How To: Create Colored Elevations

In this post I will share how I create simple colored elevations from plane construction drawings by using Photoshop. In my experience, colored elevations is a perfect way to quickly illustrate your idea to a client. The main reason why I love this technique, is because how quick and easy it is to create colored elevation. Below is a simple tutorial on how I created colored elevation for The Barn Project, featured in my previous post.

1. If you are starting with AutoCAD drawing like I did, first you need to clean up your elevation. In my case I had to remove all the detail callouts, keyed notes, unnecessary hatches, etc.


2. After you are done cleaning up your elevation, plot it to Adobe PDF. You can see all the settings in the picture below.


3. After you have your PDF ready, open it in Photoshop. Create a new file, I set up mine at 7200 x 4800 pixels. Then,  move your elevation from PDF to your new layout. At this point you also want to make sure that your file is in RGB mode. To check, click on “Image” at the top bar, select “Mode” and make sure “RGB Color” is selected.


4. Now you are ready to color in your elevation. Select the “Color Picker” and choose your color. For my elevation I want to go with brown color palette. Once you have your color selected, start coloring in with “Paint Bucket” tool.


5. Here is a snapshot of the progress. What is very helpful is that when you bring files into Photoshop, it reads lines and shapes which means you can use “Paint Bucket” tool to color in most of your elevation.


6. Now that I have all my colors in, it’s time to add some shadows. To add shadows first select “Polygonal Lasso Tool” and select exact area where you want to show shadow, area I selected is circled with red. After you have your area specified, select the “Brush” tool and choose black color and set your opacity to however dark you want your shadow to be. Then, start painting over areas where you want your shadow.


7. Using the same tools, you can add as much detail to your project as you like. I added reflection in the windows, more shadows throughout the barn, “wear and tear” to the siding and finally lights. Also, to complete the rendering, using various “Lasso” tools I added background items, like sky and trees. And finally, for presentation purposes I added”Front” elevation callout.


So that is how I create colored elevation for my projects. I would love to hear from you. What is your approach to creating colored elevations? Did you find my approach helpful? What would you change/add?

Eugene Kovalenko

I’m a husband, dad, blogger, and owner of DraftingHub.com. I provide inspiration and resources for designers, students and drafting firms.

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