Loading ...

How to Draw Elevations

Updated July 20, 2017

An elevation is a non-perspective, two-dimensional technical drawing of a building's facade seen from the side. Elevations are typically drawn at the same scale as the floor plan. It is labelled based on the direction it faces on a compass. For instance, the south elevation is the facade of a building that faces south.

Loading ...
  1. Line up the edge of a blank sheet of paper with the edge of your T-square or parallel bar, and tape the corners to the desk or table. This will ensure that all lines are parallel to the edge of the paper.

  2. Tape the floor plan of the building, for which you are drawing the elevation, slightly above the blank sheet of paper. Make sure that the elevation you are going to draw is at the bottom of the sheet. Rotate the sheet if necessary.

  3. Determine the scale in which the floor plan is drawn using the architect's scale. This will be the scale that you will use for your elevation.

  4. Project the lines from your floor plan down to your blank sheet of paper by lining up your triangle to the exterior wall line of your floor plan and drawing a light line down to the blank page. Do this for all exterior wall edges, window and doors of the floor plan. These light lines are called guidelines.

  5. Draw a light horizontal line on your elevation sheet with your T-square or parallel bar. This line will represent your finish floor line, or the line that represents the level of the ground floor in the building.

  6. Determine the heights of your ceilings. With your architect's scale, measure the distance above the finish floor line, and make a light tick mark at the correct measurement. Line your T-square or parallel bar up with the tick mark, and draw a light horizontal line. This will be the finish ceiling height.

  7. Use the architect's scale and parallel bar (or T-square) to draw a line above the finish ceiling line for the ceiling joist line. If the ceiling is constructed out of 2-by-6s, this line will be 6 inches above the finish ceiling line. This line will also represent the fascia line on the exterior of the building.

  8. Measure the distance between the exterior wall lines that were projected down from the floor plan and the roof overhang; draw a vertical line, using your triangle as a straight edge, to connect the finish ceiling line and the ceiling rafter line. Draw the roof using the rise-over-run method for the pitch: a 6:12 roof will be drawn as measuring 1 foot over horizontally (from the just drawn vertical line) and 6 inches up; then the two points are connected to give you a slope line. Repeat on the opposite side of the building.

  9. Draw in any exterior features of the site. Include a ground plane line for the ground. If there are any porches, decks, retaining walls, etc., draw those in as well. You can also include trees or other buildings that would be beside or behind the elevation.

  10. Draw in any additional architectural features that are specific to your building. This will include any windows, doors, chimneys, exterior light fixtures, etc.

  11. Darken all of the permanent lines. For instance, the exterior wall lines that you projected from the floor plan to the elevation sheet only needs to be darkened from the ground line to the roof. Window/door lines that were projected only need to be darkened at the actual window/door.

  12. Use the eraser shield to erase any guidelines (lightly drawn lines) that are no longer needed.

  13. Label the elevation based on its compass orientation or as front, back, left side, right side, etc.

  14. Tip

    Always use a straight edge when you draw lines. Straight edges are triangles, T-squares, parallel bars, etc. Never freehand a line, and never use your architect's scale as a straight edge. If you are using a really small scale, you can round the inches up to the nearest 3 inches.


    If you use your architect's scale as a straight edge, you will eventually damage your scale. Your pencil will hit the tick marks on the scale, and this will eventually lead to your scale no longer being a precise measuring instrument.

Loading ...

Things You'll Need

  • Architect's scale
  • Paper
  • Floor plan
  • T-square or parallel bar
  • 45-degree triangle
  • Drafting pencil or lead holder
  • Lead
  • Tape or drafting dots
  • 30-60-90 triangle (optional)
  • Eraser shield (optional)

About the Author

Michelle Deer has a Bachelor of Fine Arts in architecture, a master's degree in architecture and an electronic design minor from the Savannah College of Art and Design. She has spent over five years working in architecture firms writing magazine ads, newspaper ads and designing websites. Deer's articles specialize in home-improvement and other technical topics.

Loading ...