There is another important advantage which often comes from having skill in making sketches or renderings of small buildings, for it is true that such drawings are frequently the principal means by which a draftsman is able to obtain his first commissions as an architect. Many a draftsman has learned to his sorrow that it is much easier to open an office calling himself an architect and with his name on the door, than it is to induce clients to enter. When we consider that even the cheapest of buildings usually costs a number of thousands of dollars, we can hardly blame the public for failing to patronize young and comparatively inexperienced men when older and better known architects with many buildings to their credit are willing to accept the work for the same fee. But the young architect must get his start in some way and unless he is so fortunate as to have wealthy and influential friends to shower him with their favors he is often wise to remain associated, perhaps as draftsman or designer, with some fairly well-known firm, and to gradually build up a clientele of his own. This may be done in a number of ways, one of which especially concerns us. Some of the larger firms do not care to bother with small houses and the like and so frequently turn any clients that desire this sort of work over to some draftsman or designer. If such a draftsman is able to impress the client favorably he is quite likely to get the work, for even though his experience as an architect may be limited his connection with the well-known firm will give him a certain standing. There is perhaps no surer way of creating such a favorable impression than by submitting attractive rendered drawings showing just how the proposed building will look when completed. Somehow people seem to feel that if sketches are nicely done the job itself will be executed as well, and many times the man submitting a pleasingly rendered drawing done in perspective will be given work, when blueprint plans and elevations from other architects, showing a scheme of equal merit, will be ignored.
Rendering by Chester B. Price, Portion of a Proposed Housing Development Near Stamford. Conn.
McKim, Mead & White, Architects.
Perhaps you are one of those draftsmen with a desire to learn to make renderings of a quality suitable for the average job but with the feeling that it will never be possible for you to do so. If this is the case you should be offered encouragement, especially in regard to pencil rendering. It is not easy, of course, to become an artist in the true sense of the word, and a half dozen lessons or a bit of study will not make one an expert, but on the other hand it is not difficult to master the few principles of composition and tricks of rendering which are needed to enable one to do a creditable sketch for the ordinary building. The writer has seen many students of only fair ability turn out excellent drawings of simple buildings after a comparatively brief period of training, though they often lacked at first the confidence which is necessary for success in this work.
Pencil rendering of architectural subjects really is, after all, comparatively simple. One does not encounter the same difficulties as when working in color for there are only the values of light and dark to consider; neither is it difficult to make changes as in work with the pen. Originality is not looked for as it is in some forms of art work, nor is it necessary to strive for a decorative effect. As the small drawing does not often need figures or animals it is not absolutely necessary to be able to draw them; even if figures are to be shown they are usually so small in scale as to need little detail.
The most convincing sort of pencil technique for the usual architectural subjects is the conventional type such as is employed in most of the offices, published examples of which appear from time to time in all of our architectural magazines. The student should collect such reproductions as seem excellent and study them with care. Better yet, if opportunity offers to see originals of -this work in the offices or the architectural exhibitions, analyze them thoroughly. Notice the way in which the various details such as the doors and windows are indicated. Study the methods of suggesting different materials - shingles, clapboards, brickwork, stone, stucco, etc. Look at the way the foliage is shown. Copy either the whole or portions of some of these, trying at the same time to memorize the methods of expression. It is valuable also to compare the drawings with photographs of similar subjects or even with buildings themselves, and sketch directly from the buildings, too, trying small drawings of doors and windows or other similar portions first. Photographs of small houses will offer many suggestions for surroundings which can be copied to advantage. As a help to the student we have introduced in the following chapters a number of drawings showing certain methods of representing details of various sorts, but it should be remembered that it is always well to study the work of a great many different people in order to adapt those ideas which appeal most strongly to you.
After considerable practice has been given to the drawing of details, a real rendering of some small house may be undertaken. It is perhaps well to remind the student that a rendering is a more carefully finished production than a sketch; that whereas a sketch is usually made rather hastily, a rendering is more in the nature of a study - this in spite of the fact that many such drawings appear at first glance to be hastily done. In order to gain an accurate result the subject to be rendered is first laid out instru-mentally directly from the plans and elevations. This work of course demands some knowledge of the science of instrumental perspective. The few facts necessary for drawing the usual type of building can be acquired easily, however, even though one does not go deeply into the theory of the subject, and many men learn simply a few "rule of thumb" methods which really answer all general requirements. It is not within the scope of this volume to give instruction in instrumental perspective but there are a few points which it seems essential to cover as they relate to both instrumental and free-hand work, and concern especially the composition of the entire sheet.