Liquid Design

Sketchy Sketchy


From necessary to a party trick, good sketches still does the trick.

Power of a Good Sketch

It is sad that what was once the core skill of an architect is now a dying art. Being able to sketch what you are talking about has been silently replaced by the creation of amazing renders and computer generated graphics. It hasn't even taken a generation. When I got started in this industry (almost two decades ago now!!), every presentation went with some design sketches and for the really big presentations we would engage a professional sketch artist.

Now days, the photomontage is ubiquitous! While awesome and able to convey a message with a clarity that a sketch rarely can, they are far too final and convey too much information to just get the feeling across. When we have prepared photo realistic graphics for initial design meetings, we have ended up taking more time explaining locations of AC grilles and types of furniture rather than just the overall look and feel of the project. To keep the discussion on the big picture we find it more useful to prepare sketch 3d's and look and feel presentations to convey the feel and direction. Sketching is critical to get the ideas across. In an interesting turn, the software market now has us covered for that too. Photoshop and even revit have a sketch mode or filter that can simulate sketchy lines to great effect!!

Like many things, the death of a skill creates a new art form!

In an interesting turn, the fact that so few designers and architects sketch makes the skill a greater asset than it ever has been. We find that nothing has replaced the need to sketch ideas in a meeting. There is still need to visualise what is being discussed and sometimes it can't or shouldn't (especially if it is a bad idea) wait until after the meeting.

I have been in many meetings where discussion flows until it gets out of control and the ideas go so far off the reservation that they need to be saved. Saving these meetings and getting everyone back on the same page doesn't need to be a fight or take an iron will (or iron fist) especially when you are able to produce a persuasive sketch. After you have done this it becomes almost a party trick and (from a client point of view) one of the cooler thinga about working with an architect.