Visual Communication for Designers
If I ask you what this is, the majority of you will answer, ‘It’s a Car.’ Some might call it an orange car, a few may say it’s a car on the road, some might even tell me it’s a Lamborghini. However, there is something very basic wrong with that answer. Think harder, think diagonally. The answer is simple, really. It’s not a car, it is a ‘Picture of a Car.’ Clarity and diagonal thinking are the two main prerequisites for designers. Being able to communicate exactly what you mean, and mean exactly what you say is an art. Visual communication is a wide umbrella that covers not only drawing, signs, fonts, graphics, illustration, images, photographs, renders, but also animation, colors, even human gestures and expressions! And as designers make their living from all of the above, it is imperative for us to discuss it.
1. HUMAN EXPRESSIONS:
The first and foremost form of communication common for all humans is expressions. Even when we can’t speak and don’t know how to utter a single syllable, we are capable of emoting. Thus, this is a strong form of language which is homogeneous for all of mankind! Moral? Use it! In a design meeting where you have to convince clients, builders, labours of your project, use your expressions and emotions to convey your thought and it will become easier for them to believe in it and therefore you as a designer will be able to sell more ideas, Faster!
Gestures are a highly under rated form of communication. Often, in interviews, social meetings and even dates, we are judged on our body language and gestures. They signify a huge part of our confidence and style and we should learn to flaunt it more often. Explaining with your hands, talking confidently and learning how to carry yourself are key to selling your designs as they make you more relatable and approachable.
Obviously, if you are a designer, architect, interior designer, fashion designer, graphic or furniture designer, you are expected to have some basic drawing and sketching skills. The combination of a good idea and good sketching skills to explain your idea, is unparalleled. Even famous architects such as Zaha Hadid, Norman Foster and Le Corbusier, were able to convey their concepts to clients and their own team using just napkin sketches. To improve your drawing, you can watch online videos, practice strokes or just go to a quiet scenic place with your sketchbook and pencil and ease into it. Some people are blessed with natural drawing talent, but others need to work on it to become gifted.
Why did I put sketches and drawings in different categories? Well, talk to a designer and you will instantly know that there is a huge difference. While sketches are rough, proportionate and a rather romanticised version of the scene, architectural or interior design drawings are technical documents full of information. When sketches can be used to convey the general idea of a built structure, you actually need proper drafted drawings to actually build the project. In earlier times, manual drafting with a T-Scale, set squares and pencils was the norm, nowadays for drawings, architects and interior designers usually use softwares such as Autocad, Revit, Archicad, Coral Draw etc.
A step further from drawing, nowadays it is possibly to digitally render your plans, facades, 3d models and basically all your drawings. Rather than presenting simple black and white information to clients, who can make no sense out of the technical information being presented, designers can render their projects on digital softwares to give them a more lifelike almost photographic feel. 2D drawings usually fail to explain the complexity of depth, angles, shadows and variations of time and season, which are all effects you can convey using rendering softwares such as Photoshop, Coral Draw, InDesign, Illustrator etc.
6. 3D MODELS:
Sometimes, architects forget that clients aren’t as gifted as them when it comes to visualising a space. We can talk to them for hours and hours, and they still wouldn’t grasp what we are picturising. Thanks to 3D modelling, these days are behind us! Using softwares such as Sketchup, 3DsMax, Photoshop, Artlantis, Revit, designers are now able to model their design in 3 dimensions and take their client on a walk in their soon to be new space. Magic? No, just technology! 3D modelling is a crucial tool these days for detailing, specific designing and showing your client what you have ideated.
7. PHYSICAL MODELS:
Difference between a 3D model and a physical model? Well, the nuances of topography, massing, scaling and the feel of materials and texture can be better experienced by touching and seeing a live model. So many physical model making tech is available these days to make life easier. Gone are the days that architects used to sit night after night cutting each and every piece by hand. These days, laser cutting machines, 3D printing machines, wood sawing, cutting, shaping and a wide range of machinery is available to give you a high quality model making experience. Physical models are also a great way to sway the client in your favour.
Nothing speaks to a layman more than live images or previously done successful work. Use photographs as examples to explain to your client what you are trying to do. Pictures and reference images are also a great way to gauge the client’s taste and reaction to what you are proposing. It’s become a general trend to present an initial conceptual presentation of photographs from previously done projects, from the internet or other work according to the client’s brief to showcase one’s style and primary idea.
So there you have it! The eight ways you can communicate as a designer. Of course, everyone knows the ninth way of doing it! The same as I do every week! With articles, blogs and creative content! Reading and writing is also a form of visual connection and reading something has a high impact on our minds. So, keep coming back, for words are all I have!
Author: Jamila Sidhpurwala
Jamila is one part artist, two parts foodie, and all parts traveler. She is a patron of good art and design and loves to immerse herself in books and music. Simplicity and minimalism is her motto as an architect. A writing enthusiast, she surrounds herself with all things creative. She actively shuns all “ists” and “isms” and firmly believes in a “no – label” world! She isn’t afraid to take risks, speak her mind, push forward and challenge preconceptions. She is currently pursuing Masters in Architecture at the University of Liechtenstein.