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Draft architectural blueprints and renderings in Photoshop

Added on Saturday 22nd of March 2008 07:33 am EST
Adobe Photoshop CS/CS2/CS3
Operating Systems:
Microsoft Windows, Macintosh

Images that resemble architectural blueprints and renderings can add an artistic twist to an otherwise traditional layout. But not everyone has the skills necessary to create such intricate drawings. We’ll show you how to transform a traditional photographic image into a faux blueprint and color rendering using Photoshop.


Architectural renderings and blueprints have a distinct look that’s both technical and elegant, and with good reason. Crafting those renderings requires a lot of time and talent. But you don’t have to be a credited architect to fake it in Photoshop—we’ll show you how to mimic both these looks so you can add an architectural flair to your next design piece.

Prepare your image
For this technique, any RGB image will do, although a high-resolution file will yield better results. To follow along with a low-resolution version of our example, point your browser to the URL given at the beginning of this article and download the file Then, extract the file bridge.psd, launch Photoshop and open the file, shown in Figure A. (Images provided by PhotoSpin. Some images modified for educational purposes.)
                  Drag the image layer onto the Create A New Layer button located at the base of the Layers palette to make a copy, and rename the copied layer Base Drawing. Hide the original image by clicking on the Eye icon next to the layer. Now you're ready to get started.


Convert to line art
Whether you’re creating an architectural blueprint or a color rendering, the beginning steps are the same. Before you do anything fancy, you’ll need to convert your image to line art.
             Choose Image > Adjustments > Channel Mixer to display the Channel Mixer dialog box, select the Monochrome check box, and click OK. This changes the image to grayscale, as shown in Figure B.


Next choose Filter > Stylize > Find Edges. This transforms your image into what resembles a pencil drawing, as displayed in Figure C.


Make a blueprint
To tint the drawing blue, we’ll add a Color Fill adjustment layer. Click the Create New Fill Or Adjustment Layer button located at the base of the Layers palette, and select Solid Color from the pop-up menu. In the resulting Color Picker dialog box, select a dark blue color to fill the layer, and click OK. We used the settings shown in Figure D. Next, go back to the Layers palette and change the Color Fill 1 layer’s blending mode to Screen. Your image should now resemble the example shown in Figure E.



Tint the paper
Next, we're going to fill in the white areas of our image with a blue wash. Set the foreground color swatch to a light blue (R=181, G=194, B=228), and set the background color swatch to white. Create a new layer in the Layers palette, name it Wash, and make sure it’s above the Color Fill 1 layer. Choose Filter > Render > Clouds to fill in the canvas wi...