Expressive Drawing TRACK: Lesson 3, X-Ray Vision Spaces


Create a drawing that captures the personality a portion of an interior or exterior space.

Pretend you have X-ray vision so you can see through objects and emphasize where they overlap and interact.

Expressive Drawing Track: X-Ray Vision


JenK, Helen

Draw from Life

  • Ideally, draw the space from life so you can immerse yourself there.
  • Being physically in the environment greatly influences the drawing experience.
  • The spaces don’t have to be neat and clean to draw, in fact, messy spaces are often really dynamic and fun to draw.
Pen & Ink Drawing, Song Kang, banner


Prof Lieu

Reference Photos

Or, you can draw from photos, preferably from photos you shot yourself.

Make sure you are drawing spaces that you have been able to visit in person before.

Mt. Auburn Cemetery 52

Expressive Drawing Track: X-Ray Spaces

Consider point of view

You might enjoy shooting a photo of a very dramatic angle of your living room.

A view of the room like this would be impractical to draw from life, but is still a space you have been physically present in before.

Adjust your photos

Play around with your reference photos. If you are drawing with black media, turning the image black and white helps.

Push the contrast, the brightness, saturation, etc. to an extreme to see what happens.

Expressive Drawing Track: X-Ray Spaces

Expressive Drawing Track: X-Ray Spaces
Expressive Drawing Track: X-Ray Spaces

X-Ray vision

  • Pretend you can see through all of the objects in the space.
  • Pay attention to where objects intersect and overlap.
  • Keep moving your eye around the entire composition.
ask yourself
  • What do you want to emphasize within the space?
  • Do specific objects or part of the space attract your attention?
  • What is the mood of this space?

Warm up

  • Draw a rectangle to draw the space within.
  • Draw 6 gesture drawings, 2 -5 min. each to warm up.
  • Draw the entire space, no matter how crummy it looks.
  • Keep these gestures abstract, forget about making objects recognizable.
Mt. Auburn Cemetery 56

Final drawing

  • Start the drawing the way you started the gesture drawings.
  • Vary the density of your marks.
  • Some parts might a thin layer of marks, others might be thickly layered.

Zones of space

  • Try to identify various pockets of space within the scene.
  • In the cemetery image above, the pocket of space under the tree which is in shadow is different than the pocket of space in the background, which is brightly lit.


Frank Gehry, Silke Schatz, Alberto Giacometti

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drawing media

Use any drawing media! See our overview of drawing supplies to get ideas from our Drawing Curriculum.

Sketching Architecture: Jerónimos Monastery

See how to sketch architecture in watercolor, you don’t need linear perspective and rulers when sketching on site! Tips for how to capture the impression of the building instead of measuring every line in the building are provided.

This architectural sketch is done on site at the Jerónimos Monastery in Lisbon, Portugal. Demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu with commentary by Teaching Artist Cat Huang.

4 min. video

How to Draw Buildings & Architecture

Watch this drawing demo and get concrete tips for how to approach drawing a building. This video shows you how to get started sketching architecture. A complicated subject with many details that can be intimidating.

Techniques for how to capture the scale of buildings as well as how to articulate details are thoroughly explained. Demo by Art Prof Clara Lieu and Teaching Artist Cat Huang.

Show us what you make!

Mixed Media Acrylic Painting, Lauryn, banner