When there isn't enough time for photo realistic digital renderings but you still need to present your design concept, use a combination of Sketchup, the Procreate app, Apple Pencil and iPad Pro to create sketch renderings that wow your client and leave your design options open.
The latest in my ongoing series: How Architects and Interior Designers can Design on the iPad Pro. This video shows the process we used to design and present a visitor experience for a major league interactive sports museum. We didn't have enough time or information for digital images, so we had to rely on the most powerful computational platform: the hand.
From the series Designing with iPad Pro and Procreate
Video 5: The Procreate app combines the timeless experience of truly drawing by hand on an iPad Pro or MS Surface tablet, with the powerful Photoshop tools you have come to rely on in making composite Photoshop renderings. The effect is to potentially save time and money by helping you render your projects as you design them.
To see more ways the Procreate app and iPad Pro might be able to help you leverage your hand-drawing and designing talents, please click here to visit and subscribe to my Youtube channel. Thanks, and stay tuned for the next in this series; How Architects and Interior Designers Use the Procreate App and iPad Pro to Design
In this episode, architect/architectural renderer James Akers demonstrates how architects and interior designers can create a finished interior rendering in 4-6 hours, using specific techniques he has developed for the Procreate App, iPad Pro and Apple Pencil
Do your clients appreciate how much work goes into your designs? Here's an inexpensive animation technique that can both educate them AND entertain them, burnishing your reputation as a genius while slyly demonstrating to them just how much thought, detail and sweat has gone into producing your designs.
In the examples provided below and on my YouTube channel (to see, click here), I have simply recorded the design process using the Instant Replay feature of the Procreate drawing app, then edited it and added text and music in iMovie. This would be better in Final Cut Pro (more choices) but one step at a time, right?
Please let me know what you think, and if you like them, please like them and subscribe to me on the Youtube channel linked to above, thanks.
Circular rooms can be particularly difficult to visualize. To study this casino resort entrance lobby, we treated the drawing more as a section than a rendering, making sure to show the connection between the porte cochere and the separate entrances to casino, hotel and retail areas of the resort. With less than 6 hours to communicate the concept behind the room, we used a combination of quick hand architectural sketching and fast Photoshop gradients and collages to get our ideas across. As you can see, this left no time for careful selection trimming, but the crudeness helps add energy to the image and makes it clear to the client we are not trying to create a finished digital rendering. As a further bonus, the drawing makes provides a platform to continue testing details, like the laser -cut metal panels visible at the upper edge of the ceiling.
How many of you have gone home for a visit and found that one cat had turned into seven? These cartoons, made for my parents' birthdays when my mom was alive, show three ways cats figured out exactly what buttons to push on both my parents. If you like them please share.
If you like, please share!
We live in liberating times. An architects or designer can now begin a drawing in Rhino or Sketchup, add elements of hand drawing, and finish the sketch in Photoshop, all with the goal of communicating clearly and quickly during concept design. Please enjoy the following recent digital sketches and hybrid architectural renderings.
Just upgraded the website from Squarespace 5 to Squarespace 7. Did it for two reasons: because Google is deprecating the search results for websites that aren't mobile-optimized (e.g. respnsive design) and because, hey, it looks so much better.
The main challenge was to go back and find image files that were large enough (say, 2000 to 3000 px in width as opposed to the 850 px width of my most of the image files I had kept on my computer) to fill the full bleed image format of the SS7 template I chose, but here, another remarkable piece of software proved invaluable. I don't recall the exact name now, but for you eager beavers interested in googling it, look up "chrome extension organizes your gmail attachments" or tap on this link here. That's right, once you add this extension (or lab feature) to your gmal settings, this amazing code runs quietly in the background to pull a copy of every image you have either sent or received in gmail, going back to the beginning of your gmail life. What's more, it automatically collects these images in a folder you can later find in the left column of your (Mac) finder window (see image below). Its kind of a miracle. As I began looking for larger image files, I discovered over 3,000 images in this folder, none of which I had ever lifted a finger to place there myself.
The following is an imaginary interview between a design magazine and an architectural office manager.
DZ: How did the idea of a Google-like, pre-hiring design test come to you?
LG: We were having difficulty determining applicants' real-world ability from portfolios and references alone, so we thought: Why not an on-the-spot "design skill" test? If we're impressed, we find a place for them. If they don't live up to the promise of their portfolio, we invite them to apply again after a spell, and everyone is spared the cost of a sub-optimum hire
DZ: What are those costs?
LG: Time wasted hiring, having to teach, being distracted by, then having to replace the wrong person. Many people and projects are impacted adversely by a sub-optimum hire.
DZ: How did hiring work before the test?
LG: In practice, we rarely had time to follow up on references or determine an applicant's true abilities--or the true contributions they made to projects in their portfolios. The design test helps us identify hidden gems and weed out those who pad their resumes.
DZ: Why do applicants take your test with pencil and paper. Are these relevant in the age of Rhino, CAD and photoshop?
LG: Its simple practicality: pencil on paper is direct, requires no plugs or wifi and provides a record of an applicants design process and ability to tell a story. Its the ability to imagine and communicate that we, and ultimately our clients, are interested in.
DZ: What if a person is brilliant but doesn't draw well?
LG: I want to make a critical point here. We don't care if their drawings are pretty. We're looking for their ability to think critically, design, and communicate.
DZ: Have you lost any recruits because of the test...the intimidation of it?
LG: On the contrary, many of our recruits say they went out of their way to apply for a job at our firm because of the test--because they thought the test was kind of an equalizer that allows them to demonstrate their abilities and not just where they've gone to school.
DZ: How did you devise the test in its present form?
LG: We interviewed all of our principals and asked them what skills they wanted in new people on day one and what skills were missing most. We then invented questions that addressed these issues.
DZ: How do you score the test?
LG: We don't think of it as scoring because there are no right or wrong answers, only thoughtful and less thoughtful ones. The test is kind of fun to look at, as you can imagine
DZ: We liked the question where you had a person invent 3 new ways to clean a toilet. Have the responses been interesting on that one?
LG: We're doing our next book on just the responses to that question."
DZ: But seriously, why give architect applicants the same question as product design and interior design applicants?
LG: I'll get in trouble for this with my fellow architects, but the traditional architect's snobbery about interior design being beneath them is one of the leading causes of poor teamwork at our firm. Its all design, and showing contempt for these other disciplines shows you don't pay close enough attention to your own everyday experience."
DZ: If its not giving too much away, tell us your favorite question.
LG: I like the one that says, "On one page, use diagrams and a maximum of 144 characters to explain the last project (not just your part) to which you contributed at your previous firm. Then tweet your answer to us.
DZ: So has your test helped with hiring?
LG: It's helped us grow our pool of applicants; it's helped identify people we wish to immediately hire, and in more cases than I'd like to say, it's saved our firm perhaps $100s of 1000s of dollars hiring, teaching, then replacing people who lacked a basic understanding of plans, sections, and elevations.
DZ: Thank you, LG.
LG: My pleasure.
(Summary: Ever-shrinking architects’ fees combined with developer’s expectations of Hollywood-quality digital renderings have brought us full circle: hand rendering is being rediscovered as the most cost effective and artistically direct way to design in the digital age, with the added benefit of helping to art direct third party digital rendering consultants.)
Against All Odds, Hand Rendering is Back. Why against all odds? Because hand rendering was supposed to die. Hand renderers were supposed to be replaced by computers, and to some extent that did happen. But what has evolved is a bit of a surprise.
First, a quick overview of the state of digital architectural rendering...
Is your iPhone refusing to charge? Does your iPhone charge sometimes but not all the time? Do you have to jiggle the lightning connector to get a charge, but even that doesn't always work? Then I have two words for you: pocket lint.
I know, I know, you're an architect or architectural illustrator or product designer and you love your phone, and you take very good care of it, and your clothes are always clean. Why would you have a pocket lint problem? Trust me, you do. Now prepare to be amazed. Before you call the Apple Store Genius Bar, try this simple trick. (Attention: the author is not responsible for you screwing this up! It worked great for me, but use a gentle touch and common sense.)
Step 1) Find a nice clean, long-pointed push pin. (I know, scary, right? Read on!)
Step 2) Gently insert point of pushpin into lightning connector hole, and "rake" with a light touch across the bottom of the hole as if you were cleaning 20,000 year old bones...
The concept sketches below, created and shared in advance of a conference call, were used to get a team of engineers and executives in different states on the same page quickly. The style of the drawing is somewhat messy and loose--at least by the standards of the Keynotes and Powerpoints most startup employees deal in every day--but the human-drawn element helped promote a more...
"The feeling that we call “I” is an illusion. There is no discrete self or ego living like a Minotaur in the labyrinth of the brain. And the feeling that there is—the sense of being perched somewhere behind your eyes, looking out at a world that is separate from yourself—can be altered or...
I used to spend a lot of time designing homes that used simple construction techniques but still (hopefully) resulted in surprising solutions. This one's called Tower House. A little po-mo, but hey, that was what we were doing back then )
The poem "Lost" by David Wagoner is ostensibly about how the elders of the tribe instructed children to act if they ever got lost in the woods, but it's also as good a description as I've ever heard about what to do when you feel stuck as a designer. The concept design sketches which accompany the poem are mine from a recent consulting gig during which our design team did indeed feel stuck, until the "woods"--the client's love for a similar space we could learn from--found us.
From his Collected Poems 1956-1976 © Indiana University Press.
Stand still. The trees ahead and bushes beside you
Are not lost. Wherever you are is called Here,
And you must treat it as a powerful stranger,
Must ask permission to know it and be known.
The forest breathes. Listen. It answers,
I have made this place around you.
If you leave it, you may come back again, saying Here.
No two trees are the same to Raven.
No two branches are the same to Wren.
If what a tree or a bush does is lost on you,
You are surely lost. Stand still. The forest knows
Where you are. You must let it find you.
Pen and ink is the youngest Kardashian sister of architectural rendering techniques: she's the most beautiful, but the one you're least likely to know how she'll turn out. Pen and ink is a bit of a high wire act for obvious reasons: you can't erase. On the other hand, there is nothing so rewarding as sitting for 45 minutes in a beautiful place and producing a classic looking pen and ink sketch, and this tutorial will show you some tricks for how to do it.
Trick one, of course, is to limit your subject matter to something you can capture in 45 minutes. I made the pen and ink sketches below while traveling, finding a simple subject and sticking to it until I was done.
Trip number two is...
Have you ever looked for the perfect gift for a friend who loves (or perhaps lost) their pet? Well, how about a portrait of their dog (or cat, or horse) painted by you!? Don't worry, you are a talented (and caring) person...you can do this, and here are 10 easy steps to follow:
What you will need: photo of dog; printer; #2 pencil, piece of 9" x 12" 90 lbs Arches cold press watercolor paper; double-stick tape, light table (or well-lit window); basic watercolor kit; #8 watercolor brush
1- Dust off your old watercolors (come on, you're an architect or designer...you know you have them).
2- Take a brief, confidence building refresher course in watercolor by clicking here
3- Make or find a...
A lot of architects, traditional architectural renderers, digital architectural renderers and interior designers of my generation are ignore the opportunity that is social media, and we're losing potential business because of it. We know we should have created four or five basic accounts and begun posting simple stuff to them on a regular basis, but we haven't made the time for it.
Well, what if a professional who was once in the same boat as you could...
There is somethng visually powerful about the look of old school blueprints. To many of us over 40, white lines on a deep blue background say "architecture" and design like nothing else. Not that one wishes to re-live the past, but it just so happens that photoshop makes it remarkably easy to recreate that look. The product design sketches below illustrate this process.
My architectural renderng and product design client is a famous startup associated with a great American city that has seen finer days. That city is, to a great degree, relying on startups like the one in question to...