BeLoose Graphic Workshop

Courtyard Design Process: Approach / Plan / Vignette


This month's blog entry highlights the design process for a outdoor courtyard programming exercise for a large Southern California Office Campus. With only a week to create concepts and no digital files (CAD bases) to use, I had to use beautifully hand-drawn as-built drawings for my base drawing. The materials and programs used for this process were ink pens, color pencils, perspective charts, and Adobe Photoshop and InDesign.


Step One: Site Approach [left]. Site design began with bubble diagrams to show program and outdoor  theme adjacencies and how people would circulate throughout. The studies were quickly drawn with ink pen (black Pentel Sign pen in this exercise) over the as-built drawing to scale on trace paper. Color pencil was used to help differentiate the programmatic spaces and possible themes. Bubble diagrams are important to help anchor the essence of the design intent, and are helpful during presentations to keep things at a level of pure focus.





Step Two: Site Plan Diagram [right]. With the as-built drawing as a screened underlay and bubble diagram approach setting the tone, I used Adobe Illustrator to create paved areas and inserted water features, trees, seating areas, berms, and other design elements that refine the initial design thinking for the scheme. Layer management is important in order to control opacities, transparencies, and overall graphic readability. This is also effective when creating process slides in a powerpoint presentation by turning on / off layers, i.e. paving layer, tree layer, site furnishings, and using them as talking points.




Step Three: Sketch Vignette [left]. Using the two-point perspective grids from the birds-eye vantage point, I created quick sketch vignettes with ink pen on trace and colored pencils to convey the design intent from the site plan diagram. Originally I had intended to photo-montage the building facades that frame the courtyard but felt that isolating the courtyard was more effective so the client was not distracted by the existing architecture.



Once you develop a system of drawing typologies, the subsequent options can go quite fast. It is also important and a good rule of thumb to name the schemes which also helps frame the design approach. The seven options shown below were all drawn in one day and formatted in Adobe InDesign. The drawings were oriented so that all schemes could be evaluated and compared within one board, but could also be broken out per scheme to insert into a powerpoint / pdf presentation format.


I hope you found this blog helpful and are able to use this technique in your current and future projects. Please let me know if you have any questions about this process. Happy drawing!



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Comment by Brian Lin on September 6, 2013 at 7:59am
Illustrator for the site plans; indesign for the sheet layout and formatting.
Comment by Heather Cinani on September 5, 2013 at 10:46pm

Did you use Illustrator or Indesign? 



Comment by Brian Lin on June 21, 2013 at 7:41am

Thanks Ken! This is a process that has been developed over the years and still use on every project.

Comment by Ken Nentwig on June 20, 2013 at 8:46am

Nice work, Brian!  That applies to the designs but also to the presentation of the process for us to enjoy and learn from.  You make it so easy!

BeLoose is a workshop where the experience will definitely change people's lives and increase their confidence beyond their expectation.

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