Alternative Ways to Represent People in your Renders/ Drawings

Architectural students or industry professionals are often tasked with ‘selling’ their vision, their ideas. An important part of that is to transport the client into the visual material we produce, to surround them with an intentional atmosphere often occupied by people.

The typical way of representing these figures is as pngs of photographed people, I definitely fall into this category myself. Architecture is a creative discipline so why are we allowing ourselves to fall prey to standard methods of representation? To answer this I looked into the alternative ways we can add life into our drawings/ renders in the not-so-typical way.

  1. Vector People

Vector people are a good alternative to the standard photographed person png. You can create them yourself on Adobe Illustrator, and make them as abstract as you want. They allow for a high level of customisation i.e. you can alter the style/ colour of their clothes. They are also readily available on the internet however, I would recommend purchasing a pack for the continuity of style. I have created some free, high-quality and diverse vector people to download as pngs, click here to use them.

2. Rough Sketched Figures

Dezeen (Tatiana Bilbao work at Louisiana Museum in Denmark)

Sketched figures have a level of freedom that you don’t get from photographs, or vectors. Architecture has a rich history of sketching ideas and concepts and the incorporation of sketched figures into an otherwise modern drawing/ collage is both peaceful and harmonious.

3. Detailed Marker Figures

People Doing Outdoor Activities – Free Pik

If you’re a fan of more detailed people in your drawings/ renderings then maybe try doing a basic marker person. Ideal marker pens for this would be Promarkers or Brushmarkers from Windsor and Newton to get a more precise colour.

4. Painted Figures

AquaNell Peinture (left) and Lizzie Stewart – Walker’s Giclee Print (right)

Hand painting detailed or even more gestural figures can be an excellent alternative. More labour intensive than other options it has the highest level of flexibility in terms of what activities you want people to be doing. It doesn’t necessarily depend on your painting capabilities… if you’re more gestural then it will look just as good. Photographing them, then taking them into Adobe Photoshop will allow you to alter them further and neaten them up. I’d recommend fine brushes, watercolour paints or watercolour pencils will do nicely.

Using an alternative way of representing people in your architectural drawings/ renderings could improve your overall style. At the very least its fun to try different styles and mediums.

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