Freehand Sketching
Learning to Sketch a Building Freehand Using A Photo as a Reference

 We are now going to work on freehand sketching technique. We won't be tracing this time. This is the first step to creating a project from scratch. It tests your powers of visualization and develops a feel for Proportion (the relation of one thing to another, size wise). Are you up to the challenge?   Say yes--that's the spirit!

Remember our shoebox? We are going to design a dream house using its basic shape as a guide.

You can either, use this example or photograph your own; if you do get low and close. Imagine you are a tiny box dwelling creature taking a picture of your house.

Since this exercise doesn't involve any tracing, set your photo off to the side of your tracing paper or sketch pad.

Starting with the shortest side, draw as best as you can that shape. Don't worry about exactness, just draw what you see. It helps to visualize in your mind where the vanishing point might be before you draw. This takes practice so don't sprain your brain.


Remember how to find a vanishing point from the Basics of Perspective lesson? Continue your top and bottom lines until they converge to a point. Do this freehand without a straight edge. If you want to make an adjustment, use your eraser. From that vanishing point draw a horizontal line (horizon line) across your page. 

Now draw the other side and converge the top and bottom lines to the second vanishing point. Don't get discouraged if your first attempt is less than perfect, that's why the eraser was invented.

Note: You will only have one horizon line per drawing and your vanishing points will always be somewhere on that line even if they end up off your paper.

You now have a pretty good representation of your box. It won't be exact as if you traced it; that's why it's called "freehand".

Now we are going to finish the box as if it were transparent. From the far right edge of the box, draw converging dash lines to the left vanishing point and from the top and bottom of the left edge, converge dash lines to the right vanishing point. These two sets of dash lines will intersect creating the inside corner of the box.

Let's put a roof on your house. On the short side, draw a triangle shape as in the example. Then draw a converging line to the left vanishing point to create the top ridge line of the roof.

Next, draw a dashed triangle on the transparent end of the house. The top of the triangle will intersect on the top ridge line, completing the roof.

You can see that visualizing this house as transparent helped a lot.

Let's give this house some Scale. Adding a human gives this house scale and shows us how big it might be. Draw a person standing out front.  Have their head intersect the horizon line.


I drew two people. Person A is closer to the house and he or she gives us a better feel for the overall size or scale of it.

This drawing simulates a ground level perspective, which means our tiny box dwelling person was on the same level as the base of this house (box). Anywhere I place a person in this drawing their head (eye level) will intersect the horizon line. Which person is closer to you, A or B?

You knew the answer was B because you are a genius and you recall from the basics that objects closer to you appear bigger.

There will be a Drawing People lesson in the future, but for now lets finish your house.

Since we have someone standing close to the front, draw a door. You have probably been thru a billion doorways, so you should have a good feel for how big they are.

How about some windows, their tops are usually at the same height as doors.

Finish off with some bushes, trees, sidewalk, lawn, and sky.

Good job! Not quite a "dream house" but great for your first freehand sketch. Ready for something harder?

Proceed to More Freehand Sketching.

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