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Using Adobe Illustrator in architecture and building design

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› Using Adobe Illustrator in architecture and building design
  • Published on March 27, 2014

Adobe Illustrator allows architects, engineers and construction professionals to create high quality digital representations of their work that can be integrated with other computer aided design (CAD) drawings and Photoshop artwork. These can be helpful to showcase the vision for a project as part of a proposal or as part of the construction process. Illustrator's tools translate visions and ideas into designs, which is why many of the nation's top architects, engineers, and construction firms use this digital design tool when creating their projects.

Award-winning architect implements digital design
​Bloomberg Businessweek recently highlighted the works of Liz Diller, an architect and partner at the Diller Scofidio + Renfro architecture practice (DS + R). Diller has won several awards for her works and has been responsible for building some of the nation's most unique structures, such as Boston's Institute of Contemporary Art. According to the story, Diller places a heavy emphasis on blending architecture with technology and art, especially through digital means.

Structures created by DS + R are especially known for their innovative features. Diller explained to Businessweek that while she designs buildings that implement modern and risky elements, sometimes they don't play out just right.

"I'm typically one for adaptive reuse," Diller said. "Sometimes it doesn't work out."

While Diller's designs don't always pan out, using an application like Adobe Illustrator is the best way to view whether a structure will work in the real world, and easily make changes and adaptations to make sure the architect, client, and contractor have the same vision for a project. By creating a digital rendering of the building, artists can accurately measure dimensions, explore the use of various materials, and determine the architectural and aesthetic integrity of a design.

Illustrator tools translate well for architects
Adobe Illustrator features a number of tools that are perfect for digital designers, ranging from grids that provide points of reference for artists to altering colors featured in the design. GoMedia Zine suggested that one of the best ways for architects to take advantage of the software is by uploading pre-existing photographs, then manipulating the surroundings. Illustrator allows designers to turn pictures into sketches, which provides them the ability to examine designs and make structural modifications.

The benefits of using Adobe Illustrator in an architectural design start early on in the process. Being able to create an effective marketing proposal in response to an RFP or RFQ requires that designs be visualized. Using tools to import existing artwork and images, convert them to line art, and enhance them with the new designs allows for the creation of visually compelling presentations. After a project gets under development, architects and engineers can make digital alterations to the structure, interior, and landscape.

Investing in training courses is the best way for architects, engineers, and construction professionals to improve their digital designing skills. Adobe Illustrator Classes, such as those offered by the American Graphics Institute, efficiently manipulate designs and use tools to create designs that win projects and accurately convey a design vision.

About the author

 is a user experience designer, Photoshop expert, educator and author based in Boston. She is the author of more than 20 books on design tools and processes, including Adobe Creative Cloud for Dummies, Adobe Creative Cloud Digital Classroom, and Photoshop Digital Classroom. She has been awarded a Microsoft MVP three times for her work with user experience design in creating apps for touch, desktop, and mobile devices.

Jennifer delivers UX training and UX consulting for large Fortune 100 companies, small start-ups, and independent software vendors. She has been hired by Adobe and Microsoft to deliver training workshops to their staff, and has traveled to Asia, Europe, India, the Middle East, and across the U.S. to deliver courses and assist on UX design projects. She has extensive knowledge of modern Windows UX Design, having worked closely with the Windows team to create educational material and deliver UX workshops to key partners globally on behalf of Microsoft. Jennifer works with a wide range of prototyping tools including Fireworks, Photoshop, Illustrator, Blend for Visual Studio, and Balsamiq.