Down to the practical work

With the help of literature by Francis D.K. Ching I began trying to understand exactly how shadows work. The images below show rough sketches of my progress.

I am at a point of understanding how a simple form will create a shadow onto a floor, but am having some difficulty with how it will project onto other surfaces.

I have also consulted literature by John Montague, which is easier to understand, but am still finding it difficult. My next step is to construct some small models to help me understand the theory that is presented by these two authors.



Ching, D>K. 2003. Architectural Graphics. 4th Edition. P144-p156. John Wiley and Sons. New York
Montague, J. 2013. Basic Perspective Drawing. Available at:

Shadows and reflections

After feeling a little stuck I devised a plan of study to help me grasp some fundamentals of creating realistic and believable illustrations – skills that would also transpose between traditional and digital skills. During the next 4 weeks of study I intend to look at how to construct shadows and reflections, while exploring structures (to focus on the work of Zaha Hadid and Norman Foster). This work will encompass traditional model making, drawing techniques and the use of digital software.

I have set myself a mini project that will allow me to work on the areas above – at the end of this 4 week period I aim to produce some illustrations that will show the design of some kind of structure influenced by the architects mentioned above. The illustrations will aim to demonstrate the progression of understanding and skill level during this initial exploration period.

First plan, revised.


Plan number 4 – devised after a supervision session that allowed me to see that I had been a little static.

The cube in Photoshop

sepia sketch up model

This is a piece I have been working on that was inspired by James Gurney (2010). I felt it may be useful to restrict my colour palette to help me see where light and shadow would form. After only dipping into this piece, I have left it on the back burner at the present time. I felt as though I was still working in the dark with regard to correct shading. Although I understand how to block out surfaces correctly to show which direction the light is coming from, I do not have a concrete understanding of shadow. This is fundamental in order to create a believable illustration, whether it is a sketch, or a full photo realistic render.

To progress, further research and practice needs to be done in order to understand shadow.


Gurney, J. 2010. Colour and Light: A Guide for the Realistic Painter. Andrews McMeel Publishing. Missouri

Re-cap before moving forward

As part of my self-reflection I realise that I have been only working with snippets of time due to personal circumstances, alongside trying to function between two houses! This has meant that I have been trying to focus on a very pinpointed area, in a somewhat disjointed manner.

I now have a base to work in just one home which has allowed me to see where I need to go next. Before this, a recap on what I have been stuck on:

I took the cube house design from my previous posts and produced a 3D model using  Sketch-up. This was partly to test my own skill level as it has been a while since I have used the software. I seem to be able to manage quite well with geometric form, but am aware that I need to learn how to produce organic forms. Also, my skill level is still quite basic….further learning will be incorporated as I progress through this module. Below are some screen shots of the build in progress.

From this I wanted to take the image into Photoshop to see if I could produce a first render. The purpose of this was to assess my skill level and understanding. Screen shots are shown below:

I was trying to emulate and explore other works I have researched, such as that seen on blogs by Alex Hogrefe (Visualizing, 2017). I feel at this stage that I understand how Photorealistic images are produced, I just lack skill in this area. I need to research how assets are built up, for example, if a visualiser uses stock images, own photographs, or even their own inspiration and drawings. I also need to learn about applying textures as my building does not shout ‘professional’. Further research is needed, alongside further practice.


Hogrefe, A. 2017. Available at: [Accessed on 10/12/2018]



Self Reflection

Last week saw the MA Creative Practice session focus on the group sharing how they are getting on with their projects, and taking on board any advice to help with continuing forward with study. This left me with an opportunity to self reflect and realise that I have become a little caught up with some of the ‘detail’, when I would possibly make more progress by moving forward.

I have had a steady few weeks due to some very difficult circumstances in my personal life. I have been working, but at a slow rate.

After producing some sketches over the Christmas period, I wanted to take these to begin developing my digital skills. I have been rather stuck as I began to feel that I was still working a little blindly. After much consideration I realised that I need to back track in order to gain a full understanding of the fundamental elements of the illustrations I am trying to compose. For example, to create a believable image, there must be accurate depictions of form and space. This means being able to portray how light and dark affect colour and shade. I am lacking in this area – I have a basic understanding of how to construct some shadows, but an in-depth knowledge will make the difference to the quality of work I will be able to produce.

This coming week I plan to study shadows extensively using secondary research by Francis D.K Ching, online resources, and primary research in the form of the use of photography.

Having made a work plan over the course of last week, I now feel I need to adjust this over the coming week in order to break down the specific skills I need to work on at this stage of the course.

Floor Plans

As well as trying to get to grips with sketching, I have started working on floor plans as these are also fundamental when trying to give the viewer a full understanding of a building or space ( Cook, 2008). At present, this is just in its most raw format, without any consideration given to measurements or scale…..this will be looked into as my journey progresses.

Below are some basic sketches of where exterior windows and doors would be placed on my design based on the Rubik’s cube. Some interior doors are also placed as people would need to be able to circulate around the building. I would like to point out that I am only trying to understand how to illustrate floor plans with a good understanding, rather than trying to design a building with valid architectural merit….I wish to illustrate architecture with a good grounding, rather than become an architect.

During the production of these sketches I learnt how to illustrate interior swing doors, windows, and bi-fold doors( Reekie, 1976). I also produced a rough sketch of a front and left side elevation. Again, these help the viewer comprehend the full concept of a building(Cook, 2008) ( Reekie, 1976).

Standard floor plans are used within architecture and construction to give an understanding of floor layouts. In other words, they are more a working drawing than an illustration. A viewer outside of these industries isn’t necessarily considered when producing them (Cook, 2008). An initial exploration of this led me to produce an axonometric drawing of my floor plans to create a 3D image which I added colour to in order to enhance the understanding of the interior space. I tilted the plan 45 degrees and took vertical lines upwards to produce walls. Both levels can be seen from above.


This is a quick sketch that I will explore further using Adobe Illustrator.


Cook, P. 2008. Drawing, the motive force of architecture. John Wiley and Sons Limited. Chichester. England.

Reekie, F. 1976. Reekies Architectural Drawing.Fourth Edition revised by Tony McCarthy. St Edmundsbury Press Limited. England


To begin my practical journey I have taken inspiration from ‘Sketching The Basics’ by Koos Eissen and Roselin Stuer, as shown below:


I took an image of a Rubik’s cube and produced a rough sketch of an imaginary building. Once I had formed my building I tried out some watercolour versions. This was more of an experiment with technique, but I did try various colour schemes.

I felt that both the composition of the study, and the use of colour, gave a very amateur result. The composition itself gives a fairly informative viewpoint, as discussed by Eissen and Steur, but does not hold any impact for the viewer. Also, as a visualisation piece, it may benefit from being shown from two different viewpoints to show off the buildings most interesting aspects. There is a lack of information with regard to the surroundings the building is situated in – the line of trees only hints of a green space. I feel this can be progressed by working on both of these elements.

With this in mind I produced a further sketch to try to enhance the visual impact of the building.


I altered where the building sits on the horizon line in relation to the viewer. This did not entirely work as I had hoped, and all that was achieved was to view the building from a slightly closer vantage point, but still looking down onto it. I tried again and gained much better results.

I decided to try ground level perspective. This seemed to give a much better compositional value. These pieces have much more impact. Some practice is still needed to ensure building lines follow the correct perspective lines, and more work is needed to produce surfaces that are convincing with marker pens. As first quick sketches I am happy enough to move these forward with digital means.


Eissen K, Steur, R 2016. Sketching The Basics. 7th Printing. p 196 and 197.  BIS Publishers. The Netherlands.