The Power of Hand Drawing and How to Draw a Perspective from Scratch

With the amazing technological development of the last decades, hand drawing has been pushed back. The opinions are split. Many ask why should one learn to draw when there are so many programs that can do that for you.

I may be bias in the mater as I took intensive classes in order to pass the university admittance exam and later spent my weekends teaching hand drawing skills and architectural knowledge to future architects. However I do believe that an architect that can’t draw looses greatly. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against technology. AutoCAD is one of my best friends and I always love a good render program. Also, you can be an architect even if you can’t draw a straight line to save your life. However, that being said, I believe that lack of traditional drawing skills deprives one of highly useful knowledge and advantages.

How To: draw a perspective

Benefits to knowing how to hand draw (particularly perspective skills) include:

• A much better understanding of space and a better control of the designed space. This in turn provides better design and better skills in creating renders and presentation images.

Knowing and understanding volumes from the objects that surround us to the volumes around us and the spaces we live in, has the added bonus that when designing a space it will not only go faster but it will be much more efficient.Click To Tweet
Leaving aside the financial benefits of making your work faster, the knowledge is essential in dealing not only with the volumes we live in but also with large scale volumes and their perception as a tiny human walking around them.

• Better process of creating conceptual designs. As science has proven by now, hand writing and drawing offer a much better connection with ourselves and with our resources of creativity. Thinking on paper is bound to increase the speed and the design flow. And, speaking from a practical point of view, communicating on paper when brainstorming with coworkers, makes things much easier.

• An easier time in explaining ideas and communicating with existing and possible clients.
Imagine you’re having lunch. You’ve been chasing this fantastic client. Both of your schedules have been pure madness, so this is the moment.
The conversation flows. You’re getting along. Ideas form, increasing as they bounce from one to the other. Your mind is in full drive. The times comes when words are no longer enough and you need to sketch something. Unfortunately in all this haste you were lucky to remember your head, let alone your laptop/tablet/or other technological devices. You do have your pen and a few napkins. You could also easily get your hands on some paper too. Most definitely, the restaurant would be able to supply that.
You try to draw. Your perspective is crooked and unclear. The client has no knowledge in the field so the drawing makes no sense to him/her. Your frustration grows. “Where’s the darn laptop?!”
I know that some might say that in today’s business environment you can always e-mail your proposal at a a later time to the client. That is very true. However, it shows much more professionalism if you can convince then and there.

Yes. I know! Many will claim that this is an improbable scenario. And it is true, that it is occurring less and less. It is however very true that an architect that can sketch will make a stronger personal impact in the relation with the client as well as in the relation with her/his students.

I personally think on paper. I love sketching and playing with hatches. I switch to computer when I need to play with precise dimensions, renders and presentations.
How do you like to work?

If you are curious about how to actually build a perspective from scratch, just follow the steps bellow. It might seem complicated at first, however once you realize that there are very clear and easy steps to building any particular point of it, it won’t seem that hard anymore.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that many people once they have mastered the perspective, they no longer use the full method. They are able to estimate with ease the necessary points and lines. They tend to use the full method only when creating drawings for clients or they just want to make sure that it is all perfect.

For this example, I have used a 4 by 4 centimeters square with a height of 5 centimeters and I have placed my horizon line at the eye level of person with a 1.7 meters height.

• Divide your work space between the top view plan (horizontal plan) and the side view plan (vertical plan).
• Draw the plan of your object/building while keeping in mind the angle you want to see it from.
• Draw the vertical view by lifting the points of the plan up to the ground line and then adding the appropriate height.
• Add the horizon line above the ground line to the desired height. The line will always be at eye sight, however the level of the line can vary based on where the viewer is located (either on ground, in a balcony, or even on a building).
• Place your point of view in the horizontal plan and draw a vertical line from it. The location of the point of view in the vertical plan is where the line intersects the horizon line. These two points are essential in creating the perspective.

• One by one, unite the point of view (horizontal plan) with each of the points of the plan (1/1’ to 4/4’) and extend the lines until they intersect the ground line.
• Raise vertical lines (1a to 4a) from each intersection point resulted from the previous step.  These are the vertical lines of the final perspective.

• One by one, unite the point of view (vertical plan) with both the top and the bottom points of the vertical view of the object/building (1 to 4 and 1’ to 4’).
• Extend the lines until they intersect the vertical lines previously obtained (1a to 4a).
• The intersection points are the points that will create the final perspective.

• Unite the top points in order to obtain the top layer of the parallelepiped and then the bottom points in order to obtain the bottom layer.

• Draw the corresponding vertical lines uniting the top and bottom layer in order to create the vertical panels of your object/building. In this example two are fully visible while the other two are behind.

And you’re done. You have a beautiful perspective base which allows you to further add details by using the construction method per each new individual point.

You can extend the volume by adding outside of the base.

And you can of course, also remove parts of the base volume.


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