alright, one more comment. what others have said about landscape architects not being illustrators is absolutely correct. if you're a full-time illustrator, you have a lot more time to practice, and refine your style. most landscape architects, if they work with graphics and illustrations at all, only do it part time, so in practical terms they need to have a dependable style that they know will work.
so i guess at the end of the day, there's really no law against developing new styles, and it would make sense for those individuals who specialize in renderings to find new techniques.
yep, thanks. i took a 1-day course with mike lin years ago, helped me out quite a bit, btw.
also... architectural drawing and rendering is sort of an idiom much like 2d drafting is an idiom. it has its own conventions and symbols that are easily understood by both professionals and clients. it's a commonly understood language if you will.
i'm all for innovation and experimentation, and if something else works i would personally say go for it. but at the same time, there's a certain realpolitik to it that you might need to be wary of. if i turned in something that looked like a comic book, or a storyboard, some people might think it was neat, but others would say 'that looks like a comic book!' (pejoratively) or think it's just a novelty, thus taking the work less seriously.
so there's a political and competitive element to your choice of going away from an accepted norm - it may be high quality work, but if it's not what people are expecting, it may be undermining what you're trying to do.
I think it is kind of ironic how "sketchy", flat, and unrealistic the recent style of renderings are, especially when using the computer. When I started using the computer all those many years ago, the goal was to get it as REALISTIC and ACCURATE as possible, (you know, photorealistic?) beyond what was capable with hand drawings. I'm not seeing that so much anymore, even though the technology has gotten so great, so cheap, and relatively easy to use.
Go figure (hahaha, see what I did there?)
I think its in part due to the fact that as programs get better, people find themselves falling into the "uncanny valley", where things looks ALMOST photorealistic, but just enough not real to REALLY throw people off. That means to get a good looking photorealistic rendering more work has to be done on the front end with good materials, and with powerful Rendering rigs. Of you could use it to get you images that look similar to hand renderings, but with easier edits (just move that tree over there and take another print-screen), and view-changes (just rotate the camera up). I think there are almost 3 types of perspective renders at this point: hand, hand/PC hybrid, and photorealistic PC. I have to say, I find it helpful when doing a perspective by hand to block it out in sketchup quickly, and then trace over it. I could go through and set up my vanishing point, and get similar results, but its easier to make a quick model, and then use that for every view. However, If I'm going to have something rendered straight off the PC, no hand involved, I prefer to go all out and go photo realistic. It takes more time, but once the model is made, you have infinite views, and the ability to animate a walk-through.
I am anything but a graphic guru, but one thing that I have come to believe is the possibilty that the more impressive the computer graphic is, the more people separate the design from the designer. They seem to think that the computer did it and the designer is just operating it. The last thing that I want is to have clients disconnect me from the design.
I'm all about selling "me" rather than my paper products. Perhaps it is because I don't have much to offer in the way of graphics that pushed me to concentrate on verbal communication. I have a very high closing rate on design sales for one reason or another. I'm very certain that I am not dazzling prospects with graphic style (accurate and detailed plans, but only black & white line work and stock plant blocks).
I have a very hard time believing that the use of a font, the style of people drawn, or photo-realism is going to sell more design. If selling design is not the point of improving the nuances of graphic design in landscape architecture, then what is compelling reason to do so? I honestly think that we dwell on this far more amongst ourselves than our clients ever do.
While a certain level of personality has gone into gaining work at places I've been, more often than not, it's the design that sells a project, and the graphics that sell the design. This has been true for both public and private contracts that I've worked on, though mostly for first time clients in the private realm. once a relationship is established, if they like your work, you could submit crayon on napkin to them and they'd be happy with it.
For me, the more "impressive graphics" as you say are for specific situations. it isn't usually in budget to produce these photo-real renderings (or professionally hand rendered for that matter) unless the client wants to use them for marketing or advertising purposes. having a stocked component library of past works can help reduce the costs of producing photo-real images over time, but computer down time is still an issue to be dealt with.
I see my portfolio as a glorified brochure. During initial meetings with developers, architects, etc., I don’t even take it out until their pretty much sold on me already. Half the time it stays zipped because I feel it’s getting in the way of me connecting with the prospect. It makes it harder to sell when you’re focused on impressing people you’re your graphic and design wizardry. My mind set with my potential clients (and clients) is - of course I do good work. That should be a given. Let’s focus on you and your needs. I’m not the star you are.
Here's my three cents on hand vs. computer illustrations. It is my observation that there are a few reasons why we are drawn to hand sketches versus computer graphics. For one, a good hand drawn perspective represents the 'field of view' that your eye sees normally. A computer perspective has finite fields of view. They restrict the viewing angles that your eye is used to. Also, unless you are using advanced 3d comp graphics, the comp rendering does not convey a sense of foreground, middle ground and background. Items in the background are just as crisp as the foreground in a comp illustration.
A hand sketch sharpens the detail around those elements of the drawing that are important. This is how we perceive the world naturally. When it comes to color, hand colored perspectives may be not be photo realistic, but are accurate in the way we perceive color. Hand colored perspectives tend to fade color out to the edges. This mimics the way our eyes see the world; less detail and less color at our peripheral field of view.
Sorry to get bogged down in such detail. I just happened to remember these observations as my biology class and drawing-the-landscape class were in the same semester when I was in college.
BTW-any technique is the right technique if it gets the point across and is profitable.