I became interested in architecture at a young age as I enjoyed designing house plans and sketching elevations. At first, I started out on notebook paper and those Academie sketchpads, then my dad gave me some of his engineering quadrille pads from work, and then I progressed to learning mechanical drafting in high school; just as many of you did, I learned about proper lineweights from Francis Ching.
Once I started hardline drafting, I slowly began to lose touch with my freehand drawing skills. And that is a great loss. I don’t want the same thing to happen to you.
In “Towards a New Architect- The guide for architecture students,” British interns Yasmin Shariff and Jane Tankard emphasize over and over again how important it is for one to maintain her freehand drawing skills.
Chapter One begins with a great quote:
“Not a day without a line drawn.”- Pliny the Elder
Bringing their discussion full circle to address today’s automated world, they write (p.4):
“Sketching will help inform your computer-generated drawings in many ways. It will help you decide line weights, views, massing and orientation. It will help you understand 3D projections and make you much more confident and skilled at producing effective renderings. The hand-drawn line has qualities and character that the computer will find difficult to replicate because the hand-drawn line is imbued with feeling and knowledge that is immediate and unique, planned and spontaneous. The machine can only go as far as it is programmed to.
“Sketching develops your hand-drawing skills making it much easier to enter into a discussion or dialogue with others in your team. You can think and explore. If you are fluent and confident you will be able to take charge in a way that a good speaker can run an effective meeting.”
Production of construction documents and learning and keeping up with new computer programs like Revit, Archicad, Bentley, et al does seem to take up the better part of most intern architects’ time. It’s important for us to keep in mind that the invention of new 3D software such as Photoshop, SketchUp, and Adobe Illustrator does not negate the need for us to continuously sharpen our ability see with our mind’s eye and communicate our ideas by sketching on paper.
Do you still freehand sketch? If so, do you have a favorite sketch book and set of pens?