Why I Prefer Using a Pencil

Most architects’ tool of choice for 3-D sketches and drafting is the computer. For certain kinds of large and highly complex projects, CAD is indispensable, but for the scale and one-off character of custom residential design, the focus of my practice, I believe manual drawing is a viable option.

Why I prefer manual drafting:

For me, it provides the most direct connection between my mind’s eye and the paper.  I think with a pencil.

I enjoy the act of drawing. I enjoy the tools, the physical experience, and the end products.  I have done so ever since I can remember.

Visualizing and drawing things in three dimensions comes easily to me.

I am a fast and efficient drafter.

The process of layering information on to multiple views and different scale drawings is gratifying.

There are easy ways to graphically include information that repeats from project to project.

I have always preferred evidence of the human touch in the things around me.  Machine work is not always an improvement over the hand-made.

For me, sitting still and looking intensely into a monitor for hours at a time is a chore.

Being at the mercy of a computer and a program, both of which seem to constantly need expensive upgrading, is a source of frustration and anxiety.

Zooming in and out makes it hard for me to track the building and its parts as a single entity.

Residential construction documents do not require the extreme precision available and inherent in CAD, which can amount to overkill.

If the power goes out, I can still draft.

photo 1 by Juhan Sonin; photo 2 by Teosaurio; photo 3 by Remko van Dokkum

 Feel free to share any of these images, but please provide a link back to 2H Pencil.  Thanks.

5 thoughts on “Why I Prefer Using a Pencil

  1. Laura, I couldn’t agree more. I don’t do CD’s with pencils anymore, but I must admit there is joy in manual drafting. Unfortunately my pace and the amount of editing that my world requires, any joy from drawing by hand is quickly lost in the editing process. The pencil is still my favorite tool and I sketch constantly and carry a sketchbook most places. I think it’s great you stick to your ideals.

  2. Pingback: digital world, material boy « think | architect

  3. Laura, I am in total agreement, but fear we are designersaurs. The fact that you taught CAD gives you a special credibility. I love the act of hand drawing/drafting and there is a direct link between creativity and paper/pencil.
    I am really enjoying your blog! Why didn’t I know about this earlier?

  4. Laura, I am so glad you referenced your 1st post “2H Pencil”. I can’t agree with you more. The picture of the little girl drawing sure reminds me of my 2 daughters (25 and 28 now), and the many pictures I treasure ( and have up in my studio!) of them drawing at their little drafting boards, while I’m at my “Big” drafting board. Well done!

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