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Is the Art of Sketching Dead?

Updated: Aug 25, 2021

Welcome to week 20 of Design Create Inspire!

Twenty episodes feel like a big milestone. It's not 100 of course, but it means we have consistently been here for five months now, week after week. It has been such a great experience. I look forward to many more months to come! There are over a million podcasts out there, but over half of them end up fading out. Why? Because it can be a lot of work! Showing up consistently with new content each week takes time and effort. There also isn't an immediate return on the investment, so it's easy to give up. Creating this podcast, blog, and YouTube channel has brought so much value to my life that makes the time and effort worth it. I'm continually learning, especially from the wonderful guests I've had, and I love hearing from listeners who are inspired by an episode. It makes it all worth it!

So, anyway...back to the topic at hand. Last week I talked all about architecture software and what I thought was the best one to use. This week, I'm taking a step back and looking at what the digital age means for the art of architectural sketching. Now that most of us work digitally, are architecture sketches a thing of the past? The quick answer: NO! Sketching is a pivotal part of the design process. I believe technology allows us to sketch more efficiently than ever. With the development of tablets and digital pens that feel like the real deal, you can sketch digitally as if you were sketching on a real piece of paper. Now you can do this with any color, pen type, or medium you want.

I like to work both digitally and by hand. I typically start my designs with very rough, not-to-scale, diagrammatic sketches to help filter out ideas. I then bring this into Revit to help with proportions and scale. I keep this digital model simple, basically a massing model. Then I PDF the model, bring it into my sketch App and sketch details over it. Having the ability to quickly work back and forth allows me to be creative and free with the design, without having to spend time detailing the digital model. I continue to work back and forth in this process throughout most of the design process.

Tips for becoming a better sketcher

  • Practice, practice, practice!

  • Find architect's sketches that you like and copy them. Literally trace over them and practice their techniques. How do they use line weight? How do they work with shadows? What do they highlight in the sketches?

  • Print out your own digital models and sketch over them. This can help you practice perspective and proportions.

  • Don't be a perfectionist! Architecture sketches are meant to be sketchy.

  • Add a little wiggle to your line to create a single "straight" line that feels organic. Never "hatch" a straight line - you know when you do a bunch of short lines to make up a single line.

  • Give your lines a tail. Don't stop them short! Architecture sketches should have lines that overlap. This allows you to be quick and free in your sketches, while still maintaining control. It grounds your lines and gives them intention rather than them feeling like they're floating in space.

  • Get even better tips from David Drazil:

I go into the topic a lot deeper in this week's video and podcast, so head over there to find out more.

Do you still sketch by hand? What do your clients or teachers like to see? What's your go-to tools for sketching?

Some of my favorite products for sketching

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See you next week!

I'll leave you with a few timelapse videos of my sketch process:



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