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Hand Drawing Tutorial: Analytical Section Drawing

Drawing can be a powerful tool for analyzing an object. We draw what we perceive and not what is actually there. Therefore our drawing always contains our thoughts, knowledge and ideas.

Today I will talk about a useful way of drawing for recording and analyzing landscapes. It’s called analytical section drawing. It is similar to geographical illustration – it gives us information about a part of the Earth’s surface.

We start off with a bird’s eye view of the landscape. It’s important to choose an area that tells us a lot about the structure of the landscape. In the drawing in the video it’s a valley with a river running through it in the middle. On one side, we have terraced landscape with crop fields and a settlement, on the other there are vineyards on the slope and forest on top of the hill.

Once we have the outline, we add an important element to the drawing – the face of the section. It is in fact a tool for abstraction – when we abstract something, we obtain a new perspective of seeing it and may learn something of it that we wouldn’t by merely looking at it or even drawing it in a normal way. This kind of drawing is not necessarily an totally accurate image of the landscape we analyze – we don’t have to draw all the trees or all the houses. What we do get is a general idea of how the landscape is structured. And that is important.

Landscape is a complex system and usually a broad surface of the terrain. It is hard to include all it’s characteristics in a normal drawing or sketch. But this method of drawing allows us to add a lot of information. I add information like orientation of the valley and individual landscape elements.Through drawing this landscape I noticed that the northern slopes are steeper because of southern exposure – it causes erosion. Because they are steeper vineyards appear on them. Crop fields appear on the other, more flat side of the valley. We could also add information from other fields of science like geology, plant sociology or geomorphology.

I hope you’ll find this method useful and I encourage you to try it out sometimes!

Linescapes is a project focused on exploring drawing techniques for recording and analyzing landscapes. It also tries to promote hand-drawing in landscape architecture.

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