Everyone’s design process looks different, but personally, I like to move into 3d modeling fairly early in the design process because it gives me more geometric flexibility and the ability to iterate through multiple massing options by doing copy+paste. It also allows me to experiment with light conditions and material quality early on in the design process.
However, 3d modeling can be a dangerous trap if you don’t know how and when to use it. I can’t tell you how many hours I’ve wasted because I jumped onto 3d modeling too early without a solid idea. (For some reason, time seems to fly by when I’m in the digital world.. does anyone feel the same?!) Our cognitive abilities also seem to function differently when using our hands.
When sketching, I tend to generate ideas and problem-solve faster, so in almost all design phases, I am constantly going back and forth between sketching and 3d modeling.
If you’re just starting to get into architecture, building up your toolkit might feel a bit daunting. But in reality, you really don’t need much to create a good workflow. Below are the tools I currently have on my desk from Pacific Arc. I’ve left links to all the products, and in case you want to buy anything, use my code “DAMILEE” for a 20% discount.
When I started working in an architecture office as a young junior designer, I used to print out my 3d models and hand sketch over them. I would present the image, and every time, the reactions were great. Maybe it’s a little inefficient, a little unorthodox, but people don’t question the method, they see the final product. Sketching is becoming a lost art - rare and precious. It just has the wow factor that’s hard to achieve with a render these days. It allows you to focus on certain areas while gives you a lot of leeway to leave certain areas unresolved. Over time, this little workaround allowed me to sit and draw with the bosses rather than doing toilet layouts.
You might not understand why they force you to learn hand drawing in the digital age, but learning how to draw well will pay you dividends in the long run, and the journey of an architect is a very long one 😉
PS. A note on drafting tables. I had a drafting table all throughout architecture school and recently got one, thanks to Pacific Arc. It’s been really nice having this close to my reach, not only because it helps build a habit of drawing consistently, but also because it creates a space away from your day-to-day production. Personally, I love how it gives me a break away from the screen, books, and notebooks, and gives me one empty plane to draw. Although drafting on the computer has made everything more efficient, it also means that the expected output + production rate is higher. It can get exhausting. When you’re at the drafting table, you can slow down, and get back to the fundamentals of making architecture, one line at a time.