Paint at different times of day

Have you ever noticed how different your city looks as the day progresses? The soft glow of dawn, the harsh mid-day sun, the golden hues of sunset, and the enchanting city lights at night. Each time of the day presents a unique urban landscape painting inspiration.

  • Embrace the dawn: Morning light brings a serene and peaceful vibe to the city. It's a great time to capture quiet streets, soft shadows, and perhaps the early risers starting their day.
  • Mid-day marvels: The sun at its peak can create striking contrasts and strong shadows. It's a perfect time to paint the hustle and bustle of the city, with people and vehicles adding life to your canvas.
  • Sunset serenity: As the sun sets, it casts a warm, golden light that can transform even the most mundane scenes into something magical. Try painting the city bathed in sunset hues for a dramatic effect.
  • Nocturnal charm: The city never sleeps, and neither should your paintbrush! Nighttime offers a whole new perspective, with glittering lights, starry skies, and bustling nightlife. Neon signs, street lamps, and lit windows can make your painting come alive with energy.

Experiment with painting the same scene at different times of the day. You'll be amazed at how the changing light can completely alter the mood of your artwork. So, why not set an alarm for the crack of dawn or stay up late into the night? Your urban landscape painting inspiration is waiting for you!

Use weather to your advantage

Weather is a powerful tool in an artist's arsenal. It shapes the mood of your artwork and adds depth to your urban landscape painting. Each weather condition brings its unique touch to the cityscape, making it an endless source of inspiration.

  • Sunny Days: A clear day with bright sunlight is a perfect opportunity to bring out the vibrant colors in your painting. The sky is a brilliant blue, shadows are sharp, and buildings can appear more colorful.
  • Overcast Skies: Don't shy away from a cloudy day! Overcast skies can create a soothing, muted palette, offering a more subtle and nuanced take on the cityscape. It's the perfect setting for an urban landscape painting with a calming vibe.
  • Rainy Moments: Rain can completely transform a city scene. The wet surfaces reflect the city lights, creating a beautiful, almost impressionistic view of the city. Raindrops on windows, people with colorful umbrellas, and shiny streets can all serve as excellent focal points in your painting.
  • Snowy Scenes: Snow adds a touch of magic to the city. It muffles the usual city noises and blankets the buildings in white, creating a serene and peaceful setting. The contrast between the white snow and the dark buildings can make for a striking painting.

So, the next time you see a thunderstorm rolling in or wake up to a foggy morning, grab your painting supplies. These weather conditions are ready to be your urban landscape painting inspiration!

Incorporate urban wildlife

When you think of urban landscapes, you might picture towering skyscrapers, bustling traffic, and crowded sidewalks. But don't forget the urban wildlife that shares the city with us. They too, are a part of the city's life and can add a unique touch to your urban landscape painting.

  • Birds in the Sky: Pigeons strutting on the sidewalks, sparrows chirping from the tree branches, or a solitary hawk circling the sky—birds are an integral part of city life. Sketching them in your painting can add life and movement to your urban scene.
  • Squirrels and Raccoons: Ever spotted a squirrel scampering across a park or a raccoon rummaging through a trash can? These little critters can make for delightful subjects in your painting, adding a dash of charm and whimsy.
  • Domestic Animals: Dogs being walked, cats lounging in a sunlit window, or fish in a decorative pond—all of these add a sense of everyday life and warmth to your cityscape painting.
  • Insects: A butterfly fluttering near a city garden or a line of ants marching on a sidewalk could be tiny but interesting details to include in your work.

Remember, urban wildlife is all around us—you just need to look for it. So, the next time you set out for some urban landscape painting inspiration, keep an eye out for these little city dwellers!

Experiment with perspective

Our perspective is the way we see the world, and in painting, it can transform a common urban scene into a captivating piece of art. When you're seeking urban landscape painting inspiration, playing with perspective can unlock new creative avenues.

  • High-Angle View: Try to sketch from a high vantage point, like the top of a building or a hill. This bird's-eye view can present a unique panorama of the city, filled with rooftops, bustling streets, or sprawling parks.
  • Street-Level View: On the other hand, a street-level view can capture the vibrancy of city life, with towering buildings, bustling traffic, and bustling crowds. It's a perspective that can make the viewer feel like they're part of the scene.
  • Close-ups: Don't be afraid to zoom in. A close-up of a street musician, a café window, or a weathered door can reveal intricate details and tell a story within the bigger city narrative.
  • Unconventional Angles: Finally, don't be afraid to get a little creative. Paint from under a bridge, through a mirror, or down a winding alley. Unconventional angles can make your urban landscape painting stand out and catch the viewer's eye.

By experimenting with different perspectives, you can redefine the way you look at urban landscapes and bring fresh, unique elements to your paintings. So, the next time you're out in the city, why not switch up your viewpoint and see what new inspiration you find?

Observe and capture the hustle and bustle

A city is alive with motion and energy. Capturing this hustle and bustle can add a dynamic element to your urban landscape painting, providing an extra layer of depth and realism. Here are some tips to help you do just that:

  • Observe the Movement: Spend time watching the rhythm of the city. Notice the flow of traffic, the pace of pedestrians, or the flutter of pigeons taking flight. Try to capture these movements in your sketches and paintings.
  • Use Brushstrokes to Convey Motion: Fast, loose brushstrokes can suggest movement and energy. For example, a few quick strokes can depict a car zooming by or a crowd in motion.
  • Blur the Lines: Blurring the lines between objects can also imply movement. This technique can be particularly effective in depicting busy city scenes, like a bustling market or a packed subway station.
  • Include People: People are the heart of any city. Including figures in your painting, even as small, abstract shapes, can enhance the sense of activity and liveliness.

Remember, the aim is not to capture every tiny detail, but to convey the essence of the city's hustle and bustle. So, the next time you're out seeking urban landscape painting inspiration, take a moment to observe and capture the city in motion. It might just add that touch of dynamism your painting needs!

Play with light and shadow

In the world of urban landscape painting, light and shadow aren't just visual elements—they're tools you can use to tell a story, create mood, and draw attention to certain parts of your painting. Here's how you can start playing around with these elements:

  • Study the Light: Notice how light changes throughout the day, and how it interacts with different surfaces. Does it create stark contrasts on the angular faces of skyscrapers? Or does it softly dapple on a cobblestone street? Paying attention to these nuances can provide a wealth of inspiration for your urban landscape painting.
  • Paint Different Times of Day: Challenge yourself to paint the same scene at different times of day. Morning light has a completely different character than evening light, and capturing these variations can add a sense of time and place to your painting.
  • Use Shadow to Add Depth: Shadows are not just absence of light, they're an active element that can add depth and volume to your painting. Use them to show the shape and size of objects, and to create a sense of distance.
  • Experiment with Color: Remember, shadows aren't always grey or black. Depending on the light source, they can have hues of blue, purple, or green. Don't be afraid to experiment with color in your shadows!

Playing with light and shadow can, undoubtedly, bring a new dimension to your urban landscape painting. So, head out with your sketchbook or easel, observe the dance of light and shadow in your city, and let it inspire your next masterpiece.

If you enjoyed our blog post on urban landscape painting, you'll definitely want to check out the workshop 'Find Your Way in Landscape Photography' by Sofia Podestá. While focused on photography, the techniques and principles discussed in this workshop can provide valuable insights and inspiration for your urban landscape painting journey. Don't miss this opportunity to learn from a talented artist and expand your creative horizons.