The Process of creating an architectural illustration varies with the artist and how they choose to approach the artwork and communicate with the client. Over the years I have established a process that can be divided into three distinct stages: Blockout, Ink and Color. The primary focus of our work flow is ensuring that the client have input and final approval at every stage of the illustration process. To demonstrate these three stages I will use the example of a canal streetscape rendering I recently completed with Milt Rhodes (Bluffton, SC) for his project, Pepper Hall.

Stage 1:  The Blockout – Creating the perspectives and choosing the best view

Before the availability of 3D modeling, I used the plan projection method to manually draw perspectives. While accurate, the old method created only one perspective view so was a bit limited. We now use SketchUp, a 3D modeling program, to create most of our perspectives. Using the computer to generate views allows us to offer multiple choices of view angles to our clients, allowing us the opportunity to select the best view. After importing the information and creating a SketchUp model, I send several views to the client so they can choose the angle that best represents the concepts they are trying to convey about the project.


View 1

View 1

View 2

View 2


View 3

View 4


The client selected View 3 for the blockout view. At this stage I add a bit more entourage to the compostion and send the view for final approval before moving on to the ink drawing.

Final view 3 blockout


Stage 2:  The Ink drawing

Once the blockout is completed and approved, I overlay the drawing with vellum and ink the rendering. During the ink stage I make minor adjustments as I draw, correcting and adding detail to give the streetscape more texture and vitality. Once the drawing is complete I send it to the client for corrections and then for final approval after the adjustments have been made.


Pepper Hall ink


Stage 3:  Coloring the illustration

When I have approval of the ink, the drawing is printed on watercolor or marker paper. After a discussion of color preferences or reviewing material supplied by the client,  I then color the illustration.  Once the color is completed the drawing is scanned and a preview scan is sent to the client for approval.


Pepper Hall watercolor


This process normally takes a couple of weeks to complete, but often the timeline is shorter or longer, depending on deadlines and how quickly input is received in order to move forward to the next phase. We believe that this three step process consistently keeps our clients informed about the illustrations, very involved in the process, and always aware of how we are meeting their deadlines. One comment we often receive is that clients appreciate that there are no surprises when working with us. We continually strive to refine the flow of work and collaboration process with each new illustration.