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A few words in favour of architectural hand drawing

— 18 Oct 2017


Pencil sketch by Julian Clayton


Concept, layout and construction sketchbook. Pete Thompson


Sketchbook: construction detail design. Pete Thompson


Sketchbook: concept for external garden features. Pete Thompson


Sketch specification - a picture is worth a thousand words. Detail by Jonny Poland

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At the risk of being labelled luddites or accused of not keeping up with the times, we would just like to say a few words in favour of architectural drawing and sketching by hand.

At Jonathan Rhind Architects, as a modern and forward-thinking practice we invest considerable resources and time in new technology, so that we have the very latest computer aided design software (CAD) which can produce accurate and lifelike 3D images of our designs, to present to clients and submit for planning applications.

It may therefore come as a surprise that we recently had an in-house training session with all our technical staff to encourage them to take up or improve free hand sketching and architectural drafting by hand.

We believe that freehand drawing skills compliment CAD, giving the best of both techniques to architects and designers for the following reasons:

  • Freehand sketching is an appropriate method of graphically representing historic buildings, as it conveys the rustic and individual nature of old materials better and in a more sympathetic style.
  • By sketching existing buildings, one gains a better and more detailed understanding of how they are put together, therefore how best to carry out repairs and alterations.
  • Sketching freehand allows you to adjust the representation in subtle ways to make the architectural design stand out. Many SGI images provide equal weight to everything in the image, resulting in the building having to compete with the hard and soft landscaping, people, cars, etc. and the focus on the architecture is lost.
  • Through sketching by hand, we can make sure that our detailing and finishes are thought through and individually crafted.
  • As a team of skilled, experienced and passionate designers, hand sketching allows us to illustrate and communicate to clients, planners, builders etc. all aspects of our designs in a medium suitable for the stage or works and unconstrained by rigid CAD automation.

To promote sketching skills, we provide staff with regular sketching time to draw existing buildings and new designs from concept to detail.  A few of these sketches accompany this article.

by Julian Clayton, Senior Architect.

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