The architect's indebtedness to this little instrument which helps him to get work and to execute it is plain then, but if he feels a debt to this constant friend, so indeed should the architectural draftsman or student, for the pencil perhaps offers him more assistance in learning architecture and in advancing in this profession than does any other one thing.
For it is natural that the draftsman who gains proficiency in the use of an instrument so frequently employed by the architect stands in line for promo-tion, especially if he is able to do all the free-hand work which the average draftsman is so often unqualified to handle.
And even though a man may never reach a point where he stands out among his fellows because of his pencil sketches, he can gain much benefit in many ways by practising sketching during his spare moments. Drawing from photographs or buildings always increases a student's knowledge of architecture, but it does far more than this. It improves his powers of observation and retention, for he is forced to observe in order to draw at all and in drawing he unconsciously assimilates not only knowledge of the buildings drawn, but also a sense of relative proportions and shapes applicable to original problems in design. The more such drawings he makes, too, the greater will be his power to visualize the appearance of a proposed building long before a single study on paper has been made. The ability to thus form in the mind an image of the completed structure is most desirable, but the average draftsman gives so much time to working in elevation or plan only that he is likely to lose sight of the fact that the building is to be finally judged by its appearance in three dimensions and not by the drawings from which it is built. The draftsman who has the power to visualize does not forget this fact and so makes all his drawings with greater intelligence.
There are some men, on the other hand, who are able to see in their minds a building exactly as they wish to erect it, yet they are unable to freely express their ideas on paper. To such men a knowledge of free-hand drawing would be of the greatest benefit. In fact a man who can sketch well is able not only to express his own thoughts on paper but can draw from a description given him by someone else.
Then there are others connected with the architectural profession besides the architect and his draftsmen and designers who find a knowledge of sketching of value, for engineers and construction superintendents can often explain to others or make clear in their own minds certain obscure points in construction by means of quick sketches.
And just as the architect and his assistants find skill in pencil handling advantageous, so do those connected with such professions as interior decoration and landscape architecture, and in much the same way - this is not difficult to see. What is not so commonly understood, however, is that skill in pencil sketching often proves of practical value to the layman, though he may make infrequent use of his accomplishment. There are problems which sometimes come up in the daily life of any person difficult to express or explain by oral or written word but which can be easily made clear by even the crudest sketch.
Does it not seem rather strange, then, when we reflect on these various advantages of skill in sketching, that of all the millions of people in this country using pencils every day, and of the thousands of men in the architectural and similar professions alone who work from morning till night throughout the year with the pencil as their principal tool, that so few ever attempt to make anything but the crudest sort of free-hand sketch and that among those who do seriously try to make finished pencil drawings a still smaller number have the perseverance to reach any real degree of success? For taken all in all there is much of a practical nature to be gained through free-hand pencil work, and in addition to this a great deal of pleasure to be obtained, - in fact, the satisfaction of being able to draw well is worth in itself the time spent in acquiring the necessary knowledge.