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Do You Need to Be Good at Drawing to Become an Architect?

Updated on May 22, 2012

I want to become an architect, but I can't draw.

Do architects need to be good at drawing? Kind of, sort of, not really.

Don't let your inability to draw deter you from a career in architecture. Here's the thing about drawing: it's a learned skill. Yes, some people are born with innate artistic abilities, but hand drawing, like writing, piano, math or anything else, can be learned. Besides, architects don't spend a lot of time making beautiful hand drawings anyway. Before the days of computer aided design (CAD) and rendering software, drawing was a very necessary skill to get architectural presentations together. However, everything has changed with computers. You'll be just fine if you don't know how to draw. And a lot of other architecture students are in the same boat you are.

There was a time when architects needed amazing drawing skills, but things have changed with computers.
There was a time when architects needed amazing drawing skills, but things have changed with computers. | Source

Drawing Studio and Drafting Classes

One of the first classes you take in architecture school will be a drawing class. Generally you are not expected to have any drawing abilities whatsoever when you start. This is going to be a very tough class, but you will be amazed at what you'll be able to produce in a few short months. The key is to practice every chance you get. Draw everything you see. Take your sketchbook with you everywhere.

Graphic Communication

An important skill for architects is graphic communication, but that does not necessarily mean making beautiful drawings by hand. Graphic communication is the ability to transfer ideas onto paper or other media for the purpose of communicating to others. You'll need to be able to sketch out rough ideas with paper and pen, make drawings and renderings using computer programs.

Computer Drawings and Renderings

Technology is drastically changing the field of architecture. Hand drafting and rendering is becoming obsolete and is being replaced by CAD and 3D rendering software. This means that those of us who are bad with pencil and paper are not as disadvantaged as we once were.

Principals Don't Draft or Render

If your goal is to become an architect, you probably have dreams of having your own firm. This means you hire people. Those people can draft and render for you. Your time is probably too valuable by this point in your career to do those tasks anyway. You'll be meeting with clients and vendors, taking care of the business side of things, and doing a lot of design work. Yes, to become an architect you do have to climb up the ladder. While you're an intern you'll be doing a lot of drafting, but probably not by hand.


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      Nolwazi Mabaso 13 months ago

      Architectural Technology is one of an amazing course I have ever imagine doing . by the way I have studied first year in Dut . As I am one of those people who are not good at all with hand I have Found everything so hard but thanks to Computer aided design (CAD) . Computer systems hard driven us to an awesome easy and reliable journey to be one of those young beautiful architect despite of not knowing how to draw. mmm people i love architecture and I am in love with it too.

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      Nikki 3 years ago

      I strongly agree to ahmed. Im not really good in drawing but I still love to be an architecture someday. In my own opinion, we don't need to be a good artist at first. The purpose of taking architecture in college is that we need to learn and eventually well realize that we can draw a lot kore than we think.

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      ahmed quotah 3 years ago

      I really want be an Architect, I love every thing about buildings and designs. but what stops me is that am very bad in drawing, it made a lot of confused to me, and i keep asking my self will I be a good Architect? even if I am bad in drawing???

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      Alice 4 years ago

      What if certain universities require a portfolio to be done for university applications? Don't most universities require that if you want to take an Architecture course?

    • Bldg an Architect profile image

      Bldg an Architect 5 years ago

      With any profession there are big deadlines and the pressure to do well, but in general people who go into architecture because they love it. There is a lot of satisfaction that comes from working on a project that will actually get built. Feel free to drop me a message if you have more questions!

    • Dantex460 profile image

      Dantex460 5 years ago from England

      I would love to be an architect. How hard it is working as one? is there a lot of pressure?

    • Bldg an Architect profile image

      Bldg an Architect 5 years ago

      Shannon, that's quite common. It makes a lot more sense for principles to handle the business side of things and delegate drafting to more junior people. Thanks for commenting!

    • Shannon Paigah profile image

      Shannon Paigah 5 years ago from Irvine, CA

      It's true, some principles do not draft or render. My friend works for an architectural firm in Santa Barbara. She's paired up with a principle and does all of his drafting. He essentially provides a rough sketch and she's does the rest. Enjoyed your hub!