How To Make Architecture Illustration

Materials Needed

Creating architecture illustrations can seem like a daunting task, but with the right supplies, it doesn’t have to be. To make a good architecture illustration, you’ll need quality drawing tools. This can include mechanical pencils, markers, and colored pencils. Choosing graphite pencils with a range of hardness is essential for creating the range of lines and tones desired. It’s also important to be mindful when selecting paper that it can accommodate these materials. For that reason, a good quality paper with a fine texture is best for creating the desired texture for architecture illustrations.

Basic Sketching and Linework

To start with a good foundation, sketching is one of the most important steps of the illustration process. Sketching helps capture the basic shapes and establish the overall composition of the drawing. To help carve out the overall design, use a light hand for sketching, then erase any visible foundations. Working with a light pencil and an eraser helps create the desired lines and gives life to the overall drawing. Another way to create desired lines is to establish a slant. Working at an angle helps create texture and a texture of the pencil strokes.

Successive layers of Details

The next step of the illustration process is to apply successive layers of details. This is done in a manner to generate both a complex and intricate drawing. When enhancing the details of an architecture illustration, it is important to pay attention to all the little details. When creating the lines that make up the illustration, work with the pencil’s pressure to generate a desired level of detail. For example, for a finer line, use a firmer pressure on the lead. Then use a softer pressure for the overall lines of the illustration.


Inking is another key element of creating a successful architecture illustration. To achieve a smoother and more concise line, use an inking pen. Different types of pens offer different thicknesses and qualities of line, so experiment to find the best one for the particular line desired. With the use of an inking pen, take extra time to focus on the details. For example, to achieve a desired texture, use a combination of light pressure on the nib and heavier pressure on the outline of the shape.

Incorporating Color

Once the line work is completed, the illustration can be brought to life with color. Take time to plan out the colors. Consider the space as a whole and determine what types of colors are needed to bring beauty to the drawing. The use of different colors and hues can make the illustration look more aesthetically pleasing. Additionally, watercolors can also be incorporated to add a more organic feel to the piece.

Layering Behaviour

Layering is a critical step for creating successful architecture illustrations. When layering, start with the lightest tone and work up to the darkest. This helps develop depth in the drawing, as well as create visual interest. Begin with a light color of watercolor or pencil and build successive layers of hues. Additionally, to help ensure each layer of colors shows through, use a lighter shade and build to the darker. Then, add white highlights and darks. The combination of colors can help create spectacular results.

Finishing Touches

To finish an illustration, use an eraser or white pigment to clean any unnecessary lines or colors. With the use of an eraser, it is important to establish the desired texture, while not removing the desired line work. If adding white highlights, use it sparingly, as too much white can lead to an over-whitened area. In the end, it is all about finding a delicate balance between all the elements that make up the drawing.

Digital Enhancements

In the current age of technology, digital enhancements can also help bring a sense of life to an architecture illustration. Adding subtle effects, colors, and other touches to a piece can help transform the illustration into a final product. Working with digital tools, take the time to explore different techniques to help enhance the overall composition of the illustration. Whether it’s adding a design element or focusing on a perspective, these small changes can have a major impact on the overall outcome of the piece.


When editing the piece, it is best to look at the composition as a whole. Once the coloring, line work, and detailing are all complete, take the necessary steps to clean the piece up. This includes erasing lines, fixing color mismatches, and adjusting the lighting. Additionally, all the elements of the drawing should be in balance. This helps create a beautiful overall piece that is ready for display.

Determining a Format

Once the architecture illustration is complete, it is important to determine what format to display the piece in. This could be a drawing, print, or digital format. When selecting the format, consider the desired size. For a drawing, it is important to choose the right type of paper or board that can accommodate the materials used. If printing, consider the right type of paper and ink, as well as the size and quality of the print desired. Additionally, when making digital illustrations, consider the platform that best fits the desired look and composition of the illustration.

Adding text and a logo to an architecture illustration can help add a sense of life and completeness. To do this, quickly design the text and logo in a vector format. Then use tools like Adobe Illustrator or Inkscape to carefully add the design elements to the piece. For example, use vector shapes to create the text and logo, then bring in other elements as desired. Once completed, add the logo and text to the illustration to complete the design.

Selling an Architecture Illustration

Once an architecture illustration is completed, an artist has the option of selling the piece either as a physical print, digital version, or on other mediums. Consider the market, audience, and how you want to reach them with the piece. For instance, pricing a piece for a store or online can be different from exposure on a website or blog. Additionally, consider any possible design restrictions, such as a logo size or added material that might affect the overall design. Lastly, create a portfolio website or Instagram page to help showcase the piece to potential buyers.


To capture a finished architecture illustration, digital photography can be the best option. The image can then be used to showcase the piece on digital platforms, such as websites and social media. It can also be used to provide samples to potential buyers. When photographing the piece, use proper lighting, preferably natural lighting. Additionally, use the right type of camera and lens to get the desired close-up shots. Lastly, use post-editing software to bring out more subtle details as desired.


Once the architecture illustration is complete, it is time to market the piece. To do this, start by creating a website and social media platforms to showcase the artwork. Additionally, start connecting with potential buyers by using the right keywords and messaging. Research the best platforms for particular artwork and utilize the proper channels that can help advertise the pieces. Last but not least, talk to other artists to get feedback on the artwork and any possible design critiques as a way to bring out the best elements of the illustration.

Building an Audience

To reach a wider audience and keep them engaged, creating a mailing list can be beneficial. Using a mailing list, artists can better communicate with their viewers directly, introducing new products and sharing works in progress. Additionally, consider adding a blog or video series to the website to provide additional content to the public. Finally, joining different communities or groups can help generate a following and work together with other creative minds to share ideas and help explore the creative possibilities within the art form.

Anita Johnson is an award-winning author and editor with over 15 years of experience in the fields of architecture, design, and urbanism. She has contributed articles and reviews to a variety of print and online publications on topics related to culture, art, architecture, and design from the late 19th century to the present day. Johnson's deep interest in these topics has informed both her writing and curatorial practice as she seeks to connect readers to the built environment around them.

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