Plans & Elevations.

in 2D.

In this section you will learn about two-dimensional drawing for Environmental design. Plans and Elevations are a means of buildings and human-made environments in separate two-dimensional views. Plans and Elevations are guided by a series of rules and processes set by the Australian Standards Association. Visual Communication Design follows the rules. Plans and Elevations are used in the field of Environmental design by architects, theatre set designers and landscape designers.


This page will teach students about making Plans and Elevations. This is the name given to two-dimensional technical drawings used in the field of Environmental design. Plans and Elevations in Visual Communication Design are made manually and with digital-based methods using the media of vector-based and/ or CAD programs.

For more information on this drawing method and how it will apply to your VCE VCD exam, download the current VCAA ‘Technical Drawing Specifications’.


Model answer

Below is a set of drawings that might be created as part of a Year 12 SAT communication need for Environmental design. Starting with a site plan, moving into Plans and Elevations then concluding with an interior detail elevation. Each drawing is at a scale appropriate for its purpose.

The purpose of Plans and Elevations

Plans and Elevations are used for a wide set of purposes including to promote, advertise, inform and depict the built environment. Two-dimensional drawings in Environmental design function in many ways and are constructed accordingly. The simpler forms of Plans and Elevations are used to illustrate and depict interiors in broad strokes. These kinds of drawings are known as concept sketches or schematics and are used to pitch an idea to a client or advertise a house or apartment to a prospective buyer. They are necessarily simple to illustrate only the space, flow, function and aspect of a building. Town planning drawings include more details such as dimensions, surrounding buildings, plotted shadow diagrams and set-backs, etc. These will often be presented on a number of sheets, each one depicting a different aspect of the proposed building. Construction drawings are done on large, often A1 sheets, and include a huge amount of detailed information. Several scales are used ranging from 1:200 for site plans to 1:10 for construction process details. These drawings also contain references to additional documentation set by engineers and other specialists.

Students in Visual Communication Design are exposed to a fairly narrow introduction to Plans and Elevations and deal only with the fundamental concepts of depictions of form in two-dimensions, conventions for lines and viewpoints that create Plans and Elevations and dimensioning. As such students are required only to produce schematic or concept Plans and Elevations of the type that would normally be used to pitch ideas simply to a client or to promote them to prospective purchasers.

A concept plan for advertising an apartment to prospective purchasers. Little Projects.
Details of an Elevation of kitchen joinery. Mossa Architecture and Interiors.


Plans and Elevations are read by a wide range of people from prospective purchasers, designer’s and their clients, engineer, builders and other trades people. They are drawn to promote ideas about space and amenity and to support the accurate construction of a building.

Making Plans and Elevations.

In this section we will explore each kind of Plan and Elevation. The requirements for each drawing/ sheet are influenced by the purpose or function, the target audience and context, the size of the building and consequently the scale to be used. It is assumed that students creating Plans and Elevations have a basic understanding of how to make 3rd Angle Orthogonal drawings. Much of the concepts and understandings used for 3rd Angle Orthogonal are used in Plans and Elevations. This page will build on those concepts and highlight the differences.

Multiple Sheet presentation

As shown in the ‘model answer’ above, Plans and Elevations can often be presented in multiple sheets. Each sheet is functions to present a different aspect of the building. Often a range of appropriate scales are used for the same building, as different aspects are presented differently. A range of different presentation sheets and the appropriate scales are shown below:

Scales for environmental design

Drawing function

Appropriate scale

Site plan
1:200, 1:500
Floor plans
1:50, 1:100
1:50, 1:100
Interior details


What is a plan?

A Plan is essentially a bird’s eye view of a building. However, one will note, it is not as seen from outside. The actual definition of a plan is a cross-section taken at a height of 1100 mm above the floor. What this means is, it is as if a building has been sliced in half at just over a metre from the floor and the upper section removed revealing all the details up to 1100 high (this includes kitchens, toilets, furniture, desks, etc.,) and the thickness of the walls and windows. Unlike a 3rd Angle Orthogonal drawing, where dashed lines are used to indicate hidden features, dashed lines in Plans and Elevations are used to show features of the building above the cutting plane for the Plan. This includes interior bulkheads, roves and eave lines.

Setting out a plan

A Plan is a picture of the floor of a building or landscape. It is drawn accurately with right angles and parallel lines to represent the actual shape of a building.

Representing walls

A Plan reveals the thickness of walls in scale. An exterior wall is actually different from an interior wall. Students in VCE VCD usually show exterior walls as solid bars filled black and interior walls filled in white. The width and the fill given to walls varies depending on whether they are interior or exterior and the scale at which they are drawn.
Demonstration example at 1:50.
Advertising Plan. Scale not specified.
Floor Plan at 1:50



1.1 Understand purpose and function

Research 4 or 5 different looking Plans and Elevations on the internet. Try to find drawings that have been created for the widest range of purposes and audiences. Be innovative in your search. Look around the world at different estate agents, for example. Collect the images and describe the purpose and audience for each one.

1.2 sketch Plan

Make a sketch Plan of the room you are in now. Use the conventions for walls, doors and windows shown on this page. Don't worry about scale for this task. It is just intended to help you understand what should appear on a Plan and how it might be shown.

Line conventions

There are a number of different lines used in drawing Plans and Elevations. It is important that the line weights and types are used consistently to avoid confusion when drawings are being read. The line weights and types for VCE Visual Communication Design are shown here.


Drawings for environmental design are made at a range of scales. As noted in the page linked here, the scale chosen depends on;

  1. the size of the building being depicted
  2. the function and purpose of the drawing
  3. the sheet size that will be used for printing

A more detailed examination of scale is shown on my page linked below.

The scale used in a drawing is nominated in the Title Block. To find out how to draw accurately in scale, explore my page on Scale, linked below.

Selecting an appropriate scale is necessary for 3rd Angle Orthogonal drawings.

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For further information on Scale click on the link at right.




2.1 Visualise Scales

Find 5 objects around you. Find 3 with dimensions smaller than yourself and 2 with dimensions bigger than you.

Grab a ruler or tape measure and measure the height, width and depth of each object. Write these dimensions down in a table.

Convert the dimensions for each object to sizes in millimetres for each of the following scales:

  • 2:1
  • 1:5
  • 1:10
  • 1:50
  • 1:100

2.2 Use scales

Take a sheet of A4 paper (landscape). Measure the room that you sketched in exercise 1.2 above. Choose the largest scale from 1:100, 1:50 or 1:20 and find out which one will fit on the page (297 mm x 210 mm). Draw your room Plan to scale on the sheet.

Symbols in Plans and Elevations

North point

The North Point shows the orientation of a Plan. It is the equivalent of a symbol in 3rd Angle Orthogonal drawing in that it provides a key to how to read the drawing. The names given to elevations on attached sheets are derived from the orientation of the plan. It is not essential that North is at the top of a sheet. A building plan should be orientated so it fits best on a page layout. However, the North point should be rotated so that it indicates the direction of North relative to the aspect of the Plan.
North point symbols come in many different styles.
From CAD block (

Doors and Window symbols

When drawing Plans there are a group of symbols that are used to communicate information about objects inside rooms. These have consistent forms and are drawn at scale.
Symbols in plan
Making a door swing arc by cutting a circle.
A sliding door symbol.
Symbols in plan
Symbols in elevation
A window symbol.
A door in elevation.
A window in elevation.

Furniture and fixtures symbols

Dining tables, chairs, stools, wash basins, sinks, toilets, beds, etc., are shown as simplified geometric line drawings made at the correct scale. When drawing symbols students need to measure objects carefully then divide the dimensions but the scale used. An example of how to draw furniture as a simplified graphic at scale is shown here.

There is a full range of symbols shown in the VCAA Technical Drawing Specifications resource (linked above).

Example plan
An example of a Plan drawn at the scale of 1:50.



3.1 Door and window symbols

Download the VCAA Technical Drawing Specifications. Find and print the page on door and window symbols. Walk around your house or school and locate 4 doors or windows that are shown as symbols in the resource. Take a photo of each. Print and place the photo in a visual diary and neatly draw the symbol next to it in a scale of 1:50. (measure the real object for this).

3.2 Furniture and fixture symbols

Using the Technical Drawing Specifications you downloaded in the step above, locate the page on furniture and fixture symbols. Choose 3 symbols for which there are real examples around you. These could be a kitchen sink, a couch or table and chairs, for example. Measure the real objects and draw the three symbols in your visual diary at 1:20, 1:50 and 1:100 scale.

Labels and dimensions.

In this step students will learn how to finish their Plans and Elevations with labels, dimensions and a title box.


Environmental design drawings are labelled PLAN and (direction) ELEVATION. Elevations are named by their orientation. One interesting point to note is that the name of an Elevation refers to the side of the building it is on and the direction one is facing when viewing that side. For example, if North is heading up the page on a Plan then the Elevation on the lower side of the Plan is South elevation yet a viewer would be looking North to see that side of the building. For clarification see the images below.

In addition, many drawings are also known as SECTIONS. A section is a slice across a building. However, sections are not a required part of VCE VCD. When one view is shown on one sheet, for example a floor plan at 1:50 may take up a whole A1 sheet, then the name of the view is written in the title box. When more than one view is shown on a sheet, the names of the views are written below each view.

Type used for labelling is fundamentally the same as used for 3rd Angle Orthogonal. Details for setting out labels are shown here.

Labels as they relate to North

The illustrations below are designed to show how the names given to Elevations are derived from the direction of North indicated by the North point symbol (shown in the top right corner of each drawing).
Note the names of Elevations when North is up.
Note the names of Elevations now that North is not in the upward direction.


Linear dimensions

Dimensions are constructed in a similar way to those used for 3rd Angle Orthogonal drawing. However, three parallel dimension lines are used to measure three different aspects of a building these are;

  • 1st line (closest to the building) external features such as doors and windows
  • 2nd line internal walls, wall thicknesses, internal features
  • 3rd line external overall dimensions

See illustration at right for explanation of dimensions in architecture.

Components of linear dimensions.

Circles and arcs

Curves are dimensioned in different ways depending on the ‘house style’ of a studio. However, they may dimensioned by showing a diameter or radius in the same manner used for 3rd Angle Orthogonal drawings.

Putting it together

Watch this video to find out how you can use the digital media of Adobe Illustrator to make a Plan of a simple house. I used this method to make the example images on this page. However, the example in the video is a bit simpler again. This is Part One of two videos. Scroll down to Elevations for Part two.
Making a plan using digital media
Part one of the video on Plans and Elevations. In this video we learn how to draw a Plan view in Adobe Illustrator.



4.1 Drawing plan

Watch the video above and make the plan as shown.

4.2 Dimensions

Design a nano-house. Search them up if you have to. Draw a Plan at 1:50 scale using the same process as shown in the video above. Dimension the Plan using the three dimension lines shown on this page. Do this manually or digitally.

4.3 North point symbol

Create an original North point symbol from the examples shown on this page. Apply it to your Plan to guide the labelling of Elevations done in the next step.


What is an Elevation?

An Elevation is the name given to a view of a side or vertical face of a building or structure. Elevations are drawn for each side of a building and named according to the orientation of the Plan. Exterior Elevations show the features seen from the outside of the building. They extend from one edge of a face to the other and as such they do not show wall thicknesses. They often show stylised textures to represent wall cladding. Interior Elevations show interior features in a stylised manner. They extend from one edge of an interior wall to the other and do not show wall thicknesses beyond the interior of a room.

Elevations show ground, floor and sometimes ceiling levels. These lines are referenced against heights above sea level as calculated in a land survey from a (TBM) Temporary Bench Mark which is located on the property by the surveyor. The height of this point may also serve as a ‘zero’ height point. Therefore, the dimensions on elevations measure heights.

Elevations are made at different scales according to the function of the drawing. Exterior Elevations are usually shown at the same scale as Plans and joinery detail elevations for kitchen, bathroom or studies are shown at a larger scale (for example, 1:20).

Example exterior elevations
An example of Elevations drawn at the scale of 1:50.
Example interior elevation
An example of an interior Elevation drawn at the scale of 1:20.

Putting it together

Watch this video to find out how you can use the digital media of Adobe Illustrator to make an Elevation of a simple house. I used this method to make the example images on this page. However, the example in the video is a bit simpler again. This is Part two of the video above.
Making a plan using digital media
Part two of the video on Plans and Elevations. In this video, we learn how to draw an Elevation of the same small house.



5.1 Elevations

Working from the Plan you made in Tasks 4, create and name two exterior Elevations at the same scale.

5.1 Joinery details

Using the class room you are in (if it has a sink and joinery) or your kitchen at home, create an interior Elevation of the wall with the sink bench on it. Measure all the features including the width and height of the whole wall. Complete the Elevation at a scale of 1:20

Site plan

Frank Lloyd Wright (June 8, 1867–April 9, 1959), Site Plan, Fallingwater, Bear Run, Pennsylvania, 1936–1939. Pencil on tracing paper, 380 × 550 mm. DMC 1852.2.
Taken from (
My photo of Fallingwater in situ over Bear Run, a small river, Pennsylvania, USA.

What is a site plan?

A Site Plan is a drawing that shows how a building will sit within a site. A building should always be designed to maximise the potential of its site. Designing for function and aesthetics includes having an awareness of the site’s aspect, levels and fall of the land and surrounding vegetation, access roads and other features. A site plan is annotated to identify the direction of North, the title boundary (the edges of the property), heights measured above sea level and shown in relation to contour lines and other features of the land.

There is no greater example of a building that was designed in full awareness of a most spectacular site than Fallingwater by Frank Lloyd Wright, 1939. Consider my picture of the house above with the Wright's site plan also shown above.

Example site plan
Example site plan at 1:200 showing a building, pool, deck and garden features.

Title Block

A title block on an environmental drawing is quite an elaborate part of the presentation. As one can see from the image, it contains much information about the project. Students of VCD are not expected to go to those lengths. The example drawings on this page show title boxes that are appropriate for student work. They should include;

  • the title of the drawing
  • the project title
  • the student name
  • date drawn
  • North point indicator
  • scale used
  • sheet size
  • reference to units used in the dimensions

Dimensions for setting out a title block can be found here on my page on 3rd Angle Orthogonal drawing.

A title box for a professional architectural drawing. Mossa Architecture and Interiors.



6.1 Title block

Choose one of your Plans or Elevations done on this page. Draw or re-draw in digitally. Click on the link above to learn how to create a title block. Centre the drawing in the page and create a title block as would be required in a presentation drawing.

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