Exercise 5 – Architectural Illustration

From the research completed, there were three styles of architectural illustration that stood out to me.  The first, Mike Hall, stood out for the detail in his line work.  He had created very clean lines and they were extremely well laid out.  The perspectives were clear, accurate and there were no muddy lines or awkward meeting points.  He used pen to render his drawings and created a great tonal contrast with hatching and lines to give the depth and shadow to his drawings.  The inclusion of people and wildlife makes it come to life rather than it being an image of a building on it’s own.  The simplicity of just allowing the pen to do the work has produced a stunning illustration and it is something I greatly admire.

John Walsom has used watercolours, possibly digital, but the contrast of light is fantastic.  He has created a depth of colour in watercolours and the loose lines and brushstrokes gives a dreamy quality to his work.  His interiors look inviting and warm with his colour palette and the blue shadow conveys a brightness to the light that suggests summer.  His exterior shot is equally impressive.  His perspectives are well considered with the interiors conveying huge rooms and the exterior shot capturing the tower well.  The cloud line flows to the top of the tower inviting your gaze that way. The colours in the skyline are a beautiful echo of the brick too.  He really captures a mood here with the washed out areas and the light colour schemes.

Clare Rollet uses a simple colour palette but it is the use of the blue in the shadow and the strong lines of the building that stand out for me.  Her simple flat colour in the editorial illustration is very clean and the houses are well designed in their perspectives, but it is the block of colour assigned to each one that creates a simple, effective and quite beautifully designed illustration.


For my own work I wanted to try and use the colour inspiration from the three illustrators that caught my attention. 

For the illustrations I wanted to try the following:

  1. have a mix of clean lines and a good solid perspective while engaging with loose blocks of colour.
  2. Have no heavy lines and allow the sketch to come through and play with watercolours to try and create a dreamy illustration.
  3. Go for a more graphic style that might suit an editorial.

The subject matter was the cottage that is situated on the coast beside my home.  It is in a precarious position and is regularly battered by the sea, but still remains.

It is at the bottom of a hill and next to a converted boat house.  The house on the hill was the original Station house converted to a home.  It’s quite large and more modern, and contrasts greatly next to the cottage.  By comparison, the small boat house is also strange to behold as its main room has a large window to the river which can be seen into by walkers.  I’m sure it gets lashed out of it by the sea too, but it remains intact.

I used my ipad to work on Procreate for this exercise.  The ideas were from a photo reference taken on a walk around the area.  There were a number of photos taken from different angles, to consider the best composition for the illustration.

The best one was a shot taken from the bridge, as it included a sample of all three houses to give a contrast.

copyright Hilary Lawler 2021

From this image I cropped it so that the houses were more focused on, and adapted an off centre framing so that there was some sea and a partially shown house on the hill, but the main feature of the thatched cottage would be the main view.

Having researched on how various architects approach their drawings, I wanted to try out a few styles.  The simple black and white ink drawing and a digital sketch and a stylised version with my textures.

Ink drawing – copyright Hilary Lawler 2021

So taking inspiration from Mike Hall and Clare Rollet, I used a technical pen brush and built up the lines using hatching and line thickness.  The river was quite difficult to do, as were the clouds, as they’re both moving.  It was hard to create a light touch for the clouds while still maintaining a contrast.

The inking marks for the river were an attempt to convey the movement but don’t directly represent the movement captured in the photo.

Procreate colour – copyright Hilary Lawler 2021

The second image was created using a partial colour palette from the photo and then adjusting some of the colours so the tonal value was a bit stronger.  I avoided using a strong black outline for everything and wanted to keep it bright and almost postcard looking. 

This is something I wanted to try out now as if it worked then I could adapt it for use in the assignment 2.

Textured version – copyright Hilary Lawler 2021

The final images were testing using a texture on the strong graphic version, and a simpler sketch using a basic brush in Procreate for a more picture book version (see panel 4 in final image for the picture book version).

The texture was a Procreate painting done, layered and rotations on layers with the saturation adjusted until the right effect achieved.  I like this version of the image because the water is successful and so is the sand and the thatch on the cottage.   However, the boat house bleeds into the sand and the house on the hill is more of a contrast for it.  The sweep of colour acts as a sunray on the water and the cottage which adds a lovely effect.  It’s a successful illustration in parts but not all parts. 

I returned to the first two images and decided to crop them and create an Instagram post.  For this I chose to cut away the sky, water and left of the image to zoom in on the houses.  I didn’t add any filters but did add a textured layer so that the panel edges would be rough instead of clean.

The final results are positive.  The buildings are in a harmonious triangle format in the illustration and both the black and white and the colour versions are a good start.  The lines for the b&w inked illustration are not super sharp so from an architectural perspective it isn’t an exact representation of them.  It feels more comic book illustration, which I like.

The colour version feels more print than comic book panel but it isn’t the style I want to bring forward into assignment 2, but I do want to use some of the inspiration from the research earlier and revisit some of Clare Rollets other work to see how I can adapt more of a poster quality to assignment 2.

Final Images:

I played with black and white backgrounds to see which worked best.  For the inked version, a black background was more successful in making it pop, but an off white for the colour version helped make the colours pop a bit more.


https://www.theguardian.com/cities/2016/jun/09/old-v-new-architecture-pictures-incongruous-city-buildings 10.04.21  14.52

https://issuu.com/lzz26/docs/city_of_darkness_-_life_in_kowloon_   11.04.21 15.49

https://www.illustrationx.com/styles/architecture   – 04.05.21 15.24