Lots of tips for sketching classical architecture (Live demo replay)

August 17, 2020 | Leave your thoughts

I had an absolute blast doing a live demo with Maria from Art Toolkit on Instagram on Saturday morning! Thanks Maria!

And I managed to cover a lot of ground and share some of my top tips for sketching buildings. I was mainly talking about classical architecture, but the principles apply to any style of building.

I also did a crazy challenge – sketch Borromini’s San Carlo alle quatro fontane in 5 minutes!

And just to keep me honest, Maria had a timer. This was SO fun to do!

Maria has uploaded a video of the demo to YouTube – here is an image containing screen shots. Click here to watch.

The quality of the video is always limited when going live on Instagram, so I’ve noted my drawings below so that you can see everything I did more clearly.


Materials used

  • A4 Moleskine Watercolour sketchbook
  • Green Sailor fountain pen with 55 degree fude nib filled with De Atramentis Document Ink Urban Grey.
  • Lamy Joy pen (white and red) with a gold nib (once was EF but now more like a M in thickness) filled with De Atramentis Document Ink black.
  • Faber Castell Albrecht Durer Brown Ochre watercolour pencil


  • All the buildings colours from three colours – SCH French Ultramarine PB29, DS Monte Amiata Natural Sienna PBr7 and DS Transparent Red Oxide PR101
  •  Green – a mix of DS Sap Green PO48 PG7 PY150 and SCH French Ultramarine PB29


Concepts covered included:

  • starting with the structure (and my 7 step structural way of working)
  • how to look for classical details – the triangle bit, the horizontal band and the columns
  • leaving the details until last
  • perspective basics – looking for the eyeline, carefully drawing top and bottom angles
  • looking at relationships between edges (especially for foreground elements such as sculptures and steps)
  • how to draw arches
  • how to draw the side of buildings…

…and more!

Some  Sketching Architecture Resources

Here are a few articles with more about these topics

I have so much to share when it comes to sketching buildings… so many tips for seeing buildings in a way that make them easier to sketch, and special tricks for drawing different elements like roofs, windows, arches, chimneys etc. So the Buildings course is packed with many practical techniques for sketching all kinds of architecture. These tips will improve your building sketching!

Find out more about SketchingNow Buildings here.

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