Architectural drawing

Architectural drawing software from Autodesk empowers you to bring your designs to life.

3D rendering of a residential home combined with technical draft notations.

What is architectural drawing?

An architectural drawing is a technical illustration of a building or building project. These drawings are used by architects for several purposes: to develop a design idea into a coherent proposal, to communicate ideas and concepts, to enable construction by a building contractor, or to make a record of a building that already exists.

Rendering of a cafe created using AutoCAD

How is architectural drawing software used?

Architectural drawing software is commonly referred to as CAD (computer-aided design) software. Architects use this software to produce the technical drawing of a building containing specifications that are used by a contractor to construct the final architectural building. Prior to the existence of architectural drawing applications, architects manually drew these plans.

Types of architectural drawing

Illustration of Tianjin International Cruise Terminal Building.

Concept drawing

Concept drawings are used by architects and interior designers as a quick and simple way of exploring initial ideas for designs. 

Image courtesy of CCDI Group

CAD drawing of Old St. Marks Church created in AutoCAD LT.

Site drawing

A site plan is a detailed engineering drawing that shows information about grading, landscaping, building arrangement, topography, and other details. These are made easier with architectural drawing software that allows such information to be rapidly added.

Rendering of structural building model for Waterplace Park project

Structural drawing

A structural drawing is a plan for how a building will be built. These types of architect drawings detail the load-carrying members of a structure.

Image courtesy of Odeh Engineers, Inc.

Architectural drawing software

Powerful BIM and CAD tools for designers, engineers, and contractors, including Revit, AutoCAD, Civil 3D, Autodesk Forma, and more

Plan, design, construct, and manage buildings with powerful tools for Building Information Modeling.

Software for 2D and 3D CAD. Subscription includes AutoCAD, specialized toolsets, and apps.

Navisworks Manage, Navisworks Simulate software and the Navisworks Freedom 3D viewer for 5D analysis, design simulation, and project review.

3D modeling, animation, and rendering software for games and design visualization

Cost-effective 2D CAD software for drafting, drawing, and documentation

Explore related architecture topics

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Architecture building European Spallation Source

Architecture software

Autodesk architecture software solutions support the rapid innovation needed to meet today’s design challenges.

Man viewing a rendering of a health care center on a tablet

Architectural rendering

Help clients visualize your designs with realistic renders.

3D rendering of a luxurious home with contrasting realistic rendering and wireframe.

Architectural design

Software from Autodesk empowers you to visualize, design, render, and build.

See how others are using architectural drawing software

Detroit’s Beacon Park features the award-winning Lumen restaurant building.


Architecture firm uses AutoCAD to drive urban renewal

Award-winning architecture firm uses AutoCAD to drive urban renewal, including revitalization of a Detroit park with adaptive reuse and green design. 

Final installation of lobby seating.


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Discover how AutoCAD drives a new business for architectural millwork drawing of custom-produced cabinetry, desks, and more.

Rendering of COVID-19 emergency facility.


From pen and paper to full service architectural design

Falkbuilt-Sprung partners with Autodesk experts to design and manufacture emergency facilities to help treat the overwhelming surge in COVID-19 cases. 

Architectural drawing resources

Get news, tips, and insider resources straight from Autodesk staff.

See how the AEC Collection helps support the structural design-to-fabrication process for precast, rebar and structural steel.

Use BIM architectural design software to win more work and retain clients. Create more innovative, sustainable designs, improve client communication, and manage data.

Not sure which architectural drawing program is right for you? Use this comparison chart to see which software will fit your needs best.

Find third-party technology providers that deliver solutions that complement Autodesk drawing software for architects.

Learn the fundamental concepts and workflows in Revit with this simple guide.

Architectural drawing FAQs

What Autodesk software is used by architects for residential and commercial buildings?

Many architects use AutoCAD as a 2D drawing tool for creating floor plans, elevations, and sections. This architectural software speeds up the drawing process with pre-built objects like walls, doors, and windows, that behave like real-world objects.

Why should you use CAD software for architectural design?

Used worldwide by both commercial and residential architects, CAD has replaced manual drafting. It helps users create designs in either 2D or 3D so they can visualize the construction. CAD enables the development, modification, and optimization of the architectural design process.

Is there a free version of AutoCAD?

Yes. Students and educators can get free one-year educational access to Autodesk products and services, renewable for as long as you remain eligible. Learn more.

Is architectural drawing software the same as interior design software?

Architects design buildings using software focused more on exteriors, while interior designers focus on the inside spaces of buildings, and include furniture, fixtures, and other accessories to create a desired look and function.

What BIM software is used in architecture?

Autodesk's Revit software helps architects across the project lifecycle by bringing all architecture, engineering, and construction disciplines into a unified modeling environment, driving more efficient and cost-effective projects.

Additionally, project teams can work together anytime, anywhere using Revit with BIM Collaborate Pro, a powerful and secure cloud-based collaboration and data management solution.

What kinds of drawings do architects draft?

There are many types of architectural drawings that are required during the process of designing, developing, and constructing a building. Some are used at specific times and stages, and others (such as floor and site plans) are continuously evolved and adapted as the project develops.

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