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Architectural drawing

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Difficulty: Experienced  / Time of execution: 3 hours   

Artist : Jérémy Soheylian

Architectural drawing is rigorous observation work. you need to be very attentive, and especially patient! Of course, you will not be able to transfer everything you see and admire to paper. From your sketch to adding color with watercolors, here's all the art and know-how you need to show architecture at its best.


- Paper: Canson® 1557

- Pencils and paintbrushes: 1 fine tip indelible black ink ball-point pen, 1 wash brush

- Colors: 8 watercolors in tubes

Ultramarine blue, ocher yellow, red ocher, Payne's gray, cerulean blue, olive green, cadmium red

- Accessories: 1 ruler, 1 drawing board, 1 roll masking tape, 1 jar water, 1 watercolor palette

Step 1

Prepare medium.

You are going to use the wet technique to add color to your drawing with watercolors: to keep the paper buckling while working on it, it must be stretched. Attach it to your drawing board with masking tape. Work preferably in a large format: you will be more comfortable and have less trouble situating and drawing your subject. 

Step 2

Draw construction lines.

Start by drawing the horizon line (the imaginary line at eye level) as well as the vanishing points (located on the horizon line, the points towards which the subject's base lines converge). Draw the building's major lines with a ruler so your work's bases are solid. 

Step 3

Draw the architectural details.

You should move slowly, lightly, and precisely. You will not be able to draw everything you see: choose the aspects you want to represent. The details should range from more precise in the foreground to less precise in the background.

Tip: vary the pressure applied to the ball-point pen. a more or less pronounced stroke allows you to gradate elements. 

Step 4

Draw the stonework (layout of the stones).

This process is delicate but nonetheless essential: this is what gives consistency to the building's walls, suggests the drawing material, and provides information on the age of the building. Do not draw all the stones: distribute them in a balanced way so the missing stones are suggested.

Step 5

Creating a setting for the architecture.

Place the architecture in a living environment. A tree, people, birds and an urban setting will liven up your drawing and provide scale for the architectural elements.

Step 6

Add color to the drawing.

Test your colors on a piece of rough paper.

Prepare a large amount of blue color wash (cerulean blue): on dry paper, apply color wash to the sky with the wash brush. Create shading effects by modifying the dilution. You will need to work very fast.

Prepare a beige color wash (red ocher + yellow ocher + Payne's gray) : apply to the rest of the drawing with the wash brush. Allow to dry.

Use the beige color wash, adding gray to make it darker: quickly color several stones with the tip of the wash brush. Place less color on the most distant background.

Step 7

Color the details.

Prepare a green wash: with a medium round pointed brush, go over the tree and the church fence.

Prepare a red ocher wash: still using the medium round pointed brush, go over the bricks. To make the building look more slender, go over the tree with brown, too.

Be careful, go lightly! Take the time to look at your drawing as a whole.

Allow to dry.

Step 8

Add shading.

Shadows add credibility to the drawing, bring out the building's prominent features, suggest the hollow areas, and help masses stand out from each other. So prepare a large amount of gray wash (Payne's gray + yellow ocher + ultramarine blue). The ultramarine can verge on blue or mauve. Apply it to the façade of the church, the first building, and the interior of the arcades: go over the bottom of the bays, to suggest darker shadows.

Tip: Remember to apply your colors very lightly.