Visualisations are a key part of communicating design, in most cases images are the best way to describe a proposal to a client, get the all-important sign off or even win a competition.
The challenge is to sell the idea or convincingly portray a lifestyle the client finds appealing. While taking on this challenge recently, it occurred to me that in the years I have been reading graphic novels, I have seen artists successfully resolve this time and time again. It is understandable to associate the medium with super human henchmen, the types with excessively muscle-bound physiques and an appetite for justice. Illustrated in meticulously detailed panels as they perform impossible feats of strength and agility. Whilst this is often the case especially for the popular super hero genre where the characters are the subject, it is easy to overlook an important element, the setting.
The setting is vital to a book, where and when it is set will influence the story, morality and actions of the characters as well as the reader’s opinion of them. For this reason, I am fond of panels that convincingly and consistently communicate the space a story takes place in, it can be frustrating to follow a scenario, when I cannot tell where the characters are in relation to each other or their environment.
Sometimes it helps if a visualisation is loose and suggestive especially in the early stages of a project in order to sell a concept and guide the client’s expectations before decisions have been made, but how to illustrate an idea of a space that does not exist yet? Locales ranging from historical to futuristic dystopias are portrayed in graphic novels often including fantastical gadgets and structures which may not stand up to scrutiny. Visualisations can be designed to draw attention to specific elements. This is achieved in graphic novel panels by using composition with varying detail and colour to create a hierarchy.
The goal in architecture is usually to design habitable spaces so populating a visualisation with people and paraphernalia will make it more believable, particularly for interiors. Furthermore, a scenario can be created by assembling the right cast of characters and props.
This post has referenced panels from a few of the books I have read, while avoiding spoilers. There are more I would have liked to include, even more I hope to read in the future and I hope my appreciation for the art is apparent. Before drawing your next design proposal or tackling a challenging visualisation it could be worth your time to look through the pages of a graphic novel for inspiration.