What are the Tools Used by Architecture Students

What Materials to Use as Architecture Students

There’s a lot of tools for architecture students, especially for manual works. In this post, I will be focusing on the tools you can use for drawing and rendering, and tools for modelling. I’ll also be recommending the brands that I really like and used throughout.

*This post may contain affiliate links which means I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.*

Save this post for future reference if you plan on doing online shopping for your materials! This post is partnered with the previous blog post, Best Architecture Books for Architecture Students, as both shares about the different architecture school resources.

What are the Tools Used by Architecture Students

Manual Drawing and Rendering Tools

Pens and Pencils

First off, we’ve got the very basic and the first you’ll probably use. For drawings and sketches, you’ll want to use the different pencils from Staedtler or Rotring. Staedtler’s got different shades from 6H, 5H, 4H, 3H, 2H, H, F, HB, B, 2B, 3B, 4B, 5B, 6B, 7B, and 8B. You don’t necessarily have to buy them all, but having a variety of them will be really helpful especially for monochromatic drawings. Rotring, on the other hand, has a variety of mechanical pencils to choose from. I generally used a 0.5 mm mechanical pencil.

Related: 5 Tips for Freshmen in Architecture School

We didn’t really have any formal course for colored pencils but I used Prismacolor multiple times when we were free to do so. I love it loads as it is easy to use, easy to blend, and it produces a thick color. The downside for me is that I tend to use it up a lot, and it is not exactly a cheap brand for colored pencils.

You’ll also need technical pens. It’s probably the “stereotype tool” for an architect but ironically it’s something I almost never used unless required. The technical pens I used were all from Staedtler but a lot of my schoolmates also used Rotring.

Technical pens come in different points ranging from 0.1, 0.13, 0.18, 0.25, 0.35, 0.5, to 0.7

This might depend on the brand and the set you’ll be choosing to buy. You can choose to buy them individually or in sets. I always kept an ink with me just in case the pen runs out of it.

A substitute I used whenever it was not required to use technical pens are the drawing pens such as Uni Pin. I like the fact that I don’t have to wait for it to dry or the extra caution I need to have to avoid any smudges. Although truthfully, technical pens produce better results.


Some classes will make you draw freehand whilst for obvious reasons, you’ll need rulers for your drafting classes. Some of these are scales, T-squares, french curves, and triangles. Now a scale isn’t exactly a ruler and in fact, you should never use it as a ruler since the edges aren’t always straight. They’re just there for measuring purposes. 

If you’re an incoming freshman and you don’t know what a scale is, it is a tool we use to “translate” or “convert” measurements from different scaled drawings in order to make your drawings proportional.

A T-square is another ruler and it is a really helpful tool for manual drafting! I don’t know how people would do manual ruled drawings without it. You’ll save much time using it as opposed to having none. It comes in different lengths, 18 inches, 24 inches, 30 inches, 36 inches, and 42 inches. The T-square I used is a Staedtler in 36 inches. If you’re looking for a 24-inch Staedtler one, I have a link for you.

I gotta be honest, I mostly never used french curves but maybe it’s because I don’t exactly know how to use it well. French curves help you draw “ruled” irregular curves which could be helpful for curvilinear drawings.

Then there are the triangles, the partners of your T-square. 45 and 30 degree triangles will help you draw straight lines quickly and properly when doing manual drafting.

Watercolor and Markers

In our university, we have courses for both watercolor and markers. The watercolor I used and really liked were the Prang watercolor set. I’m not exactly familiar with other brands but I do understand that there’s a lot of good brands out there. I personally had no problems with Prang but I needed to keep my work in safe places since the Prang smells or is too “sweet” and so ants and other insects can get attracted to them. That’s according to other reviews I’ve read back then.

The brushes I used alongside Prang are the Berkeley brushes and a Sakura waterbrush. This is the brand I recommend if you’re on a budget (coming from how much it cost me here in the Philippines). Another brand used by my schoolmates is Sakura which is also a good quality brand but is more expensive where I’m from.

For markers, I used Kurecolor Twin Markers but another go to choice would be Copic. When I borrowed Copic from my friends, I found that it was easier to blend due to its soft tips but Kurecolor was more budget friendly to me. I bought a set but you can get these markers one by one if you don’t want to splurge all at once.

Modelling Tools, Papers, and Boards


It’s not news that there’s a lot of modelling to be done inside architecture school. Before you finish an architecture model, you must have used the following: adhesives, cutting mat, cutters, and metal ruler.

I’m not gonna go over these too much as they’re kind of a safe thing to buy, like you can never go wrong with a cutting mat, you know? But with adhesives, I used UHU, B6000, and double-sided tapes.

I personally prefer B6000 over UHU only because it’s cleaner to use due to its tip. I used the double-sided tapes, honestly, whenever I felt too lazy to use a glue since it does get messy. To others, super glues also work but I wasn’t really up for that risk.

Papers and Boards

There are different papers and boards you’ll use throughout architecture school and some of these are the tracing papers, the bristol, the vellum boards, the foam boards, sintra boards, corrugated, and cork boards.

Tracing papers are mostly used for sketches especially when you’re overlaying them from drawings. In our university, we used bristol for our drafting works. All vellum, bristol, and sintra boards can be used for model making while foam, corrugated, and cork boards can be used for the base.

There’s a lot of tools used by architecture students and these are only some of them! Do you know or use any other tools that aren’t mentioned here? Comment them below! Feedback is much appreciated if you thought this post was helpful! If you’re looking for more resources for architecture students, check out my post for the best architecture books for architecture students!

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  1. Pingback: Anki Flashcards for Architecture School (Updated 2020)

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