Architects use sketching and diagramming in their design process to perform functional reasoning, formal arrangements, analogy transfer, structure mapping, and knowledge acquisition. This paper describes a research framework of the author's efforts in the studies of design drawings and the building of computational sketching tools to support the early conceptual design process in architecture. The first part of the paper discusses empirical studies conducted to determine or guess a designer's thought process from sketches and thus identifies domain-specific graphical symbols. It proposes a reasoning process framework of drawing marks, acts, and reacts. The second part of the paper illustrates how design support tools could be developed based on these concepts and describes the various applications of the study, such as indexing and retrieving of design drawings or images based on the recognition of geometric shapes and the spatial relationships among them.