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Art & Inspiration Drafting and Design - The work and tools

Discussion in 'The Hokey Ass Message Board' started by scootermcrad, Jul 15, 2011.

  1. scootermcrad
    Joined: Sep 20, 2005
    Posts: 12,374


    Okay guys. Not sure if this would really be considered O/T or not and I did a search for something like this but didn't really see anything.

    Obviously CAD design is a new thing to the Automotive and related industries. Pencil and paper was literally where the industries seem to start their life. Huge drafting tables, tons of templates, triangles, Vemco drafting machines and scales, crazy (almost obscene looking) electric erasers and eraser shields, good old compasses, etc., etc. etc....

    Are any of you still doing this kind of "traditional" drawing with the "old tools" of the trade? What are you using?

    I've done a ton of board drafting and my life has been changed by the computer and 3D modeling, but I really miss the artistic aspect and feeling of early hand-laid lines. Would really like to what you guys are or WERE using. I'm kind of a young guy, so I caught sort of the tail end of the pencil and paper era. It got swept away and computers plopped on our desks before I had a chance to learn some of the tricks of the trade. What can you guys share?

    Some inspiration...




  2. JeffreyJames
    Joined: Jun 13, 2007
    Posts: 16,612

    from SUGAR CITY

    When I was in high school I took 3 years of Drafting and Cad design doing everything from worm gears, dream homes to scaled hovercrafts shot from a band across the high school gym. I honed my skills on clean lines with precise pencil work and accurate measurements.... forward a few years when I attended the University of New York at Buffalo for Architecture and they changed the game on me!!! No longer were we using computers and they even hated how clean everything I did was. They wanted to see my process which meant smeared graphite on vellum or mylar or finger prints. I was kind taken back by the whole thing and needed to reteach myself how to let go a bit. I guess it depends on school of thought to which you prefer.

    I'm interested to see more about early industrial designers, mechanical engineers and talented draftsman that drew up the plans for many of our coveted speed parts. Lets see 'em!!!
  3. Slick Willy
    Joined: Aug 3, 2008
    Posts: 3,012

    Slick Willy

    I took engineering drafting and design and then architectural drafting for four years...I too was right at the cusp of CAD taking over. My school was just slightly behind and the teachers were old school (just plain old) and had no interest in the computer world. I learned what I wanted and shifted direction in college BUT my roommate who had CAD experience was in landscape architecture. His professor wanted everything done by hand and he didnt have a clue! So, I kinda have a year of landscape drafting/drawing experience too.
    Maybe seeing some more examples will get me back into it. I still have my board and all my squares, templates, pencils,etc!
  4. Beach Bum
    Joined: May 7, 2006
    Posts: 573

    Beach Bum

    I am a traditionally trained Technical Illustrator. Made my living doing illustrations for tech manuals in aerospace until about 1985 when I was chosen to manage a computer system for tech illustration at Rockwell Int. on the B-1 program. Been dealing with computers ever since.

    Tech Illustration is a pretty broad field and used a wide set of tools. These were mostly traditional drafting tools, pencil, pen, straightedge, triangles, various scales, and a wide variety of templates. In the area of templates we used a wide selection of ellipse templates. If you think of a circle in three dimensions and tilt the circle to view it at an angle, it becomes an ellipse. Ellipses are measured in degrees depending on the angle of tilt. I have (I think I still have) a pretty complete set of ellipse templates from (again, I think) 15 to 80 degrees.

    There are other specialized tools such as proportional dividers that let you measure a distance off of a blueprint and scale that length automatically. There are also things like isometric protractors that help you establish the degree of an ellipse. A good tech illustrator has to be able to look at a 2D print and imagine the part in 3D.

    The artistic component of tech illustration, the shading and embellishing, started to disappear in the '60s and was pretty much gone by the '70s. It was too time consuming and didn't "add value" to the product. I remember having an Air Force Tech Sgt question us about why it took so long to do certain things, like inking a drawing. We sat him down, handed him a Rapidograph pen and a template a let him give it a try. If you have ever used a Rapidograph or Leroy pen I bet you know what happened.

    I also dabbled in airbrush. Here is a pic of a piece I did back in college. It's 20"x30" in full color but I only have a B&W pic of it at the moment.


    Kurt O.

  5. 49ratfink
    Joined: Feb 8, 2004
    Posts: 18,084

    from California

    a while back I came across a drafting table with the arm thingamajig. I decided to sell the arm on ebay... the only catagory for it was in the antiques section!!!

    took 4 years of drafting in high school. (class of 78') my buddy continued on and did it for a carreer. I remember him complaining a few years later that they hired some handicapped guy that could not even hold a pencil. there was no more talent involved, and anyone could do it.

    damn computers are ruining the world.

    I still have the cast iron mechanical pencil sharpener I got for my birthday when I was about 14. have all my templates and T-square as well as the wooden drafting board I borrowed from school. got the whole mess out about a year ago planning on drawing something but it hasn't happened yet.
    Joined: Feb 5, 2006
    Posts: 1,029


    Awesome topic, I am an Industrial Designer and work at both ends of the spectrum. Lately my nose has been glued to the monitor using Solidworks for 8+ hours a day. In college I had a professor tell me to make the computer work for my design, instead of letting it design for you. Now I can spot a CAD hack a mile away by their computer dictated "designs". Its a good reason to put pen to paper at the beginning of any design process, but I'm guilty of jumping right into CAD too.
  7. Jim Dieter
    Joined: Jun 27, 2008
    Posts: 387

    Jim Dieter
    from Joliet

    The really old school guys I have been around in drafting (some from the 50's), refuse to use computers for anything, including mail or surfing the web. I'm sure there are drawings and stories we will never hear.
  8. Beach Bum
    Joined: May 7, 2006
    Posts: 573

    Beach Bum

  9. donbatey
    Joined: Sep 14, 2010
    Posts: 46


    I've been a clay moddeler for 20 plus years working for Jaguar, Ducati, VW, Audi etc. etc. never seen a car milled full size off a computer model that looked good, all the best Designers are great at sketching with a pencil/pen and paper. Then the likes of me work on a full size clay model by hand with very basic hand tools to develop the lines and surfaces.
    Photo shopped/ computer generated images look stale, you just can't beat the feeling you get from a sketch.
  10. mlagusis
    Joined: Oct 11, 2009
    Posts: 1,044


    I detailed rebar for bridges, parking garages, WWTP and high rise buildibngs out of my house for the past 6 years or so. I started by hand but switched over to CAD just because I was woring remote from my house in Idaho on work in San Francisco and Seattle jobs. It is easier to email CAD files than it is to take a hand drawn sheet to a print shop so they can scan and email them to my customers.

    Some jobs were easier to do by hand...and they look way better when they are done too.
  11. Beach Bum
    Joined: May 7, 2006
    Posts: 573

    Beach Bum

    When I was a young'un, I worked with some of the guys who did work like this.




    Kurt O.
  12. chopperfugger
    Joined: May 29, 2009
    Posts: 83

    from austin

    How much are drafting sets worth now as antiques?
    I started 1965 at the Boston Naval Shipyard inkng with nibs
    on linen 15 feet long. We were converting over to missiles
    on Destroyers and refitting HVAC also. That was still the microfische era.
    Then I went electro-mecahnical (computer industry) and we started
    digitizing. A lot of guys hung on then that had brains and talent.Then
    we went CAD auto - before the mouse was invented. A lot of guys that
    were on light tables still stayed but this was the time to get on CAD. We designed
    IC's for a while 10 :1 on rubylith cuttiing out the metal with an X-acto. Then
    things kind of went in different directions for a while A few algorithms settled in
    like auto-cad. File protocols got standardized and we started plotting.
  13. chevyburb
    Joined: Apr 17, 2006
    Posts: 169


    In the '60's I worked @ IBM as a Mechanical draftsman on computers & peripherals. Mostly sheetmetal and frames, but also got to work on exploded Isometric assembly drawings. It was really interesting as all was done with lead on cloth velum. They used to offer an Isometric template that had all the correct ovals on them as well as screw & bolt heads.
    Yes, I am that dinasoar. The angle of the "explosion" was 30 degrees, but in 2 planes, so a standard oval template did not work. The true isometric oval was approx. 32 degrees. I still have my templates.
  14. I started working as a hand draftsman for my fathers architectural firm in the late 70's and continued working thru the mid 90's in Solidworks/Microstation/AutoCAD/Structural Steel Design for other firms in area. My dad would only let me letter equipment schedules when I started, you guys remember the Leroy machines, 114 lines of text per sheet, in ink on vellum... yep that was me.

    I lost all my technique, feel and my ability to letter by the early 90's with the takeover of CAD. I also traded the knot/callus on the knuckle of my right hand for a mouse elbow... I do still have an old oak Franklin Drafting table in my home with the Mainline and wires all stuffed in the corner, my dad still does all his drawing work by hand on 8 old oak Boeing 8 footers in his home. My dad can still roll a lead holder and keep a point like very few.
  15. Scootermad
    originally I did a two year technical drafting course my senior year in high school. It was all on the board about 10-15 years prior to Autocad.

    I still own drafting tools mostly rudimentary tools. If I still had a drafting table or access to one I would still be doing it on the board.

    When I first became disabled and the fed sent me back to school to learn a more modern approach. We had some classes where the geometry had to be changed from 2d to 3 d and back again. For whatever reason I was the designated go to guy for sketches to help the younger students if they couldn't figure it out. It amazes me how many young and old alike are spatially challenged.
  16. Dzuari
    Joined: Jan 28, 2011
    Posts: 250

    from Muncie, IN

    I have a drafting table up stairs in our foundry still, I still personally use it for pattern layouts but other than that can't ever say i'v sat down and drawn out a design(im 21) :/ and probably couldn't if you asked me, sad to say really but its just change of times. My dad and two other guys are the only one that still works here that can do drafting and design. our company was actually started as a pattern shop that cut the patterns out of mahogany required to make castings, back in 1947. Really it was just my grandpa and great grandpa in his chicken coupe hand cutting the wood.... so i guess when i have kids they can say they're ancestors where draftsman :).

    With CAD, CAM and now 3 dimensional printers you probably couldn't pay a kid in China enough to draw you something, let alone make the tooling for it.
  17. TexasSpeed
    Joined: Nov 2, 2009
    Posts: 4,618


    Just subscribing.. This is interesting to me.

    I'm a graphic designer major at my local university so I don't really dabble much with drafting. I do have a drafting table in my room that I use to make illustrations and to draw on. I've always found cut away drawings and drafting designs fascinating. I got TRJ issue #49 with the story on Rex Burnett when it came out and the one picture I stared at the most was the initial drawing he did of Fred Carillo's '27 Ford Bonneville racer. I'm looking toward what will become of this thread.

    iPhone - TJJ App
  18. scootermcrad
    Joined: Sep 20, 2005
    Posts: 12,374


    WOW! Ton of replies!

    I'm a Mechanical Engineer by trade, but am guilty of being a little on the "artsy fartsy" side, so I sketch just about EVERYTHING I design out on paper first. I just like seeing it that way before I even think about dropping it into SolidWorks. It's good to know that I'm not alone on all this.

    I still have ALL of my drafting supplies from high school and college. It's really sad that I know what an isometric protractor is. HAHA! I think I'm destined to get back into technical drawing by hand, just for the personal satisfaction. Hey, maybe even design my next project this way, just for kicks. I've got my Dad's drawing board still, but have since sold my table. I'm thinking maybe a cool table is in the future and sooner than later a 24" Vemco drafting machine/arm and scales.

    The owner of our company is a boat guy and has a full set of hull radius gauges. Always thought they would make a useful tool.

    Glad to hear some of you speaking up! I would love to hear more. I think it's one thing to drawing something as an artistic rendering, but it's a whole nother thing to sit down at a board and draw it to scale, as well. Just awesome!

    Keep it going!
  19. Francisco Plumbero
    Joined: May 6, 2010
    Posts: 2,531

    Francisco Plumbero
    from il.

    In HS I took 4 years of Architectural Drawing and 2 years of Machine and components drawing paper and board based. Our final exam was an exploded schematic with detail cut aways of the 350 Chevrolet engine. I received a deduction of 5 points and was graded a 92 due to the very small wording that I placed on the casting on the block. It said Chevy's suck but you needed a magnifying glass to see it. Dang.

    Machine drafting and drawing is not art per design. If you strike a line on a machine drawing, it's thickness darkness and temperature each mean something. If you are shadowing a steel part, the texture and detail of the lines are describing a material not just there as a shadow.

    The JH Clark drawing is very similar to what I was trained to do. It is a very good drawing but it has a few things that would have been nicked by the teachers.
    Machine drawing lettering is supposed to be as straight as possible with no flair a or lean to it.
    Machine drawings do not typically have arrowheads from the description to the part. They tend to use a dot or just end the line.
    Machine drawings are not done in a diminishing perspective in most cases. The item tends to be placed on a minimal angle and done to full size through the perspective.
    All wordage is done on a razor straight plane with no guide lines. All dimensions are done in decimal foot To present the object to the machinist and make it easy for him to read and understand.

    It was really tough having architecture in the morning and machine after it, two completely different sets of rules.
  20. Pharouh
    Joined: Sep 18, 2008
    Posts: 437


    This is a great thread. I took drafting in high school,too. I kind of wish now that I had kept doing it. The problem was that I wasn't all that good at it.Or I didn't apply myself enough.
    I love to draw using pencil and paper,but the computer does things I can't. There's a place for both of them. I have two drafting tables,one small and one industrial size,and they get used and abused.
    Love the cutaways! I've never tried doing one of those.
    I know some people don't consider them art,but I do.
    Thanks for posting this.
  21. I've been an architect for almost 40 years and still draft by hand; it's the reason I got into this field to begin with. It's great for beginning designs and getting the project started, as well as impressing the client. I can draw upside down also, a trick I use sitting across the conference table from them. But when it comes to the production of working drawings I rely on younger guys using CAD, which is where an architect or designer makes his money. So there's a place for both mediums. We didn't completely discard propeller planes for jets, acoustic guitars for electrics, or pencils for mousepads.
  22. zman
    Joined: Apr 2, 2001
    Posts: 16,594

    from Garner, NC

    I took drafting in high school and college, even worked as a draftsman for a little while. It was on the cusp of the computer age. I still have two drafting tables and all the tools. One at home and one at the shop. I still draw a lot of patterns and stuff by hand. I enjoy drawing stuff by hand. I find it to be more cerebral.
  23. Scootermad,
    I still do some drawing as a way to relax. Not too artsy mostly mechanical stuff chassis and suspension.

    Some place in my stuff I still have big compasses etc. made from wood that hold chalk for use on the shop floor. I got thet stuff when I was welding structural in a job shop. Essential for laying out stairways and the like.
  24. Doctor Detroit
    Joined: Aug 12, 2010
    Posts: 1,020

    Doctor Detroit

    Cool thread. I've been in the automotive engineering business for 15 years. I still have a briefcase full of squares, french curves, drafting dots, compasses, aluminum pencil inserts, and plenty of other stuff from college back in '90-'94. Took drafting in high school on the board, then in college pursued a vehicle design degree. I was probably the last generation to really use the board, because we were beginning to use cad systems too. Over 15 years using cad software, and before I spend hours/days/weeks designing something, I still draw a good portion of it out with a good 0.5 or 0.7 mechanical pencil and rectangular white eraser on graph paper. I sketch it mostly, drawing section cuts, iso views, exploded views, stack ups, etc. I find it saves a lot of time before I move to the computer. I still use a slotted lettering guide many times a week. Engineers fresh out of college cannot letter for shit. My sloppiest lettering is still more legible than anything they can produce. They wonder how I do it. How about practice over and over and over? That's what we did in college. That's a lost art now. I've actually made guys practice their lettering because I couldn't read it. They look at me like I am Michelangelo when I draw a shaded iso view in a few minutes. If I draw something upside down so they can see it across the table, it blows their minds. I tell them these are skills they should have too - but they need to develop it. At my desk I still keep a steel square, compass, circle guides. They don't get used very often, but still from time to time.
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2011
  25. mr.chevrolet
    Joined: Jul 19, 2006
    Posts: 7,593


    well, i was a commercial kitchen designer for about 30 years, 25 of them using pencil and paper. our company was bought out and i was told to learn CAD or get another job. it wasnt easy for me but a couple younger guys showed me the functions of the tool bars and i got the hang of it. but, i really dont know much else about setting up layers and stuff. always had to ask a thousand questions of the younger guys. retired now and still use my drafting table and lead holders.
  26. oj
    Joined: Jul 27, 2008
    Posts: 6,257


    I'm kinda self-taught in autocad, went from R13 mechanical to inventor 5.3 and now i'm stuck at 9.0. I find it interesting and a challange, a mental exercise. When i really want to design a frame or something i need to build i have a roll of butchers' paper and i'll spread it out on a bench and go to work do it full size. I need a tab, i lay the real thing on the drawing and trace it. When i cut a piece of steel i lay it on the drawing where it belongs (actually there'd be 2 of them).
    I'm not smart enough to translate all that autocad stuff into real world dimensions, so i try to work with life size stuff.
  27. OJ when you are working in autocad or inventor you draw everything ture size true shape then you scale it to fit on your paper when you print. I can send you a tutorial if you want.

    You dimension it right on the computer and it will give you the proper dimensions.

    you can even pull 2D prints from inventor. it is a little involved but I can hook you up with a toturial for that also.

    Drop me a note if you want.
  28. I used to work with Rotring ink pens on scratch board - I have no fond memories of it at all, although the style and effects you could achieve were nice.
  29. scootermcrad
    Joined: Sep 20, 2005
    Posts: 12,374


    Funny, drafting is a lot like fabrication itself. Having the right tools makes it better and there's something about using old tools/drafting supplies. I find beauty in old tools and drafting equipment as well...

    The old tables are beautiful pieces of furniture all by themselves...



  30. I still have my grandpaws old inking pens and his slide rule. He was a mechanicle engineer among ohter things. The fed sent him to school alot. But that is another story all together.

    When I was little he used to sit me down with the slide rule and problems to work. I thought it was a toy until I took my first calculas class in junior high school, I think the 8th grade if I recall.

    Excuse me I digress, I have used his inking tools before. What a pain in the patoot. I think if you got good at it would be a fun.

    Crap it all now I am going to have to search all this stuff out and play with it again.

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