More “Old-School” Rendering

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Recently I found this old hand-drawn rendering at my university. The rendering is in very rough shape after years of wasting away in a drawer. This appears to be a perspective drawing of a people mover system and station that was printed on “brown line” diazo* paper. While the paper is faded and torn, the initial excellent drawing and rendering continue to serve the design well and I find that this old-school approach can offer hints for current digital rendering and presentation.

Looking at the image, we see that the renderer was quite successful in using minimal media to create an excellent rendering. The rendering is created by making use of the light brown colored paper as a medium value and background, with pops of lighter colors such as white and very light blue –and pops of very dark marker areas and dark lines to define dark values and details. It appears chalk pastels in blue, gray and brown were used to depict light buildings and forms in the background. Minimal orange and gold marker areas are added for graphics and painted surfaces.

What can we learn from this?

1   We understand the forms that create the design without the drawing being hyper-realistic. Less can be more -even in digital rendering.

2 The use of white highlights to visually enhance the forward portions of objects and buildings is highly useful! Using white on the forward edges of elements gives the impression of light hitting the surface and creating a highlight. I would guess that the white is create using gauche paint (on a tiny brush) and white chalk pastels.

3 Notice the delicate use of black ink line weights. The forward portions of objects are depicted with light black lines and as the forms recede this is depicted with bolder, heavier black lines. Such a lovely balance of light and heavy lines.

4 Black marker areas are nicely balanced with lighter areas on object, helping the rendering read well in terms of value contrast.

5 The judicious use of bright color –using the same orange and gold color repeatedly creates good color balance.

I wanted to share this because I love these old-school renderings, I think this is a great one and I did not want it to waste away without being noticed. And, I do think we can bring some of these techniques to our hand drawn quick sketches as well as digital renderings.

This rendering was probably done by a former teacher, or visiting design professional at my university long before my time there. If anyone reading this knows the creator of this rendering, please let me know!

*Brown line diazo prints are a brown version of a blue line print. For those not familiar with this process, in the olden days (from the 1940s to 1980s) this type of printing was common. In this method, designers drew original line drawings on velum or mylar and these were printed using a chemical process. Use of this method was replaced by large format photocopies in the late 1980s

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