As I rework some of the spreads for my upcoming Portfolio Volume 4,  I find myself needing to develop several new illustrations to fill in some missing information or to help better tell the story. However, due to time limitations and the amount of images I need to generate, I am using workflows that are less labor intensive and quicker to produce. This means the style of the images will be more on the minimal side with little time spent in 3D.  The image I am breaking down below is for the intro spread of my Boston Culture Center Project.

To start, this image only uses a shadow and line work 2D image export from Sketchup, and a clay rendering from V-Ray.






1. Setup the Shadows



In Photoshop, I brought in my Sketchup shadows and line work layers. I colorized the shadows to give them a blue tint since the overall tones of the illustration will be on the cool side.



2. Overlay the Clay Rendering



I wanted to see a little more detail in the forms, so I brought in the V-Ray clay model rendering and overlaid it on top. I lowered the opacity so that the clay rendering gradients remain subtle.



3. Bring in the Color



Once I had the base images setup, I started to lay in some color. I applied the color one zone at a time, starting with the sky, moving to the context, then ground plane, and finally the design. I typically try to get all of the different color zones masked in fast so that I have more time to make adjustments to the colors and experiment with which palettes work best. I almost never get the colors right the first time.



4. Sky Detail



I struggled with the sky but finally arrived at a hybrid style of real and illustrated clouds. I was looking for something that was subtle, added a little texture, but also worked with the minimal style of the image.



5. Street Life



Next was adding life to the public realm. I brought in trees, people, and some cars. All of these elements were placed into groups within Photoshop so that I could colorize everything at once by applying a layer style. I did this by selecting the group, choosing “Layer>Layer Style”. In the dialogue box, I chose “Color Overlay” and selected a color that worked with my composition. Colorizing all of these layers removed the detail giving everything a silhouetted abstract look.



6. Noise Overlay






The last thing that I did was add some noise to the image which softens the edges, helps hide little imperfections, and give a retro look to the image. To do this, I created a new layer and filled it with 50% grey. Next, go up to “Filter>Noise>Add Noise”. In the dialogue box, I adjust the “Amount” slider to around 60%, set “Distribution” to “Uniform”, and checked the “Monochromatic” box. Finally, I set the new noise layer to “Overlay” to apply the texture to the image. I also lowered the opacity a little to reduce the strength of the effect.



The Final Image