Simple Overlay and Trace Project


By Jim Leggitt

Jim Leggitt FAIA, is an architect, urban planner, and professional illustrator. He has been practicing for over thirty-five years in Denver, Colorado.  Jim has conducted drawing seminars and workshops at AIA National Conventions, AIA regional and local conferences, universities, architectural firms and for allied design professionals throughout the country and Canada for over ten years.  Jim has also presented at the Google SketchUp 3D Basecamps 2005 and 2008.  He is also an adjunct professor at the University of Colorado Denver College of Architecture and Planning and offers drawing workshops through the college’s Continuing and Professional Education program. His newly published book Drawing Shortcuts has already been adopted by Ball State University, Indiana.

Forward by the author –

“Here is a  simple “step-by-step” technique for creating an illustration using a Google SketchUp model as a base, your creative imagination and a splash of color markers. These images and more are included in my Second Edition of Drawing Shortcuts, published by John Wiley & Sons. Here we are mixing 3D Graphics with hand drawing skills”.


Step 1: Make a SketchUp Massing Model

This simple massing model was modeled in Google SketchUp and a few people and entourage elements were added to give it scale and to select the eye-level perspective. Many of these elements can be downloaded from the 3D Warehouse and can be really simple in form.


Step 1

Step 2: Redline Mockup

Print the model view you like on letter size paper and then sketch all of the drawing elements in red pencil. This includes landscaping, street furniture, building facades, lighting and distant architecture.


Step 2

Step 3: Line Drawing on Trace

Tape a sheet of tracing paper over the redline mockup and then trace all of the drawing elements with a pencil or pen. In this drawing I used a Pilot Fineliner Pen.  Scan the finished black and white drawing at 300dpi before adding color in the final step.


Step 3

Step 4: Final Colored Drawing

Color was added directly onto the original ink drawing with Chartpak AD markers. Because the trace paper is thin, I applied color to both the front and back surfaces of the paper. This prevents certain marker colors from bleedinng into each other. Scan the final drawing in color at 300 dpi. Thats it, a great way to produce handrawn  colored drawings, using a SketchUp output image as your reference drawing.


Step 4

I hope you enjoyed this short tutorial and find it useful in your future projects.

Jim Leggitt

For more information about Jim Leggitt, FAIA, visit his website:, twitter: Jim is always looking for creative artists who are also exploring new hybrid drawing methods and would love hearing from you. He can be reached at

Watch out for future content and tutorials by Jim Leggitt here at SketchUpArtists!

2 Responses to “Simple Overlay and Trace Project”

  1. Bob Luther on December 31st, 2009 1:35 am

    This is a great tutorial but the one thing that would help a lot of young designers is to incorporate more modeled entourage elements in the modeling phase. By finding a similar (not exact) lighting fixture, pots, planters, or cafe tables to place in the model, when you trace over it you have more reference to scale and size. You (Mr. Leggitt) have been doing this for so long it is second nature to you, and that is great, but so many renderings fail when it comes to the small details and by adding a bit more entourage you can get great results because the scale of elements is more accurate.

  2. youngest oldtimer on November 13th, 2010 4:12 pm

    Or you can just practice and learn how to sketch and draw in perspective without a reference. Trust me, its worth learning and you won’t be dependent on having a printer or modeling software around in order to do it!

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