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Michelle Morelan's hybrid drawings for interior design

Michelle Morelan Design offers a full range of Interior Design services. We do interior planning and design, renovations, and project management. You can choose from full design services or e-design.


We use SketchUp ranging from importing site dimensions through schematics and design, and onto working drawings. The great thing about SketchUp is it gives you instant feedback. What would the accents look like in red?...where should I put them?…how long and thick should this wall be?…even what it looks like to walk from one space to another. It also blurs the line between schematic and working drawings, because you build and design to scale. This means you can use the same model for working out the design as for contract documents or working drawings, saving lots of time. With the use of a section plane, by turning off the perspective view and adding dimensions, you take the drawing to that next level.

One thing that's different about the way we use the software is the hybrid drawings that have become our specialty. Our firm has created a niche by building 3D models and rendering perspectives for other designers and homeowners, as well as creating stunning and precise visuals for our own firm’s presentations.

Michelle Morelan's hybrid drawings for interior design
A commission for a NYC designer from PDF CAD plans is first sketched, and then rendered with provided materials
spa and juice bar area on the west coast of Vancouver Island
A spa and juice bar area on the west coast of Vancouver Island called for a hand-rendered earthy look.

We use what we call the substrate method to render interiors, decks, and front doors, among other things. Basically, you create something to place under your paper to trace and then render. The first option is from a photo; it's traced directly from the photo and then rendered in color. The second way to create a substrate is typically used for unbuilt spaces. We create a white model in SketchUp from plans, elevations (PDF or CAD) and specifications. Then, we print the perspectives with shadows applied and use the print for the substrate. The great thing about both of these methods is that the perspective is correct. This is not the case with hand drawings where the room may look skewed, or larger than it really is.

painting in watercolor
Try painting in watercolor, after printing the model to watercolor paper. You can choose your own medium, conforming to your concept; this building hugged the tide line, so watercolor was appropriate.
modern library design
A modern library design was modeled, printed and rendered when the fabrics and lighting are applied.


The renderings are created with architectural markers and fine liners on archival rag paper. They are typically 5x7 or 7x9 inches and come framed or unframed. Stationary accompaniments, including note cards and address labels to promote your projects or your home, are also available on our website. We have rendered family homesteads for reunions, for designers as a special gift to a great client, rendered Christmas items in place for seasonal cards, and have created models for designers and architects who want to see the space before they go on to contract documents. Our renderings have been used on firms’ websites to promote their work, and for client presentations to much success. It’s been fun finding our place in the market. Clients really do want to see the space first and are much more likely to sign off and go forward when they can see it in perspective. It’s a visual field.

So it’s not just Architects having fun with SketchUp…Interior Designers love it too!

I’ll be featuring my own Rendering for Interior Design video series in HD on my blog soon. Happy Modeling!

A West Coast Home
A West Coast Home was not yet framed when this rendering was created. SketchUp perspectives- printed with shadows applied create a canvas for hand-rendered details.
render a perspective by hand
When you render a perspective by hand, you get one chance to get it right…with SketchUp, you can choose several.
render for hybrid renderings
Model, then render for hybrid renderings. Use components, but edit them, trace over them, build your own, and import from the warehouse.
Start modeling with a free 30-day trial or pick the right SketchUp subscription for your workflow.

Michelle Morelan Design Interior Designer, BID Vancouver, BC

About the Author

An @Last Software alum, Chris currently manages all things Business Development for SketchUp. London-based these days, Chris can be found traveling around Europe sampling the local cuisine when he's not working.

Profile Photo of Chris Cronin