Tag Archives: Cinema 4D

Recent Work: Summer 2013

Been a while….  The year has been ridiculously busy, thankfully.  Haven’t really had much downtime, and believe it or not, other than a semi-slow July/August (three or four projects each month), I have been working straight through on a variety of projects large and small.

Development work (retail and residential) is coming back in force as the rising tide of the economy continues.  Although there was always some level of private residential work being done through the recession, it seems to really be taking off again. In short, things have been busier than ever.  Still no excuse for nearly a ten month delay in updating the blog.

I’ve been privileged to work on some fantastic projects, including about 18 or so renderings for the U.S. State department, on a couple different jobs.  Sadly, most of it is confidential, as is much of the institutional and development work which has kept me busy over the year.

Best I can offer at this point is some cropped enlarged details from some of the work, uncredited and with some details obscured.  The drawings range from sketchy concept work, to more formal, finished renderings.

Apologies for withholding project information.

These are details (about 2 inches x 6 inches) of some 11×17 sketches I did for a study of a landscaping master plan for a large property.





Some sketches done in a looser style, for a private academy, as part of a masterplan study.  These are loose enough to turn around in just a few days, even a half dozen of them. These types of softer sketchier preliminary images connect with trustees, staff, students, and lay people (and donors!) far more than a screen-shot of a sketch-up model can, and can be pretty cost-effective.





Lifestyle and hospitality work is back in force as well.  I did a small series of very atmospheric, highly considered images for a proposal at an historic property.  Again, I can’t really provide any details, or show most of the work, but here’s a non-architectural detail, one that’s all about the entourage (the people and supporting elements in the image).


Here are some greatly enlarged details from loose studies done as part of a retail project.  They were done on warm buff paper, with pencil and white highlights, digital color added.



Residential work lately has focused on preliminary studies, early concepts… Architects are finding that in a competitive environment, it’s always good to be expressive as early in the process as possible.  Loose flexible sketches can be done the day before (or even day-of) a meeting, and again, clients respond more positively to them than they do to screenshots of an antiseptic sketch-up model…  Sketches like these can help make decisions, move projects forward,  and provide something for the client to become excited about, invested in emotionally. These are cropped details.




Although much of the work has some amount of color, there are times when monochromatic studies can be effective.  The intent here was for atmospheric, painterly, loose-yet-detailed images.  From a series of about eight semi-formals, these are digital, and were done from a roughly built model.




Here’s a small detail from a large aerial I did of a proposed University expansion.  It was 22 inches wide, at about 400 dpi. …fairly large by today’s standards.



March saw about a month’s worth of time given over to executing 12 formal images depicting a modern building proposed for a semi-tropical location.  Much attention was given to the highly developed landscape and exterior lighting plan, and in hewing closely to the existing context and local environment. These details are about an inch or two wide in the originals, which were 12×16, 300dpi.






Thanks for taking a look.  I hope that the wide range of images here, from sketchy to atmospherically formal, will give an indication of the rendering options available at any point in a project’s life.  There’s always a cost-effective solution, and one that almost always works with the schedule.


Filed under Commissioned Work

New Work: March-June 2012

Well, I thought February was busy….

Haven’t really had any time to update, which is the very thing that will end up killing a blog.  Literally haven’t had a day off since February began.  That’s both good and bad, obviously.  Nature of the business is that you take work as it comes.  I’m looking for a little break during the typical summer slow-down. And I do have a week of planned vacation coming up.  …can’t believe the year is almost half over. But I could use a break.

Again, most of the work has been confidential.  Most projects coming out of a recession are of course start-up.  Not doing many marketing renderings (for finished/built work), instead, it’s mostly concept work, or schematic design level work.

I did execute a couple more formal images for Powers/Schram of Fort Lauderdale, of a mid-century modernist waterfront home.  I worked with Rick Powers a couple times when he was here in Boston as an architect at Tsoi Kobus, and it was nice to reconnect and work with him again.

Street View of “Sunrise Key”, Fort Lauderdale; digital paint with pencil, 11×17

View from the Water of of “Sunrise Key”, Fort Lauderdale; digital paint with pencil, 11×17

Before executing the two images above, we studied a few black and white camera tests.  These two are my favorites from among those we discarded.

Camera Test, for Sunrise Key, Water Side

Camera test, Street Side

I was partial to the lower camera station of the camera test from the water-side, but the intricate and rich landscaping plan begged for a higher camera angle, and it was decided to raise the camera to a point where the pool and landscape could be more clearly seen.

Some details of the final version of the Water Side view, at near-full resolution:

And details of the Street View:

As has become a recurring refrain here, most of the work I’ve done the past few months is confidential.  Following, though, are some details from work which I’m allowed to share, though many are necessarily cropped to remove any telling information.

11×17 Pencil Rendering

Detail of same

…a portion from a very quick, chalky/gouachy little sketch, about 11×17

A detail from the same sketch

A detail from a 9×14 pencil sketch, flicked with digital hi-lites and paint, on brown kraft-paper.

…another chunk from the same sketch, a private home, in Newport Rhode Island

A tightly cropped detail from a very quick, very loose digital sketch, for a proposed roof deck bar. This detail only about 2×2 from an 11×19 sketch

A detail from the second sketch in this pair of fairly loose, sketchy digital pieces.

In looking back at these, it strikes me that each image is entirely different than the next.  Rather than all pencil, or all digital, there is (I think) a healthy mix of differing approaches to the issue at hand.  Rather than reflecting what works for me, I think it better illustrates that my work is about answering the client’s need.  What do you need, when do you need it, and what do you have for me to work from?  And most important; who is your audience?  These are the questions which, for me anyway, determine what kind of image we end up with, how long it takes, what the final piece feels like…

I’ll try to be a bit better about timely updates.  With the economy the way it has been, there’s a tendency to keep working, never sure when the shoe might drop.  If the work keeps coming in though, that can make for a long run of heads-down work. All work and no-play, and all that.  We shall see what summer holds.  Since it seems to be when my clients, and their clients, take their vacations, that means it’s generally my vacation too.  Have a good summer yourself.

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A Quick Sketch for a Private Garden

Private Garden for a Federal-era house in Boston

I got a call last month from Michael Weishan, with whom I worked on the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Suite a couple years ago (see here).  He was looking for a quick impromptu sketch, nothing too involved or specific, which would help a client of his understand something they had been studying together extensively in plan, but which was difficult for his clients to imagine spatially.

It seems the existing physical space didn’t really permit a full-scale mock-up of the idea, and barring that there’s only so much hand-waving and word-picture painting one can get away with.  It quickly became clear though that just a simple sketch would be enough to allow his clients to understand the idea and decide if all was headed in the right direction.

Michael provided a concept plan with the structures defined and plantings roughly indicated, and he was ‘brave’ enough to include his rough sketch for my reference. He modestly poo-poohed it, but the reality is, designers and architects can all sketch pretty well on their own.  …of course, I don’t tell them that, or I’d be out of a job.

I modeled it up, roughly and quickly, using his plan as the ‘texture’ for the ground on which I built the stone walls and other structures.

A screenshot of the model, kept simple, with no textures other than the plan as reference.

I rarely produce models for quick sketches.  But there were some elliptical stairs , and a wide-angle which would flirt with distortion, so I wanted to keep the perspective in check. Accuracy was preferable too, since I was also expecting to take this to full formal-pencil.  More on that in a bit.

A quick render…

Model Shot from Camera 02

And then I simply sketched over it in Photoshop.  This was to only be a camera test, one of a few test views for Michael to pick from.

My camera tests are very quick digital sketches done over a digital render of the model, with comments and questions written all over them, so that a client like Michael can decide which view works best.  Then I take the selected view and develop it more fully in pencil (or watercolor, digital paint, whatever…), producing the final rendering. The first round of camera tests (often three or four at a whack) is less about drawing and more about “What do you think of this view angle, or this one?” and “I have some questions and comments I need feedback on.”  Like these examples, from some previous jobs:

Typical Camera Tests

There’s a freshness to camera tests brought about by the speed with which they are done, the small audience (me, the client), and because they are less critical.  You don’t have to get everything right.  Heck, you don’t have to get ANYTHING right.  These are essentially story-board sketches.  They serve a brief thumbs-up/thumbs-down check on the direction we are headed with the image.  And then they get redone entirely, finessed, and made more formal.

Except this one.

The freshness of it hit me, and I realized there was no need to gild the lily.  I didn’t think it needed anything more to tell the story. Sure, pencil would be nice, but what were we trying to do ultimately? Well, to communicate an idea, quickly, with atmosphere and a little inspecific ease.  It was doing that for me, so I sent it off to him and, shooting myself in the foot, fee-wise, I said “This might actually be all you need, let me know.”  We’d assumed I would do it in pencil, but both of us liked the simple test enough that we recognized ‘it’ when we saw it.  No need for Michael to double or triple his expense if this sketch would answer the need, and I had work that was looming which needed starting… And so that was it…  Pencils down, everyone.  I sent it off to Michael at a higher resolution, and we called it a day.

Detail at full resolution. Sure, there's not much 'there' there. But there didn't need to be. And it worked all that much more because of it.

You may know Michael Weishan from his time with the PBS’s “Victory Garden”, from National Public Radio, his books, or from his numerous appearances on the ‘Today Show’ and  ‘Early Show.  Michael is currently working on a new program for PBS called “Garden Earth”, scheduled to run in 2012.  He founded Michael Weishan & Associates in 1986. See more of Michael’s work at michaelweishan.com


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Charlesview Residences, for The Community Builders

A groundbreaking was held the 16th of May at the site of what will be a new 22-building neighborhood called The Charlesview Residences, comprising 240 mixed-income rental units, 100 home ownership units (affordable and market rate), 14,000 square feet of retail ground floor, community spaces, and parks.

I was commissioned by Jeff Beam, of The Community Builders, to do a small suite of four sketchy renderings in order to provide the press and attendees with an atmospheric impression of the overall project as proposed.

Charlesview at Brighton Mills, Allston-Brighton

An Aerial View of the Project, middle ground. Digital, 11x17 and 300dpi

Aerial Detail of Charlesview

A detail from the Aerial, about twice full-size

Another Detail of the Aerial Sketch, zoomed in to about three times full size

The project had been in development by the non-profit development corporation The Community Builders for the past eight years or so, with CBT/Childs Bertman Tseckares Inc., of Boston, as the architect.

A view South Down Antwerp Street

The View South Down Antwerp Street; digital 11x17, 300dpi

Detail, at about Full Size, showing a portion of the Josephine Fiorentino Community Center, on the Eastern Side of Antwerp Street

Detail from Center, with a small hint of the Home Owenership Housing and the Park, Beyond

Sidewalk, West side of Antwerp Street

This substantial development will include the relocation of residents from the original Charlesview residential complex, built over 40 years ago on a five acre parcel just a few blocks away up Western Avenue.  Harvard University is providing the parcel for this project, almost twice the land area of the existing complex, in exchange for the smaller parcel where the original complex is currently located.  Harvard will also be providing a substantial  payment to cover the relocation costs of the residents, who are represented by the neighborhood organization Charlesview Inc.

Park at Antwerp Street, Charlesview at Brighton Mills, Residences

A half-acre Park will be created on Antwerp Street, between the taller Multi-Family Residences along Western Avenue and the smaller-scaled Ownership Housing to the South

A Detail of the Park Sketch, with a portion of a Community Center, beyond

Along the Park, a mix of Black-eyed Susans, flowering trees, and a large specimen Copper Beech

The project is expected to create more than 600 union construction jobs, and is partially financed by the AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust, along with financing by MassHousing, private debt, and tax credits.

View across Telford Street, at the intersection of Western Avenue, looking west.

Enlarged Detail of same

To visit the Project Page on The Community Builder’s Website, click here: >> The Charlesview Residences


© Jeff Stikeman and jeff stikeman architectural art, 2009-2010. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Jeff Stikeman and jeff stikeman architectural art with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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Play Area for Boston’s Esplanade

The Boston Globe is reporting today about a project I worked on a month or so ago, for Halvorson Design of Boston.

copyright jeff stikeman 2010

Proposed Play Area for the Esplanade, Boston; designed by Halvorson Design Partnership, Landscape Architects

Friends of the Esplanade Playspace, a Beacon Hill parents’ group, is seeking to raise $1.5 million to build a 10,000 square foot playground designed for children from 5 to 12 years of age. The proposed location  is west of the Arthur Fiedler Footbridge, near the Esplanade Cafe.

copyright Jeff Stikeman 2010

Climbing and play structures are designed for older children, ages 5 to 12, and are generally more physically challenging than traditional playground equipment which is often geared toward younger children and toddlers.

copyright 2010

An enlarged detail (1x2 inches in the original)

Mayor Thomas Menino and the State Department of Conservation and Recreation both have registered their support for the project.  The project still needs approval. though, from the Massachusetts Historical Commission.

copyright 2010

An enlarged partial detail (one inch by three inches tall) of proposed climbing structures placed in among existing mature trees on the site.

The Friends of the Esplanade Playspace  are privately funding the project, and plan to establish an endowment fund for its maintenance and perpetual care.

copyright jeff stikeman 2010

Throughout the play space, climbing rocks of various sizes, with hand and footholds, will test the abilities of older children

copyright jeff stikeman 2010

There will be climbing rocks of various sizes (complete with foot and hand-holds), positioned throughout the play space, on a fall-friendly play surface.

More information may be found here: Friends of the Esplanade Playspace

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