How I tried to modernize boring drawings of San Francisco houses

How I tried to modernize boring drawings of San Francisco houses

Is it Thursday already? That was fast!

So, about my new 2015 project: every Thursday, I’ll post here an illustration, a pattern, or something graphic design-y (I’ve been using the invented word “graphillu” in my personal files for years to encompass all those categories). Unlike my 365 Drawing Experiment that was based entirely on the use of traditional tools on index cards, this time I’ll probably mostly use Photoshop and Illustrator (sigh of relief), which is a welcome return to my favorite way of working, back and forth between digital and traditional. The weekly schedule means I will post less images, but hopefully those images will be more elaborate than my daily drawings. The main goal this time is to have 52 images to choose from to build a serious portfolio, while still working hard on my drawing skills in the background, without the pressure to share every day. Difficult and scary drawings, here I come, in the quiet privacy of my sketchbooks!

Since I’m not completely organized about this new project yet (sweet euphemism), I decided to re-open another old file for this week, a never-finished project that happens to fit one of the themes I want to explore this year: San Francisco. In 2012, I drew a series of houses from my neighborhood, and I’ve always wanted to do something out of them, even though I find them rather boring as is. My self-defined brief for the week: transform those drawings into something more modern, or even, let’s be crazy, a little… edgy? Here’s what I came up with:



A few images showing part of the process


process process2


Direct inspiration: the cover of the book The Intervals of Cinema, designed by Jessica Svendsen (discovered via this article on the Casual Optimist blog). It inspired me to slice and chop the houses in different ways until I found one that worked better than the others.

Probable Unconscious inspiration (I only thought about it after finishing the image): the beautiful poster of the strange/weird/fascinating documentary (?) The Institute.


Not perfect, but I respected the brief and after deconstructing them, I can finally look at those houses without yawning. Also, it’s rather nice to work on a previously abandoned project, once in a while. I have so many abandoned projects in stock I’ll probably do that again during the year, even though I’m very eager to work on fresh, brand new things as well!