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Street Revitalization with Quick Sketches

It is quite enjoyable to take an existing building or an entire streetscape and show its future potential through hand drawn sketches a some imagination. Just for fun, go out and photograph an old building or retail storefront, make a print of the digital photo and draw over it onto tracing paper - adding new facade detail and activities.

I recently visited a historic neighborhood in the heart of Denver and took a series of photographs of the existing blocks. I then selected a few interesting views, traced over them and created several hand drawings that show “before and after” examples of a restoration, an addition above a storefront, and an entirely new gateway element. My three-stepped process is explained below:

Sketch 1: Storefront Addition

Storefront Addition Storefront Addition

This handsome line of shall historic storefronts was a good subject to explore a facade upgrade and second floor addition. I printed the digital photograph on 8 1/2x11” paper and traced over the image adding new architectural treatment and street trees. I blocked out the drawing in red pencil (not shown) and then created the ink line drawing with a Pilot Fineliner pen.

Storefront Addition

After scanning the black and white pen drawing (a good step to take if you want a backup copy in case your coloring turns out poorly), I added about ten different colored markers to the original artwork. The color was just enough to give the drawing a sense of materials and depth. The use of a dark gray marker really helped highlight the shadows and 3-dimensional forms.

Sketch 2: Neighborhood Gateway Signage

Neighborhood Gateway Signage Neighborhood Gateway Signage

I stood in the center of the one-way street (always watching for oncoming cars) and photographed this scene with the intent of developing a sketch for a possible gateway element to the neighborhood. I followed the same process as I had previously done with Storefront Addition sketch.

Neighborhood Gateway Signage

Compare the digital photo with the sketch. Notice how I waited for a car to pass in front of me to capture the vehicle’s shape. I also waited for a person to walk by to establish the right scale for people in the drawing.

Sketch 3: Historic Building Restoration

Historic Building Restoration Historic Building Restoration

This last sketch involved taking a digital photograph of a fully restored neighborhood building and a similar photograph of a historic structure that had not yet been restored. Again, I used the exact same method of tracing and illustrating the building.

Historic Building Restoration

I incorporated enlarged windows to the upper level and an active ground level patio space in front of the building as an outdoor cafe with awnings, tables and chairs, lots of people and new street trees.

Historic Building Restoration

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