Tim Luncsford, Architectural Illustrator

Tim Luncsford

Tim Luncsford

Tim Luncsford ASAI is an architectural Illustrator and designer based in Indianapolis, Indiana with a focus on bringing his background in art and traditional painting & illustration to the 3D digital environment. During his 20 plus years of experience he has worked on a wide variety of projects which have included architectural, retail and legal work, for clients such as Hunt Construction, Pepsi-Cola and numerous Architects and Architectural firms.

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How do you get into the architectural rendering field? Did you start as an architectural illustrator or a designer?

Tim LuncsfordWell actually I started my career at the Art Institute of Chicago studying illustration and painting, later I transferred to The American Academy of Art in Chicago, which was more oriented to the Graphic Arts field. It was then that I started working a great deal in watercolors and in fact, the first architectural Illustration projects I worked on were done in watercolors.

As to how do you get into the field of architectural illustration, I really don’t have any advice, as far as start at A, then do B and you will end up at C. it just wasn’t like that for me. I know it sounds cliche, but I have always had a love of architecture and architectural illustration, it seems more like fate than a plan, the fact that I’m doing it now.

What made you pick up Strata 3D? Was there a specific problem/need that caused you to seek out a 3D application?

I love this question, because I started with the very first version of Strata 3D. I was right out of Art school and was working for a newspaper in their Art department. I can remember loading Strata from floppy discs on to the computer, a process that seemed to take hours. I then did one of the first tutorials which involved setting up a cube, sphere and cone on a shiny surface, and lighting the model. I can’t remember exactly what computer I was working on at the time, but it probably had the computing power of a calculator, because I can remember staying a couple hours after work waiting for the rendering to finish, but once it did, I was blown away! It seems funny now but that rendering of a simple sphere, cone, and cube with the reflections of the objects on the surface and the shadowing, I just thought that was the coolest thing. From that point on I was hooked.

How has your workflow changed since incorporating 3D design?

Tim LuncsfordI incorporated 3D really early on so as far as my everyday work flow, it hasn’t changed that much. However, one way Strata 3D has greatly sped up the process is when doing traditional watercolor illustrations. I have built rough models of the structure I’m preparing to illustrate and used Strata to do perspective and lighting studies as opposed to numerous rough sketches, that has really been extremely useful.

What’s a typical day for you? What other software do you use on a regular basis?

I first start by meditating in the morning after letting out the dogs. I then head into the studio. I try to make any phone calls I have to make as early as possible, before clients get wrapped up in their day. I have found that the quality of information and the amount of time clients are willing to spend with you is best then. Also, if things do come up that affect the project you’re still fresh on their minds and I seem to be informed much faster of any changes. As far as the software, I incorporate Wings 3D, Illustrator, Photoshop, Poser and various video editing programs.

How did you learn 3D, or Strata 3D in particular? Would you recommend your method to new users?

Tim LuncsfordBasically I’m self taught, and having come from a art background I would recommend new users to experiment, set up small models and try lighting and texturing effects and saving both the models and renderings in that way they can build up what amounts to a 3D sketch book, it is amazing the different results you can get with just minor changes. I still do this, to this day.

Do you get a significant amount of input from others before or while working, or are you left to interpret the setting and style of a structure yourself?

Boy that is a really great question, because the amount of input you get as a illustrator or designer can be either a blessing or a curse. I have those clients that give me a overview of the project and a sense of what they want to convey, and then say “Go do what you do” , for the most part those are the clients I have worked with before and trust me. Then their are clients that will tell you what they want done down to the very last detail which limits the amount of creativity that you can bring to a project. I have learned over the years that its best to trust your own instincts, that’s not to say I don’t listen to what a client wants and expects at the end of a project, on the contrary that’s what I listen to the most, I just don’t listen to… how to get there.

How much source material are you provided before starting a job?

Tim LuncsfordThat depends on the client and type of project. If there is something I need from a client to proceed, that’s outlined in the proposal and agreed upon. I have never found it to be a real problem.

Have you had a chance to visit some of the completed structures that you’ve illustrated? Were you close to the final look?

I feel it would be presumptuous of me to say that “boy I really nailed it” having said that I once had a client that was the stern, no nonsense, all business type, I was standing with her looking over the 3D rendering in front of the completed project, and she pretended to lick her finger, than reached over and touched my shoulder and made the sizzle sound and said…”Boy You Really Nailed It !” needless to say that made my day.

As an independent designer, what percentage of your time is eventually spent on design work, as opposed to sales or other business-related tasks?

Having started my own business and being a fairly shy person one of the things that really surprised me is how much I enjoy giving a sales presentation there is nothing like giving a presentation and being told you have the project, I admit I have walked out onto the street and thrown some punches into the air and did the old foot shuffle , having felt like I just knocked out Mike Tyson. That’s not to say that I still don’t get nervous every time, I do. The majority of my time is still spent doing what I love to do the most, being creative.

Any advice for new users? Where to start, what to avoid, creative advice?

Tim LuncsfordWhere to start? Start with your heart and follow your passions. What to avoid? Avoid negative people, the ones that tell you it can’t be done or everyone’s doing it now and there is no money in it. If it’s your passion and you love what you do, that will come through and clients will take notice. As far as creative advice I’ve learned not to give it unless specifically asked…. so if you see something you like or you really want to know how something was done on Facebook user group or one of the various other 3D forums, ask. Most creative people have good sized egos and don’t mind being told “Dude that’s so cool! Do you mind telling me how did you do that?” and are more than willing to help.

Thanks for your time, Tim. We look forward to seeing more of your work!

It’s been my pleasure. Peace. Tim.