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The Rebirth of Drawing

May 5, 2016

Today's post was inspired by Michael Graves

The late Michael Graves made the following statement in an Op-Ed piece in The New York Times about the importance of hand drawing:

Architecture cannot divorce itself from drawing, no matter how impressive the technology gets. Drawings are not just end products: they are part of the thought process of architectural design. Drawings express the interaction of our minds, eyes and hands. This last statement is absolutely crucial to the difference between those who draw to conceptualize architecture and those who use the computer.

He’s right of course, but there’s a catch: technology has improved a lot since 2012 when he penned his article. Graves was primarily making his case against computer-aided design software, such as AutoCAD and Revit, lamenting the fact that even the firm of his namesake wasn't immune from the routine use of software for construction documents, developing designs, and making presentations while conceding that there’s nothing inherently problematic with computer-aided design as long it’s not the only method for designing.

In fact, hand drawing and computer-aided rendering have been pitted against each other as though they are mutually-exclusive exercises. But with the introduction of the Apple Pencil in 2015, for example, sketching by hand has taken on a new dimension for those who use the iPad Pro as a canvas.

Today, there are a number of dynamic apps on the market that are compatible with the Apple Pencil that come close to bringing digital art creation to the level of pencil and paper (almost). Some notable apps include Procreate, Astropad, Paper, and uMake.

But for those who just love the feel of pencil against paper and can’t escape the notion that the Apple Pencil is nothing more than a glorified stylus, we understand—and we have some great news. With the launch of the Slate in October of last year, artists and designers can instantly digitize their paper drawings while using their own pencils, pens, and markers. Using an innovative magnetic ring that fits over traditional writing tools, the Slate tracks the position and motion of the pencil and generates a real time digital rendering of your sketch.

So to all of you designers and artists who have mourned the untimely death of hand drawing in the digital age, take heart—there’s a rebirth underway. 

About the Author

Robert Nieminen | Chief Content Director

Robert Nieminen is the Chief Content Director of Architectural Products, BUILDINGS and i+s, sister publications of Smart Buildings Technology. He is an award-winning writer with more than 20 years of experience reporting on the architecture and design industry.

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