A Milestone In Digital Rendering

03 Mar 2015

The Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin would have prized Photoshop highly, had it been available under his reign.

He was notorious for having party members removed from official photographs when they had fallen into disfavour. I’m certain he would have been fascinated by the modern possibilities afforded by digital manipulation of images. 

Throughout the contemporary world of work and information it is assumed that any images can be adapted or altered to suit the whims of designers and creatives. Architecture is no exception. The use of digital image manipulation with Adobe’s Photoshop is absolutely ubiquitous. In fact the name is now used widely as a verb, meaning to digitally alter a picture. For example, pundits will debate if a celebrity’s image has been “photoshopped” to appeal more appealing or shocking, depending on the context.


Happy Birthday Photoshop

Photoshop is having a birthday presently, according to the Arch Daily Website. Twenty-five years of photo-manipulation. It is one of the elements of the modern world that makes possible the creative environment and output. No professional in graphic design would consider the standards of the seventies or before acceptable today. We now expect an image to represent the idea without flaws or defects. 

In the visual medium still pictures of proposals and concepts are composited in Photoshop from sources as appropriate they give credibility to concepts before they are commissioned. It has become so commonplace to expect images of a building’s form before the nod is given to begin.


What Can Erase Can Also Create

What is gained and what is lost in the power of digital rendering? It might be argued that much is lost. The need for imagination on the part of the viewer, the style of the medium that has its own quirks and particular distortions, I would argue that this is sentimental indulgence.

It is entirely possible to place whatever style on the image that is desired. As to the issue of imagination, I believe it is not a block to it but a lever that empowers the viewer to see even further than they would have otherwise. There is also the diminished risk of miscommunication. The best architectural drawings have always provided accurate and inspiring imagery in support of clear and well reasoned decision-making.

With the tools of rendering, such as digital modeling, used in combination with Photoshop, the modern designer is able to see further and share the vision in clear and realistic articulations of even the most abstract structural forms. It could be argued that many of the convolutions modern structures that mix space with apparently weightless forms would not have been built without the insightful renderings of the digital designers.


Sowing Confusion And Creativity Across The Modern World

Where as Uncle Joe was determined to take people out of the picture, we now think nothing of adding and subtracting to the visual medium. Architects and building designers have been keen advocates of Photoshop but only as a part of a stable of tools that enable 2D and 3D rendering.

Much as the Soviets would subtract members we now remove buildings and replace them with new creations. We live in a time when digital rendering can make us question the reality of many things. Fortunately, in the hands of a skilled designer it can be a very positive tool; it can be made to create beautiful things that push the bounds of imagination.

Staff Contribution | Thought Leadership

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