Project and Miscellany

Overview and Purpose

My father was a draftsman in the days before computers, when drawings and specifications were completed by hand. I always had an interest in drawing, but never delved into the art of drafting. As a memorial project for my father, I am taking up his former craft through self-instruction, and applying whatever skills I develop towards visually documenting the various Gothic Revival buildings in the City of Toronto, of which there are many and they are quite beautiful, yet underappreciated. I know he would have loved this idea.

I’ve got some of my father’s old drafting tools to help make my drawings – compasses, dividers, set squares, rulers, etc. I’ve managed to wedge a drafting table into my little home and have amassed an ever-growing library of reference materials. I’ve got everything I need, and I’ve got the patience to learn.


The site can be navigated using the menus at the top of the screen. The main thrust of the page is located under the Buildings drop-down menu. There is an individual page for each building that has been included so far. There is a Background page which gets into how the project concept is related to my dad. I’ve also included some of my drawings from before I started this in the Portfolio section. A series of side studies I’ve done (and will continue to do between projects) reside in the Geometry Studies section. I keep a brief list of Reference Materials for anyone’s interest as well.

When I was studying perspective drawing in preparation for this project, I developed a method for 2-point perspective that is more precise than the methods I was seeing in books on the subject. Those methods all required some degree of visual interpolation that has the potential to be off. My method is based on trigonometry, and eliminates any guesswork. For anyone interested, the description is here.

Vision for the Toronto Gothic Project

Initially, my vision for the project was to draw the interesting building facades and three dimensional views of the buildings in their entirety, rendered in realistic detail. Unfortunately, I didn’t know how to do any of this except the rendering, which I planned to to in ink using stippling as in my previous works. I wanted to be able to show the buildings in a way that they could be appreciated without the interferences you would get if you were looking at them in person: trees, utilities, traffic, bus shelters, garbage cans, etc. These really obscure (spoil) the view, and the presence of people causes immense distraction, to me anyways. In addition, it’s also hard to simply just get a good vantage point in the city since it is so dense. And, as just mentioned, the further away you get, the more stuff gets in between you and the building. So the main objective was to draw the buildings in isolation from their surroundings from a vantage point of my choosing that may be impossible to physically stand and view them from. I just needed to figure out how to do this.

Development of the Toronto Gothic Project

I came up with the idea for this project in January 2020, just before the pandemic. Fortunately, I had been to the Toronto Archives to document what I could about the first building I was going to tackle, Christ Church Deer Park, near where I live. That allowed be able to begin the project even though things were starting to close down. This also gave me ample time to do some research, as I was starting out with no knowledge of drafting, other than a basic understanding of vanishing points. I also began to research the Gothic Revival movement, and its roots in the original Gothic constructions. This sent me down my first rabbit hole that expanded my project objectives, being the study of methods of proportioning that were used by Gothic architects and masons, which had their basis in geometry. This then led to books on Sacred Geometry, and its relationship to architectural design specifically of cathedrals. This added another element to my project, which was to see if I could back out, or reverse engineer, the geometric schemes that formed the basis of the building designs, as Gothic Revival would, I supposed, use the same proportioning methods to maintain stylistic similarity. These ended up being included in my drawings as I decided to use them as the basis for drawing the facades. Once I’d figured out the geometric scheme (ad quadratum or ad triangulum and the associated details that cascade forth from them), I drew the geometrical scheme as a sort of skeleton, and then drew the building as though it was appearing out of the geometric scheme as I rendered it.

The second rabbit hole I went down that expanded the nature of the project was to learn how to draw shadows both in perspective and in elevation drawings. The first façade I did, being Christ Church Deer Park front façade, didn’t really have shadows. When I did the side façade, I admit I kind of guessed at shadows, but that didn’t sit right with me, and even though they look right, I didn’t want to rely on guessing moving forward. So I started to research that too, and did a bunch of studies, some of which are in the Geometry section. Other studies in there were to help me with thinking about drawing 3D shapes in perspective. This ended up comingling with the Sacred Geometry stuff in a nice way.

A note on the impact of the pandemic

The pandemic resulted in the Toronto Archives being closed for a long stretch of time between 2020 and 2022, and so this project has expanded to include some structures that are not Gothic Revival, like the front gate of Mount Pleasant Cemetery, or tangentially related to Gothic Revival, like the University College building at the University of Toronto (which is a combination of several styles, including Gothic Revival). I’ve been relying on building plans to make the renditions as accurate as possible, so I had to work with what I could find online during that time, or take suitable photos of myself. So it’s not strictly Gothic Revival anymore.