Description: This is yet another architectural tutorial. This time I will be showing you how to draw a traditional Japanese pagoda. Buildings and geometric forms have never been my strong point but I am finding myself improving with each drawing. If you are anything like me you probably groan every time you have to use a ruler, however, I strongly encourage you to give this tutorial or any other building tutorials a shot. Art is only worth creating if it challenges you and your abilities. If you think something is going to be an absolute pain to draw, chances are you will feel a lot of satisfaction once you are done with it.
Description: First of all, I used a few images of pagodas as references but I did not copy any of them detail for detail. You can do that if you want to but I would encourage you to create your own design for your pagoda using this tutorial and other images as reference. That will make this drawing much less stressful for you. The most important tool that you need for this drawing is some sort of straight edge. I personally used a T-square because it makes creating parallel lines much easier. If you don’t have a T-square use a regular ruler. As for pencils I decided to use 2B and 4B pencils. I used 2B for detailed lines/shading and 4B for light sketching/shading. You can use any pencils that work for you. The only reason why I used these two pencils was because I wanted to try a new combination. You could definitely complete this entire drawing, or any drawing, with a single pencil if you wanted to.
Description: Start out with an a very simple framework for the pagoda. Start off with a vertical line down the middle of your paper. Add a horizontal base line above the bottom of the paper and a slightly shorter line below the top of the paper. Make sure your lines are centered. Connect the top line with the bottom line to create a closed trapezoid. Adding four horizontal lines will create five sections. Make the sections decrease in size as they get closer to the top. This is the most important step so spend as much time as you need to on it.
Description: Start building on top of what you have from bottom to top. You basically want to define your roof and the front walls of the building. You will be able to see more and more of the rafters beneath the roof as you ascend due to perspective.
Description: Sketch in the rest of walls and roofs. Add a little column on top for the “nine-rings.” At this point you should make sure that your perspective makes sense. Every section should be getting proportionally smaller as it nears the top of the paper.
Description: Start adding more definition from the bottom up. I added a few more features to the first floor, mainly another roof below the main one and some divisions in the middle of the walls. I also added a platform and the basis for some stairs that will lead into the pagoda.
Description: This will start to get a little more complex now as you begin adding more sections. The main things you should worry about during this step are the roof tiles and the columns on the walls. Pay attention to how to roof tile lines become more slanted as the get closer to the roof’s edges. This is an important detail that will add depth to the drawing. Make sure that your vertical and horizontal lines are parallel, the easiest way to create parallel lines is with a T-square.
Description: Start adding more detail section by section, bottom to top. Make your lines a little darker to add more definition. This is the last layer of outlines to make your lines as clean as you can.
Description: Add details to the rest of the first floor and its roof. There are plenty of tiny details and chances are that you will miss a few here and there, that’s alright. You can add more details later on during the drawing. You just want to make sure that you have a strong outline base for future shading.
Description: Start detailing your shading from bottom section to top again. Remember that you don’t have to design your pagoda just like mine. You can make your s as plain or complex as you want it to be just make sure that your outlines are clean and bold.
Description: Detail the next floor. note that you can see more of the undersides of the roofs as you get closer to the top. Don’t forget to add the curved beams on the roofs. These will give the pagoda a more oriental look.
Description: Define the top floor and the “9-rings.” Try to make sure that there actually are nine rings for authenticity’s sake! Look over your line art and take a deep breath! It’s all straight forward from here.
Description: Start shading in the same manner from bottom to top. You can use whatever shading technique that you are comfortable with. I used 4B graphite and a paper towel to add soft shading to my background. I then settled on a 2B pencil for all of my detailed shading.
Description: Shade in the rest of the first floor. As you move along with your shading you will most likely find yourself having to go over your outlines again. Try to use a straight edge when you go over straight lines during these final steps. The last thing you want now are wobbly lines.
Description: Start work on the next two floors and add shading to the background as well. There are a lot of ways that you can go about shading. You can start with your lightest values and gradually add your darker values. You can also start with your darkest shading and save your lightest shading for last. I haphazardly go between these two methods depending on my mood.
Description: Shade in the rest of the 2nd and 3rd floors.. You may find yourself needing to add more details to the lower floors here and there. There are very many tiny details in this drawing so just make sure to take your time.
Description: You’re almost there! Start adding shading to the rest of the pagoda and the background. These final steps can be the most rewarding but also the hardest ones to get done. Just keep trotting along and looking back on the rest of your drawing for inspiration.
Description: Detail the rest of the top sections as well as the “9-rings.” I went ahead and added some more atmosphere to the background and lightly smoothed over my shading using a paper towel. If your rub the paper towel softly enough you will only affect your light shading and wont lose your lines. You can also go in with a 4B pencil and darken your shading and work on your wood textures. I really hope you find this drawing as challenging as I did and that you learn as much from it as I have. Let me know how you do with it or if you have any questions for me.
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