Architectural Drawing Tutorial | My process + settings

Hey, Eric here with Thirty by Forty Design
Workshop. Since so many people have asked, I thought
I’d share exactly how I produced my floorplan drawings and show you how architects think
about and create technical drawings. Once you understand just a couple of key concepts
I think you’ll find it easy to reproduce some of the simple graphical style I use in
my drawings. Sound good? Alright let’s get into it. Now, I happen to use CAD for my drawing work
right now, but you can do this with any tool you have on hand: pen, pencil, BIM, whatever
you choose. Tools don’t make the drawing, you do. I use probably the most primitive form of
CAD there is, AutoCAD LT so, that’s proof in itself that you don’t need multiple thousand
dollar BIM software to make nice drawings. Use whatever tools you have available. An architect’s job is to order things and
this certainly extends to our drawings too. There’s the organization of the line work
on the page, the layout of the sheet, and there’s also the order of information that
you’re depicting, the overall drawing hierarchy. Each requires that you know exactly what you’re
trying to communicate. Now, I want to keep this simple for this tutorial
so, I’ll really just be going over how I draw floor plans, but the principles apply to all
the different types of drawings. The goal of a floor plan is to show the relationship
of the spaces to one another, all the physical features of the interior and exterior spaces,
and to precisely describe the real dimensions of those relationships. It also serves as a sort of overall map to
show the team of tradespeople, the ones you’re relying on to construct your architecture,
where to look for supplemental information. So, it’s naturally a diagram. We can’t show everything, we have to decide
just what’s important and leave out the rest. A floor plan is an overhead view of a horizontal
cut through the building usually taken at four feet above the floor level and of course
it’s drawn to scale. And so, the first ordering principle is that
the things you’re cutting through – primarily the walls – should always be the heaviest
lines on the page. So, key concept number one has to do with
line weight and if that’s a confusing term check the video in the cards for another tutorial
where I describe exactly what that is and its importance. These drawings look this way because there’s
a strong contrast between line weight: the very thin lines and the very thick ones. In CAD, when we’re drawing, we draw on different
layers. Each layer is transparent and they stack together
to form the drawing. You can control what you see and what you
don’t by turning layers on and off. Separating things into layers allows us to
modify our line weights – among other things – to quickly change what’s being depicted
as heavy and what’s not. The process of design involves many changes
so, keeping things organized on separate layers will allow you to change things efficiently. Now, I like to keep things ultra-simple and
for this exercise especially I set up my layer groups by line weight and that’s all. Some architects and consultants use hundreds
of layers and I suppose, in some cases, it makes sense assuming you need that level of
control, but I recommend starting with just a few. Mine are all in a template file that I use
to start new drawings and they’re described very simply from heavy all the way to superfine. I also have a few additional layers which
are helpful, one is for annotations, things like text, dimensions, and detail bubbles;
one is for hidden lines to show something above or below and then one is for hatch patterns. I can turn off any of the layers I don’t need
so I can work more quickly or in a less cluttered environment. So, you may need more or less depending on
the type of work you do, but this is a nice simple place to start. Any heavy lines you want to draw you’ll put
on the heavy layer, very thin ones on the light layer, or super fine ones on the super
fine layer and so forth. In this way, it’s a bullet-proof system for
forcing you to pay attention to line weight, which is, in my opinion, the most important
thing in making your drawings graphically convincing. Now, stick with me I promise not to get too
technical. My CAD program is set up to print these lines
according to their color and color is assigned by layer. So, if I’m drawing on the heavy layer the
line is always white and white always corresponds with a certain line thickness. Make sense? White is always associated with a certain
thickness, which is set in – what my program AutoCAD LT calls – the color table. But, all of that honestly is not really important
because whether or not you’re using AutoCAD you can simply change the thickness of the
line on your drawing. In AutoCAD LT I use polylines to change thickness,
but there are other ways, even in AutoCAD, and your software might call it something
altogether different. By changing thickness, this adds even more
control over how much punch drawing has and what’s nice is that it’s clearly visible on
the screen as having a heavier line weight. Now, if you start making really thick lines
everywhere just appreciate the fact that when you change the scale you’re printing your
drawing at, the lines will look thicker or thinner. So, just be aware of that. For the quarter inch scale residential floor
plans I’m drawing here, I like to draw the outer edges of the exterior walls on the heavy
layer and add a little extra punch by using a one-inch thick polyline. If you make a template drawing with a variety
of thicknesses of lines in it you can adjust to whatever scale you’re printing or working
at. Now, to get into the real nitty gritty on
the floor plan drawing, exterior walls are assigned to the heavy layer and I show them
as a one-inch thick polyline as I’ve already said. The medium layer is very close to the heavy
one in weight and so I use it for accenting things like the top risers of stairs, or site
retaining walls, or site boulder groupings. I use the light layer for floor edges, door
slabs, window frames, counters, cabinetry, and plumbing fixtures. And then, the door swings and like the window
sills, I put on the superfine layer. Also on the superfine layer, I put all the
walls subassemblies, things like stud framing lines, or substrates like plywood sheathing,
or tile backer. But, more on this shortly. Furniture is drawn on the extra fine layer,
floor hatches on the hatch layer, cabinets and counters are hatched differently depending
on how tall they are too. Overhead lines are on the hidden layer and
text and annotations are on the text layer obviously. Again, more on this in a minute. Okay so, the next key concept is to use screening. Now, I’m not talking about hatches per se
here but using screened pen weights. I use everything from a 10% screen all the
way up to an 80% screen. In my color table, remember that’s the file
that tells my printer what thickness lines to print, I’ve assigned the colors 201 through
208 different corresponding screened pen weights. So, anything assigned color 201 prints as
a 10% screen, 202 is a 20% screen, and so on. And, for even more variety you might change
the line type too. So, let’s take a one inch thick polyline and
assign it the 201 color and a hidden line type and now you have a thick dashed line
with a 10% screen, which might be great for showing ventilation runs on a floor plan,
or an overhead tie rod for example, or you might use a solid one for a handrail, or a
louver vent in an elevation. You can also apply this technique to our next
key concept which is: using hatches to add depth and detail. Hatches are basically patterns that infill
certain boundaries in your drawing. They can be made up of tiny dots, shapes,
crisscrossing lines, or dashed outlines, or – my personal favorite – solids. When you start using hatches along with the
screened pen weights, you have nearly infinite options for creating depth and subtlety in
your drawings. I use hatches to shade the exterior walls,
what architects call poche. In this drawing it’s an 80% screen on a solid
hatch. So, color 208 on the hatch layer. I use hatches to indicate materials like wood
flooring, or concrete block, or tile patterns, and I also use them for shade and shadow to
call attention to something important in the drawing. On floor plans I use a variety of scales of
dot pattern hatches on say, descending stairs, or as angled lines to show a partial height
wall, or cabinetry, or a countertop surface. I also use solid screened hatches on all my
glazed surfaces on the exterior elevations from between 40 and 60% screen. I use them in the tree backgrounds – the ones
you see here in the elevation drawings. I basically use them everywhere I can because
they help call attention to things that I think are important and they also add a softness
to the drawing that I think looks – I don’t know – like, painterly I guess. Now, I talked about this in the Q&A video
recently about how to get a feel for room dimensions, but by adding furniture, scale
figures, cars, trees, and other elements to indicate scale, you’ll introduce a real sense
that your architecture is meant to be inhabited. Doing this also ensures you’re accommodating
the regular elements your end users will need to functionally use the architecture as well. Knowing your client wants to use an 8-foot
sofa, for example, will help you locate the floor outlets nearby and ensure it’s not obstructing
a door swing. It’s okay if you’re missing this information
early on and you’re working on conceptual plans, but I like to begin with at least some
idea of how I’ll be constructing the building. For example, is it a masonry exterior? Are there glass curtain walls? Concrete, wood framed walls, finishes, each
of these materials has a thickness and when you start to turn corners and add jogs, or
if you begin intersecting different buildings or surfaces, knowing what those materials
are becomes really important when you’re drawing. In the end, your floor plan can be as general
or as detailed as you like, but the more detail you imbue your drawing with, the more useful
a tool it will be later on when you’re drawing column details, or figuring out how the glazed
wall meets the concrete retaining wall. Now, BIM programs and other CAD programs have
different ways of doing this, you can actually setup entire wall assemblies so that you’re
drawing one line and it’s plotting the entire wall thickness and material assembly for you
as you go along. AutoCAD LT is the most basic of 2d drafting
CAD programs so, I’m really keeping this basic here. Now, for our Squid Cove project, we actually
started with a double two-by-four stud wall on the exterior spaced apart to prevent thermal
bridging. So, I offset the outer perimeter by three
and a half inches, which is the width of a 2×4 wall and then another quarter inch for
the thermal break, and then another three and a half for the inner stud wall. Then, I offset the interior finish thickness
of half inch for the gypsum wallboard, and then on the outside a half an inch for the
exterior sheathing, and another inch for the exterior shingled walls. Now, along the way as the pricing came back
for the double two-by-four wall system it turned out it was a lot more expensive than
we anticipated. So, we had to change it back to two by six
walls Now, because windows take a long time to fabricate, this change actually happened
after our windows had been ordered and so, those openings were fixed on the plan. Essentially, we had to use those opening sizes. So, we were left with this detail at the interior
corners to resolve and knowing the actual systems and sizes of everything around them
allowed us to design the trim around the windows that not only matched the detailing of the
rest of the project, but made it look like it was an intentional design decision. So, when you can, show materials. They also fill in this fine layer of line
work that makes the contrast between thick and really pop. Lastly, sort of the icing on the cake, we
have annotations. Now, annotations round out the information
you’re conveying on the plan, they’re really important wayfinding tools for the contractor. So, they need to be very clearly organized. I use red text to make it clear that the annotations
are a part of another ordering system and also something that they need to pay attention
to, and the ink is just pennies more to print them in color. Honestly, I think it’s so worth it. You could make it blue or gray too, whatever
you choose. I like the red because it’s easy to point
to a note and say, “Hey it’s noted in red,” it’s really hard to miss, right? Annotations describe things that you’re not
able to draw, they reference other drawings, and details, and should all be on the text
layer so you can turn them on and off as needed for presentation, or while you’re making other
changes to the plan. Annotations grow over time, they’ll be basic
at first, things like room labels, and then they’ll get progressively more numerous as
you make design decisions, filling in with door tags, and wall tags, and detail bubbles. Now, with annotations I’m begging you please,
please, don’t use those hand lettered fonts, just uninstall those from your computer! Now, I use Franklin Gothic for mine, but honestly,
any sans-serif font will do. Actually, anything but those chiseled pseudo
hand lettering fonts should be fine. Now, you’ll know you’ve done all this correctly
when you squint your eyes and you can easily see what’s important. Do the walls standout? Do the annotations fade? As you spend more time looking for information,
more information should become apparent, almost like a pull focus or a slow reveal. So, that’s it, I hope it was helpful. Use a variety of line weights and keep them
really contrasty for best effect. Now, if I’ve helped you in any way please
do smash that like button below and let me know your suggestions for future videos in
the comments. What are you guys struggling with right now? Appreciate you guys as always, see you again
next time. Cheers!

100 thoughts on “Architectural Drawing Tutorial | My process + settings

  1. Thank you so much for the information you provide! It is really appreciated by me as an aspiring architecture student!

  2. If i was the education minister of my country, I'll literally start showing these video in architecture & civil engineering field!

  3. Great Drafting Template. I'm also an Architect and we have the same taste and drafting styles. Actually in tje font styles. I always use Arial, looks simple and readable. But I'm doing all my drawing in Gray scale and using a light gray background instead of Black. Because in the end you still print it on white paper so that's my opinion. Instead of using colored pen styles, I used black, grays, brown or earth tone colors. Nice vid by the way..

    Hope you can have suggestions on my styles… Greatly appreciated.

  4. Very Pro. Thanks. Will subscribe you even I'm not CAD drawer but just using drawings to do my work. Or at least you may be my inspirator to start CADing 🙂

  5. Can you go through a real project from design, development all the way to final construction? Would be awesome to see how projects are actually built, from site survey, digginh, foundation, raising walls, roofs, finishes etc

  6. I had decided to get my degree but not work as an architect ever and you made me find interest in my profession again. Thank you. I love you. God bless you!

  7. Hi there, you've done so well in my design education, thanks.. please i'll like to know if you use sketchup and layout? i'll also like to know if you can shed some light on using layers and and line thickness in these applications, cheers…

  8. Stupid question here. When you plot the purple lines and red annotations in color, does it plot purple or shades of black and gray?

  9. Hello friend, I'm your fan…..plz do something for Mechanical Drawings….it will be helpful


  10. Hi. I design pcb layouts profesionally but am in a process of building a house. I saw your video and must commend you for an excellent job that you have done in this short tutorial. Thanks for mentoring and sharing your knowledge.

  11. Love your videos. Would love to have one of your templates to help start out properly. I’m always juggling layers, thicknesses… and end up having it all on one layer and individually setting the thicknesses. Terrible..,

  12. It's really worth watching. thank you so much for theses informative videos. I'm an Architect. your videos inspiring me in my practice.

  13. really nice and helpful.. architecture is really a hard work. but i am really lagging in it. I really want to do it but cant sit for so much time in front of a pc drawing these lines. i hope someday i ll find me doing it to this level.

  14. Hi, thank you for the video. I’ve been struggling to understand the purpose of assigning color in the plotting setup in AutoCAD. That makes color print in different transparency values. Can’t you just adjust that in the layer setup? And plot it set to monochrome? In school I was taught to only use layer setup and to plot set to monochrome. Now in the industry, people keep suggesting it to me. Please help. Thanks!

  15. I’m so glad you made this video! I’ve been making floor plans on behalf of a contractor since I was 16 and the only program I knew was Edraw 😂 I tried RevIt but it felt weird and recently now that I’m in college I have AutoCAD for free

  16. As a sketch artist at heart I've always admired FLW style drawings. his homes and designs just spoke art to me rather than drafting. the organic feel is easy to migrate to. I haven't had any schooling or training in the trade of architecture but I've always had an interest in drafting as a tool to bring me closer to creating something like a modern home in hopes of creating something amazing everyone can appreciate. even if it wasn't for myself. reality being, I'll never have the millions to pay for the kind of home I'd draw up anyway, let alone have it be built in the area or location I'd want it to be in.
    PNW all the way! regardless the desire to design grows the older I get… when I first saw the Falling Water home (in my teens) with my own eyes, I fell in love with the natural materials and how they where implemented in and around the home. I loved that he designed his own windows and fixtures!
    I believe it's my calling to create and design structures boldly using natural material in a way not unlike FLW.
    I've just always been very intimidate and defused by the mathematics and schooling involved.
    I'm late in life now but a kid at heart, I've still got a passion for big steel beams, natural stone, water features and large wood structures. personally the fire burns with a restless flame and the pride of knowing I can create very nice works drives me to want to do something with this!! …I just don't know if there will be a market for me if after spending all the time and money into schooling.
    what do you think?
    is the market saturated like graphic artists?
    are the wolves waiting for me?
    am I to old to sell myself to this busy world?
    I just feel it's my last chance to dance here and have only really felt strongly about creating and inventing. maybe I'm no different and all men are here to build be they all just washed their dreams away and settled to pay the bills instead.
    I'm not one to fit in with the flock though this is certain. break to rules and show the world type here for sure.
    thanks for your awesomeness and demonstrations of how you use and come up with your plans. I was on YouTube looking for the easiest design program to help me render up a blueprint for the zoning department. I'd like to build an outdoor living space complete with large timers, low pitch roof, large fireplace, stone steps and patio.
    I've sketched it up so many ways I can walk through it in my sleep. 😏
    trying to manifest it to life lol
    best of luck
    -thanks for sharing your videos 👍🏼

  17. What's your thoughts on model vs paper space for anno elements? Do you find it more or less useful to use annotative dimension elements in layouts? Or do you just do all your dimensioning/titling in model space and just make viewports to focus on the areas you need per sheet?

  18. This was excellent. Most young architects are not taught these things and their drawings tend to be awful.

  19. It's been a LONG time since I've used AutoCad (2005) as an everyday CADD tool. I switched to Inventor Series 9 and have pretty much kept up with the latest version. I'm currently using Inventor 2020. So Just curious about the version of LT you are using. Does this version have the multi line tool? I know the full version had multi line but I haven't really kept up with the latest improvements in AutoCad. I've also used LT way back in the day (version 2000i) and had it tweeked to even use LISP routines. But since I started using Inventor, I can't bring myself to go back. Great job on the tutorial! Check out my channel if you get a chance. Uploads are dated, but I plan on doing Inventor tutorials in the near future.

  20. Im just starting out as a Building Designer… your channel is so informative and very easy to understand. What are your thoughts on actual Blueprints? ie using blue as your background colour… I like your use of colour in your drawings and it is very stylized to your practice.

  21. Beautiful; really amazing; I would like to express if you need some assistance to produce Estimate/BOQ/; I'm a proficient in producing cost plan/BOQ; as per CESMM, POMI, NRM2 etc.

    [email protected]

  22. I've been drafting since the late 80's, learnt the old school way on drawing board, pencils & ink pens. Then took up AutoCAD pre Windows era in 92 and used this for years. Now I use Revit, it's a joy to work with once you learn. Good video though on the essential discipline of preparing technical plans.

  23. Struggling with being a female engineer in Iraq…, Thank you for the video. I hope one day I can have this passion as well.

  24. Hey Eric….Just wanted to reach out to say thanks from New Zealand, your videos are unreal! I’m a carpenter who’s had abit of a serious back injury and I’ve had to give it up till it comes right. While I’ve been off, to continue with the love of building I’ve started studying Architecture and honestly mate your videos are a drive to succeed. Love the thought process to maximise your creativity and hope to get to your level one day! Cheers mate keep’em coming 👌🏽

  25. HEI GUY, thanks for sharing.
    An important Note.
    RED using only to sign an important note, if you draw so much RED it is very stressful. I think it would be perfect with black. letters, etc. and using only red to highlight and important note. including BLUE.
    but it is only my opinion.

  26. Hola que tal acabo de encontrar tu canal, esta excelente , tengo una pregunta que costo tiene la configuracion que tienes?

  27. It's been so many years since I've drawn by hand. I couldn't imagine not being able to use AutoCAD.

  28. I go to a trades school and I’m going for drafting and I just wanna learn more about what I want to do in my future and this really helped me keep making videos like these

  29. this is much more easy here in germany, as everything is normed in a DIN norm, from hatchings over lineweights to the font u can use.

  30. i'm planning to take civil engineering or architecture in college but, i suck at drawing. my specialization right now in junior high is technical drafting, can u give me some advice on how to improve my drawing? i would really appreciate it sir thank you (:

  31. Wish I could come over for tutoring. Just started interior design class and we have to convert our classroom into an apartment space. Started with field verication, then we have to do schematics, then an as built floor plan, then a demolition and construction plan with furniture layout for the master bedroom……..hand drafted…….Jesus in heaven. Feels like I learned Swahili in one day except within that one day I only grasped three words😳😐🤦🏾‍♀️😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭😭

  32. Your videos are so awesome! Thank you so much! I want to draft our house and just ordered turbocad. I am so grateful for all the info you share!

  33. I'm no architect, but I've enjoyed drawing house plans since I was a kid.
    So thanks for the vids! I'm planning a simple, energy efficient design now for a lot I purchased last year, and your videos have helped me understand what my architect is going to need to help me realise it as I see it in my head. Thanks, I very much appreciate your channel 👍

  34. Wow your works are amazing. Im an architecture student and just starting to learn on using cad. Hope you also do video tutorials about the basics and how to make a plan graphically good as yours 😁

  35. I was born into the age of the pencil. Even engineers' drawings in ink mystified me. We made blueprints, usually in the half-inch scale. My one regret is that I did not learn, or need, AutoCad in the 80's, when I first observed it. Line weights were a matter of common sense; I used my hands to communicate. I once read a devastating article in the NY Times (?) about the reality of the profession. Prepare for the worst: decades of staff work at low pay, unless you are well-connected, professionally and socially.

  36. made my drawings easier now, I’m always worry drawing everything at one go, now I’ll draw the thick lines first and detailed lines later

  37. I started earlier to like that. But now I realise I never get paid for that much of detail. Now I look back n realise that althoug this much of organisation may give you precise control. But the process organising in it self is quite Lengthy. I really want to get back on organise system but time dosen't allow

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