Hand Drawing for Designers:
through Architectural Graphics
by Douglas R. Seidler & Amy Korté
A critical design process
can only be accomplished with hand drawing.
Walk through any foundation design studio
and you will likely hear at least one student ask,
“Why do I need to learn how to draw?”
This is a fair question when you stop to consider that many design students arrive in college or graduate school pre-programmed with knowledge of multiple digital drawing technologies like AutoCAD, Google SketchUp, Revit, and Photoshop.
To successfully develop a unique and responsive design solution, that is to fully understand the design problem, a designer must challenge existing assumptions and form new conclusions as s/he evaluates the strength and weakness of multiple responses through an iterative process.
Each of these may be alternate responses to an original assumption or may represent a unique approach to the design problem.
While the quantity of “design responses” will vary for each designer and with each project, the ability to quickly generate and visually evaluate responses (individually and simultaneously) is essential in the investigation of a critically unique design response.
A critical design process can only be accomplished with hand drawing.
Hand drawing in the profession
Hand drawing is a powerful tool used by firms in conceptual design presentations.
Design educators and professionals see hand drawing as an important skill needed to lead a design team in an interior design or architecture firm. When the spatial complexities of a project or detail are unclear, firms rely on a designer’s capacity to quickly create a hand drawing. This hand drawing visually communicates the idea in an instant to other designers, contractors, or clients.
Designers must also be able to hand draw plans, elevations, sections, perspectives, and details to guide a draftsperson or intern as they create or modify a computer drawing. Hand drawings help emphasize a project’s objectives and ideas by omitting non-essential details about material or methods of assembly.
Hand drawing versus hand drafting
Hand drawing describes the process of intuitively sketching diagrams, loose orthogonal drawings, and perspectives. Hand drawings are created with a pen, pencil, or marker on paper based media.
Hand drawings evolve during the act of drawing.
While you may have an idea of what you want to describe in a hand drawing, the fluid nature of the drawing process allows you to modify and refine your ideas as you see them emerge on the sheet of paper.
The term hand drafting almost always describes the process of creating a measured two-dimensional or three-dimensional drawing in perspective, isometric, plan, elevation, or section.
Because of the precise nature of these drawings, they tend to be less intuitive than hand drawings.
The process of hand drafting requires more understanding of what you are drawing before you begin the drawing.
The term computer drafting is used to describe the process of creating a measured drawing with computer-aided design (CAD) software.
This strength of CAD software is also its weakness as a design tool. The amount of information needed to understand a project before beginning a new computer drawing can be paralyzing, especially if formal ideas have not been resolved through hand drawing or hand drafting. This is one instance illustrating the importance of knowing how to hand draw.
We believe in drawing.
We should be clear, as authors and educators we are not advocating the elimination of computer drafting in design education or the profession. In fact, we rely heavily on computer drafting software in teaching studios, our professional careers, and even designing this textbook.
Behind every “polished” computer drawing is a designer with a strong understanding of architectural graphic standards and solid foundation of drawing principles.
We believe you cannot achieve a holistic design response without understanding hand drawing.
– Doug Seidler & Amy Korté