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​Using SketchUp to create hand renderings

This case study was submitted by Michelle Morelan, an interior designer in Vancouver, B.C. I first discovered Michelle's SketchUp drawings on her blog, A Schematic Life. We have posted the first part of her case study below, but continue reading it on our website to see additional designs and to learn how she uses Google SketchUp in her unique workflow.

At Michelle Morelan Design, we offer a full range of Interior Design services: interior planning and design, renovations, and project management. You can choose from full design services or e-design.

We use SketchUp from importing site dimensions through schematics and design, and onto working drawings. The great thing about SketchUp is it gives you instant feedback. What would the accents look like in red?...where should I put them?…how long and thick should this wall be?…even what it looks like to walk from one space to another. It also blurs the line between schematic and working drawings, because you build and design to scale. This means you can use the same model for working out the design as for contract documents or working drawings, saving lots of time. With the use of a section plane, by turning off the perspective view and adding dimensions, you take the drawing to that next level.

One thing that's different about the way we use the software are the hybrid drawings that have become our specialty. Our firm has created a niche by building 3D models and rendering perspectives for other designers and homeowners, as well as creating stunning and precise visuals for our own firm’s presentations.
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Unknown said...

Gee, nice find Chris. This is fantastic work!!! Would love to know how they produce that marker technique.....

Michelle said...

Thanks so much Chris!! I've featured you today on my blog as well!

Yesterday, we built two models in a half a day...a bathroom and a condo interior. If you could just speed up my computer, well, the sky's the limit! lol


Unknown said...


Read the article, it is all answered there.

"Basically, you create something to place under your paper to trace and then render."

"We create a white model in SketchUp from plans, elevations (PDF or CAD) and specifications. Then, we print the perspectives with shadows applied, and use the print for the substrate."

"The renderings are created with architectural markers and fine liners on archival rag paper."

Toby R. Keeton said...

Great article. I use a similar technique but I actually don't even use real markers. I simply use Sketchup's "straight lines" styles and export my images. From there, sometimes I will print the image and use a fine tip Sharpie to give some things a little more line weight. I then scan the image back in and edit it in photoshop. Here I use photoshop's brush tool with watercolor brushes (which can be found for free online) to create a marker or watercolor look. I like this technique because, firstly, I don't have to invest in nice markers. Secondly, along with good layer management in photoshop, I can easily edit my images. A client can say "I wish that wall were green" and I can accomodate them with a click of the mouse.

You can see examples of some of my drawings here:

Meeta said...

Hi Michelle,

Your renders are great.... just for your information in case you were not aware of it, you can create marker renders with a render package called "Piranesi" you can view some of the images on our website using the link below:

The software is extremely user friendly and conversant with SketchUp. You can achieve renders to ones that you are working up within a matter of minutes. You can read about the software using the link below:

Hope this helps? although your work is great. Just another way of achieving the same results.

bwalsh305 said...

Meeta -

absolutely beautiful renderings with sketchup. all I can say. I am starting an architectural design firm with a partner in DC, and we of course use sketchup to the fullest extent possible. we love it. Thank you for posting info on "Piranesi" - this'll be great for schematics, too. we get into creating photo-real renderings for final submissions sometimes, but we all know the more real they get - the more chance the client can say, "why didn't it turn out exactly like the rendering" if you get even a shade of color slightly off. That's why we like to keep a "sketchy" aspect to it as much as possible.

Michelle -

Love the technique and the renderings - you've got a great hand and it's great to incorporate the software. There's just something about "real" hand renderings that will always prevail, is just yet another way to show designers how they can use sketchup - and something to use as a powerful tool while presenting and interacting with the client, too. very inspirational and there just aren't many design companies out there that can still bang out a true hand rendering of this quality. I wish you the best of luck.