Architectural sketches are many things but they do NOT need to be perfect / meticulous or even pretty. Sketches are tools and without rules. Often times we shy away from sketching because we think they need to be pretty perfect replicas of whatever we are sketching.
Sketching offers so many benefits such as:
- a record of something you have visited and seen in person
- a record of one or more aspects of something you want to keep record of
- a way of learning how materials and forms come together
- is a great alternative when cameras are not permitted
- sketching is slower than photography which lets you take a moment and really appreciate and look at the architecture you are visiting
- you can add notes and thoughts to your sketches
- a rough description – it’s OK if they lack detail; don’t fill the page or are not even completed
All you need:
Pencil: A carbon pencil is great for the beginner – they come in a variety of lead grades and provide a varied and richness to sketches over mechanical pencils which are hard and thin, I would recommend a soft lead such as a B or 2B, for a sketcher quality you can even move up to a 6B. Mechanical pencils break easily and because they are so thin it will be more difficult to shade and obtain a variety of line qualities. No erasers – don’t bring an eraser sketches do not need to be perfect when you make a mistake work with it or start over, this adds character and will help you improve.
Pen: there are so many types of pens available; the easiest to sketch with, in my opinion is a felt tip marker. The thicker the pen the less precise and detailed you need to be. Experiment with pen types you have, I would not recommend traveling with a fountain pen, they require refills and my fountain pen exploded on me after a long flight so stick with a basic felt or nylon tips.
Paper: a sketch book with good quality paper is important, also if you choose to use markers you will need a paper that can hold the ink without bleeding the next page. Every sketch looks better on good paper – Moleskine has a variety of paper weight available for their sketchbooks and the paper color also varies which adds to the quality of the sketch.
Everyone has different preferences so spend a few minutes and experiment with what you like. You do not need to travel with lots or supplies, 2 pens and 2 pencils and 1 sketchbook are enough.
To do this sort of sketching you need to relax and let yourself go and not to be afraid of making mistakes and to have an understanding of form and shape.
A lack of confidence and worrying about a perfect sketch inhibits your work and enjoyment of the process. Sketches are a means of conveying an idea, they are tools to learn, understand and communicate so they do not need to be perfect or finished.
Really simple tips to elevate your sketches:
Darken the end of the line
Add a dot at the end of the line
Leave gaps in lines
Repeat your line
Shade on a 45° angle & vary you depth
Use white space
Continuous lines (don’t lift your pencil/pen)
When drawing a long straight line do not use your wrist but rather move your entire arm – try it.