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Drawing and Rendering, What's the Difference?

Updated on July 14, 2014

Drawing and Rendering Basics

Personally, when I sketch, the drawing and the rendering are interchangeable. However, a slight example of a drawing might be a basic geometric shape such as the sphere, in its prime outline. The rendering of this sphere would make it appear three-dimensional on a two-dimensional surface by the use of shade, shadow perhaps, and lighting, with moderate variations of value from light to dark.


The Vision Sketch

The drawings are first laid out in the initial sketch, called a vision sketch. This gets the ideas of design down quickly. This sketch is then drawn in perspective, making use of the horizon line, vanishing points, and vanishing trace, as well as the station point, ground line, and perhaps the cone of vision. The design ideas are then refined and additional details are added. If the illustration is in the daytime, shade and shadow may be added; if the illustration is during the nighttime, illumination may be added.

Language of Illustration

Designers usually work within time constraints. The reasons vary, ranging from tight fees to looming construction starts. This time pressure trickles down, of course, to all parts of the design process, including illustration of ideas. (Doyle, 2007 p. 53). When creating interior drawings and renderings, a number of hand-media may be used, including markers, colored pencils, and pastels. Color, graded, or digital washes would incorporate the use of these media. Any combination of color media is legitimate for the purposes of color mixing and adjustment as long as the media are compatible. (Doyle, 2007 p. 66). Colors can be modified by hand with marker over marker, pastel over marker, or pencil over marker and pastel.

One of your jobs in the early stages of the design process is to utilize the language of illustration to quickly assemble the many decisions about the form, space, proportion, scale, and character of a project into pictures, called studies or sketches, for feedback to yourself and review by others. It is the visual communication of the additional information about the character of the space—color, light, materials, pattern, texture, and furnishings—that transforms a space into a place. (Doyle, 2007 p. 82). This includes effectively rendering impressions of materials and creating the effects of light.

Advantage of Communicating Conceptual 3-D Spaces by Drawing and Rendering

As Marty Neumeier once said:

“Although draftsmanship is no longer the price of admission to a design career, those who master the language of drawing are likely to see, to think, and to communicate with more sophistication that those who only master the computer. Aside from this competitive advantage, however, there’s a deeper satisfaction to be derived from draftsmanship: the thrill of vanquishing a monster-sized, fire-breathing design problem with nothing more than a small, sharpened stick.” (Doyle, 2007 p. 3).

Works Cited

2007. Doyle, M. Color Drawing, 3rd Ed.: Design Drawing Skills and Techniques for Architects, Landscape Architects, and Interior Designers. John Wiley & Sons, Inc., Hoboken, NJ.


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