Architect Skills

Architectural Sketching – Why architects sketch

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Posted By Matthew Von Dohre

Designing architecture

The art of sketching and drawing has been around for a long time and is nothing new to the world.

Architects have used sketching to design architecture for hundreds if not thousands of years by communicating their ideas and thoughts into visual guidelines for how a building or structures should look. 

The importance of sketching is to understand that sketching is a process to quickly test ideas and problem solve.

Architectural sketches may not be beautiful drawings like something that you would see in a museum or on the cover of a magazine but by sketching you are creating a way to visually communicate your ideas to someone else. 

Think back to your childhood drawings of stick figures and square houses. These sketches were your dreams and imaginations that you could visually share with your parents similar to an architect sharing ideas with a client. 

Your ability to sketch

You really do not have to sketch well to be an architect as long as what you sketch can provide even the slightest bit of insight as to what your ideas are.

Sketching is a skill that people develop over time and you will improve your sketching the more time you spend practicing the skill. 

You can learn to sketch architecture by practicing the various drawings that architects create such as construction details, floor plans, elevations and building sections .

It’s ok to copy, so copy, copy, copy…..

I personally think that it is ok to copy other people’s sketches as long as you are not claiming them as your own original work.

Copying other people’s sketches allows you to learn their techniques by recreating what they have done.

Also by copying you can build muscle memory skills for the techniques that you are learning and it allows you to practice techniques without having to design anything.  

Hand Sketching is better for the mind

Sketching by hand allows the mind to develop ideas at a much more rapid pace than trying to draft them in computer software.

The act of sketching allows you to be free of the precision that a computer drafted or modeled drawing can be.

You also have the ability to experiment with the various types of media, such as trace paper, sketch books and weighted paper along with various pens and pencils that you prefer to develop your skills with.

Digitally sketching

The digital age has changed how some architects sketch ideas and projects but the fundamentals of the design process still remain the same.

Many different software’s allow you to draw on the screen like you would with pens and paper but with the added ability to copy, paste and send the sketches in a digital format.

Keep on sketching

So remember not everyone can draw or sketch well, even some of the famous architects have less than perfect sketching abilities.

The key to good sketching is the ability to quickly produce your ideas and clearly communicate your thoughts with others. Your sketches do not have to be perfect just understandable.

Keep practicing your sketching abilities, they will grow over time and you will develop the creative process that is somewhat unique to the world of designers.

So keep on sketching and remember you never know how good you are if you do not try.

Matthew B. Von Dohre, RA, RIA, NCARB

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