My name is Andy Hickes, the principle in Rendering.net. I graduated in Architecture from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh and after doing architectural illustration with an airbrush for 11 years switched to computer 10 years ago.
Examples of my airbrush illustation
CGA: How did you get started in the field of visualization?
One of my first design jobs was designing a chain of shoe stores and I used super graphics all over the walls. The client could not understand so I learned to construct perspectives and really enjoyed it. In a while I could construct most anything. At about the same time I bought an airbrush and taught myself how to use it doing simple B/W renderings. Soon I was using colored inks in my airbrush. Later I copied a large 36” by 36” rendering of a prominent building I had seen and redid it in my technique. I was in Washington DC at the time and I took that rendering and went door to door until I got a rendering to do. More work followed and I moved to New York shortly afterwards. This all took place in about 3-4 years in the mid seventies.
CGA: What influenced your decision to move towards digital techniques?
That was 10 years ago. I saw it was the future and I was afraid of being left behind. An illustrator friend told me to go out and buy a Mac and Photoshop and I did.
Hand to Mouse Article written by Andy Hickes
CGA: How difficult was the transition from airbrush to computer?
Photoshop is very much like airbrush in that you must mask everything to work on it. I just bought what a friend told me to buy (Power Mac and PhotoShop) and in a month or two I was completely digital. That part was easy. The large files (my work is often 30” by 40”) were sometimes difficult to work with, but my main problem was that many clients had a prejudice against computer renderings.
CGA: Why do you think that was?
They were afraid they would look too “plastic”. Remember this was 1993. I had to make some of them look hand done! I’d scan sketches and color on the computer.
CGA: Do you still use sketches?
Often projects require a sketch stage to get the view approval from the client. Now I do most of my sketching on the computer. It’s quicker. I take a rough 3D model view into PhotoShop and make it presentable.
Mowtown Cafe prelim sketch
Rough 3D view (FormZ)
Rough 3D + Photoshop for prelim view approval
CGA: Having been in the industry for so long with a background in more traditional media, do you think that clients are more open to computer renderings now? Do you think the trend will eventually make traditional airbrush and water coloring obsolete?
Computer renderings have the upper hand now. I think it is just a matter of time before there will be no one who can do the traditional techniques. It will be a loss.
CGA: Did you feel limited working with the early versions of PhotoShop?
At the time, no. These are part of a group of ten drawings I did for a project in Hong Kong with Photoshop 3 or 4 without layers! I can’t imagine how I did these without layers.
AutoCAD line drawings rendered with PhotoShop 4 (before layers)
CGA: How much do you rely on photographic resources?
CGA: Which programs do you use when you work with 3D?
CGA: Is there anything you miss from your "airbrush days"?
I only miss the final product. The heavy application of transparent ink gives a visual depth and the cutting done in masking adds another texture. I miss the sensual look and feel of it and the fragility that comes from there being only one original.
CGA: As I have asked others, what do you not like to see in renderings?
What has not been mentioned is allowing distortion that makes the corners of than image look as if they are sliding off.
Pasting on a person is a weak attempt to hide it. I'm just waiting for him to raise his arm and shriek as he starts sliding off too.
CGA: What Photoshop tips can you provide our readers? With your background and experience with the program you must have a few tricks up your sleeve.
No. I use the program in a pretty straightforward way
CGA: Where do you think computer imaging is heading in architecture?
In the future I think designers will design in 3D. They will sketch loosely and quicly and simultaneously a 3D image will be visible. When the design is finished, so will the rendering. No one has ever likes having their ideas drawn up by someone else.
CGA: Overall how many renderings do you think you have done?
CGA: In the thousands of images that you have done over the years there must be a project that stood out. Is there one that you are particularly proud.
The trees were very important in this view of a new building entrance. I spent a lot of time on them and I’m proud of the look. 424 PARK ENTRANCE
CGA: With a body of work that spans 22 years, how do you keep track of it all?
I use “find file” a lot. A majority of those that were done before the computer are not worth remembering. I have lot of the airbrush originals in my basement.
CGA: Is there a project or something in your career that you have yet to achieve?
When I started rendering most renderings were B/W inkline perspectives that were then colored in. I wanted to reach the point where the lines were not necessary and the colors and shapes could hold their own. I thought it would be more realistic. I no longer have lines in my renderings but they still appear “illustrative”. The most basic 3-D program can give more realistic shades and shadows than I can. I would still like to get deeper shades and shadows.
CGA: Have you won any awards for your work over the years? Which one meant the most?
This Spring I won Photoshop Guru in Illustration 2003 at PhotoshopWorld in Los Angeles. That was nice. About 5 years ago I got notice that I had won second place in what are now called the Caddies, awards for Cad renderings given by Cadalyst Magazine. I was very curious to see what made first place but had to wait for the magazine to come out. When it did I saw I had won 1st and 2nd place! That was an unexpected surprise.
Prizes are really about acknowledgment of your hard work by those who CAN appreciate it. Your gallery functions in the same way. When someone submits work, they know it will be seen by others who can tell, just by looking, how good it is.
CGA: Do you use a tablet or a mouse to do the majority of your work? Are there any digital airbrushing tips you can tell our readers about?
I have had periods when I have used both. Now I use small 4”x5” tablet because I use two monitors (one for Photoshop’s palettes) and I can get across the width of both more quickly with a tablet.
I don’t use the airbrush that much. Gradation layer masks give a smoother look. (Photoshop’s similarity to my previous airbrush work was mainly in that in both you mask and work on one small area at a time-not the airbrush tool.)
CGA: You mentioned that you teach. Where is that and what program is it for?
I teach Rendering with Photoshop at the Interior Design Department at Fashion Institute of Technology, New York State University.
CGA: Which people or artists in the industry do you admire the most or think have contributed the most to the field of architectural visualization?
With your site I think you have to include yourself as one of them. I’ve never seen so much good work from all over the world in one place.
CGA: Tell us some of your favorite links on the web
Google-especially the image search.
You must be logged in to post a comment. Login here.