The Value of Architectural Sketching Part 2

“Sketching helped me throughout my career, to analyze detail such as a section of a building. It makes it easier on showing what the final project will look like.”

Have you always been able to draw well?

I started sketching since I was a child. In High School that is when I became more comfortable using oils, pastels, and watercolor. While I attended junior college at Santa Monica College, every semester I took rendering and art classes. When I transferred to California Polytechnic State University of San Luis Obispo, that is when I developed an interest in the field of computer graphics for a few quarters until one studio professor noticed my hand sketches and said: “What are you doing? You have good hand sketches, keep doing more of that instead of computer rendering/CAD!”

Do hand-drawing skills continue to be a necessity and importance in the architectural field of the 21st century?

Yes, it is a very essential tool to have when communicating with team members and clients since it allows you to draw a concept relatively quickly to support your verbal explanation. Especially when you are in a situation away from your computer/smart phone without access to digital documents you can sketch on a piece of paper if you need go over your design & directions.

How does the ability to quickly sketch out ideas affect the design process?

I think it helps and improves the design process since it allows you to keep up with the numerous ideas arriving all at once especially when getting directs from team members, so you are able to sketch many variations in a short time. The ability to sketch an idea quickly allows the designer to get a perspective on how an interior or exterior space will look in 3D. I have been in a situation where I had to quickly sketch different site layouts based on updated building design, and after reviewing 3-4 different site designs the team was able to select the best layout. I tend to sketch a visual in my head, then sketch it on paper, and lastly in to CAD.

Can you tell us about that first job where your drawing skills were instrumental in helping you land the job?

I remember working at a firm while going to school, and I was asked to re-design and provide two new facades of a commercial building for a presentation to clients. I was able to use pencils, technical ink pens, color pencils, and pastel colors to create two front elevations. I was told after the meeting the clients where very impressed by the design and presentation. After that event, I was given the opportunity to exercise my rendering skills to few more projects.

Does your particular design philosophy relate to your sketching style or vice-versa?

That’s a good question. I would guess my design philosophy (based on education & work experience) is more predominant when comes to analyzing a subject and providing a solution, but sometimes my sketching style could take over when working with a smaller project since I’m so used to sketching a certain way where lines flow more naturally…kind of when I sketch with water colors.

Are there any artists whose drawings inspired your sketching techniques?

I absorbed inspiration from friends, architects and designers and their experiences and utilized what worked for me. As for artists, I worked with Rolando Barrero in the past and he was a big inspiration for me to continue with hand sketching and watercolor. You can visit his website at

What is one of your sketching techniques?

I lay several sketches on top of one another to build up my sketches. I first create a grid and then sketch out the spaces.


What do you enjoy most about architectural sketching?

I enjoy the natural flow when drawing straight lines with a technical ink pen over a water color background. I tend to start a sketch with very light pencil lines, then I go over with water colors to provide volume, and I finish the sketch with technical ink pens to emphasize details and the overall design. ­


Rod’s Tools of the Trade

Choosing the right tools is essential in helping one to think, explore, and create. The joy and craft of sketching something while using the simplest tools adds fun into the design experience.


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