Drawing Shortcuts

Transformation from Sketchup (lower left) to handwork over Sketchup using added dingbats, markers, pencils.

Ever wonder about the method to the madness in creating design presentation renderings? A Denver friend/architect, Jim Leggitt, FAIA, put together the Drawing Shortcuts book about 10 years ago and has managed to teach hundreds of designers and architects his method to knocking out great hand drawings. He uses a bunch of “hybrid” methods that lean on the strength of simple 3D computer modeling and rapid hand drawing. The results are accurate illustrations that look great. No more excuses for drawings that look computer-stiff.

Increasingly, designers of all levels need a high level of self-reliance, and great looking hand drawing is sadly underused. Whether it’s fear of drawing, limited project budgets or impending deadlines, the quality of drawing has decreased as technology increases.

Jim offers a two day workshop every once in a while here in Colorado. For fun and to reinvigorate my passion for creating strong visual communications, I signed up. The course was a blast and regardless of the student’s prior drawing experiences, there were piles of drawing bones tossed out for the tasting.

In short, Jim’s workflow is to create simple 3D models on top of existing drawings and then modify/draw overtop of them in a series of steps that are predictable and quick. Sometimes, the 3D models are directly used as bases under the hand drawings, and sometimes they’re just used to get the perspective and view right (an exercise that by hand is time consuming and prone to errors).

By all means check out Jim’s website, www.drawingshortcuts.com. He’s an active blogger and a great resource and teacher.

P.S. All the drawings you see here were produced by yours truly.


Here’s a quick series from CAD to final. The whole process was probably 30-40 minutes.


From a quick scan/sizing of a colored plan into Sketchup. Rapid push/pull of primary buildings. Then output and drawn directly on print.