Short courses


Urban Graphics 3: Essential Urban Plans

  • 10 to 20 hours
  • No start date. Work at your own pace.


This free online course introduces you to an important first step in urban design analysis - looking at the historic plans of an area.

Historic plans can provide an enormous amount of information about the context that will form the basis of planning and urban design, including:

  • the shape of the land
  • the patterns of movement
  • the traditional sizes of blocks and plots

You'll also develop your skills using the relevant graphics software, e.g. Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape.

The course has been designed and developed by planning experts. It provides step-by-step instructions and is suitable for beginners.

Course content

Urban Graphics 3 - essential urban plans logo

The first exercise in this workshop shows you how to present historic plans as a timeline. Such a timeline helps us to understand the processes of change.

Moving from basic to more advanced analysis and propositional planning/design drawings requires a step-change in graphics competence. You'll get practice using Photoshop and Illustrator (or their open source equivalents) which are ideal for enabling the clear communication of analysis, concepts and design ideas in a highly professional manner.

Structure and teaching

The task you'll be set demonstrates the key 2D drawings necessary to present urban scaled analysis and design proposals.

You'll also create:

  • historic and strategic analysis plans
  • a tissue study (a form of comparative urban form analysis)
  • a concept plan and public realm proposal

You'll develop your competence in Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape and further develop your skills in Adobe Photoshop or GIMP, as they relate to urban graphics.

For those with access to Edina Digimap, a free Digimap exercise is also included.

You'll be given:

  • video-based introductions and tutorials
  • step-by-step written instructions on how to carry out each exercise
  • baseline material required for the exercise
  • a worked example

Who this course is for

This course is for students seeking a career in the built environment.

It covers some of the essential skills you'll need before you start a course that involves design and planning.


You don't need any design, graphics or urban analytical experience, thought it will be beneficial to have completed Urban Graphics 1: The City Footprint and Urban Graphics 2: Urban Layers and Proposals.

Some knowledge of Adobe Photoshop or GIMP will also be useful.

Learning outcomes

By the end of the course you'll have created:

  • historic and strategic analysis plans
  • a tissue study (a form of comparative urban form analysis)
  • a concept plan and public realm proposal

Course team

Professor Matthew Carmona

Professor Matthew Carmona

Matthew is Professor of Planning & Urban Design at UCL’s Bartlett School of Planning. His research has focused on processes of design governance and on the design and management of public space. Matthew was educated at the University of Nottingham and is a chartered architect and planner. He has published widely in the areas of urban design, design policy and governance, housing design and development, measuring quality and performance in planning, the management of public space, and on design and planning processes in London.

David Chapman

David Chapman

David Chapman is a director of the planning and urban design consultancy UDS. He is an urban design trainer and masterplanner, with specialisms in public realm and street design guidance, and negotiating planning and development projects. He is a teaching fellow at UCL and has been an external examiner at the University of Greenwich. His publications include (as co-author) From Design Policy to Design Quality.

Course information last modified: 1 Nov 2021, 15:32