Architectural Rendering Techniques: How To Make Storyboards For Startups

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...

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Simple Residential Designs for Surprising Solutions

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 )

Architectural Rendering Techniques: When You Are Lost, Let The Forest Find You

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.



Architectural Rendering Technique: The Art Of The Pen and Ink Sketch

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...

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Architectural Presentation Techniques: How To Make a Watercolor Portrait of a Dog

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) 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 know you have them).

2- Take a brief, confidence building refresher course in watercolor by clicking here

3- Make or find a...

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Basic Social Media Tasks Architects and Designers Should Be Doing So As Not To Lose Potential Clients

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...

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Product Design Sketching Techniques: Using Photoshop to Recreate Blueprint "Feel"

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...

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Architectural Presentation Techniques: The Art of the Digital Sketch

In yesterday's post about loose architectural sketches, we talked about traditional pencil and pen-and-ink sketches. Today we'll talk about what I call a loose digital sketch. The loose digital sketch begins with a loose manual sketch composing the view and identifyling the important elements in the proposed design.

But then the loose digital sketch takes a turn to photoshop.

Working closely with the designer, the architectural renderer...

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Architectural Rendering Technique: The Art Of The Loose Sketch

Even in this digital design age, there is a place for the loose architectural rendering. It is fast where other architectural rendering techniques are slow. It is non-commital, where digital rendering has to be precise in order to look good. It's also not a bad metaphor for life. What do I mean by that?

Loose architectural renderings and sketches are still one of the most important architectural rendering techniques. In this example, the author uses felt tip pen to work directly on top of the soft pencil sketch used to visualize the space and develop the design before the architect's eyes. This insures that the sketch stays loose and that one's attitude toward the rendering does not become too precious.

I mean, how many times in life is 75% or even 85% of the idea...

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Pencil Sketching is the New Computer Aided Design

As digital modeling and architectural digital rendering continue to chnage our industry for the better, the arts of architectural rendering and architectural sketching in watercolor, pencil, and pen-and-ink become huge asstes in the constant battle to stand out among competitors all using the same digital tools.

Architectural sketching and storyboarding in watercolor

They engage clients' emotions, connecting with that deep thing that persists in all of us--that ability to...

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Architectural Sketching and Rendering For The Digital Rendering Age

Above: This architectural sketch (or what some might call an architectural rendering) in pencil shows the architect's design concept for an underground book storage addition to the Princeton University library. Visualizing the design concept in quick pencil sketches not only engaged the client in an attention-grabbing ad humanistic way, it also served as a kind of art direction to help guide the third party architectural digital renderers.
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Ahh the Smell of Pen and Ink Architectural Rendering in the Morning

Pen, ink and tracing paper remains one of the effective forms of architectural rendering ever devised, but what if we combined it with photoshop and a digital aesthetic?


This architectural rendering project was a lot of fun, done right in the architect's office with close collaboration between architect and architectural illustrator. I would love to know what you think? Please leave coments below.

(The author is a registered architect and architectural illustrator with years of experience helping architects and interior designers develop and present their ideas in dramatic and cost-effective ways. From concept design to final presentation, we work in your office or from our NYC studio. 413-250-8800.)



Drawing and Watercoloring For Architects (A Proposal For Grads New and Not New Who Lament The Loss Of These Skills)

At every office I work with, it seems that fewer and fewer new architectural grads have an opportunity to use their (often VERY impressive) traditional drawing and watercoloring talents. There's nothing inherently bad about the fact that few of us need any longer to draw in our day jobs, or that unprecedented computer possibilities have displaced the need for these skills, but still...I wonder if some future Stanford brain scientist might discover that the profession-wide loss of these skills turns out to have been the loss of something deeper?

Like the ability to rotate imaginary objects and spaces in our heads, or...

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