00079-00084 On the Subway

31 July 2014 § Leave a comment

I haven’t forgotten about this blog–I’ve just been busy studying for my ARE’s (Architecture Registration Exams, for those of you non-arch-inclined)! There are seven exams in total and I actually passed my first exam, BDCS!  Presently I am in the process of preparing for Structures (testing in September!) and with any luck, I should be posting up a few of my sketch book pages of studies too at one point.

In the meantime, here is a small collection of sketches I’ve completed while on the subway over the last month. I must say that drawing on the subway is a bit difficult.  First of all, you really need to have a seat, which can be difficult during peak hours.  Second, it can be quite a bumpy ride, which requires a steady hand and the embracement of the sketchiness!  Third, and finally, everyone is constantly moving and shifting, and you never know when your subject is going to just disappear completely.  This part though can be quite fun, and actually makes the whole process a lot less stressful.  Because you only have a few seconds to capture your subject, you learn to make quick decisions on what lines are important to get down.  You dont have to worry about the details, but the essence.

And for that reason, I really enjoy subway sketching. I hope you enjoy these!





subway sketch 01


Making Of: The Sixth Facade

19 February 2014 § Leave a comment

To pair with the launch of my portfolio site, and in response to some positive interest from viewers, I am going to post up a few screen caps & details that show the process/pipeline of building one of my most recent architectural visualizations.  This image was completed for Snohetta for a design competition they entered last year.  You can seem the other images generated for the affair on their site.  You can also see more on the competition here or here or here.  Vincent Appel, from Of Possible Architectures, assisted with the modelling process while I did the bulk of the post-production in photoshop as show below.  I am actually going to breeze over the details, if you don’t mind too much.  I will address additional techniques later on in different posts.

1 Compositional Render: This was the first pass at this image.  Very rough, no rendered textures as you might notice, and very early in the design stage.  This was modeled in Rhino and rendered quickly in Vray.  The focus was on the composition of the image, as well as the lighting.  It also gave me a head start for collecting resources & background imagry, as well as brainstorming color palettes.

130218 - SKETCH 2

2 Texture Render Tests and Color: One of the big strengths of this image is its utilization of 3d textures.  Anyone seriously interested in rendering very HQ believable images needs to start exploring these & how to use them effectively.  (You can find tons freely available online).   We did a lot of tests and we found that using 3d wood grains really took this image to the next level. If we were to just montage wood textures, we would not be able to get the depth of color & tone & believability without a lot of extra time & painting.  My biggest piece of advice is to be selective–don’t go crazy & overtexture everything.  Too much detail looks as fake as too little.  Also note, that my particular style is towards something more painterly and atmospheric, rather than strict realism.  At this stage I also was working on color overlays–still far from perfected here.

130225 - SKETCH 2 GLASS1

2 closeup

2 ckloseup2

3 Final Base Render : As you can see, the base render is very simple.  White surfacing for most assets and the texture is preserved in this.  The wood was rendered in color because it was easier to modify from there.  What you don’t see is that we also rendered out several channels.  You should always include the RENDER ID channel, as well as light/shadow.  Play around though.  I used a variety of channels to achieve different affects & gain control over different elements.


4 Initial Color Manipulation and Background : First set of color overlays.  I prefer to start a little oversaturated and reduce as I move on.  The background was pieced together form a series of photographs and ended up being quite a headache to get in perfect perspective.


5 Color Manipulation, Saturation : Increased saturation; this was actually a test/experiment that I quickly did on the side.  Oversaturating sometimes allows you to see what colors are actually acting in certain areas.  Note heavy purple on left.  That was annoying me a lot.


5 Desaturation, color, people, snow, etc : Snow added, colors desaturated somewhat, carousel added in the background as well as people.


5 Season change! : JK Client decided daytime better for selling.  Probably right but I still liked the snow.  Grass was painted in rough.


5 Final Touches! : Softened the images by removing/reducing black.  Also softened background and increased lighting.

01 Podium - V(2)

01 Podium - V(2) small

01 Podium - V(2) small2

00046-00048 Around & Underground the town

14 February 2014 § Leave a comment

Happy Valentines Day!  I was actually thinking I might look through some of my old sketches to see if I ever did anything on a Valentines Day but I got caught up with another project last night–building a fort in my apartment!  We have a huge galvanized steel bar set that we use for our Parkour events that we reconfigured in our apartment.  My partner and I did an excellent job and, as a bonus, once the sheets come off the fort it actually is a fantastic indoor mini-parkour-gym, so double win.  Plus tonight we’ll be cooking our own dinner; fresh cuts of ribeye with selections from our very first farm-fresh delivery from Nextdoorganics (A pay-as-you-go CSA that I highly recommend to anyone living in Brooklyn).  I will definitely be doing a drawing of that as well once a week! I love food and I love brooklyn!

Anyways, these three drawings reflect that I have been very bad at drawing every day for the last two weeks.  I have only accomplished about 4 drawings between January 29th and Today…. 😦  I will draw double time this weekend and next week to make up for it a little bit. But.. most of them will probably be of indoor things since the snow just doesn’t stop. 😦

January 29th – On the subway on a Friday after work on the subway.  This woman, I wish I had time to capture in water color; golden brown furry coat with matching boots, bright blue jeans, dull red hat, and a tangle of scraggly brown hair.
February 2nd – Washington Square Park as I walked through before/after my NY AIA Review seminar for the ARE BDCS (Less than 2 months away now!)
February 11th – The stairwell in a downtown Manhattan subway station as I was waiting to transfer from the J to the M train.  I really like axonometric drawings…

Caitlin Pontrella Sketchbook

Washington Square

NYC Subway

00018 Afternoon at PDC

27 January 2014 § Leave a comment

Today I was down at City Hall at the Public Design Commission for a review of the clubhouse that will be constructed at Ferry Point Park in the Bronx.  I had a little downtime before the meeting and got a chance to sketch a quick loorplan and the beautiful white iron oculus (at least it looked white!) in the central domed space.  Very pretty building, though PDC itself seemed very bare–almost unlived in to a point!  Perhaps it is because they recently moved back in.   Though they did have a fantastic collection of paintings of the mayors of NYC hung.  And cookies too.


00013-00017 NYC & NJtransit

27 January 2014 § Leave a comment

So some days I do several drawings so I will count drawings according to drawing exercise.  The following set come from a few days (Jan 22-26) of daily sketches.  The first set of exercises was done in the car ride between my parents home and my brooklyn apt (1.5 hrs)–and it was an attempt to draw a very quick vignette at every red light.  This was extremely difficult and I definitely think I will try to do it again!  The second set of pages of people were done on trains and in a meeting, over three days.

2014.01.26-2 2014.01.262014.01.22 2014.01.23-24

00002 Conservatory Waters

29 August 2013 § Leave a comment

Let’s talk about a really early day.

Woke up at 2:30 AM today so that I could get to Central Park by 3:30 AM.  Why?  The Conservatory Waters snack bar, one of the concessions I oversee at my job (where you can sail the little white boats), was getting a mobile/temporary kitchen delivered.  Though the representatives from Central Park Conservatory arrived late, everything started out very smoothly. We drove the giant container all the way down and through the park (on the footpaths!) without any issue (aka, no trees being hit).  The drivers, hailing from South Jersey, were real professionals–giving instructions such as ‘move to the right 1/2 an inch, no, back to the left a 1/2’ — I mean, we’re talking really miniscule adjustments with a truck.


Anyways, it only took a 1/2 hour to get the container behind the building but that is where things went out the window.  Apparently whoever measured the container and measured the site … mismeasured, and the container was about 6 inches too wide.  This then spiraled into 6-8 hours of troubleshooting, brainstorming, phone calls, concrete drilling, mud-digging, vehicle rigging fun.  Not to mention the container was sinking, clouds were gathering ominously in the sky, and no one had eaten all morning.

However, everything somehow worked itself out by 11am and I, exhausted, gathered my things and headed on home to sleep.

Or so I thought.

Unfortunately, in my excitement to have the rest of the day to myself, I invited over our neighbors, Jonny and Alana, for dinner.  Once confirmed, I then launched in to cooking and cleaning for the next few hours.  We ate lots of food, watched videos that fall in to the category of ‘cooler than Parkour’ and finally, around midnight, I excused myself and passed out.

00001 New Sketchbook on E. Houston

19 August 2013 § Leave a comment

As Ill talk about briefly in a future post, I just started a new sketchbook–a Stillman and Birn book.  I had a meeting at 7pm at Whole Foods on E. Houston but arrived early.  It was wonderful weather so I decided to kill the time by drawing part of the street that is across from First Street Green. 

I’ve already noticed I really don’t like crossing the binding when drawing in this book.  It’s very difficult to manage and makes the lines all funny.  Ah there you have it though.


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