Architectural Rendering with Copic and Autodesk

Juan Ramos | May 8, 2017

Architectural rending is enhanced by combining Copic Markers with the digital markers in “Autodesk Sketchbook”. Juan shows how he seamlessly created several different variations of an architectural illustration for a client that used the same background and separate layers.


Why Copic?

If you’re reading this, you probably already have the same addiction to these little markers as I do, so in a way I’m preaching to the converted. But, there might be one or two of you that are on the fence.

I went to Architecture school; I ate way too much Ramen and drank way too much Red Bull, and whatever money I had left was spent on art supplies. That's why it was so infuriating to have to throw away a dry marker, or set one aside on the “do not use for small details” pile once the nib got frayed.


I wanted more out of my relationship with my markers.

This was the first thing that piqued my interest in Copics, the ability to refill them and to swap out the nibs… but it was still not enough to justify spending the money, seeing as I was already in a committed relationship with my previous markers. That’s the thing, you try one brand and kind of stick to it. You learn to adjust for how much it bleeds, or how it blends on different papers.

The thing was, I wanted more out of my relationship with my markers, and what sold me was this: I started doing a lot more work on the computer, but noticed that ironically, we had started to make our computer sketches look more like hand drawings.

03_architecture_copic_autodesk_palete.jpgCopic digitized in Adobe

I realized that Copic had teamed up with Adobe and had created a downloadable swatch of their markers. 
The possibility of getting consistent colors, whether we were using markers or printing from the computer, simply blew me away. This, combined with how Copic actually has a system for understanding how their colors work, made me take the plunge. And once you factor in that these are refillable, they wind up being much more cost effective than the other brands.
So I sat down with my old markers and had a very uncomfortable talk about how we had grown apart and had to go our separate ways… I don’t think they understood, partially because we had been together since college… but mostly because they’re markers and are thus incapable of having human emotions.

Unlike my wife, who displayed very strong human emotions when she saw the amount of markers that I had purchased.


Anyway, I realized that having the swatches available in Photoshop could be a huge timesaver. One of the downsides to making sketches by hand is the amount of work involved if you make a mistake, or if the client wants to see 50 different options. So we developed this little trick....

Tracing the outlines

05_architecture_copic_autodesk_tips_tracing.jpgUsing the Multiliner pens, we traced the general outlines of our site. Since we were only going to do this once, we were able to spend a little bit more time on the details.


Using a light box, we then overlaid another piece of vellum and drew in the different layouts that we developed.

Combining Copic and Autodesk Sketchbook


Using a combination of Copic markers and the “Autodesk Sketchbook” markers, we were able to seamlessly create several different options using the same background and keeping the options on separate layers.

The most important thing is to keep all of your drawings at the same scale. We actually imported the satellite image into Autocad and sized it to ensure we were being consistent.


I never thought I would get used to drawing on a computer tablet. To be honest, I don’t think I would’ve used one had it not already been in our office. There’s something very counterintuitive about drawing on one surface while looking at a screen, but they did a really great job at simulating not just the “feel” of paper, but also how it takes several passes with the pen to fully saturate the virtual page. Once I enabled some of the “shortcuts” on the tablet and pen for panning, zooming, picking colors, and switching pens, it was actually very enjoyable!

Will it replace markers for me? No, but there are definitely some interesting possibilities in this workflow!



Topics: Illustration, Copic

Juan Ramos
Juan Ramos on May 8, 2017

Juan Ramos has a passion for using design as a tool for elevating quality of life comes from working alongside his friend and mentor, Raul Cárdenas at Torolab. He currently directs the design department at Timothy Haahs and Associates, Inc., a multidisciplinary architectural and engineering firm that specializes in planning and design.