The Importance of Concept Graphics
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The Importance of Concept Graphics

Friday, 26 April 2019
Video Length:  55:16
Presented By:  Kiley Gardiner

The conceptual stage is the most important first step in communicating your design ideas to your clients. Join Kiley Gardiner of Stack Rock Group to see how her team uses Concept Graphics to convey some initial creative ideas to their clients. Kiley shows off a technique that highlights the use of hand-drawn graphics and rapid 3D model creation.

Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)

  • Intro
  • Why Conceptual Design?
  • Stack Rock Group’s Conceptual Process

0:00 – 3:59: Intro

Stack Rock Group overview (1:48)


Getting a client from zero to construction (3:21)

4:00 – 6:44: Why Conceptual Design?


Example of conceptual options Stack Rock Group gives to clients for a single design project (5:05)


Use of concepts (5:45):

  • Schematic design
  • Design development
  • Construction design

6:45 – end: Stack Rock Group’s Conceptual Process

On-site consultations (6:45)


Online questionnaire (7:09)


Client meetings (8:20)


Budget estimator (12:00)


Proposals (12:35)


Next steps (15:10)

  • Site measurements or survey into a site base
  • Site inventory and analysis
  • Photos


Possible restraints/restrictions to consider (17:30)

  • Site (physical)
  • Agency
  • Environmental and ecological
  • Sociological


Site base and inventory (18:10)


Hand-colored conceptual designs (20:30)


Question: Does Stack Rock Group use markers to trace hand-colored conceptual designs? (22:45)

Answer: Sometimes, but they will often just print them on printer paper and color them in.


Supporting imagery (25:28)


3D renderings and animations (26:52)


Question: When you provide a design proposal, do you specify the number of allowable revisions? (29:05)

Answer: Yes. The client is only allowed one revision after receiving the master concept. After that, any revisions will require an hourly charge.


Question: Do you charge clients extra for a 3D rendering? (32:00)

Answer: Yes. They add in extra hours for any 3D renderings. The added cost will depend on the site.


Question: Which software do you use for 3D rendering? (33:45)

Answer: Lumion and SketchUp with Land F/X for the videos, and Photoshop to polish off a rendering still shot.


Example of a 3D conceptual plan (35:40)


Client review (36:36):


  • Take client feedback
    • Meld elements from concepts into on or start over if the mark was completely missed
    • Know what they love and absolutely hate
  • Master Concept / design development
    • Ability to get square footage for budgets
    • Design in F/X CAD to move swiftly into construction documents


Design development (39:58):

  • Design development gives you the site, which has been refined from the SD concept
  • Then the layers of plans come into play from layout-grading-hardscape to planting-lighting, in addition to having the design details all along.
    • Concept design can occur during CD phase as one may explore design detailing with a better understanding of where budgets and client vision are


Question: How do you prevent contractors from undercutting you and ensuring that they follow through? (40:45)

Answer: They develop relationships with contractors they trust and try to work with them if possible. They also visit the site to ensure the project is going as planned.


Question Do you have an initial question-and-answer process for clients? (41:57)

Answer: Yes, they meet with clients and have them fill out a questionnaire.


Question: Will you back out of working with a client if the chemistry isn’t there? (43:50)

Answer: Generally, no. They don’t like to say no to clients. If a client is particularly difficult, the team includes several designers, so a client can work with a different designer if he/she isn’t meshing with one of them.


The online questionnaire (43:50)


Question: How do you answer clients’ questions about how much it’s going to cost before they even hire you? (46:10)

Answer: They can give ballpark figures, although they prefer not to.


Question: What do you do when you get the feeling that a potential client is just picking your brain for ideas? Do you charge a consultation fee? (48:10)

Answer: They generally don’t spout off ideas at the site. They also offer to charge for an hour’s work to provide an initial sketch.


Had sketch conceptual design (52:17):

  • Circles, lines, and a lot of trash paper
  • Getting from scribbles to spaces
  • Quick loose-rough preliminary drawings and sketches to communicate vision spatially and relationally, flow-balance


Kiley’s contact info:

  • Instagram: mrskileyraegardiner
  • LinkedIn: Kiley Gardiner
  • Email:
  • Twitter: @MrsK_Rae_G
  • Phone: 208-908-1368

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