Back in 2007, I wrote a post about James Akers, an artist who, though comfortable with digital rendering and 3-D illustration, continues to do architectural rendering in watercolor.
In the post I made general points about both the way many people — even artists themselves — tend to unfairly compartmentalize and judge genres of art not considered “fine art”, and about how architectural rendering is also suffering from the misconception that 3D graphics have superseded traditional rendering because they are somehow superior.
Since then, Akers has revised his website, and of course added to his portfolio, as well as establishing a blog on which he tackles these and other related subjects. In addition, he touches on a range of other topics, including watercolor tutorials.
Akers’ work is a prime example of how traditional drawing techniques, and the middle ground of digital media used in traditional ways (i.e. drawing and painting in graphics software with a tablet and stylus) have a hand-made character, and visual warmth, that are difficult to achieve with 3-D modeling.
Akers bridges the gap between the utilitarian function of displaying an idea for a proposed building as it is intended to appear, and watercolor rendering as a visually appealing painting in itself. (I think architects presenting their ideas to clients may forget or discount the unconscious appeal the latter might have on their clients, as opposed to a dryly “photographic” 3-D rendering.)
I’ll also point out that architectural rendering is, in may ways, equivalent to film and gaming concept art — visualizations of proposed ideas. (You see these fields merge more clearly in the work of artists who do conceptual renderings of proposed theme park features.)
Akers’ website has galleries of work in several areas; the ones I find most compelling are for Architectural Renderings in Watercolor, and Architectural Illustration and Design Process, which includes some step-through process examples.