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Changing up the way I Create Design Concept Boards

Changing up the way I Create Design Concept Boards

When I start a new project it's always so much fun sourcing stuff and putting together a concept. I can see it all come together in my head and it's exciting! One of the more difficult parts of this process is presenting the concept and furniture in a way that will let the client "see" things as I imagine them... the translation of my ideas onto paper in a clean and organized way. 

I've used AutoCAD paper space layouts as well as Photoshop quite a bit in the past but both are a little clunky and take longer than I think they should. The benefit is they have more features so there is the option to make things look really sharp, but for a concept, how "perfect" does it really need to look? 

So I started thinking about what the key elements should be and then researched a program that would work. 

It was important that it was:

1) a user friendly program 2) something that I can collaborate on with my assistant or other designers 3) allowed for images to be overlapped to create a semi-realistic looking scene

And my wish list items were:

4) a simple drag & drop functionality for images 5) text could easily be added 6) external links could easily be added 7) A large workspace (similar to cad) where you can bring everything into one "paper/sheet" and move things around, scale and create different working zones and then simplify and print to PDF/JPEG later when things are refined (this allow for a "paper trail" of work without the need for actual paper/printing/sketching) 

It sounds like a lot to ask for... and it is! The good news, I found the right solution: Mural.ly

This is a web based program that is super easy to navigate and gives me all of the functionality listed above. The most affordable membership is currently $30 a month, but I didn't add anything about cost to my wish list so I can't complain about that! ;)

Here are a few examples of concept boards I put together over the weekend:


They are not perfect, but they get the point across right? As a quick concept and starting place, this is excellent. I create a PDF with these as well as the preliminary schedule and floor plans. 

Then as we move into the design development and finalize layout and fixture/finish/furniture options, I use AutoCAD to create a more comprehensive plan set. Some examples of the design development phase:

Some tips for starting this process for design presentations and getting the best out of Mural.ly and AutoCAD layouts:

1) when first starting out, save all images to Pinterest or directly to your computer. I like Pinterest first to see everything together and then I right click and save my favorite items to Dropbox.

2) open each image in Preview and use the magic wand to quickly remove the white background to create a proper png image which is so so much better for layering and creating realistic compositions.

3) select images and drag and drop directly into your Mural.ly workspace. Pro Tip: use the bottom-up approach: add flooring, then rugs, then background furniture, then foreground furniture, then lighting. In both Mural.ly and AutoCAD you can right click and "send forward" or "send backward" but adding images in the proper order makes layering so much smoother.

I would love to hear your tips on creating concept boards and especially if anyone uses Mural.ly and/or AutoCAD in their process. I recently read this article which also talks about concept boards and I love the "things to consider" section. I usually do a detailed email that includes all of this info, but I can see how having it directly on the board would be helpful. 

(header image source)

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