The Velocipedia project brings hopeless bicycle sketches to life

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Velocipedia project brings hopeless bicycle drawings to life with digital renders

People's impromptu sketches of bicycles have been turned into a series of absurd-looking digital renderings in the Velocipedia project (+ slideshow).

Velocipedia by Gianluca Gimini realises flawed bicycle sketches with renders
This bike design features a frame that leans backward unnaturally

The renderings are the result of a seven-year-long project by Italian American designer Gianluca Gimini, who approached family, friends and strangers with a pen and paper, and asked them to draw a men's bicycle from memory.

The sketches feature all kinds of erroneous details, including strangely shaped frames, bulbous tires, misplaced mudguards and a seat that tilts away awkwardly from the handlebars.

Velocipedia by Gianluca Gimini realises flawed bicycle sketches with renders
The design was based on a sketch by a person recorded only as Leonardo

Gimini developed a process combining photographic post-production and digital painting to turn these garbled illustrations into a set of renderings.

Velocipedia by Gianluca Gimini realises flawed bicycle sketches with renders
This bicycle misses some vital frame components

Many of the fictional bicycles' components are lifted from photographs then digitally manipulated to resemble the frames in the sketches.

While they appear three dimensional, they are technically ultra-realistic digital drawings and not 3D rendered wireframe models.

Velocipedia by Gianluca Gimini realises flawed bicycle sketches with renders
The bike design was based on a sketch by Annarita

Velocipedia began as a conversation in a bar between Gimini and a friend. He challenged his friend to draw a bicycle on a napkin, but the resulting image was of a bike that was neither structurally sound nor functional. This sketch became the first of 376 flawed designs collected by the designer.

Velocipedia by Gianluca Gimini realises flawed bicycle sketches with renders
Alessandro's bike has bulbous tyres and the rider sits to one side on the frame

Gimini later learned he had stumbled upon a test widely used by cognitive psychologists to measure how accurate a patient's memory is and to demonstrate the brain's ability to trick us into thinking that we know something, even though we don't.

While the Velocipedia sketches are technically wrong, Gimini sees aesthetic merit in them.

"The mudguards [in Rosalba's drawing] stemming directly from the frame, even though not functional, are something that I think is full of style and attitude," he said.

Velocipedia by Gianluca Gimini realises flawed bicycle sketches with renders
Rosalba's bicycle features mudguards which stem directly from the frame

The Velocipedia project began during the recent bicycle boom, which has seen the number of cyclists on London's roads triple from 12,000 in the year 2000 to 36,000 in 2014. Other major cities have reported similar growth.

"I chose an aesthetic for this set of renderings that is clearly influenced by contemporary urban bike culture," said Gimini.

Velocipedia by Gianluca Gimini realises flawed bicycle sketches with renders
Lee's playful design includes a flag and narrow wooden tyres

As a consequence of the bike boom, many infrastructure projects are currently in development to make cycling an easier and safer transport option in large cities.

Dedicated cycle superhighways are under construction in London, while more unconventional proposals to keep up with the city's rising need for bike infrastructure include a floating cycle path for the River Thames and a Foster-designed "cycling utopia" above the city's railways.

Velocipedia by Gianluca Gimini realises flawed bicycle sketches with renders
Giorgia's bike has a number of structural errors

Unusual bicycle designs have come from research studio MX3D, which 3D printed a steel design, and Hummingbird Bike Company, whose super-light folding bike weighs less than a watermelon.