Digital vs. Hand-Rendered etc.

Landscape Architecture for Landscape Architects Forums GRAPHICS Digital vs. Hand-Rendered etc.

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    Bob Luther

    Never say never… I use a Wacom Cintiq and Corel Sketchpad, project it on to a flat screen or projection system and I can digitally hand draw (at least two oxymorons in there somewhere) from scratch or over a photo or model. People can still sit around with Heinekens but now they can be in other offices, or other countries for that matter. You still need all of the skill of hand drawing, the computer doesn’t do everything, and really it doesn’t do that much, it just allows us to work in a different mode and method, as Nick stated it is attention to craft, when my old employer was first exposed to drawing tablets, they were amazed at what could be done until the LA presenting the sketches told them one little issue with digital drawing… “you still have to have the staff and the talent to create the image, the computer is only a tool, just like a pen and paper.” Not all digital graphics look the same, many talented people have found ways to express themselves in their own way, a bad hand drawing or a bad digital drawing both still make bad drawings.

    Bob Luther

    one major difference is that other than a broken pencil or a dried out marker you never have to worry about the power going out or a system failure if yo are using trace and red pencil!

    Raysa Molina

    I think we can get the best of both mixing it. I always remember my ex-boss said: a person who can draw by hands can improve the ability to use the graphic softwares and apply the hand drawing skills in those software.
    I’m hand drawing person that believe in computer never going to relace the human touch, warm, dramatic effect of a hand drawing.
    But I’d been trying different techniques in my renderings, just to speed the process. I mix sketchup, photoshop and hand drawing, and I think create a very good renderings, trying to mimic the hand drawing strokes, color values, etc.
    You can see my work at, and let me know what you think.


    As far as students not using trace…I wish I could have shown you my desk last semester.

    My limited experience with ‘group think’ was nearly disasterous. From what I observed, it is nearly impossible for everyone to draw at the same time. There’s always a dominant pen and I think it’s fair to say that those with good ideas, but without ability to draw often fall by the wayside.

    As an aside- I showed my portfolio to a public architecture forum online and was caught off guard by the number of responses opposing the use of hand sketches and ‘doodles’, relevant or not it may just show how different disciplines think with regard to design philosophy. The same forum members were awestruck by shiny 3d models every time.

    The thing with the filters comment is that I don’t think Adam was referring to the use of plug and go filters, but rather the use of a wacom tablet, which a lot of people can’t get the hang of, just like hand drawing with a pen. I use a wacom intuos and have for nearly 4 years. I honestly don’t think my graphic styles look much like any other entry levels I’ve seen, not anymore than say one persons ink and marker graphics to another ink and marker graphics. I feel like I see a lot more marker renderings that look ‘out of a this is how you draw book’ than digital work.


    …and how often has that happened? lol.

    Trace One

    You can do perspectives on your iphone now – how about that for impressing a client..I think the program is called Brush, or blush? See the New Yorker site – every week they publish a new iphone drawing, showing it as it gets built up…And apparently in Japan they have abandoned pc’s for internet connections through their phones? (the cloud..)

    Sara Lauze

    I studied in Montreal and it seems that what the companies are looking for in that city is people with very good CAD and Photoshop skills, unlike what I’ve seen in California so far. Even though most of our final rendering was done by computer, we always had the choice to produce it in the form we wanted and all the work before the final rendering had to be done by hand. Our teachers insited very much on the importance to explore an idea (every angles of it) by hand. You can produce hundreds of hand drawings and easily go back to them. It’s much harder to do with digital work since we don’t usualy keep every version we might do.

    I don’t think hand drawing is about to desapear as an exploration media. However, I love working with photoshop and Auto CAD. If you work with different offices, it’s also much easier to exchange the information.


    There is no one or the other. They must be used in tandem or you are only an artist or a designer and not both. Combine them and you can then communicate feelings as well as function. For a really in depth look at the computer and how it should be used, read the book “Induction Theory” by Makoto Sei Watanabe. It is not to long or to expensive and the theory inside it is amazing.

    Zach Watson

    So here’s my question of everyone, I have difficulty sometimes sketching because I want to make everything literal. I took art classes in high school and that is how I drew. I know this is an insecurity thing, but sometimes I worry about how my sketches will turn out because before I start I feel like they are not going to turn out like I want them to. If anyone has any suggestions on this or thoughts please let me know, it would be much appreciated.



    Try looking at each drawing as an adventure and learning exercise and not a masterpiece. Each time I start a sketch theres always a little internal pressure. I don’t want to mess up that pretty white page. But I look at each sketch like a chance to learn one new thing about drawing and/or the thing or place I’m drawing and how to see. For every ‘good’ drawing I make, there’s ten more that I wouldnt show anyone.

    Zach Watson

    Thanks for the feed back, I know that there are others that feel the same way I do but sometimes it is nice to hear that others feel the same way. Also good point about looking at it as a learning tool, rather than a presentation item.


    I concur, but like you said Jim I think it definitely depends on who you work for both in terms of the project manager, principal in charge, firm, or client. I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of doffierent digital graphics as an intern, but rarely, if ever can I remember breaking out a pen and meticulously ‘drafting’ a perspective, plan, or section. I think hand drawing is more about ‘capturing’ the image in a gesture, not so much anymore illustrating, unless that’s you’re forte.

    Most of the hand ‘sketching’ I’ve done in my very limited experience outside school have been very quick and usually in plan view. BUT I think sketching in your free time helps improve your graphic ability both digitally or by hand. I think by sketching you also learn to appreciate and utilize contrast and composition. Most importantly, I think by sketching you learn to ‘see.’

    Another thing I thought of that I do now when I sketch in my journal is look closely and think about relationships between objects and finding patterns in the composition. For example, you might notice that certain ‘edges’ are all parallel or perpendicular or some objects might all be vertical, or that two objects create and intersection, etc, etc..I think that kind of observation is a great way to compose your drawing, but also to understand how a place or object is organized and designed.

    Jennifer de Graaf

    I feel more connected to ‘thinking with my hands’ when working conceptually or solving problems, but I would never do CD’s by hand…not anymore, it is just inefficient. I do believe that I think differently when I am drafting in the computer and that I am more creative with a pencil (even if the sketch looks like dog poop). in fact, I like to work with lots of different colors randomly just so I don’t get too literal in my own head too fast.

    On the other side of the desk, so to speak, my experience has been that clients are sometimes (not always, but much of the time) a little intimidated by the work seeming hard-lined and decided before they’ve signed off on a concept if the images presented are computer generated. WE know a computer generated drawing is easy to change, but they don’t always feel that it is so easy.

    I like to keep things loose and floofy-creative-feeling as long as possible (I’ll still develop the base information or start a model for the perspective lines, but not necessarily present it) to help clients come to terms with what they are buying before you get into stuff that feels technical and may therefore be perceived as expensive.

    Someone ahead of my post mentioned that employers still need people who can use their hands (and not just with a keyboard or tablet). AGREED!

    Tim Zhang

    I hand render only plans, and do my perspectives on computer. I feel like digital is better for perspectives, simply because a lot of the time in the professional world you’ll need to be as clear as possible on what you are presenting.

    Rico Flor

    Hi Nick.

    Just an alternative insight. Can a person who prefers computer graphics be in on it just to sell the product, but not necessarily to ensure that the design of the product has been thought out? I mean, between designers, we almost unanimously agree that there’s a huge amount of thought involved in hand sketching. But there are persons who nix sketching from your pre-concept and concept development (and such a quick, instantaneous, impossible turn-around time) such that there’s a part of me who’s starting to believe that they just want your pretty pictures and not the design represented by these pictures….and they want it because it just plainly sells!

    Agreed, landscape architecture is also a business, but the operative word is “also”. We have to defend the “responsible design” end of it. I tend to look at the Terms of Reference a million times over again when the job smacks just too much of the product (and digital at that) and not much of the process.

    Hope I didn’t stray too far….


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