Rendering Two Design Schemes Using Photoshop

The subject today is a rendering project envisioned for Redwood City, California by the San Francisco architectural firm of Van Meter Williams Pollack LLP.  Completed within a couple of weeks this past summer, we needed to show a potential housing structure in two different ways, as there were two design schemes under consideration by the architect and client.  Based on a perspective view which the architect supplies, I first draw a freehand line drawing of Scheme 1.  This gets color applied, creating one complete rendering representing the Scheme 1 version of what’s being considered for the site, set within the existing site context.  For Scheme 2 which is a larger building, I begin by drawing the Scheme 2 building in black and white, then color that building–scanning it when it’s fully colored.  Using Photoshop, I paste the Scheme2 building over the Scheme 1 building in the first rendering, saving this as a new version.  As it turns out, the client had issues with the design of Scheme 2, and a third design was developed.  So I drew a new version of Scheme 2 which I titled Scheme 2 Take 2.  Once that building was independently colored similar to the previous, it was scanned and superimposed onto the site–over the previous buildings.  Obviously you make the process more efficient by always drawing the smaller of the design scheme buildings first and making that your first rendering, upon which the subsequent renderings are based.  In the end you have two complete renditions (or in this case three really) that can be shown to the audience for description, comparison, and review.  Since the entourage and context surrounding the buildings is always the same, you are certain that the audience is comparing apples to apples, as we like to say.  The last full image shown here is the finished rendering representing Scheme 2 Take 2 in full color.

Watercolor Rendering of Daly City Project designed by San Francisco Architect

Here is a project for which I have done quite a bit of drawing over the past few years.  It’s a large facility and event center for Duggan’s Serra Mortuary located in Daly City, California.  They are considering a major renovation and enlargement of their existing facility, and they have commissioned Van Meter Williams Pollack of San Francisco as their architect.  VMWP is a long-time client of mine for my illustration business, and as the design has developed over the recent years, I have been asked to portray the most current design in perspective to the client and the surrounding neighborhood.  As an illustrator, when the architectural design changes, but all things around it remain the same, it makes sense to keep the background and context of the rendering, and simply draw a new building, and use PhotoShop to paste it into the previous image.  So when the architect gives me a new CAD perspective plot of the current building design, I start by adding an overlay of people, cars, and landscape in and around the building.  Then a black and white tracing of the building and entourage.  Once approved, I paste that black and white version of the building over and into the existing color rendering.  I apply color to the black and white building–in this case in watercolor.  Then I scan the color rendering of the building and “cut and paste” it into the old rendering.  This takes some basic PhotoShop skills and some patience-but it saves us from having to recreate an entire rendering when it’s not entirely necessary, and it saves the client money over the redraw alternative.  As an artist the fun part of this exercise is twofold:  1) Rendering the building through the entire color phase without the benefit of its adjoining context, and 2) Utilizing your digital skills in the blend of the two disparate images.  Watercolor Rendering of Daly City Project designed by San Francisco Architect

Two Conceptual Renderings for Retail Project in San Jose and Saratoga

Here is a proposal for renovating an older existing shopping center located in San Jose, California.  Named El Paseo de Saratoga, it stands at a major crossroads in the South Bay, straddling the boundaries of San Jose and Saratoga.  Bounded by Quito Road, Saratoga Avenue, W. Campbell Avenue, & Prospect Road, this aging retail center would experience a major revitalization with these plans.  The Architect for the retail element of this project is Kenneth Rodrigues + Partners of Mountain View, California.  I worked with Ken closely in the conceptual stage of the design in February 2020 to produce these first two color renderings.  The perspective views we chose basically showed the main retail corridor-a walking street-from both ends.  Rendering for Retail Project in San Jose and SaratogaThe first view shown here looks through the retail corridor which has an overhead bridge about midway which separates the commercial and retail from the institutional element beyond in the view-the west coast Whittle School, which is a private K-10 educational facility with an established campus on the east coast in Washington, DC.  The idea is to create a living community with full services right there, making day to day life more convenient and less dependent on transportation.  Much of the space above the retail is offices, so within this development, you would have a school, restaurants and shops, offices, and residences.  Ken and I chose to show lots of variation and interest in the retail storefronts with different heights, textures, and colors-and lots of outdoor dining, lighting, and landscape.  The architecture of the offices above, on the other hand, was a mere suggestion at this point.  This approach works because although accurate in scale and number of stories, the exterior design was not fully worked out yet by the associated architect for that portion of the project.  Color Pencil Rendering of Mixed Use Development for Silicon ValleyThe second view shown here is the companion rendering, which shows the project from the other direction, with the Whittle School and bridge just behind us and not visible.  The artistic license was taken even further here by showing the project at twilight, when there would be an even greater emphasis on the lively restaurant and retail atmosphere, and less on the offices above.  Interesting how the upper stories seem to almost dissolve into the twilight sky-that’s the fun part of being an artist !

Renderings for Mixed Use Project in Redwood City, California

The feature of this blog is the color illustrations shown below, which are three renderings I did earlier this year for a development proposal to be located in downtown Redwood City, California.  The development firm, Lowe Real Estate, found me on the internet.  They saw some of my illustration work that I posted of a similar project, and gave me a call to discuss.  Lowe is headquartered in Los Angeles and has several offices within California.  I worked with Jesse Tejeda from Lowe’s Oakland location.  The project was what I would call urban renewal.  Taking a large block or two in downtown Redwood City and completely starting over-creating a mixed use development that would have elements of residential, office, retail, commercial, and public space.  Jesse’s team had been putting together their ideas, which were at the stage of building massing, location, and financing numbers.  Any presentation possibilities were strictly digital and mostly culled from stock images put together to roughly describe the scope and character of the project.  Jesse and Lowe decided that they needed to communicate to their audience in a more personal way-with some hand-drawn illustrations that would more effectively describe their ideas.  They had three subjects in mind to illustrate, a pedestrian-friendly and entertainment-oriented CalTrain station, a Safeway superstore below their office building, and a retail-oriented walking street for shoppers and pedestrians.  I was given a rough perspective background and lots of photo images to serve as the starting point for each of the three views.  I employed a drawing technique that works well for projects that are in the idea stage.  As you can see I draw with a very bold freehand pen line work, and then color over the top of that.  The rough character of this type of illustration has a way of communicating the “in process” stage of the project-as if to say “This is kind of what we’re thinking-nothing’s settled yet”….Here’s the Train Station, here’s the Safeway, and here’s the Walking Street….

My Color Pencil Rendering Process from Start to Finish

Here is one of three color illustrations I created in February 2020 for a project proposed for Redwood City, California.  My client was Lowe Real Estate of California, a development firm located in Oakland, California.  Lowe had been using some digital images–computer-generated renderings–to promote and describe their project.  I have included that image here for reference.  The location of the building is adjacent to the Redwood City CalTrain Station and platform.  My challenge was to show the new development as a lively, busy, and entertaining space–mostly outside of the building in the plaza and platform area you see here in the digital photo.  The client wanted the retail establishment to be a brewery/restaurant or coffee house/restaurant with ample outdoor seating and dining.  So I started by drawing an overlay on tracing paper to add the entourage–people, furniture, landscape, signage–that would achieve their goals.  Below on the right is that overlay….with notes to explain my ideas for the final…With approval of this sketch overlay and any modifications, my next job is to trace over this layout to create a final black and white line drawing.  Once this is completed, I send it to the client via email for their approval and/or comments….At this stage, it’s basically the final rendering–just not colored yet.  Usually changes are minimal, and the client and I discuss color and materials for the final coloring.  I make a print of the final black and white line drawing, and I apply color to it–either color pencil or watercolor.  In this particular case it is color pencil, with some pastel for the sky and underlayer. When the color is complete on the original, I make a color scan of the rendering at 300 dpi, usually in jpg format, and send this to the client via email as an attachment.  The client can then use the file I send to incorporate into a presentation, or print for public display.

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