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Book Review - Drawing Shortcuts

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All images reproduced with the permission of
Jim Leggitt FAIA


Drawing Shortcuts

Developing quick drawing skills using todays technology.

by Jim Leggitt FAIA

A Book Review

by Nigel Gough

No one can deny that new technology in recent years has had a significant impact on our profession, for we live in interesting times.

Jim Leggitt’s book
“Drawing Shortcuts” has a fresh and optimistic viewpoint on the role of traditional rendering techniques in current architectural design communication. It places us at an exciting crossroads that allows us to exploit the strengths of traditional rendering skills and combine these with the advantages of current digital technology.
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It’s often too easy to listen to the naysayers as they wring their hands, and resolutely state that traditional architectural artists are just quaint figures of a bygone age. Dinosaurs if you will.
Strange so many of us still have thriving practices. Even CG Architects recent survey results supported the fact that traditional rendering still commands significant market share. How could this be so? Shouldn’t we all be locked up in some dusty old museum somewhere, the Smithsonian perhaps?

“Drawing Shortcuts” is not only a great “how to” book, but it also addresses this very question. It reinforces the notion that the hand drawn line is still relevant and exciting in the practice of architecture, that the ongoing success of yesterdays purely ”traditional” architectural artists can be seen in their ability to reinvent themselves, applying well honed skills in new ways to address a changing market, and at the same time to be innovative and integrate new technology.

While Jim Leggitt’s images still strongly reflect a traditional presentation style, his confidence in combining a variety of digital techniques creates a healthy blurring of the lines between the traditional artist and his digital counterpart. I think this is a very positive perspective to be nurtured, and is critical to the ongoing growth of the profession of architectural presentation.

I have to commend Jim’s zeal on his website.

In the current climate of architectural education, he appears to be a man on a mission to ensure that drawing skills are not lost from the profession of architecture. A mission that, on occasion, I suspect might make David and Goliath seem like a close run pillow fight at a slumber party. But his books, DVD’s, workshops, and elective program at the University of Colorado are testimony to the passion he holds for his subject. Similarly his drawings illustrate a confidence and mastery of sketch technique which comes from a lifetime of practice. His message and presentation style deserve the interest of students, architects, and illustrators alike.

I would recommend
“Drawing Shortcuts” as essential reading in any architectural educational program.

The concise writing style, logical structure, step by step approach, and excellent graphics makes this book perfect for students, particularly if coordinated with quotecorner online pharmacy an effective teaching syllabus to develop architectural presentation skills.

But what is in it for the practicing architectural artist you might say?

Well I was pleasantly surprised. I found it a great grab bag of fresh ideas. All too often we get stuck in a rut with your own methodology.
“Drawing Shortcuts” has the makings of a great sourcebook, with quotecorner online pharmacy a whole host of ideas. From how to make good use of thumbnails and concepts, to ideas on composition, to new takes on digital integration.

It can be so refreshing to see how other artists approach their work, and thereby allow you to draw upon untapped veins within your own style.

To avoid appearing as a sycophant, I would however suggest that
“Drawing Shortcuts” central theme focus’s on linking traditional rendering skills with new digital technology, this carries with it the risk that the book may become rapidly outdated as new innovations see the light of day.

Fortunately Jim Leggitt’s blog can provide the ideal forum to stay abreast of these new innovations, and similarly to gain an insight as to how they may be applied to design presentation. At least until the publishers come up with quotecorner online pharmacy a healthy retainer to ensure new updated editions are on the drawing board. Pardon the pun.

Topic's such as digital painting, only touched on in this edition, could be significantly expanded in the future. Similarly emerging technology and techniques, such as tablet PCs, and parallax scrolling, that are poised to bring traditional rendering skills still further into the digital realm may warrant inclusion in a new book.

That being said, I thoroughly enjoyed reading “Drawing Shortcuts” and would recommend it to anyone interested in the topic of architectural concept sketching and digital integration, and I look forward to any work from Jim Leggitt in the future as an influential voice within the profession.

Nigel Gough, ASAI, AAAI.

Nigel Gough practiced as an architect before starting his career as an architectural illustrator. He uses both traditional and digital media in his work. Nigel has taught design presentation at the Queensland University of Technology for the past 22 years, having previously graduated as valedictorian in both the architecture and industrial design degree programs, winning both the Australian Design Institute Prize and the Queensland Board of Architects Prize (a unique honour). He is currently Vice President of the Australian Association of Architectural Illustrators (AAAI) and is co-editor and contributor to the AAAI website.