Drawing is a helpful component in all stages of the design process from idea generation, through design ideation, to representation. However, emphasis is often placed on these latter two stages and drawing is less often taught or explored as a tool for idea generation, particularly in landscape architecture. Therefore, the aim of these exercises is to help us explore methods and foster a practice of experimental and intuitive drawing at the earliest stages of the landscape design process. I drew methods and inspiration from my background in fine arts, as well as the plentiful exercises for drawing in other design disciplines (see “Resources”). Many of these exercises are best done in groups, so that you can compare your interpretations to those of others. I encourage you to start a drawing group with your peers to work through them together! They are intended to be accessible and valuable to students and professionals alike. They should be approached with a spirit of experimentation and a penchant for messiness.


As drawing exercises for other design disciplines are plentiful, we can adapt their methods to landscape architectural principles for landscape-specific learning. The primary methods employed in the exercises are: 

  • Technical drawing: enhancing hand-eye coordination, the mind-body connection, and technical skills needed to draw with accuracy
  • De-skilling: limiting one’s ability to be accurate or precise while drawing
  • Visual analysis: the ability to critically analyze whether or not an image is successful and why
  • Emotive drawing: representing emotion through colour, form, and texture

desired outcomes

There are many elements that inhibit our ability to generate ideas through drawing. In addition to having limited methods, we also may struggle with our confidence, efficiency, drawing accuracy, accessing our intuition, and the art of critique. Using the above methods, I designed this set of exercises to target these desired outcomes in order to cumulatively improve our drawing skills for the early design process.


creator  |  christen oakes                                                                                                                       mla student, school of architecture and landscape architecture, ubc

academic advisor  |  daniel roehr                                                                                                            associate professor, school of architecture and landscape architecture, ubc

co-instructor  |  stephanie braconnier                                                                                                    adjunct professor, school of architecture and landscape architecture, ubc