I’m a designer who earnestly believes a hand drawing adds a human touch that you can’t achieve using a computer. Even when today, we are all becoming more sophisticated in how we use technology to design and communicate — including 3-D printing— the process remains rooted in knowing how to put pen and pencil to paper. When studying landscape architecture at Kansas State University, I was taught how to draw by hand. It’s a skill that I believe resides at the heart of the design process. Everyone’s drawing style is different, and that is what keeps the process original, and fresh. There’s a softness and spontaneity to the lines, and the ability to think on your feet, and grow in the moment. Sketching out your ideas with a client present, creates opportunities that you will not find using a program to get started. You are going to find more freedom in a hand sketch, less commitment, and the potential to alter your designs in the moment.

Why stick with the “old school” renderings and why not immediately jump into digital formats?

When printing off a CAD file, it’s a cold piece that, in a sense, feels as though you’ve already made final decisions on your design. For the client, a hand drawing showcases a more open-ended creative process, and helps them to feel more comfortable to give their input.

During this phase, you will want to include all aspects of the project: how the traffic will flow and how all the areas will function. The next step is the master plan, a more detailed version rendered digitally in overhead and perspective views. Instead of using a CAD program, we take the sketches, make high-resolution scans and load them into Photoshop, where we add the color, which will end up resembling a watercolor painting.

This is where we will begin to move into the digital side of the process without losing the spontaneity of hand-drawn lines. The sketches will morph into these great tactile and artistic master plans. Many of our clients will turn them into framed artwork, and it will provide them with a tangible piece to hold onto throughout the entire process.

However, the clients end up loving our next step in the creative design process that we have found to provide the most success, for the team and the clients;3-D printing.

You want to give your clients a model that reveals what the design looks like in a tactile or even sculptural way — something they can show off, discuss and share with family and friends.

A key component in saving materials, and ultimately your costs, will be to keep your models monochromatic. Using an off-white or eggshell material that is absent of all color, will allow you the room to change direction, as needed and not misrepresent your work. Design projects, and clients are constantly changing the color palettes, or finish materials and the blank substance will keep the model accurate through all stages.