7 Mistakes You’re Making If You’re Self-taught In Architectural Drawing

Sep 15, 2022

Avoid These 7 Mistakes If You’re Self-taught In Architectural Drawing

Learning anything by yourself can be on one hand a very rewarding experience… you mastered something, you overcame the odds, etc etc

But on the other hand, if you struggle, make constant mistakes (more than the normal necessary ‘learning mistakes’) … and end up spinning around in circles.

Don’t get me wrong…

I fully agree with being self-taught (I myself started this way on my architectural drawing learning experience) but looking back it took me a lot more (probably three to four times as much) time to get at the level where I’m at.

So in an effort to save you some hassle, heartache and wasted time I will tell you some of the mistakes I’ve seen at some of my students that started off being previously self-taught

So here we go, the top 7 mistakes self taught students of architectural drawing make:

#1 You assume that by having a degree you automatically means you know how to draw

Let me be clear about this – having a degree in architecture or design will help you… with some specific parts of drawing

You will have some familiarity with the intellectual aspect of drawing…

You will know the correct sizes of everyday objects and architectural elements…

It will help you understand abstract concepts easier…

And mostly it will help you because you’re already used to learning a difficult subject such as architecture/design

But learning to draw is a different area altogether… so don’t assume that the other skills will carry over… 9 times out of 10 it won’t work and you will be left jaded about drawing and thinking you’re one of the unlucky few ‘not talented’ at architectural drawing.

#2 You try to copy successful work, without understanding the principle behind each image

Good artists copy, great artist steal, right?


By blindly copying work you will miss out big time, let me explain why…

The power, prestige and achievement of learning drawing isn’t in the 2-3 perspectives you copy from some nice visuals you seen on a website or two… even on this website as a matter of fact… Just copying my work or my students’ work won’t get you anywhere far.

What you want and need to understand (although you’re probably not aware of this right now) is understand the

SYSTEM behind each image..

How does perspective work?

Why to choose this element of a composition over another?

What are the concepts behind modernist architecture?

Having a thorough understanding of all these principles will CHANGE the way you see the world… and it will set you on the path to drawing and design mastery.

#3 You get stuck in the first technique you find and then hold on to it for dear life

‘But this is my drawing style, this is how I do things’

Ohh man I’ve heared this one A LOT…

Most architects and designers out there find one or two ‘tricks’ that they seem to think is their own unique discovery… and completely refuse to learn something else!

This is again a fatal mistake because architectural drawing doesn’t work like that… you need to have a thorough understand of the big scheme of things – it’s not about this trick or the other trick…

It’s about building a repertoire of different elements to your drawings so you become flexible in your approach.

#4 You expect normal day-to-day logic to naturally apply to architectural drawing

Learning architectural drawing isn’t a ‘logical’ process.

It’s not like learning photorealistic drawing…where you just try to copy an image as well as possible.

To learn architectural drawing you need to understand many different areas including architectural graphics, technical drawing… and even going so far as understanding your own creative processes.

#5 You come up with small drawings which look really, really bad

Let me make a wild guess here…

If you are reading this and have a bit of experience in drawing or you’ve downloaded the free PDF and already started sketching…

Then this might sound familiar to you..

You come up with these small, weird looking drawings which you scan onto your computer and Photoshop the s**t out of… just to try to hide the fact that you are still clueless about architectural drawing. Stop that! If you have to

Photoshop your drawing to make it look good, then it’s not good enough to show!

#6 You don’t construct volumes and end up making your work look unintelligent.

Going back to people who confuse learning architectural drawing to learning photo-realistic drawing.

It’s not the same thing! Photo-realistic drawing is about copying some flat images (bla bla, boring) while architectural drawing is about representing 3d space with freehand and technical drawing.

We’re designers and architects so we draw volumes, not some flat, weird-looking image which you try to trick somebody into thinking it is ‘real’.

#7 You prefer to hide your lack of skill and refuse to get help with learning drawing

And the best for last…

If you are self-taught in architectural drawing…you have absolutely zero idea of what a sticking point is and how to get past it…

This makes learning drawing really taboo… you prefer to hide all their mistakes instead of solving them…

Or when mistakes pop up you prefer to act like nothing happened and all is good… with the end result being low quality work … again and again.

You need to get out of this vicious circle as fast as possible!

So these are the 7 mistakes you’re making if you’re learning architectural drawing by yourself…

Let me ask you (and be 100% fully honest, I mean you probably could tell that this was coming)

How many mediocre designs did you get because of them?

How many times were you criticised or made fun of because you couldn’t draw ‘to save your life’?

And how many times did you feel like you’re completely out of control with your professional career?

Come on, be honest.

The good news is there’s a way to get out of this… and finally LEARN PROPER ARCHITECTURAL DRAWING

Talk to you in a bit,


ACTION TIME - join my free 5-day course here and learn more than you ever thought possible on freehand and technical drawing… even if you are starting with zero experience in drawing or architecture.

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