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Have Pen Will Travel: Benefits of In-house Sketching and Rendering

In-house sketching and rendering remains one of the most efficient ways to quickly visualize and present design concepts inside a brief window of time. It prefers "sharing your process" over prematurely "presenting the solution"; "thinking out loud" to "knowing best." It doesn't replace photo realistic rendering, but serves as a complementary tool for presenting concept designs while avoiding the unintended consequences of overly-specific solutions. (cont’d below)

Concept sketch of a rooftop club overlooking Dubai

Concept sketch of a rooftop club overlooking Dubai

Concept section through proposed vertical mall

Concept section through proposed vertical mall

Concept sketch of a proposed library addition, Princeton University

Concept sketch of a proposed library addition, Princeton University

Like a design deadline, in-house sketching provides the tool to pull the team's ideas together and synthesize them into a presentable work of art.

Other advantages to in-house sketching:

  • occurs in your office so coordination and supervision is immediate and personal

  • studies multiple options quickly and intuitively in plan, elevation and section

  • Fills in details while work is still in concept, but avoids being overly specific

  • Results in an artifact / work of art that connects your clients to their emotions

  • Can be combined with basic 3-d modeling to create hybrid sketches

  • Can be used to “art-direct” 3rd party photo-realistic renderings

  • Can be accomplished by single designer working with renderer

  • Can save money when compared with hours burned by large, unfocused team

Concept sketch for an Equinox resort concept

Concept sketch for an Equinox resort concept

(Above: Video replay of studying options for a nightclub entry)


2019 is looking like a busy year. It may be the right time to test visualizing and presenting more of your concepts as sketches.


(Author James Akers is a registered architect and illustrator with over 25 years experience. He provides both in-house and studio-based sketching, rendering, and what one might call "design stenography" services to many of NYC's and Boston’s leading architects.)