Top 10 Essentials of An Architecture Student

6 min read
Updated: Sep 15, 2019

Architecture is unlike any other college degrees. It does not merely involve logic, analysis, mathematics, and critical thinking—it further concentrates on design practice and problem-solving. Hence, the drawing phase. Some fear to enter architecture school because they have poor drawing skills or worse, they don’t think they can really draw at all. Well, it is only a little portion of the skillset you should possess as you become a young architect in the making. However, it is indeed a key ingredient to surviving the degree.

If you are an incoming college freshman and you enjoy taking risks, you might have chosen to pursue it as your future career. To begin with, you should know that with the right kind of attitude and consistent practice, you should be able to learn just about anything—yes, including drawing. So you see, there’s really nothing to be afraid of. Just enjoy the process!

Drawing Tools That You Will Need

Since a huge percentage of the subjects that you will take covers drawing and design, you will be needing some materials that will help you bring out the best in your creative self. In this article, we have listed down the Top 10 essentials of an architecture student. To be guided well, continue reading.

T-square, triangles, compass

When it comes to manual drawing, these tools will never be absent on the list. If you see a student walking with a T-square hanging on his shoulder, I’m pretty sure you’d initially assume he’s an architecture student. T-squares typically measure 18 to 42 inches long, but most of the time one 24-inch is enough. It serves as a guide to drawing straight vertical and horizontal lines. It works well with triangles.

Triangles come in different types, but the most useful ones are the 30-60-90-degree and the 45-45-90-degree triangles. A compass, on the other hand, helps you nail those circular forms and curves.

Drawing pencils, sharpener, and eraser

As you begin your first term, you will be needing various types of drawing pencils in order to sketch better. Learn the assorted types of pencils–graphite pencils, mechanical pencils, colored pencils, etc. They are classified into varying shades, grades, hues. You will most certainly need them for your visual techniques classes.

To undo errors made with pencil, an eraser will get you out of trouble. The sharpener will always improve the lead’s condition or quality. Make sure you bring them at all times.

Technical pens or drawing pens

Technical pens are ideal when it is time to ink your output that’s temporarily drawn in pencil. Popular brands would be Rotring and Staedtler. You can actually purchase a set consisting of 0.1, 0.3, 0.5 tech pens, a mechanical pencil with extra lead sticks, eraser, compass, etc. The thing is, they can be costly.

Alternatively, you can buy drawing pens like Unipin, Micron, Artline, and many others. They also have a clean and defined effect as that of legitimate technical pens.

Drafting table, high chair, and good lighting

Architecture involves a lot of pulling all-nighters! Aside from your school laboratory activities, your professor will surely assign take-home plates for you to work on. Either you’re a prompt person or a procrastinator, you will, in most cases, stay up late all night to finish your plates that are due the next day because you’re a very compliant student (LOL!).

As you work at home, you will need your own drafting table, a comfortable high chair that is in proportion to the table, and good lighting. The use of rigid and flexible LED strip lights will increase your productivity and focus. Task lighting will keep you in the momentum.

Different types of paper

You probably know the basic types of paper: letter, legal, A4, A3 sizes. But I’m telling you, there are a lot more than you haven’t discovered yet and you will be using them all for each of your drawing courses.

Along the way, you will be asked to buy watercolor paper, Bristol, tracing, parchment, snow white, vellum, etc. Apart from that, you will encounter multiple types of boards.

Canister or drawing storage tubes

A canister or drawing storage tube is your container for the drawing plates you have finished. It holds the different types of paper that your professor requires you to bring for your next activity.

Architect’s scale

In your Graphics subject, you will learn how to draw in a variety of scales. 1:100 is the standard scale, but you will be trained to convert them in 1:50, 1:200, and so on. With these tasks, what you will need is an architect’s scale. It is a triangular prism or Toblerone-shaped ruler that is printed with measurement in different architectural scales.

Coloring materials

After your monochromatic practice, you will proceed to the color application and rendering. Make sure you have your coloring materials with you. Primarily, you will need colored pencils, watercolor, markers, and oil pastel. An appropriate coloring medium for every drawing activity will enable you to produce the best quality.

Reference books

To enhance your drawing skills and architectural knowledge, invest in quality books. Many successful architects have published books on architectural principles, design standards, building materials, history and theory, utilities, etc. Do not rely on what you learn within the four corners of the room. You will need more information. You will need to study more!

Design templates

Design templates will help you quickly and smoothly plot the furniture on your architectural drawings. Because you will need to draw them over and over again, it is good to draw uniformly by using templates.


Professors would always tell their students, diligence is always the key to triumph. Enveloped with passion, it will never be too hard to go on and finish your degree in architecture. Surround yourself with people who provide you with good influence and a healthy mindset. Never stop learning and practicing. With the right tools at your disposal, you will surely improve and succeed! Good luck!


Sophia Rodreguaze


Sophia is the contributing editor at She writes about anything and everything related to technology.

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