Sketching is the best method an architect can use to express their design concepts to clients. This crucial process help architects accurately estimate the total cost of an entire construction project. Architects value sketching because it enables them to identify possible construction challenges before commencing a demanding project; for example, building a double story home on an inclined plot of land.
Here are 11 tips that will help you sketch like a pro.
1. Let your fingers do the work
A sketch is basically a rough visual outline of your design. Some budding architects find this process frustrating because they usually end up with aching wrists and elbows. You’ll sketch faster by maintaining a loose grip on your pencil. This helps you to easily maneuver the pencil between your fingers when drawing curves and shading.
A stiff grip forces you to move the pencil using either your wrist or elbow. This puts pressure on your joints, causing aches and pains. It’s also the reason why pencils break frequently.
2. Maintain creative control
The immense pressure to impress a potential client or your colleagues with brilliant architectural designs can interfere with your creativity. In this situation, an architect wastes plenty of time trying to come up with captivating designs. Out of desperation, the architect may resort to copying previous work belonging to different architects.
It’s important to always believe in your innate design skills and experience. Even the best architects still experience the urge to awe their clients. However, the best way to enhance your sketching skill is by fully believing in yourself, and practicing consistently. Rome wasn’t built in a day. Exposing yourself to a variety of design challenges opens up your mind to new problem-solving solutions. This new enlightenment expands your creativity.
3. Diversify your lines
Lines help architects outline designs and create texture on their sketches. One of the most common reasons why some architects frequently produce bland-looking sketches is using one type of line for the entire project. This hinders potential clients from being able to differentiate between some aspects of the sketch.
There are several simple ways you can diversify your line quality. For instance, moving your pencil freely between your fingers rather than clenching it when sketching. You can practice a variety of pencil shading techniques to help you draw thick and thin lines. It’s wise to work with a variety of pencils to help you achieve different shades in your architectural sketches.
4. Add texture to your sketches
Texture refers to a drawing's two or three-dimensional properties. This is achieved by incorporating various line qualities and shading techniques. You will require a keen eye to notice minor details of the common types of texture such as hard, soft, smooth and abrasive. For example, when drawing glass windows, one should use a series of light pencil strokes to enhance the highly reflective nature of glass. You can sketch a stone wall effectively using square shading. This helps potential clients feel the wall’s rough texture.
5. Use symmetry moderately
Symmetry is an important architectural principle, because it guides the architect in coming up with logical designs. The human mind is wired to look for symmetry in everything the eyes observe, so drawing symmetrical sketches helps your clients and design team understand your ideas better. Symmetrical designs are a walk in the park because an architect simply replicates one half of a drawing on its opposite plane.
Too much of something is dangerous. Totally relying on symmetry as your only approach to sketching architectural designs takes a toll on creativity. It causes an architect to limit their imagination to basic symmetrical geometrical shapes. One may run out of blank space whenever sketching large architectural designs.
6. Avoid smudging your paper
A smudge is a shading mistake that leaves messy dark patches on your drawing paper. Using poor quality drawing paper which blots makes your sketches prone to smudges. Before sketching, you should ensure your pens don’t leak. Always use sharpened pencils when shading to avoid smudging. Make sure your hands are dry. Any water or oil on your hands that comes into contact with your drawings will smear the graphite.
Consider using a white eraser when rubbing lines in your sketches. They are soft and flexible, minimizing the chances of tearing your drawing paper. Use a paint brush to get rid of eraser particles after rubbing off unwanted lines in your sketches. Using your hands could end up smearing graphite particles on the drawing.
7. Get into a relaxed state of mind
Designing is a mental process that helps your brain to consolidate similar ideas into one. The mind functions at its best when calm. This is why it’s important to ward off any anxieties and doubts that undermine your creativity. The pressure to produce aesthetically appealing sketches may cause you to avoid the design’s functionality. It also causes architects to neglect minor details.
You can engage in various healthy stress management techniques before sitting down to sketch. Listening to your favorite music while you sketch keeps the mind alert throughout the entire process. Avoid working with uncooperative colleagues. If possible, move to a quiet space where you can avoid distractions. Take short breaks at hourly intervals. A fatigued mind cannot spot design flaws. Taking breaks helps you view your sketch from new perspectives, and helps you make crucial improvements easily.
8. View your drawings from a reverse angle
While sketching various architectural designs, one is prone to making errors in the sketch’s proportion. These errors are only visible by viewing your sketches from a reverse angle. You can do this by sketching on a sheet of clear tracing paper placed on top of your drawing paper. Once you’re done, flip the tracing paper over then compare the image with the sketch on your drawing paper.
9. Use irregular lines when shading
It’s common to use a variety of horizontal, vertical and diagonal lines when shading your architectural designs. They help an architect to achieve texture and effectively denote various landmark features such as vegetation. You can use thick and thin lines when shading to create distance in your drawings.
You can add spark to your designs by using irregular lines to shade your sketches. Using irregular lines to shade a field makes it more realistic because the lines emphasize the minor blades of grass. An architect can also use a variety of irregular lines when shading a building to bring out contrast.
Always use different pencils with varying boldness when using irregular lines. This helps lines to stand out, and brings about the desired effects.
10. Download video tutorials
There are plenty of informative resources freely available online, in the form of free eBooks, articles, and videos. In order to understand how to apply a new drawing or shading technique, you need to see how it’s done. You can effectively learn new techniques through watching video tutorials available on architectural websites or YouTube.
YouTube is a fantastic source for obtaining sketching tutorials because you can communicate with a variety of seasoned architects. Interacting with them gives you an amazing opportunity to ask the experts questions on challenging topics.
11. Join an architect’s online community
Archinect, The Open Group Architecture Forum, and, Architect-Forum are fantastic online communities where students and professionals meet to interact and gain assistance. These forums offer free membership irrespective of your country of origin. Joining these online forums enables you to gain knowledge from other members who share their experiences in group discussions.
You don’t need to spend a lot of money to become better at sketching architectural designs. All you have to do is adhere to the tips highlighted above.
Do you have any burning questions related to this topic? Feel free to post them in the comments section below.