Syllabus and Calendar

Painting Architecture: Digital Representation

Mike Hara, Instructor
Fall Semester 2012 (TTh, 6-9pm, 9/3 – 10/22)
Arch 3250 – BDA Workshop – Section 6

Course Description:

With the power and ease of digital modeling and automated rendering applications ever on the rise, there is a growing tension between those who draw with a pencil and those who render with software. Between this artificial unnecessary divide lies a landscape of opportunity for utilizing both, one that marries the mathematical sophistication of software with the exploratory use of the hand. Students will learn digital painting within the specific realm of Photoshop to speculate on architectures and environments through highly individual forms of drawing.

This course will produce architectural representation through the use of digital compilation techniques, specifically digital painting with the aid of Photoshop, digital modeling programs, collage and a drawing tablet. Drawing from a long history of architectural representation, we will beg, borrow, and steal to create evocative representations of architecture.

With an ever-critical eye on the purpose and reasons for drawing, we will study how to match a project’s architectural ideas to a representation that speaks the appropriate concepts. Using visual communication as the primary medium, students will craft narratives through a wide range of digital and analogue representative techniques to tell the story of their work.

The course will be a crash-course in basic artistic concepts – sketching, composition, chiaroscuro, focal points, figure ground relationships, perspective, and basic color theory. In addition, we will delve extensively into the power of Photoshop as a tool for both conceptual ideation and literal representation. By the end of this 8-week course students will have an advanced understanding of how to utilize the virtues of both the hand and the computer to create representations that are argumentative and beautiful.


Learning Objectives

The purposes of this class will be twofold. Of primary import will be to understand the purpose and power of architectural drawing to speak a language that reflects the intent of a design. Students should learn that architectural representation goes beyond the depiction of the environment to also include emotion, mood, and intent into a rich narrative.

Secondly, students will become virtuosos in learning how to utilize Photoshop and other digital tools to create evocative images. Students will learn a variety of techniques using this and other software programs in collaboration, and will understand with fluency the techniques of digital painting.


Modes of Inquiry

This course will be both lecture and workshop based. The week will begin with a lecture on the conceptual basis of a certain topic (i.e. light, chiaroscuro, composition, mood, etc.), and will then have a very hands-on workshop that will follow suit. We will have weekly pin-ups to examine the successes and opportunities of the previous week’s explorations, and students will be encouraged to vocalize their opinions in an effort to develop their own visual literacy.


Expected Outcomes

First and foremost, we will make beautiful images. Though beauty is word often shunned in architectural discussion, we will embrace the fact that an evocative, interesting image should exude beauty in whatever way it is defined.

Each week students will produce an image or series of images that reflect the previous week’s lecture and build upon their existing knowledge of digital drawing. At the end of the term students will compile a portfolio of images and thoughts. The intent is that students will begin to cultivate their own representational voice which can be mapped through the semester.


Texts and Materials

There will be no required texts for this class; however, it will require the following computer applications:

Adobe Photoshop CS3+
Wacom Bamboo Tablet (or comparable device)

Students will also occasionally receive readings that correspond to the lectures; these will be provided by the instructor.

A wealth of important information, including class updates, resources, readings and texts will be found on the class website at



Students are expected to archive and document their work throughout the semester, including textual notes. The efforts of this course are to help each student develop a drawing “voice” that will continue to be developed throughout their academic and professional lives. Thus, it is imperative that they have an artifact with which they can reflect upon their thoughts, struggles and ideas developing this voice. A standard template will be provided for the placement of text and images (this is NOT a portfolio design class). This template should be updated weekly and will be due in physical and digital copy at the end of the semester.


Grading Breakdown

Weekly Assignments: 50%
Final Portfolio: 40%
Class Participation: 10%



Week Day Lesson Plan Assignment Due
1 09/04/2012 Class Introduction
Representation Lecture
Photoshop Interface
Stylus Use
1 09/06/2012 Brushes, lines, fills, custom brushes, thumbnail sketching + ideation Research assignment due
2 09/11/2012 Composition, focal points Thumbnail and blocking assignment due
2 09/13/2012 Chiaroscuro, light and shadow, texture, mood, atmosphere  
3 09/18/2012 Architectural drawing types, perspective and ortho sketching, line drawings Chiaroscuro, texture, mood assignment due
3 09/20/2012 Perspective, vanishing points, Sketch-Up crash course  
4 09/25/2012 Introduction to matte painting, collage Perspective assignment due
4 09/27/2012 Collage, style, voice  
5 10/02/2012 Layers, touch up, detail, blending, filters. Collage assignment due
5 10/04/2012 Imagery and narrative Final project proposals due
6 10/09/2012 Painting session and crits  
6 10/11/2012 Final project – juried crit Final project due
7 10/16/2012 Portfolio Work  
7 10/18/2012 Final Portfolio Due FINAL PORTFOLIO DUE



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