Illustrating with SketchUp Models

Jim Leggit

visualist = a person who is taking concepts & putting them in 2 or 3 dimensional form for presentations

How do we use SketchUp in our design process?
  • Arch & Designer
  • Illustrator
  • SketchUp allows him to visualize full communities in 3D. Scale. Perspective. Shadows.
  • Hand illustrate

Dave Fencher
  • Went to school drawing by hand
  • Perspective. Views. Study. Overlay.
  • Now into Photoshop, photorealistic rendering.

  • Concept artist
  • Dimensions. Shadows. Lines. in SU
  • put in Photoshop and digital paint over in Photoshop.
  • maintains resolution so image is exported & imported back & forth

Anonymous 2
  • architect
  • shadow studies

about producing photorealistic drawings:
  • real estate agents are pushing photo realization as the main point of presentation vs. artistic/ non-photo realism
  • early in the process showing a photo realistic rendering people get caught up in lighting, materials, entourage
  • real estate agents don't have a lot of imagination moving forward

  • clients demanded multiple 20 or 30 photo realistic renderings

misconceptions: photo realistic renderings leaves nothing to chance

trace/ sketch engages the client in the process. photo realistic gives the appearance of finality
clients can add their imagination, fill in the blanks, for the sketch

where does the client fit into the process?
where does the client become comfortable or uncomfortable in that dialogue?


too realistic in photo renderings we are locking the client out
the client is hungry for it. they want it

showing the full rendering at an initial meeting. suddenly they're caught up in the pink brink as opposed to the overall design and design concept.

clients are generally more visual than they think they are

concept development of an idea; you as a visualist, a designer, need to make a strategic decision on what the best way of communicating to the client is. what medium. time constraints. where in the process. concept? fundraising? on the market?

projects has many lives through conception to completion. understanding the risks of photo realism. understand the audience. client? city? neighborhood?

key word: process. clients often want to know way to much too early. the design grows & develops. clients have to be open to these changes.

understanding client expectations

have sensitivity to the site, context, entourage
reality of context: new trees won't appear big old & aged! accuracy of landscape. dress code of the scale models.

where do we get context? inspiration?
send Jim your stuff!
get the word out
keep the fire alive about artistic renderings

Common Technique for hybrid illustrations:
other programs per preference

Start with a jpeg export brought out of SketchUp.
shaded without textures
Duplicate image & start editing in Photoshop
Some key points:
line weights

Bring in a variety of layers
20 adjustment layers
many addt'l tree layers

Radiocity layer - black & white version
cheetah 3d: mac
imports cameras from sketchup so you can maintain view point
podium would be a great option as well
use many adjustment layers
poster-izing. increases contrast
overlay mode most important layer mode
add a gradient on top to add more interest

line weights:
export lines as a dwg
issue: continuous lines are severed by perpendicular connecting lines
fix: bring dwg into cad
then use "squiggle"
settings in squiggle are fairly complex. long learning curve
create line weights base on layers
a similar program is "scribble"

watercolor paper effect:
you can download images from the net
use it as an overlay, set it at 10% - 20%

overlay layer:
takes white, makes it super light
and black, makes it super dark

photos of trees filtered
experiment with them, but one of the best ones
filer>blur>smart blur