Project Conceptualization

Everyone has their own skills, and weaknesses where it comes to conceptualizing a project. Some people can look at a CAD drawing, and are able to visualize the resulting project without any further clues. Others like to look at existing, similar objects, and picture them in the available space. Others again are excellent at creating the object, but cannot previsualise it before they begin, and thus, really struggle to start a new project, unless there are plans, and hopefully a drawing or photograph of the intended result.

The problem that I have is not visualizing the result, but convincing others that the idea is valid. With my background, I am quite comfortable with sketches (dimensioned or otherwise), creating &/or reading CAD drawings, or visualizing adaptions to existing objects. To pass on what I ‘see’, I have been using computer graphics to simulate the result as a photo-realistic representation. I’m not trying for perfection with the photoshopping – only enough to get the concept across, without spending hours and hours getting every last artifact, proportion and perspective locked down.

One project (the Entertainment Unit – to be featured in a future article/podcast) included using Photoshop to simulate the Unit in place in the room, allowing decisions about the final size, and appropriate colour of the finish to use, before a single cent was spent on materials.

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I have used the same technique to work out designs for concreting around the home, both location, colour and texture (and also choosing between concrete and various crushed rock paths).

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One other project was simulating the effect of adding a carport to an existing home, which went a long way towards helping the owners decide whether to proceed with the project, before paying a cent to a builder or architect.

The project detailed here is for a picket fence that I built for my home. As you will see, the before and after shots are quite dramatic, particularly when you consider that this shows the completed project again before any materials are purchased!

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Photo 1 is as the front yard actually was at the time of planning a front fence. The plastic bags are not typical décor! I was attempting to grow grass at the time (just before the implementation of water restrictions….the results were as expected!)

The next 4 photos show the digital development of the scene, leading to the final design.

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Photo 2 & 3 Removal of all unwanted details and addition of grassed areas
Photo 4 Addition of paving and hedge edging
Photo 5 The finished simulation of the front fence
The completed, as constructed results.

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Photo 6 The finished (real) fence
Photo 7 The final garden, paths and fence

There were a number of benefits to using this method. It helped determining colour, and height of the fence, and the final design. It made construction (and material purchasing) much easier as well, as I had an excellent idea of what I was working towards.

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