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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.)


Because You Never Want To Hear The Words “I Wish I’d Known About You Yesterday?!”

By now most architecture firms have their own sophisticated websites, usually costing $ tens of thousands to create and manage, not to mention the employees needed to maintain blogging and social sharing. Because of this perceived cost, many small and mid-sized practitioners either still have not created a site, or are using sites made long ago (Internet 1.0 or 2.0) that don’t have the modern look and feel that inspires confidence in clients. That’s the bad news.

The good news is that new website design and hosting services like Squarespace.com make it absurdly easy and affordable to get a clean, modern-looking website up and running by yourself, or with minimal help from someone with experience.

Below are pages from a recent site I helped create for Jones Architecture in NYC. Stewart Jones has worked on some of the most prestigious cultural projects in NYC during his enviable 30-year career, and the professional photos he displays certainly reinforce the point (yes, you do need to start hunting down your best photos, like, now)

The home page of new site created for Jones Architecture, NYC

The home page of new site created for Jones Architecture, NYC

…featuring beautiful photographs (credited on site) of Jones’ superb work.

…featuring beautiful photographs (credited on site) of Jones’ superb work.

Working together we were able to create this site in a matter of days, not weeks, and the site now serves its primary function as calling card and overview of work for every client researching Stew’s firm from this day forward.

If you need to get on top of things and update your own site, or learn more about SEO and the strategies and benefits of social sharing, or create a bold new calling card of your own in the information age, give us a call. The good news: cost is no longer a factor, and doing it now, instead of “tomorrow,” means you will never again have to hear the words, “Rats, I wish I’d known about your work yesterday!?”

Author James Akers is a registered architect and illustrator with over 25 years experience. His specialty has been to provide sketching, rendering, and what one might call "design stenography" services to many of NYC's and Boston’s leading architects. This often involves working in their offices, drawing on his experience as architect, illustrator and designer to help his clients get to the next phase.

Victim of Trump Boast Identified

When Trump said he could shoot someone on 5th Avenue and he wouldn't lose any of his supporters, we all believed him...we just didn't know who "someone" was..

Trump_Portrait_V1.jpeg

In this illustration, Trump shoots someone on 5th avenue and gets away with it.

A New Look at Concept Rendering

Photorealistic rendering has become a commodity. It makes every firm's work look the same, and commits you to a level of detail never intended for concept design. Hand rendering can help you regain control of the concept design process and focus your client's attention on your big idea--not the details. And now with iPad Pro, video replay can help you share your design process.

James Akers is a licensed architect and nationally recognized architectural illustrator working in all media, and now digital drawing using Apple Pencil on the iPad Pro. In addition to his architectural design work, he has helped some of the world's best architects and interior designers visualize and present their ideas.

He shares his drawing process with 3000+ subscribers on his Youtube channel here.