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Painting Tutorials

How-to watercolor and sketching tutorials demonstrating tips, tricks and techniques used in the Procreate app, using Apple Pencil and iPad Pro. Also, thoughts about life and architecture in NYC and the Berkshires, MA

Have Pen Will Travel: Benefits To Architects of In-House 3rd Party 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 architectural illustrator with over 25 years experience. His YouTube Procreate tutorial channel has thousands of subscribers (please join us!), and he provides both in-house and studio-based sketching, rendering—what one might call "design stenography" services—to many of NYC's and Boston’s leading architects.)