LESSON 09: Introduction to Sketching

The ability to sketch is an essential skill for the architect. With a sketch the architect can document attributes encountered in the environment or record a fleeting idea that might be incorporated into a design. Sketching allows the architect to “see” a building much more closely than just looking at it. It is said that an “Architect doesn’t see a building until she draws it.” Furthermore, architects record their first ideas as sketches and often explore those ideas in sketch form before turning to the drafting table or computer to work it out.

To assist their sketching techniques, students will be introduced to the science of linear perspective through demonstration and practice. Students will be introduced to basic sketching techniques for documenting their observations upon which they will build their skills in the course of the semester. Below is a process that will guide your sketching process of drawing a building.

Step 1: Select a reference line: usually the closest corner to you. Try to approximate the angles of the top and bottom edges of the building. From there draw the vertical line of the outer corner such that the two sides of closely approach the proportion of the building as you see it. SKETCH VERY LIGHTLY. YOU WILL GO BACK LATER AND DARKEN THE LINES YOU WANT TO EMPHASIZE. If your building is composed of multiple parts, say it has a tower or a portico, sketch the outlines of these elements, trying to capture their proportions. Note: it is important that you do not move your position; otherwise your proportions will change.

Step 2: Lightly sketch horizontal lines that correspond the heads and sills of the windows. If your building has string courses or other moldings, lightly sketch them in as well. Your horizontal lines should converge to vanishing points although depending on your position they may be off your paper.

Step 3: Lightly sketch the centerlines of the windows and show any other vertical lines. Remember, the vertical lines will foreshorten; you must try to capture this foreshortening in your sketch. Within the outline of your building sketch should be a light grid.

Step 4: Now lightly sketch the sides of the windows relative to the centerlines you’ve drawn. Remember to account for the foreshortening. Similarly, if your building has columns or buttresses, draw their outlines relative to their centerlines.

Step 5: Now you are ready to darken the important lines: building outlines, building feature outlines such as columns, courses, window and door openings, etc.

Step 6: Add detail: column capitals, molding and frieze details, etc.

Class Schedule
Discussion: Group presentations of urban design case studies
Demonstration: Principles of perspective
1. Overlay photographs provided by your professor to discover the horizon line, lines of convergence, and vanishing points.
2. Freehand sketch a building projected on the screen