Sketching in Digital Watercolors with Studio JDK

October 27, 2014

 

 Brought to ASAI members through Collaboration with VRAY and Chaos Group
StudioJDK 03StudioJDK Jeremy Kay

One Architectural Designer’s Quest to Bring Warmth Back to Rendering

It can’t be said that the designs that come out of studioJDK are old fashioned. On the contrary, they are groundbreaking in their ability to combine artistry and technology, finding a middle ground that most designers simply can’t achieve. Jeremy Kay, founder of studioJDK, is able to obtain this remarkable balance by exploring software and techniques that allow him the best of both worlds. Photoshop, SketchUp, and V-Ray are just some of the tools that share equal importance with his watercolors, helping him to create beautiful, effective designs that retain a very human touch.

After becoming inspired by Mike Doyle’s Color Drawing, Jeremy worked side by side with the author himself at Communication Arts, a hybrid firm of architecture, graphic design, and environmental branding. It was this hybrid quality that made Jeremy a perfect fit.

Composition, values, shadow, understanding of light, a steady hand; these were all key design concepts that Jeremy began to apply his passion to. How can someone design better trees? Better human figures? These questions inspired him, and Jeremy’s passion for drawing was only matched by his growing fascination with rendering technology.

I was really into that digital stuff,” Jeremy says. “I have a really insatiable appetite, and I still do, about learning new techniques in visual communication”.

When he stumbled across the Gnomon Workshop, a place where concept designers of games and movies post tutorials about their methods, Jeremy encountered the second greatest inspiration in his career. Their style of blending drawing and super high-tech rendering was a revelation, and something he was already on the road to achieving himself in architectural visualization.

Jeremy began to model his images in 3D and brilliantly paint on top of them. This technique made his work unique, and put him in high demand. Uniting 3D rendering technology with traditional media was something new at the time, and still uncommon today. It was a dream come true for him.

After a stint at the firm LRK, Jeremy finally knew it was time to go for his ultimate dream: owning his own studio. “My belief is, in order for you to succeed well in what you’re doing as a career, you have to be really passionate about it. I just took the two things I was most passionate about and combined them”, he says. “That is architectural concept design and illustration.”

StudioJDK 02The whole industry was moving completely over to photorealism at the time, and Jeremy knew that he wanted to find his own style that would set him apart in the marketplace. Anyone can create exceptional renderings with the help of software and technology, but he wanted to be placed in the rare category of the digital artist.

“What you’re trying to nail-down is an emotion,” he says. There is a warmth and an intimacy between a painter and their canvas, a sculptor and their granite, and Jeremy seems obsessed with adding this warmth back into architectural design.

Is it possible to retain the suggestive, mysterious grace of a watercolor design when photorealism has such a strong- hold in the industry? The answer is yes, but it doesn’t mean not using technology, it means using the right technology.

V-Ray is something that Jeremy can’t live without because it works fluidly with his process, allowing him to “find that perfect marriage of warmth and richness, and then believability”. Rendering programs he tried were taking all night to render, and were still grainy the next morning, but V-Ray introduced Jeremy to a whole new world of precision and speed.

With a passion and a hunger for artistry, and a highly impressive tool-belt of skills and technology, Jeremy has his sites set on the future of Arch Vis. One of the key frontiers for him is the idea of creating a innovative video game experience for his projects. This would allow viewers to “get set down in a fully immersible 3D environment where they have full control over moving around, and moving in and out of the building, going into rooms,” Jeremy says. “Give them a world that still feels very conceptual, but is fully immersible, so you can walk down the streets and walk into buildings and open doors.”

Even if Jeremy Kay changes the entire architectural design concept as we know it, there’s one thing for certain; he will never allow it to lose its warmth.