Dwelling on… Cultivating the skill of drawing.

I started a new project at the beginning of March. The career and vocational technology education (CATE) center building will be an opportunity for our design team to illustrate the process of computer aided design (CAD) and building information modeling (BIM) in making that CATE center come to exist. We met last week about BIM standards and the basics of how construction documents should look. A problem came up in that conversation that has been discussed in architectural circles for as long as computers have been an integral part or, or THE ONLY part of, the building design and construction drawing process. It is the question of actually drawing and how more time passes from the first days of computer aided drafting and design, the less architects tend to draw by hand.


Space City drawing circa 1980

Space City circa 1980

In this post, I want to show some early examples of my own drawing without going into much detail on why I think it is imperative that architects know how to draw well. That subject will come in future posts.  Click on these drawings to see enlargements of print copies to hang on your refrigerator. Copyright violations will only be enforced in cases where these masterpieces lead to misplaced lucrative profits and copious income generated by improper attribution to one James Edgar Stafford, AIA. Please share examples of your early drawings or drafting by posting on your social media channel of choice and marking it with the search word #ArchitectDrawing. Or you can email me.  I will post them in future MODwelling posts about drawing.


Space Ship drawing circa 1980

Space Ship circa 1980

Inherent Ability

The fact is that if you have the motor skills to pick up any writing instrument and put it to paper, you have the ability to draw.


Four Wheel Drive drawing circa 1982

Four Wheel Drive circa 1982

Judge Not

Forget about judging yourself against the masters, or thinking of what your drawing should look like.


Tropical Island drawing circa 1983

Tropical Island circa 1983


Anyone can develop a good drawing hand, but you have to start sometime, somewhere, and with something marked across a medium.


Sail Boat drawing circa 1983

Sail Boat circa 1983


Developing a sense of confidence in how you move a pencil across paper, or your media/medium of choice is a matter of repeating that act as much as you can find the time.


Ratchet Wheel drawing drafted 1989

Ratchet Wheel drafted 1989


Then,  advance your skills by learning how to draft and the basics of mechanical drawing.


Shifter Block drawing drafted 1988

Shifter Block drafted 1988


Knowing what goes into manually drafting will go a long way into setting up a CAD or BIM system to clearly and effectively translate your designs into construction drawings that follow time tested graphic standards of what a working drawing should look like.


Index Block drawing drafted 1989

Index Block drafted 1989


Knowing and practicing these standards are sometimes held sacred by architects in high positions.


Thread Patterns drawing drafted 1989

Thread Patterns drafted 1989

The Difference

Your ability of recognize them and produce drawings with these graphic standards could mean the difference between getting and keeping a job or not.


Remember to post your early drawings online with the search word #ArchitectDrawing. Let’s show that we were not just born with these abilities.


Until next time, Live Nicely!



  • lavardera

    Jes – you really did rock the elevations on those early sketches!

    • XD Oh yeah… I’ve got a box full of that stuff.

  • Evan Troxel

    This is awesome Jes. I’m going to go looking through my old stuff to participate.

    • Glad you like it, Evan! I am looking forward to seeing more architects post these kinds of old drawings. We all started somewhere, and do not just know how to make pretty drawings right out of the gate. Please use #ArchitectDrawings so we can tag them all together. Thanks Evan!