The Complete Guide to Architectural Drawings

Guide to Architectural Drawings

The architectural drawings are the backbone of a construction project’s design. They are the technical representation of a building that is made prior to the start of the construction process. They should visually communicate how a building will function and look when successfully built.

There are three main styles of architectural drawings:

  1. Hand drawings
  2. Computer-generated imagery (CGI)
  3. Computer-aided design (CAD)

Each of these different styles can be utilised at different points of the architectural design process and offer new perspectives to the drawings. A hand drawing is a traditional form of drawing and can be done on a drawing tablet in today’s age of technology, meaning it can be fine-tuned with computer software.

The Guildford Architects at Surrey Design Studio have put together the following guide to architectural drawings, including what they include, the different types, and tips if you are thinking of completing your own planning drawings.


Different Types of Architectural Drawings

There are four types of architectural drawings that each serve a different purpose in the architectural and construction process:

Presentation drawings

These are used to communicate an idea or scheme with the use of shadows, texture, people and vegetation. They are not diagrams nor intended to appear realistic. Instead, they will feature rendering, which involves adding surface textures to show the visual qualities of the building.

Survey drawings

Survey drawings represent an accurate and measured record of the existing site and buildings currently in place. These act as the basis of the working drawings and provide the exact dimensions for the construction work.

Record drawings

These have been used historically to understand and emulate architecture. In the current day, architects use them to understand existing projects, as they can reveal the “as-built” conditions of the completed buildings.

Working drawing

These are used in the construction process and include the location, assembly and component drawings. The local drawings include the floor plans, sections and elevations. Assembly drawings show how the different parts are put together, while the component drawings enable elements like windows to be produced in a workshop and delivered to the construction site ready for installation.

Architect Drawings


What is included in an architectural drawing?

  • Floor plans: A map that shows a building’s internal structure in regards to its external walls and environments.
  • Site plans: shows an aerial view of the entire building within the context of its surroundings.
  • Elevation: a drawing of an interior or exterior vertical surface.
  • Cross-section: refers to a cut that results in the removal of one of the parts to reveal the object’s inner aspects.
  • Detail drawings: shows a small area of a construction project in more detail, demonstrating how the different elements come together.
  • Electrical drawings: specific symbols are used to communicate the placement of the lights switches, power sockets and other electrical elements.
  • Concept sketches: a quick hand drawing that communicates an idea and aims to help drive a project.


Can I do architectural drawings myself?

Yes, you can definitely complete your own architectural drawings. By doing so, you will also be saving yourself the expense of paying an architect, although it will require time and skill to complete them to the standard required before you can submit them.

Before deciding whether or not you want to complete the drawings yourself, consider how complex the drawings will need to be. This will depend on what construction work you plan on doing – is it just an extension or is it a new build project?

Here are some tips from our architectural experts that will help you to produce your own architectural drawings:

  • Use a different line thickness to show different elements of the architecture. For example, the walls that cut through should be a heavier line weight.
  • Adding annotations will help to draw attention and add additional information to the objects and elements of the drawings.
  • Keep smudging to a minimum, so that they convey their meaning neatly.
  • Do not rush, as producing these drawings will take time.
  • Add dimensions to provide a quick reference to the scale and size of things in your drawing.


If you are seeking advice about your architectural drawings or would like more information on our architectural design services, get in touch with the Guildford Architects at Surrey Design Studio today on 01737 931330.