Five Minute Sketching: Architecture
The most obvious difference between bridges and everyday buildings is their emphasis on engineering and structural design. While there can be some superfluous architectural details, bridges are designed with the goal of structural efficiency. They have to span great distances and support the volume of traffic crossing them.
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Tips to get you started
Structure Bridges are all about engineering, so start with the structure when you sketch. Get a sense of how far they span and where the supporting piers are, and then start with these as the first elements.
Liz Steel, Richmond Bridge, Richmond, Australia, 2014. The main feature of this convict-built sandstone bridge is the arches, so I started painting those shapes first.
Draw front faces Many bridges have elaborate trusses, which appear as a mass of structural members. It is very important that you don’t just draw a random collection of lines. Instead, look for the pattern of the front face, draw that, and then indicate some of the other major lines behind it. You don’t need to draw every diagonal of a truss!
Suhita Shirodkar, Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California, USA, 2015.
Suhita has achieved a lovely connection between the sides of the bay, using loose washes and a few lines to define the structure.
Connection and context While you don’t always have to include both ends of a bridge, it is good to be conscious of the two sides that it’s connecting, as this helps to put the bridge in context. How far the bridge spans is often an important aspect of its design, so include
a feeling of this in your sketch.
Sydney Harbour Bridge,
Sydney, Australia, 2011.
I always draw the front face of bridges first so that the structure is correct, and then simply hint at all the other members behind.
Fade details Once again, the key to sketching fast is not to draw it all! Water-soluble tools (pens, pencils or markers) can be used to great effect when drawing trussed bridges. Draw
a few load-bearing members only, and then just add water to fade the details.