Creative Potential of Vector Graphics for Architectural Glass Projects

Transform digital images into highly original laminated glass designs of virtually any size or scale
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Optimizing Perception

Laminated glass is impacted by inherent glass characteristics as well as surrounding conditions. Inherent glass characteristics include reflectivity, opacity, and saturation. Each can affect how the vector artwork used in the glass is perceived. For optimal end results, designers should consider these elements when creating their design and incorporating glass into a project.

Different glass finishes can affect the reflectivity of glass and potentially obscure the artwork. For example, light reflecting off of glass with a shiny finish can result in difficulty viewing the design. In glass with a less-reflective finish, reflections are not as prominent, so the artwork is clearer to the viewer.

Opacity is another factor. Glass that will be viewed from both sides, as in a room divider or door, will often be transparent, with graphics visible on both sides. However, glass that will be viewed from the front side only, with the back side against a wall or elevator interior, for example, will have an opaque backer to allow maximum visibility of the design.

Saturation comes into play as well. In instances where the glass is backlit or light transmits through it, for example, the colors of the interlayer artwork need to be more saturated than in panels that will not have light coming through. If different panels comprising a glass design will be viewed with and without light transmission, the different lighting conditions should be considered upfront to achieve a favorable end result.

Different light sources can also impact the perception of the glass and the artwork within.

Ambient, or general, lighting provides nondirectional illumination. Ambient lighting provides a comfortable level of brightness, ideally without glare. Ambient lighting can consist of a combination of different sources, such as lamps and natural lighting from windows.

Accent lighting highlights areas or features within a space that are intended as focal points, such as artwork, feature walls, or other design elements. Sources include lamps, recessed lighting, or hidden lights. Illuminated laminated glass typically falls within the accent-lighting category.

Task lighting refers to a light source that is dedicated to performing a specific task in a specific area of a space. Light sources can be fixed or moveable, depending on space and task. Examples include reading lamps and directional recessed lights.

Finally, because laminated glass is suitable for both interior and exterior applications, the artwork may be visible from both inside and outside a building, so the lighting of both environments should be considered. In addition to the interior-lighting scenarios described above, it is important to remember that architectural glass in outdoor applications has to account for streetlights, traffic and natural lighting, and other potential light sources that cannot be controlled.

Upfront evaluation of these conditions can help ensure that each vector design makes its intended visual impact—without compromise from ambient lighting or other lighting conditions.

Examples of Vector Graphics in Architectural Glass Projects

Following are several examples that illustrate the beauty of using vector graphics in laminated-glass applications. Because their infinite scalability addresses the size and resolution constraints of raster images, vector graphics give designers the freedom to customize artwork in endless ways to suit project-specific creative goals.

In addition, as described previously, new web technologies make working with vector graphics easier than ever.

One app in particular—referenced earlier and shown in the examples below—allows designers to use images of any size from any source to create highly original vector artwork, without relying on Photoshop, Illustrator, or similarly complex tools or the time and expertise they require. Further streamlining the design process, the vector artwork produced with the app is output as the interlayers in the company’s laminated glass.

Example 1: Bringing nature indoors can be as simple as capturing the desired shot with your smartphone or tablet.

With vector graphics, image sourcing is easy; you do not need professional or high-resolution photography to see nature’s beauty come alive in your projects. Whether starting with a specific view in mind or finding inspiration on the fly, you can maximize casual photos of any quality or size.

Working with vector graphics is easy too. Using the design tool shown here, you can just drag your digital image into the app, experiment with different filters, controls and effects, monitor your progress as you go, and continue refining your design until you achieve the end results you desire.

From landscapes to seascapes, wildlife, and more, vector graphics can help you bring the beauty of nature and the world around us to laminated-glass applications of any size or scale.

Example 2: Vector graphics that draw inspiration from regional content are a great way to create a sense of community with literal or abstract views of local landmarks, icons, or scenes.

In airports, for example, regional imagery can let passengers know where they have landed and welcome travelers returning home. In civic spaces, it might reflect a local identity or convey local pride. In culture centers and museums, it might allude to the thrill of adventure and discovery inherent to the area.

Consider using the app to interpret a single vector image in multiple ways for different facets of a project; using a single shot to make a bold, standalone statement; or populating a space with a variety of regional scenes.

If you are looking to source photos, low-resolution stock photography can be a great solution. Image options often abound, and the scalability of vector graphics makes it easy to match project dimensions. You can turn even the smallest scene into a sweeping panoramic vista.

Example 3: You might be inspired by the pulse of a city or skyline, or moved by seasonal shifts in the weather or a certain time of day. Vector graphics make it easy to capture these feelings with designs that evoke the atmosphere of a place.

Images sourced through social media sites and interpreted as vector graphics are another way to bring local color to laminated-glass applications. Use your own photo-sharing sites or draw from those of your client. Since image size is not an issue with vector graphics, small social-media-sized digital files are fine—and what better place to find images that align with a personal interest or point of view?

Bring your image into the app, and you are on your way to creatively transforming a season, moment, or scene. With vector graphics, it is easy to capture the beat in laminated-glass designs that transport viewers to another time and place.

Example 4: Vector graphics are a remarkably agile option for translating artwork with historical or cultural significance into laminated-glass applications of all shapes and sizes.

Even if you are starting with an old snapshot, a postcard, or an original work of art, you can simply scan or capture the piece, drag the digital file into the app, and begin to create.

Because the app converts raster images into vector graphics, you do not need to start with a perfect image. Remember, the conversion process is a translation: the vector graphic will not be a true one-to-one depiction of the original raster image. Which means that, by using the app’s filters and controls, you can take a seemingly imperfect image and turn it into something perfectly unique.

Picture the possibilities for bringing the past to the present, recognizing bygone eras, celebrating meaningful milestones, and honoring moments in time. Regardless of your source-image selection, vector graphics make it easy to keep memories and achievements alive.


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Originally published in Architectural Record