Windows For The Soul
Design Development Process

Design Development Process

WHEN A CLIENT wants a new stained glass window, the first and most important step is to listen carefully to the client's request. Of course, we must also consider the architectural space, adjoining windows, building style, light source intensity and direction, and any trees, buildings, mountains, or other obstacles that may block the available light. All these variables must be taken into account during the process of forming the core concept but in the end, it all comes down to fulfilling the client’s desire.

Computer Aided Design

In the not too distant past we would render our design proposal as a watercolor painting or use colored dyes on transparent film to illustrate our concept for the client's approval. Today we create our proposal rendering using our computer aided design (CAD) system. It takes our artists about the same length of time to create a digital rendering as it did to produce a watercolor painting. However with a digital design, we don't have to start over if the client wants to make changes. Now changes to the proposal, even major ones, such as a complete color makeover or a proportion adjustment are made quickly and simply, allowing us to communicate with our client graphically in a way they can understand. It is our responsibility to demystify the process for them.

Transmitted Light

An easy way to experience the contrast of transmitted light is to look at a familiar church window from the outside during the day, you’ll notice a very dramatic difference.
The client may also need some guidance to help them understand the unique nature of stained glass as a "transmitted light" medium. If you look at a stained glass window in reflected light, (from the same side as the light source) you will find yourself looking at a relatively dark surface, with a few light colored opalescent (milky) glass areas. An easy way to experience this is to look at a familiar church window from the outside during the day, you’ll notice a dramatic difference. Even the opalescent glass areas have a very different, less interesting characteristic in reflected light.

Proposal Rendering

An easy way to experience the contrast of transmitted light is to look at a familiar church window from the outside during the day, you’ll notice a very dramatic difference.
This brings us back to the rendering. A proposal rendered on paper, by its very nature, is presented in a medium of reflected light. At best, it can only give the client an indication of how the finished stained glass will look. Even a proposal prepared on transparent film, which is a medium of transmitted light (similar to stained glass), cannot portray the depth and richness of stained glass. Very few clients are able to visualize the overall effect of the glass in the finished window even when colored glass samples are presented along with the rendering. For this reason, it is very important to establish a trust relationship between the client and the stained glass artist.

An easy way to experience the contrast of transmitted light is to look at a familiar church window from the outside during the day, you’ll notice a very dramatic difference.
The most innovative and poetic work is accomplished by allowing an experienced artist the creative freedom to visualize. Of course they must stay within the clients established design boundaries as well as other considerations such as correctness of religious symbols, liturgy, architectural styles, and artistic style factors such as modern, traditional, abstract, representational, etc.

Above, Below, and Left: A proposal rendering created with a computer aided design (CAD) system for a Georgia Performing Art Center.The 3-D views of the proposal renderings show how they would appear after installation into the building.

Above is an example of an interior “transmitted light” view. Good Shepherd window installed in United Presbyterian Church of Morning Sun, Iowa. Below, is viewed from the outside during daylight in “reflected light”. The contrast is dramatic.

A computer rendering that has been approved by the customer (notice signature in lower right). This color image will serve as a guide throughout the production of the window.

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