As promised, I put together a video tutorial explaining the workflow that I use to create colored interior elevations using only Photoshop. There was a lot to go over, and I'm surprised I was able to fit it all in one 15 minute video. The steps are not difficult in terms of skill required, however, the sequence of steps to build up the elevation plays a big role in the success of the final image as well as maintaining control of all of the layers. The video is broken down into 6 steps which are summarized below.


In the video, I filled in the section cut and exterior of the illustration in Photoshop. This was done to simplify things, however, I would strongly suggest executing this step in CAD or Illustrator for more precise final results.


In this step, the textures of the walls and other architectural elements are added. One things I suggest doing is merging all of the same textures into one layer (such as merging all of the wood textures in the different rooms into one layer).  Many times, I want to adjust the hue, brightness, or levels of certain textures. Minimizing the amount of layers means I can make these changes quickly.


This step involves adding background information that can be seen through windows. It's very easy for the background to get distracting, pulling the viewers' attention away from the interior spaces. To avoid this, I tend to make the backgrounds more monochromatic, meaning I stick with one hue of color. In this case, I chose blue to compliment the warm tones of the wood. 


This step is an important part of the process, and is where depth is given to the elevations. My advice is to go one room at a time like in the video. Shadow is added where you have a corner condition such as where the wall meets the ceiling or where a wall meets another wall. Also when there is a change in depth, shadow should be added such as in the stair railing. Check out my "Ambient Occlusion" tutorial or my "Quick Sections" tutorial which both cover the topic of adding shadow in more depth.


Step 5 discusses adding spot lighting and accent lighting. This puts warmth into the illustrations and brings attention to the important parts of the space. Adding light is as simple as adding white paint and setting the layer blend mode to "overlay". To punch up the strength of the light, duplicate the layer.


The final step invloves adding scaled people and furniture. This is where a lot of my time is usually spent. I have a huge library of people already cut out, but finding furniture at the correct angle can be difficult. Most of the time, this means distorting pics to look like they are in elevation. Take your time at this stage, because this is where a lot of interior elevations can get ruined with shotty Photoshop work.

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Reader Comments (18)

Alexx you are amazingg:)) thank youu very much for showing all these perfect things. But ı have a question, where can ı find those furniture images like yours? cause they look absolutely real :)

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteriklim

Awesome tutorials, I have been integrating them into my class here at UMD. Thought you might like these guys tutorials too, they use 3ds and photoshop and come up with some pretty amazing stuff. Keep up the good work!

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDoug Davies

The furniture is from many Google searches. As shown in the video, some of the images had to be edited to give the appearance of a straight on elevation shot.
That's great to hear that these tutorials are being used in the classroom. Also, thanks for posting the link. I like their style and I feel we share a very similar workflow.

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Hogrefe

thank you so much!! this is really helpful.

April 16, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermostafa

Hello Mr. Alex Hogrefe, My name is Osvaldo and I am from Angola, Africa
I am an admirer in the way you use Photoshop. I am enthusiastic about Designer 3D architecture and whenever I visit your site to see tutorials. I'm using Gimp to Produce Post my scenes modeled in SketchUp, rendered in Kerkythea. I have resorted to the techniques applied in the Gimp.

My request is to ensure that we provide a tutorial manipulation of grass in photoshop your way.
Hugs and success

April 17, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJoshen

Alex, do you use a tablet to do the freehand stuff like shadows and lighting or is it all mouse work?

April 18, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjmcc

Hi jmcc,
Everything was done with a mouse. I don't use a tablet for any of the tutorials or illustrations on this site

April 19, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Hogrefe

Wow!!!! this tutorial is just AWESOME!!!!! I love all your tutorials... do you have any with floor plans???
great job, thanks for sharing by the way.....

April 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterOsman

Alex, firstly i must thank you for your help and advice over the last two years i am a frequent visitor to your blog. i have decided to bother you regards some recommendations for some photoshop books! i feel confident operating most of the commands you outline in your tutorials. I would love to learn how to bring my drawings to another level of depth and realism. any hoo if you think any books may be of benefit id be glad to hear about them!

Kind regards,
Shane M, (Ireland)

July 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterShane Morrissey

Damn you got back fast on my comment on the blueprint tutorial. You were supposed to be busy with your awesome architecture life and take at least until I got back from school to see it, so that I had time to upload the other picture based on a tutorial of yours (and some others) to the gallery.
Here's the link again :)
Feel free to ignore this - I just thought you might be interested to see, as I am when people do things in reference to my creations.

September 24, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterBec

Thank you for the accurate and efficient memory tutorials. Shadows are beautiful. Depth can be seen very clearly. Has the effect of colors and shadows. I'm surprised your new design.

best regards.
soroush (iran)

October 31, 2012 | Unregistered Commentersoroush

amazing, your tutorials are very useful. thank you very much!

November 30, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterjonatan cordoni

Hi Alex, I love your work. It is amazing what you do and your kindness to share with us.
How do you import your autocad files to photoshop? What is the best configuration to have a nice line in photoshop?
Many thanks,


February 7, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterJulia

I plot the CAD as a PDF making sure the plot style is set correctly. Then I open the PDF in Photoshop using a resolution of something like 300 dpi. You could also open the PDF in illustrator and adjust line weights there or even open the CAD in illustrator though I tend not to go this route very often.

February 10, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex Hogrefe

Awesome videos. Thank you so much for posting these tutorials. Where do you get your wall textures?

Thank you,


March 5, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAlex

its great like your other tutorials.
one suggestion:if you upload tutorials in VIMEO is better because vimeo is specialy for Individual Skills & if you permit we can download tutorial

May 18, 2013 | Unregistered Commenterpoooolad

Your a magician at presentations Alex!!

October 28, 2013 | Unregistered CommenterAneesh

Nice Post..!!
Its Really helpful tutorial..!!

Yantram 3D Architecture studio

February 15, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterRuturaj Desai

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