Digital rendering is an art?

Are digital renderings art?

This is a question that I have found myself asking over the past year. I think to some extent I wonder about its legitimacy in representation within the architectural world. While computer generated rendering is certainly not avant-garde in this age of architecture, I am hesitant to say that it has been fully accepted in certain fields of architecture.

At some points during these awkward moments I have found myself feeling slightly inferior to those traditional forms of representation that are so lauded in our university. Lessons and conversations sometimes give the impression that a perspective drawn by hand or even the ability to draw with marker or graphite is more foundational. Yet, our website and literature is peppered with substantially more digital work.

I have found myself questioning this line of thought though. I do agree that learning to draw and put on paper one’s ideas and concepts is certainly a quick was to share with others and communicate. Ching, Graves, and the like are all onto something deeply foundational to understanding how design develops as designers work from their mind through their hands. We begin to understand the problems and challenges in different lights.

I believe this can be accomplished through the computer as well, for some. Because of the functions that computers serve and the way that we use them I do not believe that designing is done the same way. Our minds work differently when working with computers. I have no research to quote, but I do notice a different mindset in myself when thinking and imagining on paper in comparison to a computer. My mind is more technical and rigid it seems when working with a screen and mouse. I have recently begun using a Wacom tablet and have noticed a change; however it is not the same as holding a pencil to paper. The experience is not as physical.

So is using a computer a quick way to get an awesome representation if one does not have skill elsewhere? Is using modern technology a cop-out? After all, isn’t one simply pushing buttons and allowing a machine to do all the work and art?

I would disagree with this line of thought. Tonight I sat outside watching the sunset. I noticed the effects of atmosphere on the mountains that were further away than the forest. Colors faded and accepted the blue tent of the sky. Definition was lost. These are pieces of information that any designer needs to be aware of when rendering an image. These observations can be expressed in both medias.

I would say that to each his own when looking to design. Each skill takes time to learn and is an art. So perhaps a better question in our design age is what is the place and purpose for each type of art. Are computer designs better for final pitches and hand drawn renderings better for conceptual stages? Do they market or communicate better to certain clientele? Does one help develop the design process along better?

You decide.

The following picture was pulled from on January 13, 2013. All representation is that of the website. For more info visit