Architect Sketches

Tips for your architectural Sketches

Tadao Ando Sketch

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:

Faber-Castell 9000 Pencil Design SetPencil:  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.

Moleskine Classic Red Notebook, Plain Large

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.

Sketching Tips:

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:

  1. Darken the end of the line

  2. Overlap corners

  3. Add a dot at the end of the line

  4. Leave gaps in lines

  5. Repeat your line

  6. Shade on a 45° angle & vary you depth

  7. Write notes

  8. Use white space

  9. Continuous lines (don’t lift your pencil/pen)

  10. When drawing a long straight line do not use your wrist but rather move your entire arm  – try it.

Architectural Sketching Tips

Draw something everyday – an exercise which will bring fluency and confidence to your drawing

The Art of Urban Sketching: Drawing On Location Around The WorldDrawing: A Creative Process

Architect Sketches

architects sketch

“God created paper so that architecture could be drawn on it”

Alvar Alto

We are forever fascinated by the Architect’s doodle and how those scribbles on a napkin transform into architecture.

The architect’s sketch is often described as an intuitive force which emerges as a way of communicating their vision to the client.  These scribbles on the page hold so much insight into how that architect thinks and conveys their ideas to the world.  Sometimes ithey are so abstracted from a built form we understand that only when it is complete all the ideas held within the sketch are completely understood.

Many sketches hang in museums and are viewed as pieces of art but where only created as tools for the architect to express their ideas. Over the course of their career architects create thousands of sketches to convey every detail of the building, they say a picture is worth a thousand words but a sketch is worth far more than that.

I am spellbound by these sketches, check the arch GROUPIE Flickr account for a small sample of some of our favourite architect’s sketches.

The Sketch Plan Build: World Class Architects Show How It’s Done by Alejandro Bahamon, Wendy Griswold is a great way to see how architect’s sketches come to life with sketches set beside the built space – fantastic and enlightening.

Architect’s Drawings  by Kendra Smith contains a large collection of sketches, each containing a summary of the building, the sketch style and media, the architect’s thinking and intentions.

Dinner for Architects: A Collection of Napkin Sketches is a great coffee table book with less indepth analysis but a great collection nonethless.

Architects’ Sketchbooks will insprie anone to pick up a pencil and start sketching, another great book those who enjoy looking at these drawings.

Architect's Sketches

Architects sketchArchitects' Sketchbooks

Zaha Hadid’s sketches come to life in her book Zaha Hadid -Sketches -by Zellweger

Another great resource for architectural sketches: Architecture Sketch Blog

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