A Brief History of Bookmaking II

The process of handlettering and drawing camera-ready pages for my books continued throughout the 1980s. But in the early 1990s, armed with an Apple Macintosh SE, a laser printer, and digital typography, I made my first foray into using digital technology as I prepared A Visual Dictionary of Architecture.

After assembling and organizing the terms and definitions into sets, I laid the material out on oversized sheets in Aldus Pagemaker. It was fortuitous that Adobe had just recently scanned my handlettering and created the digital font, Tekton, which I used for the dictionary terms and definitions. After printing the pages out, I laid tracing paper over each page and roughed out the size and position of each illustration to fit. I would then work back and forth, adjusting the placement of text in Pagemaker as necessary to accommodate the illustrations before doing the final drawings by hand on Clearprint vellum. After having the drawings scanned, I placed the .tiff files into the Pagemaker files.




In 2000, I began working with Steve Winkel on the first edition of Building Codes Illustrated. Knowing that the International Building Code, on which the text was based, was going to be updated every three years, I decided to do all of the drawings in Adobe Illustrator, learning the program on the fly.

I use Illustrator basically as a drafting tool to create the visual ideas I have in mind. The many benefits of vector graphics include: using the Save As capability to try out different options; having precise control over line weights and tonal values; being able to resize drawings easily to fit a page layout; and reusing elements that I had already drawn. Most importantly, when working on a revision, instead of having to completely redo a hand drawing, I can open an existing drawing file and make the necessary changes to create the updated version.


Because I am using digital tools more and more in my bookmaking, I cherish even more the opportunities to draw by hand when out on location. Even as I experiment with drawing on my iPad, the connection between eye, mind, and hand when I draw with a fountain pen in a sketchbook remains a pleasure.

A Brief History of Bookmaking

Following up on a previous post about the making of Green Building Illustrated, here is a brief history of my publications.

My first book, Architectural Graphics, was published 38 years ago, in 1975. Due to the efforts of Forrest Wilson, Van Nostrand Reinhold offered me a contract based on of over 400 pages of notes I had prepared for the very first class I taught at Ohio University. I still remember condensing those notes and handlettering and drawing the final camera-ready pages with a Scripto lead pencil, a triangle, and a scale. I completed all 128 pages in a little over three weeks. Here is a sample page.


Building Construction Illustrated soon followed, using the same tools and process. But this time I worked on tabloid-size paper instead of letter-size bond paper. Interestingly, after a few years of complaints from bookstores, the pages were reduced to letter-size.


Wanting to use more subtle hatching and shades of gray, I used a 0.3 mm lead pencil to handletter and draw the images on Clearprint vellum for the camera-ready pages of my third book—Architecture: Form, Space and Order. Here are a couple of screen shots for a visual comparison.


My next post will describe the first time I used digital technology in my bookmaking.

Under the Viaduct


Here is a view from beneath the Alaskan Way Viaduct where University Avenue meets Alaskan Way, drawn at the monthly meeting of the Seattle Urban Sketchers yesterday. Built in the 1950s, the two-level highway is a critical connector to Fremont, Ballard, and other points in northwest Seattle. And driving on the northbound upper deck offers impressive views of downtown Seattle and across Puget Sound to Bainbridge Island the Olympic Mountains beyond.

After the 2001 earthquake, civic leaders decided that the viaduct needed to be replaced for safety concerns. After studying various alternatives, including surface streets and bridges, it was finally decided after a long public process that a 2-mile long tunnel beneath downtown Seattle was the best option. On July 30th, Bertha, the world’s largest tunnel boring machine, began drilling operations.

The viaduct is scheduled for demolition in 2016. I will miss it.

Green Building Illustrated

I’ve been busy this summer developing a new textbook, Green Building Illustrated, which attempts to explain the theory, practices, and complexities of sustainable design. Working with excellent material written by engineer and researcher Ian M. Shapiro, my focus is on presenting the ideas and information in graphic form, as I have done with my previous Illustrated texts. Here is a few drafts of page spreads that I hope will whet your appetite.



I’m laying out the book in Adobe InDesign and producing the drawings in Adobe Illustrator. Even before I begin work in Illustrator, however, I usually have a pretty good idea in mind of the image I want to produce and sometimes use freehand sketches to review and refine the possibilities I will be exploring.


In a future post, I will explain the reasons for my use of digital media to produce the drawings.

Seattle Workshop II

Gail Wong and I will be offering a second Line to Color workshop in Seattle September 6–8. As in our spring workshop, we’ll begin on Friday evening with an introductory sketching session followed by dinner and presentations at the Ballard Pizza Co. On Saturday, we’ll work in the Fremont neighborhood and at Gasworks Park. Then on Sunday, we’ll meet the Seattle Urban Sketchers at either Pike Place Market or Pioneer Square. As always, it should be fun. And beginners are certainly welcome!

Here is a pdf offering a complete schedule and more information.


If you’re interested or have any questions, please contact Gail at gail@glwarc.com.