illustration using CGI
evolution from pens to 3D
Today most architectural illustration and artwork
you see is prepared using 3D. But most of us will recall just a
few years ago when companies like ours struggled to get 3D artwork
accepted by the architectural and property development fields.
Before competition came about in the 3D architectural illustration
and rendering world our biggest struggle was to get a client to
actually use the technology.
Traditional architectural illustration and perspectives were
the only service available for high quality artwork, and finding
a good illustrator was like finding gold. The industry, like today's
3D version, had it's good/bad people and often missed deadlines.
Architectural illustrations were hard to alter, were often "hit
and miss" and usually inaccurate, although this was not always
the fault of the illustrator.
New illustration technology
CGI (computer generated imagery) came about in
the early 1990s. Steve Bell, of Archiform 3D, was an early adopter
of the technology. At first, CGI took significantly longer to prepare
an architectural image than illustrations created by hand. Computers
were slow and the results, regardless of the operator's skill,
were somewhat plastic and stale. But the technology improved, and
in the mid 1990s we were able to combine 3D and hand painted artwork
to achieve more flexibility, accuracy and realism.
By the late 1990s 3D architectural illustrations
and renderings were starting to be taken seriously. Steve Bell
was the first person to create a virtual prize home. This project
consisted of two luxury home designs, detailed and presented in
pure 3D, inclusive of interior shots. The project was an instant
success, with client not needing to build until after the lottery
was finalized! The only problem that came from this venture was
that there was no work for the people that maintained the completed
homes, took the photographs, handled the security around the site
and designed the interiors, so our client had to reassess if it
could cope with the pressure from them to build real homes first!
The 3D illustrating field gathered momentum, with
it now proven that 3D was a viable alternative to not only traditional
illustration but to real photography. Larger projects came about
and the technology grew. Traditional architectural illustration
was now taking the back seat.
Architectural illustration today
Today many printed publications refuse to accept
anything other than high quality 3D
illustrations and renderings and the 3D
architectural rendering and illustration field has blossomed into a competitive, fast moving
industry. Radical advances in technology are now further between
as the artwork approaches "Photo-Perfect™".
Hand painted architectural illustrations are in serious decline,
with the more experienced artists finding it difficult to make
the transition to CGI. We predict that the traditional market will
dwindle further, but the best of the best will survive to still
impress us with their artistic prowess.