contributed by Brian Lin, AIA [co-director, BeLoose Graphic Workshop / adjunct faculty of Interior Architecture, San Jose State University / frustrated concert pianist]
An interior architecture studio that I taught recently at San Jose State University focused on sketching, modeling in Sketch Up, Photoshop, and InDesign. This process is an exact mapping of how many design professionals utilize sketching, drawing, physical and digital modeling in our design efforts. The project highlighted here is a compact little coffee house that currently exists in Portugal was selected because of its appropriate size, simple design and program. Students had exactly three weeks to complete the design concept package, physical model, and Sketch Up model.
Process Design Sketches [below] | We started with initial process sketches which are the most important step in any design project. Quick ideas about spatial volumes and rooms, furnishings, scale and adjacencies were drawn to conceptualize the look and feel of the coffee house. These sketches were drawn prior to any use of Sketch Up or digital modeling and set the tone of what kind of model needed to be created.
Character Sketch [above] | A final character sketch captures the essence of the space, proportions of the interior, and initial ideas of tables, seating areas, the bar, and lighting. This was drawn quickly with pencil and highlighted with color pencil. At this stage of the process, each student understood the design of the building through sketches and gestural drawing and proceeded with the digital model portion of the assignment.
Sketch Up Model Build [above] | A digital model was created to be able to extract the floor plan, wall and storefront window sections, elevations, and the eventual graphics that would be used for the chipboard physical model. Sketch Up people and Aston Martin were inserted for scale. This particular section was cut through the storefront glass to highlight the glass attachment to the ceiling and floor slab of the building.
Photoshop [above + below] | After creating a sectional extraction from Sketch Up, this view was opened in Photoshop where a sectional poche, street tree, and people were added. Transparencies and filters were added to give the graphic a "richer" look and feel. The key plan, text and dimensions were created in InDesign after the raw photoshop graphics were completed.
Physical Model [above + below] | The final step was the physical model. These models are important in that they become physical objects that clients can hold in their hands and touch, prod, poke, and appreciate (or rip apart) during a design presentation. In this class, the model was essential to introduce and elevate the skill of ‘craft’ for this building. Measuring, cutting, re-cutting, and on-the-fly force fitting trains the eye of the designer that sometimes the computer digital model can cloak and not reveal right away.
Overall, this was a two-week assignment and utilized my students’ skills from hand drawing to digital execution. Not only are these skills that every design office looks for in a new hire, design professionals (especially die-hard traditionalists like me) need to begin to fold into their design process.
EDITOR’S NOTE: If you thought these tips on how to marry hand drawing techniques with digital technology were helpful, then just think of what you would learn if you signed up for one of Mike and Brian Lin’s BeLoose Graphic Workshops. Their methods will instill a confidence in your abilities to communicate designs with colleagues and – more importantly – clients and potential clients.