Learning Design Realism

Today’s Topics:

  • Starting Out
  • Adding More Detail
  • Using Realistic Material Layers

Starting Out

One of the major things to learn in architecture school is pretty much how to design a building.

But what is the baseline general knowledge that people come in with?

There is usually a mix of skill levels ranging from not having done any architectural drawings or work, to people who have taken classes in high school like me.

Naturally the first time students start designing, it is always without wall thickness. They just design the entire building with only 2d surfaces.

The product can still resemble a building, but it resembles a very basic understanding of architecture which is perfectly understandable for students starting out.

Adding More Detail

At some point in school, you have to start learning about what actually needs to be in your building designs.

This means giving walls thicknesses, giving doors more detail instead of them just being blank rectangles. Using correct proportions and dimensions.

Learning all of these things takes time, and there is almost always something to learn about it.

Some of these things will be common sense, some of these you might be taught, and many other things you just have to search up and learn on your own.

Developing your palette of building component knowledge as early as possible is essential to becoming a successful in professional practice.

Using Realistic Material Layers

This can be one of the hardest things to master. Firstly, choosing what materials you want to use for your building in relation to the style that you are attempting to make.

Sometimes materials match when they are oriented in certain hierarchy, or maybe it does not span the whole wall. Materiality of buildings can be super complex or also very simple.

Aside from just the interior or exterior materials that you use, the structure of the building is just as important.

Having an understanding of what makes up your wall is one of the most essential things to making a realistic building design.

There are a multitude of things that you need to be concerned with like how the building is insulated, or how you keep the water from coming in the building, alongside how that wall stands up.

Learning all of these different processes overtime has brought me to the point where I am at today.

I spend countless hours researching and working to achieve a certain level of realism so that I am well prepared for when I go and start my internships.


Thanks for tuning into this weeks blog post! If you have any questions about learning about designing feel free to ask in the comments or send me an email! As always, Dream Big!

Published by Alonzo Colon

Architecture Student at Virginia Tech

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