In this article we will be talking about something vital, which all architects (even if they know how to draw) will have as a mental obstacle – and this is being able to always sketch with a confident freehand drawing.
Sounds good? Let’s get to it!
Freehand drawing is the staple of architectural drawing – most people associate being able to draw like an architect as you being able to freehand draw (although the absolute reality is that technical drawing is as important as freehand drawing – no matter, we will handle this in a future article).
Look, I know my students, I know you fantasize about wanting to draw straight, confident lines and to master sketching in front of others and just come up with a good idea after good idea in all your sketching.
General Theory On How Your Mind Works
Look, I KNOW You want to watch a video on line drawing, we will get to that in a bit! Promise
We first need to get the theory sorted of why you are how you – this will be the shift that will get you to the next level.
Makes sense? We need to first get the mental part out of the way so we can then focus 100% on graphics. In sports, they call this inner game and outer game, the concept carries through to architecture 100%.
You got three brains in one:
• Physical – translates into taking action, ending in literal skills that you get. You grow your skills by living them, by repeating them and striving to become better, skills cannot be faked.
• Emotional – the inspiration, sensitivity part of drawing. Although you might think that emotion is very important because it is drawing, hence art. Nope, architecture has its own take on things. Even the good ideas, they are not that emotional. Even the sensitive good ideas, again not that emotional – the quality comes from somewhere else.
• Intellectual – Abstract conceptualisation. Your mind can imagine things that do not exist yet, brainstorm ideas, go into a lot of detailing with this and then focus on making it a reality. This is how you need to live your life, optimising the way your brain works.
How Most Students Work
These three brains aren’t equally powerful in individuals – from what I noticed:
• You got one genius brain, an ok one (which you can train and get to standard) and a weak one that will always cause trouble because you are prone not to use it as much as the other two.
Usually, my students fall into two categories:
Category 1: Emotional, physical, intellectual
• You feel a lot, and you are ambitious, but you cannot connect the dots, hence it will be hard for you to get results with architecture. Very sensitive people that might be artistic, might have something to say and skills to say it – they just need to not forget
• Solution: Follow my guidance to the letter, after you learn what you need to learn from me, you are free to be your upgraded self.
• You like intellectual stuff, you like to learn and feel things at a deep, deep level.
• But you are having trouble putting things into action, moreover – the physical brain deals with conflict, the fact that architecture and drawing has an intrinsique conflict woven into it.
• Solution: follow my guindance in terms of taking massive action, do not just nerd out on this stuff
• You will sometimes see harsh feedback, you will feel it is meant to be harsh, but the reality is that its meant to help you survive.
• Massive angst if I imagine something and can’t’ do it. You will see a lot of versatility in my approach in teaching, because of this obsession to ‘talk the talk but walk the walk’.
• Emotions fall sometimes, sometimes the inspiration and love for the craft just aren’t there – I push myself through this.
This stands for the myers briggs personality type indicator and basically does three things:
• It gives you the exact pattern in which your brain functions, which is disappointing but refreshing because you know what you can do and what you should avoid.
• You will know what you can do and what you cannot – again, it gives a very clear cut formula that you ca use to grow yourself and give drawing your own twist.
• This cognitiv pattern that you find doesn’t change, you mature and grow, but you cannot change it, you only grow into it.
This shows how you have specific genes activated from when you were born and these manifest in your personality and unique gifts – the cool part is that if you contemplate and change your attitude towards certain things, you can unleash more of this untapped potential and then you can really win at architecture.
Especially at your talents – here is where you can be the most talented, because you are simply unleashing your own latent potential.
This is the weirdest s ystem of them all – it mostly concerts how your energy centers work in your body. IT is extremely interesting if you have the patience to study it all the way and to accept the weird things you will hear. It will help you grow, you will learn very weird stuff like:
• How you function as an organism on planet earth.
• This will help you with everything from motivation, to answering the deep questions.
• Frees up more space so you can become your true self.
Learn How To Draw Confident, Straight Lines And Become Your Best Creative Self
If you want to apply what you are reading here to your work, then here’s a free 5-day course I created for you. You can access it here 100% free of charge and you will take your drawing skills to the next level! See you on the other side.
The Plan: Time to go all-in for line drawing
Ok, so we covered the psychological theory part, now it’s time to go for just a bit of drawing theory then a lot of ACTION.
• No quick-fixes! Your mentality should be that if you fix the problem behind the problem, then you got this skill set on autopilot for the rest of your career. When you are struggling with something, try to understand what is happening behind the principle.
• Two essential line drawing exercises – one strictly for line drawing, the other for getting used to sketching a more advanced architectural drawing. Do these 30 times if you need to – it is 100% fine to do so as you need to take action and win the skills for yourself.
• Start accepting that in architectural freehand drawing there is no substitute for experience. (We will be looking at several topics of study that you need to know so you have line drawing understood at a deep level)
The Four Pillars Of Architectural Line Drawing
1. Freehand Drawing Line Types
There are three types of lines that need to be apparent in all your drawings – this will add graphics and clarity to your work, but most importantly it will help you understand how to systematically approach drawing anything.
• Construction – from the pencil’s own weight (always fill the page with construction lines, keep all the lines) if you can’t see the drawing because of the construction lines, then thicken the contour lines
• Contour lines – thicken the edges that you see in perspective, this makes for the part that normal people see out of the drawing. I adivse you over thicken them so you are preparing the drawing for hatching – remember, your drawing needs to be colored/hatched. It’s not about drawing lines just like that, it’s preparing your drawing for the final stages.
• Thick lines – for the cast shadows as well as the foreground or some special graphics effects. This is quite good as it gives clarity to large drawings, it makes everything read very easily. Also, thick lines work very well for the cast shadows you draw in all your perspectives.
2. The Four Step Formula To Drawing Anything
After many years of drawing half hazardly, it struck me one day – how to get that consistancy so all my drawings look at leaast 80% good… the other 20% well that is unpredictable so I am fine with improvising on the spot.
• Rethicken the important lines, so you get clarity – this is where normal people stop – we won’t do that, we will go all the way with our work. Rethicken the important lines in order to get clarity and spatial expression with your volumes. Risk it a bit over thicken the lines, so people see them from a 6-meter distance!
3. What Makes A Drawing Look Good
There are certain things that make a drawing look good no matter what – these are principles; they are true no matter what happens. Do your absolute best to keep them rolling no matter what. Deal?
a. Correct part – these boxes need to be ticked whatever you do
Correct part means that your drawing needs to keep into account a couple of essential elements that are must for architectural drawing and for architecture. These are:
-Correct perspective – it is enough to have one perspective mistake for your whole drawing to look off
-Correct shadows – both shadowed faces and cast shadows
-Correct hatching -gradients darker in the front and get
b. Expressive part -the subjective, artistic element.
• Idea and composition- most people think you either have good ideas or you don’t. The reality si that you grow these ideas by drawing them. Simple as that.
• Graphics – contrast, draw for 6, 3, 1.5 meters (if you are struggling with the fear that you will ruin your work, that won’t happen) Not doing this will ruin your work as it will end up looking dull.
• Exaggerate spatial depth – sharp foreground, strong, clear cut shadows. These elements just add that nice architectural feel to all your work.
4. Uncomfortable Truths
• You will always struggle with freehand drawing, accept that – it will for ever be difficult for you to get your ideas on paper, because you will always strive to get better, more bold ideas
• 80% of a drawing is always the same 20% is unique and unpredictable. All of this is fine, it will help you organise the chaos of tackling new subjects.
• Graphics tricks… although they sometimes seem like intellectual prostitution (really harsh one), they always work. No idea why, sometimes when you are caught in the moment you want to stop doing what works. Do not do that – keep your focus on the things that work, discipline your emotions to not revolt and see things through all the way.
• Nobody on planet Earth can help you take action, to make you take the steps towards bettering yourself – YOU have to do it. You will see some of my work and some of my students’ work and it might inspire you, you might read an article and get that clarity that you always wanted, you might see a video of me rocking the triangles… you have to do this on your own, nobody will lift the weight for you. Which is fine because nobody can take it away from you either!
If you just read through this, then it can’t leave you just feeling neutral. Note down any insights you have – confident line drawing is something that you live, hence you need to nurture the skill for it to improve.
Confident Line Drawing Exercises
Line Drawing Exercise #1 -Abstract Compositions
Go slow, connect the tip of the pencil with your mind.
Get a gradient through the line drawing.
Make the sketches expressive – if you squint your eyes, they should look complete
Line Drawing is the other 80%.
Line Drawing Exercise #2 – Sketching a Doric capitol
Draw an architectural object, so you get used to drawing lines, without the crippling doubt.
Go through these two sketches as many times as you need to.
No really, this will get you used to see the perspective points even when they are off the page.
Hatching counts for 20% of the final drawing, do not over do it.
Line Drawing is the other 80%.
Extra Topics of Study
1. Freehand Sketching Ultimate
To get good at line drawing, you need to know freehand sketching and to get good at freehand sketching; you need to sketch like a machine, so you build up that momentum of freehand drawing.
Here are a couple of ideas you need to consider for freehand sketching:
• Being able to freehand draw on the spot various drawings or ideas.
• Gives you the perceived or realistic creative freedom to free flow with your own concepts.
• It’s the tip of the iceberg synthesize stuff that you will later use in all your work.
2. Constructed Perspective
• It will be a challenge, it does imply a bit of theory and a bit less feel at first, but stick to the technique, and you will grow.
• You need around 20 different constructed perspective assignments in order to build up the skillset naturally and for the rest of your career – each perspective will take around 3 hours to finish properly.
• Basically, you can do anything you want, but need to have the line drawing to be able to draw it.
• When the idea is good, you are pulled towards drawing it the right way – it’s not about graphics. When you have a good idea, the confident lines come naturally.
• Use mixed hatching -smudged as well as textured will get you clarity and speed.
• Gradients again towards the foreground -exaggerate those gradients, make the drawing jump off the page.
• The end result is to make everything as clear and crisp as possible – go for the volumetric look, regardless of how you feel in the moment.
We will briefly discuss colour composition as it is an important element that will distract you from line drawing. You will sense the need to cover the line drawing to stand out etc. DO NOT DO THAT.
• This is really taboo. This is where people think talent exists or it doesn’t and there’s nothing
• This is going to be a topic for a different video, but for now let’s focus on two basic formulas.
• Complementaries – orange and blue, yellow and purple, green and red or black and white with a happy, warm colour – orange, yellow etc
How to progress with line drawing
This is the last part of the article – I want to really hammer that the point of all of this is not for you to gather more information, but to apply everything you learned here (obviously, you have taken notes) and take things to the next level for yourself and your skillset. Makes sense, right?
These are some final tips on how you can progress and get a confident line drawing on autopilot:
• Go and apply every one of the technique in this video in your next freehand drawing sketch. The exercise on line intensity is the most important one as it will challenge you with getting the right line gradients.
• It might sound simple or like ‘why, should I do this etc’ – go apply the principles. When you are done, reread the article and some other element will pop up – go apply that.
• Postpone all your doubt until you have finished the drawing at hand. There is this tendency to stop and stare – don’t do that, go all the way with your work and focus on the action plan!
Full Lecture on Drawing Confident Lines
Follow along, take notes where you find interesting concepts and make sure to go through the exercises on line drawing. The abstract thumbnail exercise can get you around 50 variations of compositions which will solve the old problem of not having a confident gradient with you freehand lines.
To get started asap with technical drawing and get consistent results I recommend you go for my premium course on tehnical drawing. Here you will get customised feedback for all your work and you can just grow and improve all your abilities in arch drawing.Talk to you in a bit,