Establishing a focal point
The human eye is similar to a camera lens in that it cannot focus on everything at once, so you will need to work systematically to establish the figure as a focal point first and then go on to develop the background scene.
Figures are rarely seen in isolation - usually they are situated against a backdrop, either indoors or outside. Invariably this background is a significant element in a drawing, but the most important thing to remember is that you should always relate the figures to their surroundings. The interaction between the two needs to be organized carefully within a composition to give a strong sensation of depth and create a series of spatial relationships. Try not to include too much background detail so the emphasis of the drawing remains centred on the figures.
Sketch the figure lightly first in pencil on a toned, semi-rough watercolour paper. Then draw in the fountain and the most prominent features of the buildings. Once you have all the proportions drawn correctly, return to the figure and strengthen the image.
24 As this café scene is situated outside in a square, the quality of light is much stronger, casting short dark shadows and producing bright highlights. Mix some cool washes of watercolour for areas of the fountain and buildings that are in shadow and apply them with a small sable brush.
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