Graphic communication has been around since prehistoric man told his stories in pictures carved on pieces of bone or painted on the walls of caves. Such images are the earliest attempts to communicate a message visually.
By the time of the pharaohs, the ‘decorative arts’ were wellestablished, predating the Christian era by thousands of years. The images used in the tombs of Egyptian kings took on deep symbolic meaning.
A coffin mask of theEgyptian pharaoh
Tutankhamun, the “boy king” who died in 1343B.C.
Visual expression progressed from pictures of events to depictions of ideas, to recorded history and recorded thought. In many instances, past cultures are available to us only through the work of some ancient graphic designer. Through history, architects have manipulated visual imagery to assist the design process. Such imagery has assumed the form of construction documents, design drawings, analysis and details, various forms of sketches, and images conceived in the mind’s eye. The philosopher Richard Wollheim writes that representational seeing involves ‘seeing as’ (1971).
It requires foresight and imagination to comprehend a two-dimensional visual image as a three-dimensional inhabitable structure. Through visual artifacts, architects can transform, manipulate, and develop architectural concepts in anticipation of future construction. It may, in fact, be through this alteration that architectural ideas find form. The architectural theoretician Marco Frascari suggests that drawing can guide architects to an understanding of architecture as both constructed and construed, because drawings intrinsically convey theory: ‘Real architectural drawings are not illustrations, but pure expression of architectural thinking.’
DEFINITION OF SKETCHES
The word ‘drawing’ presents a general term, whereas ‘sketching’ focuses on a specific technique. Both can take the form of an action or object, verb or noun, as each can imply movement. The Oxford English Dictionary defines a sketch as a brief description or outline ‘to give the essential facts or points of, without going into details.’ Sketches document the primary features of something or are considered ‘as preliminary or preparatory to further development’ (1985). Historically, the act of sketching or drawing on paper involves line. At its most basic level, the production of line constitutes making marks with a pointed tool, initiated by movement and force. In reverse, eyes follow a line and with that action the ‘line’s potential to suggest motion is basic’ (Lauer, 1979, p. 151). A line, or mark, made with the bodily action of the hands, demonstrates its ability to cause reflective action, as it attracts the human eye to follow it. The control of a hand on the drawing tool yields not a consistent line, but one that is varied, thick or thin. The quality of the mark is important, since individual lines produce association in the minds of architects. Architects contain within themselves the experiences and faculties necessary to interact with this visual stimulus, because the act of sketching is in some ways dependent upon memory. Thoughts, images, and experiences – all part of the architect’s whole being – determine what the sketch will be. Body memory, interpretation, and even specific items that are retained in memory over other experiences, influence what the architect sketches. The sketch, for an architect, may allow for the discovery of a concept at the beginning of a project; however, they can be employed in all stages of the design process, even as an observational recording long after the building is constructed. Artists’ and architects’ sketches maintain some similarities but are intentionally very different. Displaying the physical qualities that convey observational likeness, artists use sketches as artistic expression, where they act as preliminary to two-dimensional finished drawings or paintings or represent a completed entity. Sculptors...