Bringing interiors and architectural designs to life with pencil, pen and paint

Austrian interior designer artist and architect Yana Hrachova discusses the intricacies behind her creative process. 

Some aesthetics always give me goosebumps: thin lines that illustrate the structure of wood on a coffee table; a perfect watercolour filling on a brick wall. It’s no surprise that a precise, detailed approach and realistic presentation is what I am searching for in my work. Architectural and interior rendering by hand is the medium through which I share my individual vision, style and personality. I believe that an attention to detail in my drawings adds to the meaning of each design, and a dedicated colour palette enhances it.  

My go-to favourite mediums will always be a sharp pencil, a thin brush, a ruler and watercolours. I keep my pencils extremely sharp – although during the drawing process I try not to press on them in order to make almost invisible lines. When I draw in a perspective view, I end up having lots of auxiliary lines from perspective points and it is always easier to erase a thin, almost invisible line rather than a thick one. When the pencil work is finished and before I begin colouring I ensure where light comes from, where it falls and where shadows are.



Watercolour allows me to achieve both transparency and intensity at the same time, using every possible colour even black. This allows me to apply several layers of pigment on the dry sheet of paper, and in this case acquires some dryness compared to other watercolour techniques. But it is important to remember that once the layer gets dry, any pigment appears a bit lighter. With this layering technique I can achieve controlled crisp edges that best represents objects such as furniture, textures and plants. My personal favourite feature is when watercolour doesn’t overlap pencil lines and they are shown through multiple pigmented layers.



My colour palette is inspired mostly by nature. I believe that there are great examples of colour combinations in the natural world, and that pairings cannot be wrong because there are no mistakes in nature. For example, an extraordinary colour spectrum on the bizarre patterns on a butterfly’s wings, or a seemingly incompatible colour combination in marine plants and inhabitants of coral reefs. Essentially, there are no inappropriate combinations, because natural colour palettes are not created artificially. This approach enables me to be creative and inspired but also keeps me rational, which is important in designing inhabited spaces 

Check out our glossary for watercolour surfaces here.



During a drawing process, I am focused and attentive. If I have to draw a thin line with a brush or Fineliner that I won’t be able to erase in the future, I do it confidently, reminding myself that I have already made hundreds of attempts on a spare sheet of ‘training paper’ (always a used watercolour paper). What I find to be helpful is not concentrating on each room separately for consistency. During the process I prefer going from one room to another, without finishing each room until the very end. I take pauses and check the drawing from further away to see what is missing or if a colour is in excess.



When I look at a finished piece of work I hope to feel like walking into the illustrated space and experiencing it. In this context, realistic doesn’t mean I’ve mastered the perfect shadow angle on a coffee table or the natural rectangular flare on a metal vase. With the precise pencil perspective, transparent coats of watercolour and the Fineliner details on different textures, any drawing will be realistic to me, purely because the approach is personal, and my final architectural or interior rendering transcribes a certain story.


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