“Different architectural illustrators approach the task of documenting visual space and the built environment in different ways. Some are driven by the ideas that drawing and illustration offers, others by the ideas inherent in the architectural styles they’re representing.
Look at a range of different architectural illustrators and identify how their choice of drawing approach, perspective and materials relates to the architecture itself. These choices might support the underlying ideas behind the buildings, for example glossy images used by a developer to suggest the idea of luxury. Or you might find examples where you think illustrators have used approaches that seem at odds with the spaces they’re representing.
Pick a range of examples and write a short critical statement (50–200 words) on each of them outlining your observations.”
- Here’s a typical modern impression of new build.
You can see the downside of generic looking digital mock ups. Even the sky has no variation. As neat as this is, there is little to draw us to these buildings, and the design seems to be reinforcing a sense of mass produced anonymity. (Though to be fair that does look to be a very large window, it must be very light in there!)
2. This image is now rather charming in its approach, it depicts a traditional church: what to us is an ‘old’ building. The plan is accompanied by a front view and an artistic impression within the landscape setting. Clearly the artist was using the accepted materials of the day, and intended for the building to look solid, pleasing and fit for purpose. There is no attempt to show us a sense of scale by including people.
3. We were asked to look at the work of Michael Blower – there is a large body of his work available. Its beautifully rendered in ink and sometimes watercolour. Here large areas are confidently inked in, giving a sense of solidity and throwing contrast between light and dark areas. Figures are lightly sketched in to give a sense of scale and place.
I really like this delicate watercolour, its clearly executed by someone with great skill and attention to detail. The edges of the greenery fade from view, allowing the buildings themselves to take centre stage. They’re detailed and precisely described but the colour palette is warm and inviting.
4. The link we were given at The Design Museum for Archigram (the ‘avant-garde neo-futurist architecture group of the 1960s’) has expired, but there was plenty of information elsewhere. The term began as a radical architectural design magazine, and expanded into general experimentation.
Some of the ideas are pretty crazy (and really fun) like this fantastic walking city. The surreal nature of this design reminds me of the Beatles artwork/animation for Yellow Submarine.
And a real world project presented in collage. I think at the time this style of illustration probably screamed “Yes! You are modern and hip. Sign off on this proposal and you will be REALLY COOL, MAN”…
But it still grabs attention now doesn’t it?
5. The S.A.I (Society for Architectural Illustration) is a great resource which helpfully demonstrates different media.
I found this side-by-side comparison really helpful. Obviously line, watercolour/pencil/pastel are likely to convey a softer, more traditional feel which might well reassure a client. Marker pen/opaque/ offers possibilities that can look more ‘modern’, and bolder. I really enjoy how energetic and loose marker pen can be.
Digital/3D can be very precise. Though sometimes this may look too clinical as previously described. Though it would depend on the artist. I assume an architectural firm would choose an illustrator with these considerations in mind. In fact, a couple of years ago I did have the chance to chat to a lovely lady (Christine Wilson) who used to work for the OCA. One of her specialist areas was architectural Illustration. If I am able to get in contact with her again I will post some of her work if possible.