Sketching buildings is so much more than perspective

November 22, 2019 | 2 Comments

Perspective is the number one issue which people struggle with when it comes to sketching architecture.

Perspective is very important as it helps you see the angles of the main edges of the building more easily, but it’s just one of many other skills needed to create a convincing building sketch.

This image is one of my quick sketches of St Stephen’s chapel in Brisbane – my workshop location during the recent Brisbane Sketchfest.  I’ve added a heap of notes to highlight the important aspects of this building and what the critical areas are which need careful observation. This building was a great subject to use for my “Pointless Perspective” workshop as it had a lot of interesting details and intersections. I often choose a simpler building when I’m teaching perspective, but using this building was such a good reminder to me that there are so many other things to consider when sketching architecture. (Note: Click on image to see it larger.)

The diagram at the top of the image shows the ‘perspective ‘part of the sketch – just a few lines at the early stages of drawing to get the main edges in place. It’s important to note that even during this step, I needed sight measuring skills to get the angles right and the ability to see the underlying volumes. Without these, my perspective setup would not match what I saw! Also locating the edges of the main volumes in this building was really tricky due to buttresses, parapets and some interesting intersections.

When it comes to sketching buildings, I think the most important skill to develop is the ability to see the main volumes and work out how they are put together. This takes time before you start sketching as every building is different. This exploration is why I love sketching architecture so much – every building is a new adventure!

Reminder: I’m organising a Group Run-through of the course in the new year, so if you’ve been wanting to improve your architecture sketching, now is a great time to sign up. Click here for more details.

Part of the bonuses associated with this Group Run-through will be a basic perspective lesson. Anyone signed up for Buildings will be able to watch the new bonus videls

But int he meantime, if you want more articles on perspective – check them out here.


  • Great post, Liz. I do wonder about your statement that you don’t teach perspective in your buildings course, though. You do. You teach “pointless perspective.” You just don’t turn it into a geometry lesson (grin), which is power of your approach.

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