This simple drawing method utilizes a combination of Google Earth imaging to form a base perspective view and hand drawing with marker coloring. You may have discovered that many cities now have 3-dimensional building models incorporated into the base Google Earth city plan.
For this drawing, I focused on a three-block area of West Boulder, Colorado and exported a jpeg as an ideal aerial view of the downtown neighborhood. The following is a step-by-step explanation of how I created a hybrid drawing that combines the Google Earth photographic base and a hand drawn overlay:
Step 1: Google Earth Photograph. I selected this aerial view from Google Earth as it represented the primary street and three-block section of the downtown study area.I then collaborated with a local architect who had designed a large mixed-use projec in the study area. I sent the jpeg to him with a request to update the aerial photograph with his building inserted into the image.
Step 2: Proposed Building Added to the View. The architect matched the aerial perspective and inserted the large mixed-use building into the photograph - updating the aerial view with the most current information about the existing and proposed developments on the block.
Step 3: Red Pencil Mockup. I printed the aerial view on 11”x17” paper and sketched in new street improvements, landscaping and intersection treatment. I always use a red Col-Erase pencil on trace as it is easy to see the colored linework compared to using a black graphite pencil. It is also much easier to trace over with a black in pen (next step) as I can easily understand the layering of the mockup versus the final ink drawing.
Step 4: Ink Line Drawing. I placed a second sheet of white tracing paper over the red pencil mockup and delineated the line drawing using a Pilot Fineliner pen. Notice that the drawing has only outlines and lacks any shadows or hatching. All of the illustrative character would be applied in the final coloring step of the drawing.
Step 5: Final Marker. After making a record scan (300dpi) of my line drawing, I colored the aerial perspective with Chartpak AD markers. I added a minor amount of graphite pencil linework for the sidewalks and street paving pattern. I also scanned the final artwork at 300dpi and saved a jpeg. Notice that the illustration is quite satisfactory as a “stand alone” drawing to emphasize the new development and streetscape - but - it doesn’t quite give the viewer a true sense of the city context in which the street is located. My final step combined the drawing with the aerial photograph as a wonderful hybrid visual solution!
Step 6: Final Composite Scan Drawing. I have had great success scanning hand drawings over either photographs (as with this drawing) or SketchUp model views to create “hybrid” drawings that reveal much more than a straight forward hand drawing. This composite image of downtown Boulder represents the overall city context as background information and emphasized the hand drawing to show new treatments to the street and architecture. I encourage you to explore combining hand drawings with Google Earth images on your next project as the results can be both informative and beautiful!
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