How to Draw and Paint Buildings

Written by erika marie
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How to Draw and Paint Buildings
A city skyline offers an array of geometric shapes for you to study. (Jupiterimages/ Images)

Drawing and painting buildings is a good exercise in learning how to effectively create lines and shapes in a fine arts composition. When drawing buildings, you essentially are sketching a series of overlapping geometric shapes -- such as rectangles, squares, cubes and pyramids -- that make up the buildings' structural and other details. Achieve accurate drawings by studying the buildings' various angles and shapes then drawing them. Paint the buildings using watercolour paints -- a versatile medium that's good for creating architectural details.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Picture of buildings (for reference)
  • Drawing pencil
  • Ruler
  • Watercolour paper
  • Watercolour paints
  • Watercolour brushes (various sizes)

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    Drawing Buildings

  1. 1

    Draw the buildings' vertical lines. Use a drawing pencil to sketch the building outline shapes on the paper. Look at your photo for reference. Begin by drawing the building that is most in the background. Follow by sketching buildings in the middle ground then proceed to the ones in the foreground of the picture. Use a ruler to make straight lines.

  2. 2

    Sketch the building rooftops. All buildings have different roof shapes; some are flat, some are pyramid-shaped and some are rounded. Study the angles of the rooftops and draw what you see.

  3. 3

    Draw the buildings' door and window lines. Use a rule to make straight lines, and keep in mind that door and window lines have the same angles as the rooftop lines directly above them.

  4. 4

    Add structural and architectural details. If your reference photo is a close-up, you may be able to see door and window frames, ledges, and other details. Also include any discernible building materials, such as brick, stone, metal, glass, etc., in your sketch.

    Painting Buildings

  1. 1

    Paint the buildings. Use a wash technique by dipping the brush in water then dabbing it lightly in the paint and brushing the paint with smooth, even strokes on the paper. With the wash technique, the less water you put on the brush, the more opaque the paint will be. To create darker-shaded areas, use less water on the brush. To paint lighter-shaded areas, dilute the paint to create translucency.

    How to Draw and Paint Buildings
    The less water you put on the brush, the more opaque the paint will be. (Jupiterimages/ Images)
  2. 2

    Paint the buildings' details. Paint the thin outlines on the buildings that frame the structures and the windows using a small, thin-tip paintbrush. Use only a small dab of paint to create thin lines.

  3. 3

    Paint the background. Paint the sky and any clouds by using a medium, flat paintbrush to fill in the large area. To create white shapes, such as clouds, leave the appropriate areas unpainted, allowing the white paper to show through.

Tips and warnings

  • To protect your work area from stains, lay down newspaper before you start painting.
  • Instead of buying individual paints and brushes, consider purchasing a watercolour set, which includes a variety of paint shades and brushes.
  • When painting, do not add too much water to the paper or else it will crinkle.
  • Most watercolour paints are non-toxic, but check the product label before allowing children to use them.

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