Sounds a little weird, right? But technology always catches up. In this case we have a major exterior remodeling project in Gloucester, Massachusetts. There was an accelerated project schedule and a client with a somewhat limited budget in terms of design fees and, more importantly, printing costs. When drawings are produced using AutoCAD and Revit, the reimbursable (printing) costs can often exceed the design fees for the work itself. So here what was attempted was to develop the design and the construction drawings as a single set of documents for the entire project. Design exploration and presentation, owner review, municipal review and approval, bidding and (pending) construction were all accomplished with a single set of hand drawings.
There are actually times, especially with smaller, more historically driven residential projects, where it can less expensive both for you and your client to develop your drawings by hand. If file sharing is not a major issue (i.e.; there is minimal consultant involvement) it can also be a speedier, more economical and much more elegant way to present your design concept without the creepy verisimilitude that is part and parcel of so many digital renderings and presentation drawings.
I know, I know, you're thinking that can't possibly be true. Even I, by virtue of being highly literate in a digital sense, spent time while I was doing these drawings thinking "mirror" or "copy" or "array" or "hatch". But the payback here is in giving your client something that is truly "hand crafted", like the project itself, in the most literal sense of the word. And the inherent speed of AutoCAD or Revit is lost when measured against the time required to rendered the drawings in their early (or later) stages.
But color working drawings? Well, why not? The obstacle for many offices (and students, small practitioners and clients) has always been the costs involved in drawing reproduction by means of scanning and printing. And that is where digital scanning and printing technology has finally caught up with, and made very affordable, the reproduction of full size, large format color drawings. Go to Staples. Again, go...to...Staples. You can now scan a color drawing at any size for a mere two dollars. And print any color drawing at another two dollars per square foot. And once you have a high quality color scan you can print them as Xerox images for mere peanuts. That's what I did with the drawings. Everybody got a color set and then screened, grey-tone, black and white sets were printed for the more pedestrian uses needed to both bid and build the project. As each drawing is 24" wide by 18" high, it cost six dollars to print each drawing, or thirty six dollars per set, which is under the normal printing costs for basic CAD plotting at most of the firms I have worked.
All of the elevation drawings were drawn at 3/8" equals 1'-0". The use of larger scales in drawing is very useful for projects which are historically or traditionally motivated, projects which by their very nature are profile and proportion driven and where appropriate use of line weight are so critical to the overall success of the design vocabulary and drawing aesthetic. The detail drawings were developed at 3/4" equals 1'-0". All of the images here were drawn on heavy white tracing paper in pencil and Micron ink pens and rendered on both sides of the paper with Prismacolor pencils, Sharpie pens and ChartPak AD markers. As I have mentioned many times here, you have to use both sides o the tracing paper to get the necessary effects of color layering, filtering and screening, especially when you are going to scan the drawings. Each drawing is taped to a corresponding backup layer of bond paper prior to scanning, both as a means of protecting the drawing as well as highlighting and controlling the color effects you have created.
It is the detail drawings, and the elevations, where I think the advantages of hand drawing become most apparent. Let me be unequivocal here. AutoCAD and Revit drawings look like shit about 95 percent of the time. There are a lot of reasons for this, many of which I have bitched about before on this blog. First and foremost is the fact that very little emphasis is placed on drawing by hand in the climate of today's architectural education. However, when good digital drawings, especially working drawings, happen it's because the person who is doing the drawings has acquired along the way the ability to do beautiful drawings by hand and can bring those thought processes and graphic skills to digital drafting exercises at all times.