Seven Habits That'll Help You Become a Better Draftsperson or Designer

Learning in a classroom or architecture studio setting has its benefits. You're definitely exposed to a lot of design theory and you'll also get to sharpen your presentation and graphic design skills. While these are all important to the overall approach to design and the design process, it's important not to forget what an architect and even a draftsperson does day in and day out. They're either designing how things are put together or they're drawing the details of how things are put together. Either way, the common denominator is that they need to either know or at the very least understand how and why things work. The best way to learn and also stay up-to-date on these things is to step away from your computer once in a while and explore the world around you. There are design solutions and examples all around you. Regardless if you're a student in architecture school or you're a recent graduate at your first job, this article outlines seven habits for both cases that will help you become a better draftsperson or designer.

Habit #1: Investigate

Investigate Get into the right mindset. Try to have a "Sherlock Holmes" mentality when it comes to learning design. In order for the rest of the seven habits to work, you need to have the right mentality and don't be afraid to ask why. Once you've got the mindset, go to a construction site and see how things are done and why. It doesn't really matter the size of the project because there's always going to be something you can learn. If you're not sure where to get started, try to schedule tours of projects within your area. It's absolutely critical that you get permission and schedule these visits ahead of time. After all, you don't want to get chased off a job site and risk getting arrested all in the name of architecture. Internships, whether paid or not, provide a great opportunity to learn things you may not be exposed to strictly in a classroom/studio environment.

Habit #2: Sketch

Sketch While you're out investigating another good habit to have is sketching. Whether it's something you've never seen or even if you want to reinforce what you already know, sketch what you see. Sketch wall details, patterns, forms and even structural details. Having a sketch journal like this can really help you understand how things are put together in a way that a photo doesn't.

Habit #3: Take Photos

Photo In addition to sketches, photos can be a great way to archive and reference things you learn while doing your investigation. If you're working on a detail of something you're unsure of, you can go find a real world example and take a picture to use as a reference while you're drafting your detail.

Habit #4: Take Things Apart

If you have the opportunity, a small demolition project is not only a good way to relieve stress but it's also an awesome opportunity to learn how something is put together. You may even learn a few things not to do like cutting into main structural elements for things like wires, conduit, and pipes. Mistakes like that are usually best learned from someone else rather than learning the hard way by making the mistake yourself.

Habit #5: Put Things Together

Build If you have the opportunity to work construction, take it. That'll give you the chance to learn a lot about detailing. While getting your hands a little dirty might not seem like something that's in an architect or draftsperson's job description, a little elbow grease is the best way to understand the how and why when it comes to design.

Habit #6: Make Models

While construction and demolition are a good way to iron out those details within the details. Early in the design process, a good way to understand the big picture behind an idea is to create a study model. From there, once you have a solid understanding of your concept from a distance, you can then put your focus and energy towards the details of your project.

Habit #7: Learn From Other Examples

Example Another great way to understand how things are put together is learn from other detail drawings. Study how other architects and engineers have solved a design problem. You can even learn effective ways to communicate this graphically. There a tons of examples on how line weights, color and hatching techniques in details not only make the drawing easy to read and understand, but how they can also help to create a well thought out work of art. Whether you're a practicing professional or a student in studio, these seven habits can not only help you stay up to date with curtain technologies and practices, but they are a great way to exercise those basic design skills like sketching and model making which can easily become lost behind some of the hustle and bustle of meeting deadlines, starting new projects and working with technology that's constantly changing. If you want to learn more check out these drafting tutorials.