There are many different visualization options when creating aerial perspectives for large planning projects. I’ve found that whatever method you use depends on answering three questions: 1)how much time do I have?, 2)how much fee is there for my effort?, and 3)what kind of visual solution does my client expect?
With this studioINSITE project, my answers were “I have just a week to create the aerial perspective, with a couple of scheduled client reviews, a moderate fee to cover 40 hours of my time, and a level of drawing detail to give a general impression of the planning concept without ”locking in” the architectural design or the overall master plan. Once those parameters were established, I got to work! Here is my step-by-step process:
Hand Drawn Master Plan
Step One: Hand Drawn Master Plan. There was no time nor fee for a computer generated plan. I sketched several variations, discussed them with my client and drew this site plan on tracing paper with a water based ink pen, colored with Chartpak AD markers. To speed up the process, I took a photograph of the plan with my iPhone, lightened the jpeg in Photoshop and imported directly into a SketchUp model as a model base image.
SketchUp Massing Model
Step Two: SketchUp “Massing Model”. I had previously constructed a SketchUp massing model of the nearby vicinity (“original SketchUp model” portion of the above image) and used it as a base model in which I inserted the new site model (the portion inside the red frame). I positioned the entire model over an aerial view exported from Google Earth.
Step Three: View Selection. Before I committed to adding more architectural detail to the SketchUp model, I selected about three-to five aerial views (SketchUp scenes) that I saved and sent to my client for review. As you can see from the view above, all of the buildings in the model have no window detail or 3D articulation. Aways develop planning models with minimal SketchUp massing to avoid wasting time modeling detail that may never be seen in the final aerial perspective.
Step Four: Added SketchUp Model Detail. Once a preferred aerial view was selected by my client, I focused on developing additional detail to certain foreground buildings in the model. The left image above shows the original massing model for a cluster of residential buildings. The right image above shows the updated model with all of the buildings developed with simple window patterns and facade articulation. Many of the buildings were identical so I was able to create a single component and replicate it many times throughout the model.
Hybrid Aerial Perspective
Step Five: Enlarged Print of Aerial View. This final hand drawing/coloring step required printing the preferred aerial view on coated bond paper then drawing directly onto the print with an ink pen and coloring with Chartpak AD markers. I exported a high resolution jpeg from the SketchUp model at 5000 pixels wide, then slightly lightened the image in Photoshop. Note: I always lighten images with the goal to “take away” some of the color in order to “add back” color with markers and colored pencils. I plotted to image 16”x31” on coated bond plot paper with an HP5000 color plotter.
Step Six: Hand Drawing and Coloring. This step is always my favorite part of the visualization process - hand illustration and color! I traced over many of the edges in the SketchUp model with a fine point water based roller ball pen. I drew over the trees, buildings and cars from the SketchUp model and added more illustrative detail to roofs and landscaping that was not originally modeled. I then completely colored the illustration with Chartpak AD markers and even added some finer detail to the building facades with Prismacolor markers.
Final 13"x31" Hybrid Aerial Perspective
Hybrid Ground Level Perspective
Ground Level SketchUp View. Using the same SketchUp model, I selected a lower level view of the proposed development and generated another hybrid drawing using the identical step-by-step process that I used to create the aerial perspective. Unlike the larger print size of the aerial perspective, I needed only to print this view 9”x16”, making it much quicker to illustrate and color.
Note that this is not an eye level perspective. I raised the view angle as if I were looking from the second or third floor of a building. By raising the view angle, I could see more of the parking lot and ground plane beyond the entrance signage.
Final 9"x16" Hybrid Drawing
The 2010 Blog Collection , a 116-page catalog of my best blog posts from 2010 is available on Blurb!