Essential techniques for sketching buildings

January 13, 2020 | Leave your thoughts

I’m gearing up for a Group Run Through of my SketchingNow Buildings course and I’m very excited as it’s going to be the most interactive run through I’ve ever done. We’ll be taking it slowly (two weeks for each lesson) so that we can all really absorb the concepts and have time to do the exercises. I’m  also going to be adding lots of bonus content into the course.

As well as keeping up with all the work uploaded into the classroom, I’ll be creating new videos each week in response to questions/ issues raised by the group. I’m even going to do my first ever SketchingNow live Q&A. I really want to make sure that the course answers your big questions when it comes to sketching buildings.

In addition to all of these goodies, I’m going to do a new sketch each week (on camera of course) based on the suggestions of the group. In particular I’m wanting some really difficult buildings to sketch so I can explain my thought process in analysing buildings, finding a story or a focus, and simplifying something really complex so that it is much easier to sketch. So far the list of suggestions includes Milan Cathedral, Cathedral of Santiago de Compestela, Sagrada Familia and the Procuratie in Piazza San Marco Venice. This last one is in fact the hardest for me! Ah! I’m super excited about this challenge.

And I’ll be adding some more on location demos to explain the concepts in different ways – such as using direct watercolour.

I’ll also be doing new (looser) versions of the assignments. The images in this article are from the Intro Lessons which we are doing at the moment.

So, it’s going to be a fun couple of months for me, and it feels really good to be focusing on sketching architecture again!

Note. If you have enrolled in Buildings at any stage you can be part of this Group Run Through for free. If you were part of the original group in 2016 and haven’t yet transferred to the new classroom, just log into your courses and there will be instructions as to how to join.



The main goal of SketchingNow Buildings is to help you see buildings in a different way – in a way that makes them much easier to sketch.

Once you train yourself to see the underlying volumes and structure whenever you look at a building, you will no longer get distracted by details or texture and that will make it much easier to apply perspective to the important edges. Oh, by the way, I’m going to be adding some bonus videos on perspective into the class as well!

The four most important techniques for sketching buildings are:

  • Seeing the underlying volumes but also looking for important edges and the big shapes
  • Adding and subtracting elements to these volumes and making sure you draw the thicknesses and depths
  • Working in a structural way from big volumes, to structure to windows to details/texture
  • And applying colour by mapping light and dark.

I use these four techniques on every sketch I do regardless of whether it’s one of my crazy loose versions or something more detailed and neat.

Note: Perspective is important, but it doesn’t make my top 4 – okay, it comes in as technique no. 5!



Here are a few previous articles explaining these topics:


Essential Techniques

Where to start? (Kelvingrove Museum) – looking for volumes and structure

How to see (Castle Howard) – also about looking for volumes and structure

It’s all about structure (Chicago skyscraper)

Shapes vs Perspective (Sydney University)

Using edges and shapes (Trafalgar Square)

Sketching Architecture is so much more than perspective



Sighting and Measuring Angles (video)


Overview of my Pointless Perspective Approach

Pointless Perspective workshop and downloadable handout – Singapore USK Symposium

and even more articles on perspective here!



My approach to sketching architecture



I’m really looking forward to this Group Run Through!!

If you are going to be joining us, I know that we’ll have a lot of fun and really develop our architecture sketching skills! I can’t wait to see you in the classroom

SketchingNow Buildings Group Run Through starts 15 Jan 2020 – if you are interested please check out more details here.

Please let me know if you have any questions about the course or the Group Run Through!


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