02 Pre-Crit Q&A

How do I split my work between my sketchbook and my A1s?

You sketchbook is:
Your brain on paper. The sketchbook is a constant work in progress: it's where you write down your ideas, print and glue photos of every  little model you've experimented with, show your thought process, annotate rough sketches and drawings, do some experimental collages, glue your inspiration images and references down. Your sketchbook shouldn't be clean: it's like a treasure box where you throw every bit of your thought process. It serves as a recipient for documentation - and it will serve you right once you start doing your portfolio sheets.

Your portfolio sheets are:
What you will be graded on. Your A1s are the clear representation of your project's journey. It features extracts from your sketchbook (such as initial sketches, or references to artists etc) but will mainly features all of your technical drawings, model pictures, final images, rendering, etc.

How do I go about starting my portfolio sheets?

Every portfolio should showcase the journey of your projects, which always goes through these steps:

1. Research (primary: observational sketches / secondary: your research on other artists, designers, projects, etc)
2. Idea development (initial ideas sketches, more secondary research, sequences of ideas)
3. Experimentation (rough models, material and structure testing... your experimentation teaches you about your projects and helps you narrow down your ideas to one. Make sure you show that you've learned from your failures and expérimentions, and how this influenced the end product)
4. Final outcome (these sheets are the last ones of your project's set. They're crisp and ONLY show what your final design is. They usually are composed with images of your models, and (beautiful) drawings).

Now that you understand the phases of development and the main points you should show, take a step back and look at your project.
Make a list of these 4 categories and single out the most relevant elements of your sketchbook etc that might showcase this. Plan out the drawings or photos you might need to make/take to illustrate your point.

Think of your sheets as the tools for a client presentation. If you were to show them without explaining anything about the project, your sheets should be able to tell them everything about not just where your idea came from, but how it grew and how it would work in real life.

We advise you to PLAN YOUR SHEETS. In your sketchbook, draw out horizontal rectangles and start planning how many sheets per category you will need. Once that's done, start looking at each sheet individually and roughly draw out where you'll put images, drawings and text.
Some people like laying things out on InDesign - you can do so, but don't PRINT your sheets straight onto A1. Make them!


If I'm doing group work, how can I present what we do in sheets?

For your first project, you will have to produce sheets for your first crit as a group. Use the same guidelines as previously, but make it more concise and impactful - none of you will be able to use most of these sheets after the crit, and you'll have to add a lot more to your own portfolio anyway (you can't use a teammates work in your A1s and present it as the main body of work). Focus on what's essential about your project and what you want to communicate to your tutors. Once the crit is over, start doing the extra sheets you'll need for your portfolio, showing the in depth details of your design process, from initial research to final outcome.
Don't leave this until Christmas. You won't remember what happened in October. Trust us. Do them as soon as your crit is done, before you jump into another project.

How do I make my work look professional?

Key tricks that people often neglect:
- be consistent with the A1 paper that you choose. Pick one, and stick with it the whole year. We advise the average cartridge thickness from the art shop downstairs, which is a slightly off white colour. Too thin and your paper will rip and feel cheap - too thick and you'll break your back by second term.
- Label your sheets. Top left corner is the traditional way to go. Just a few words to explain what you're showing on the page (I.e: 1:200 section of the building)
- cut everything with a scalpel and/or the guillotines in the library. No one likes fuzzy edges.
- Use spraymount to glue your images down. It'll save you a huge amount of time and your photos will stay perfectly flat and won't fall of your page. You can buy the spray downstairs at the shop. Make sure you use the spray booth in the library when you use it (preserve your lungs)
- Stick things straight. This might seem like the least of your worries when you're in a rush to finish off your sheets, but if you have a crooked photo on your page it's all that people will see and it will distract the tutors from the actual work.
- Ink in your drawings straight away. Don't leave them in pencil; no one will see anything and they'll smudge in no time.
- Invest in an A1 portfolio case. Use the A1 drawers in the studio. Never roll your sheets, and never fold them. Keep them flat, and your future self will be thanking you. Bended and dirty sheets are not the most professional things you could hand in.
- Start developing a style. Showcase your aesthetic: maybe you like a certain colour palette, a certain texture or paper, a certain font, etc. Don't be scared to have a strong identity running through your portfolio. But remember that these should be subtle elements that enhance your work. The sheets should look professional while remaining heartfelt and passionate.



How many sheets do I need for my crit?

Don't think about numbers - though 4 is an absolute minimum when it comes to portfolio projects. You'll find yourself having 30+ sheets for your final project of unit 2, so don't be scared to just do your A1s and go for it. What matters isn't the number, it's the quality of what you're showing and whether or not you're demonstrating an understanding of the brief and showcasing your design process.


Ultimately, remember that you do not need to be strictly architectural this term. So enjoy, and use this time to be weird and artistic. It’s all part of the process… the more you cultivate your creative expression right now, the more sensitive your architecture will be in the end.

AS CSMq&a, crit, portfolio, advice