Rendering Trends
July 18, 2018 11:07 PM   Subscribe

Decoding tired tropes of flashy architectural graphics Look at architectural renderings on a regular basis and soon you’ll start to spot stylized elements that pop up often enough to be called cliches, every one of them inserted into the image for a specific purpose. It’s all about selling the viewer on the concept, consciously and subconsciously, like any other form of marketing.
posted by MovableBookLady (26 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
This was interesting, thanks for posting it.

The fact that Bad Photoshop is actually a graphics design trend is interesting.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 1:10 AM on July 19

Thanks for this. I love the mad mythical futures of architectural concept art. There's an interesting corollary in looking at what you end up with once the vision is realised for projects that go ahead.
posted by freya_lamb at 1:51 AM on July 19 [3 favorites]

Artist James Bridle did a project a while back trying to find the 'scalies' in real life - (previously).

Here in Liverpool we had some nice protest graffiti speech bubbles on the renderings on the hoardings round the site of some demolished-for-property-developer-profit music venues.
posted by amcewen at 2:11 AM on July 19

Man, even the renderings that aren't meant to look dystopian look dystopian. That Golden State Warriors Waterfront image has the impression of survivors wandering aimlessly and shell-shocked after some kind of apocalyptic event.

And I'm pretty sure whomever produced the Guggenheim Museum proposal image needs an explanation of what lens flares are and how they work. (For example: They are not snow.)
posted by ardgedee at 4:58 AM on July 19

The CGArchitect example actually seems to defy the cliches. The lighting is natural and unflattering, and it seems to be explicitly depicting the aftermath of some sort of depopulating disaster. There's a car abandoned halfway on the curb with it's door open!
posted by paper chromatographologist at 5:24 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]

> The fact that Bad Photoshop is actually a graphics design trend is interesting.

They look like collages cut from 80s magazines to me. I can almost smell the spray mount.

I don't think the moose is cliche.
posted by Leon at 5:26 AM on July 19 [7 favorites]

A bunch of these remind me of True American Dog.
posted by overeducated_alligator at 6:58 AM on July 19 [5 favorites]

I don't think the moose is cliche.

The moose made me go oh.

Do you know what happens to moose who venture into the city where I'm from?

They get shot.
posted by Vesihiisi at 7:34 AM on July 19

That rendering of the Golden State Warriors Arena in SF is breathakingly misleading. I mean the building itself is the whisper of a sketch in the upper right. Everything else is entirely a fake fantasy. Among other things; the Bay Bridge is not there, even if it were there'd be buildings in the way, and there's a street running along the waterfront. Also the whole area is a grim industrial wasteland although I admire the optimisim of the lovely beach and trees.

But seriously this is so far into lying-with-pictures I'm amazed it didn't just pre-emptively disqualify Snøhetta entirely. It's possible, just maybe, this was drawn for the older Piers 30-32 site. But it's still a total fantasy. Their other renders for that site are more plausible.
posted by Nelson at 7:39 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]

One of my studio classmates, in her first job out of school, was put on photoshop duty for the first 6 months. This consisted both of adding scale figures / sunsets / balloons to renderings, and cleaning up finished project photography (removing power lines, correcting bad finish installs, etc).

One day the firm principal walked by, glanced at her screen, and stopped to provide some over the shoulder criticism. She was working on a rendering for a South Korean project proposal. She had inadvertently photoshopped Kim Jong Il into a South Korean shopping mall because our scale figure library was overwhelmingly white (still a problem) and she'd frantically googled "Korean man" to find more people.

The post-apocalyptic renderings had a heyday a while back, I think driven by all of the action movies with intense color grading. It's starting to die off for obvious reasons.

We will never be rid of the kid with balloon - style imagery. Putting friendly stuff in the foreground wins projects and keeps clients happy, and has been around for at least 100 years, even in photography. I know for a fact that some of the images in the article are being intentionally over the top in a "give them what they want" kind of way.
posted by q*ben at 7:47 AM on July 19 [9 favorites]

I was an architecture student right about when Photoshop was becoming a thing everyone used. Someone in my class took a picture of one of our professors pointing at something above him. We called that picture "Disco Steve" and it became the sole scale human in all of our renderings that semester, sometimes in multiple instances like the brain of John Malkovich. It was a glorious thing.

With that said, I'm sad to see hand drawn figures go away and find the frenetic bad photoshop style of many more recent renderings jarring. Although, I do have to say that even with hand drawn figures, kid with balloon, kid with pennant, family flying kite were all frequent visitors. In fact, in reading the example articles I'm struck by the lack of kites. Since we never render in the power lines, it seems like it'd make an ideal fantasy world for flying kites.
posted by meinvt at 8:07 AM on July 19 [6 favorites]

I like to walk around large scale, high profile architectural projects and imagine their renderings: 'that walkway would have a little kid on a bike', 'that empty, dry water feature would have spouts of water and a woman in a sundress dipping her hand into it', etc.
That would actually be a good idea for a photography project, take pictures of the current state of famous architectural landmarks and photoshop in 'scalies'.
posted by signal at 8:21 AM on July 19 [6 favorites]

I've always loved Herb Ryman's concept art for Disney parks.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 9:07 AM on July 19 [4 favorites]

I can't get past the Guggenheim Museum proposal, apparently for either Vilnius Lithuania or Helsinki (both projects abandoned) featuring an icy walkway next to cold harbor waters and no impediment to prevent a gust of wind from propelling a passerby into same.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 9:07 AM on July 19

I shared this with our sketch-up guru for enjoyment!
posted by mightshould at 9:10 AM on July 19

I like the Smithsonian campus concept. That's probably because it's essentially Hogwarts on the Mall.
posted by Naberius at 10:15 AM on July 19 [1 favorite]

Strange they included a rendering from the Hypothetical Development Organization project, as if it was just another rendering.

Rob Walker (one of the instigators of the above project) also wrote about scalies in the New York Times a while ago:
posted by rafaella gabriela sarsaparilla at 11:00 AM on July 19

oh, whoops, missed that last bit of text -- I see they're including it in a section on parodies.
posted by rafaella gabriela sarsaparilla at 11:01 AM on July 19

These abominations were right next to where I work (and are in fact an ad for where our new office will be), and it took a good couple of months before I could walk past without working myself up into a bit of a rage, as they'd managed to expertly combine tryhardism, poor quality design and monied developer oblivious into a perfect storm of crazymaking.
posted by Jon Mitchell at 12:45 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]

Do you know what happens to moose who venture into the city where I'm from?

They get shot.

Mine too!
Also, that's not a moose, it's a reindeer/caribou.

On-topic, it's interesting how things have changed from years past, where the knock on architectural drawings was that artists usually left people out of them completely .
posted by cardboard at 1:35 PM on July 19

There was a condo development that went up a few blocks away from our house last year, and before that the ads included a rendering which featured one virtual condo resident standing alone on his balcony holding a glass of wine. Every other figure was accompanied by at least one other person, and my wife and I fixated on this poor lonely fellow every time we walked past the ad. I hope he found love.
posted by The Card Cheat at 3:59 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]

There's a photo captioned A moose hanging out near an apartment building by CGArchitect which also features an older car that's haphazardly partly on the sidewalk with the door open. It looks like an ad for a movie about the day all the humans disappeared.
posted by yohko at 4:25 PM on July 19 [2 favorites]

And yet there's a fancy new apartment building to be lived in! Now for free as civilization has evidently collapsed.
posted by kokaku at 3:48 AM on July 20

That would actually be a good idea for a photography project, take pictures of the current state of famous architectural landmarks and photoshop in 'scalies'.

I love this idea.
posted by arcticwoman at 9:07 AM on July 20

That would actually be a good idea for a photography project, take pictures of the current state of famous architectural landmarks and photoshop in 'scalies'.

Fact: this is what is actually done in a lot of finished architectural photography and magazine shoots. Prevents the need to wait for the “right” people.
posted by q*ben at 10:51 AM on July 20

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