10 Words – “Let’s make it look like we draw for a living.”
I think I am going to make this my mantra – maybe put it on a coffee mug or a tee-shirt – because I seem to be saying it a lot. I look at drawings that are created (not just from my office) and think “these don’t look right”. There’s no pen weight, I have to look at the plans to determine what’s near or far. There’s no profile lines … (what’s a profile line you ask? go here and read tip #3)
There are times when I am starting to get a sense of my actual age. In my mind, I’m still a 20-something and typically enjoy the sort of stuff a 20-something would enjoy. In actuality, I am a semi card-carrying old-timer with (apparently) good old days syndrome, I think more and more about the fact that people who have only drawn on computers don’t really understand pen weight and the role it plays in delivering a message. Before any contractors chime in here saying that pretty drawings don’t matter, let me clarify that this is not just about aesthetics – this is about clarity.
Well drawn drawings are easier to read, they convey information, and they establish a focus on the message the drawing is attempting to convey.
I don’t do much drafting on the computer these days so it’s hard to point to specific examples. However, I do have the drawings I created for the playhouses that I design. I designed these playhouses and I prepare the construction drawings – frequently all in the same day. These were all created in AutoCAD and not in Revit.
To my way of thinking, there only needs to be 7 different possible layers when drawing elevations and details:
When I draw, I don’t even have to think about what should be on which layer – I’ve been drawing this way for so long that just comes naturally. I also put hatches on everything that makes sense to me – partly because I want there to be material clarity – but also because I want my drawing to convey a finished product. That last point is really important so let me say it again –
“I want my drawing convey a finished product”
I talk to enough younger people about how drawings look to realize that for many, they don’t connect the fact that we are selling esoteric and conceptual ideas with our designs. As a result, it is really important that you present those designs in the best manner possible. Do I think a drawing that is graphically superior to another will elicit a more positive response?
You’d better believe it.
It is not lost on me that the drawings I am choosing to show to illustrate my point were not actually prepared for a paying client. The playhouse construction drawings I create aren’t for anyone other than myself and the contractor. Their appearance still has value to me but I’m not “selling” them to anyone. If you want to see all the construction drawings for this playhouse, you can find them here.
I wrote a post a few years ago titled “Graphic Standards” and from that post, I kicked things off by saying:
How an architect draws is a reflection of many things – you can frequently tell the priorities of a firm just by looking at the quality of their drawings. I didn’t say the content of their drawings – and this isn’t just semantics – it speaks to the culture of the firm.
I don’t think I will ever stop caring about how the drawings I create on the computer appear – as much as easing up on it a bit would reduce my stress and anxiety. Pen weight matters a lot to me, how my drawings look matter to me, and if I being completely honest, the appearance of your construction drawings matters to me. Now that more and more firms are using building information modeling software (like Revit, the program that my office uses), new generations of architects are becoming increasingly disconnected with the art of drawing and the importance and role that these drawings play.
I sound like an old-timer now … but I think I’m okay with that in this regard.
PS – Why’s it so cold in here?