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A sense of perspective

What’s the best way to visually express the qualities of a space, so audiences can understand the impact of architecture? For our Adelaide-based Graduate Ping Xiu Gan, it’s the section perspective – one of the most popular forms of representation in the profession. In this article, Ping shares some tips for perfecting your perspectives.

Section perspectives are my favourite type of architectural representation – and something I’ve really enjoyed creating for design studio projects at university. They are powerful tools for bringing both internal and external spaces to life, expressing design and construction details, and taking the audience on a journey of the project through a 2D plan.

I have some go-to books for reference and inspiration on section perspectives, including ‘Graphic Anatomy’ by Atelier Bow-Wow and ‘Manual of Section’ by Paul Lewis, Marc Tsurumaki, and David J. Lewis. Both books demonstrate many section details and foreground technical methods through the use of conventional graphic elements such as hatches, lines, and tones to build a hierarchy line weight sectional perspective.

In case you’d like to try your hand at them, here’s the simple, step-by-step method I used to create my sections in Rhino and Illustrator:

Step 1: Create a 3D model with enough detail in Rhino.
Step 2: Use the ‘Clipping Plane’ command to create a section cut on the model.
Step 3: Set up the perspective section by rotating and adjusting the clipping plane to your desired cut.
Step 4: Head over to either the left, right, front, or back view (depending on the direction of your model and cut), and adjust the projection from ‘parallel’ to ‘perspective’ in ‘view properties’ under the ‘properties’ panel on the right. If the clipping plane is not cutting through your model on the selected view, this could be easily fixed under the ‘properties’ section.
Step 5: Save your section perspective as a ‘Named View’ under ‘View > Set Views > Named Views’.
Step 6: Highlight all the elements from your perspective view, and use the ‘Make2D’ command to create a 2D drawing from this view.
Step 7: Export the drawing as an Adobe Illustrator file.
Step 8: Adjust the drawing’s line weight, adding additional details into the section, hatches, and colours.

Just one more important tip for creating an engaging section perspective: Your audience will experience your project and program in a more meaningful way if they can see people actively and naturally involved in the spaces – instead of the standard CAD block person inserted into imagery.

Remember that details make the difference in bringing your section perspectives to life!