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How To Be A Technical Illustrator

blogIllustrationWith advances in technology it is much easier to create digital artwork. Back when my husband and I worked as illustrators fresh out of Sheridan College's Illustration program, there were no computers. Everything was drawn by hand using technical pens and guides. These skills became valuable assets when the digital world sprang up. Edit Undo was your best friend and you didn't need to feverishly scrape and erase away mistakes. 

One of the first programs I learned to use was Autocad which gave me the knowledge to use cad files for projects and illustrations that I was creating in CorelDraw. Cad files could easily be imported into Corel and be used as reference to accurately produce drawings to mechanical specifications. Isometric drawings were illustrations drawn in a 33 degree perspective. This allowed parts of the drawing to be flipped horizontally and vertically without having to redraw certain parts. The example below shows how the same desk drawing was used to show two views without having to redraw it. 

Other reference that was used were photographs of the actual components taken with a ruler beside it so you could accurately measure them in the final illustration. In the aerospace business where we worked for many years it was cruicial that illustrations were accurate. Mechanical specifications from parts lists and colour specs from Federal Standard Colour books were also necessary to accurately replicate the actual hardware.

There are a few standards that need to be kept when illustrating in a draw program and they are:

Decide on 3 lineweights that you will use. One line weight for the outside, one for the main internal lines and one thin line weight for the details. 
Test the line weights so they are all visible and make sure they stay consitant when scaled up and down.
If using dotted lines for exploded views decide on a consistant line throughout your drawings.

In another blog I will discuss tips on how to use the different computer draw programs like Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw but for now this should get you started. 


The key to taking control of your busy life is with Simplicity.

This is a story about "Simplicity" and how less is more and how in life the simplest of details can be most beautiful.

When I was in art college 30 years ago we had an assignment in research drawing that required us to bring a drawing that we made in of nature and the teacher would critique it. The morning of my class while having breakfast I decided what I wanted to draw. That week I learned how to do a 30 second blind contour drawing where you didn't look at your paper at all while drawing. Instead you focused on looking at the image you were drawing and blindly letting your hand move around and through the image without lifting your pencil off the paper…in 30 seconds. I decided I would draw a blade of grass. It was so simple yet beautiful with it's slender blades.

As we arrived in class I was reluctant to put my picture up because everyone had put so much effort into drawing every little detail of a tree or bouquet of flowers. My drawing stood out like a sore thumb and I could hear chuckles from the other students. As the teacher examined the drawings looking closely at all the details and just walking past mine barely glancing at it…I had an uncomfortable feeling.

The teacher began by congratulating everyone on a job well done. He began by saying,"Out of all the beautifully detailed drawings we have in front of us there is one drawing that stands out. This one."

As he points to my drawing I try to hide. The teacher then points out that the reason why this one is my favorite is because of it's simple beauty and that sometimes the simplest of drawings can be the most beautiful. He asked who drew this and I raised my hand and the other students no longer chuckled.

To this day I use this advice in a lot of my work and the minute I think I need to add more I think twice about what my teacher said.

"Life is like a blade of grass in the morning breeze, reaching up to embrace simplicity."