CADDManager on October 10th, 2011

All of this hands-on method of drafting may soon (or already) be a thing of the past.  All of the methods that assisted in the proper training and development of the designers mind may be slipping away due to no longer needing them in today’s high tech world of advanced tools.  This small section of knowledge that enhances the ability of a designer in conveying the idea from inside their head onto 2D paper (or 3D screen) so that others can understand may be fleeting away.

Who needs to know how plans are put together?  No one’s job is dependent any longer on their ability to print well.  No one is hired or fired on their ability to draw a straight line of a given length.  No one is advancing up the ladder by getting better at not smudging those parts of the drawing that are already done.

What jobs are impacted by is the ability to convey your ideas to others.  When you boil it down to the basics, it is the generation of new and clever ideas, better ways to get something done, improvements on functionality or aesthetics coupled with the ability to convince others that it will work, be better, save money, last longer or improve society.

How do we do that?  It is done first by drawing and moving on to drafting.  It may be a sketch on a napkin or a grand animation.  It is the effort to convey or represent something that does not exist via an illustration.  Drawing is usually seen as a freehand effort using minimal tools to leave a mark on a medium (think pencil on paper).  Drafting is a more stringent effort. Wikipedia defines it as “Technical drawing, also known as drafting or draughting, is the act and discipline of composing plans that visually communicate how something functions or is to be constructed.”

Notice that is uses the term “discipline”.  I like that because it is a more disciplined effort than just drawing.  Drafting involves the use of agreed upon symbols, markings, notations, abbreviations and more.  These shared modes of communication are understood and standardized by industries.  Think what it would be like if an electrical drafter decided to not use the typical symbols to define electrical outlets and just created something. No one would understand it.  If a mechanical drafter decided to use some creative welding symbology to call out a weld that the field would not understand.  So we see that standard enter in to the drafting efforts.  Drawing is used to convey feeling, expression and allow for differing interpretations by those viewing it.  Drafting is a discipline that strives for one definition or meaning and understanding to be shared by every viewer.

Every person who wants to convey an idea to another via the use of illustrations needs to understanding drafting methods and requirements.  Every person who needs to ensure that their idea is being constructed or manufactured correctly needs to understand drafting processes and procedures.

Who needs a broader understanding of drafting?  Not just those that draft, but every person along the entire stream of transferring an idea into reality. Every job along that line will be enhanced by a better understanding of drafting.  Every person who does not fully understand and therefore does not pass the baton to the next person will detract and hamper the entire process.

Some may say that 3D makes drafting obsolete – I say it does not – at least not yet. This is because any time a design is reduced to 2D plans and prints, you need to understand the markings, annotations, indications and keynotes that are in place to aid in understanding.

We all need to understand and embrace the methods, tools and processes of drafting that make sense going forward into a new 3D world.

One Response to “The Art of Drafting – Who Needs It?”

  1. I started drafting in 1979 BC (Before Computers). I apprenticed in a shipyard doing structural steel. I can still smell the blueline machine and the eradicator.
    You can tell when someone who drafts sets up a drawing versus a designer, Architect or Engineer. Drafters have taken the time to lay things out in a logical progression.
    I am proud to be considered a Draftsman (drafter) it is a noble profession that is dying out. Take a look at older drawing sets, not just a couple of years old, but from 1900 or so. These drawing sets were nice enough to frame and put on the wall. They set up their drawings totally differently. You had not only plans but details pertaining to those plans all on the same sheet. Tradesmen had to just take one or two sheets with them to accomplish their job. Not today! We have to give the contractor hundreds of drawings just to build a stair.
    We are losing the art of drafting, and most of the young people that I work with just don’t care, they couldn’t be bothered.
    One thing that I point out to anyone who will listen; Less than 20 years ago, if an RFI came in from the jobsite there was a whole process it went through. First the Engineer or Architect would take some time and work out a solution, this would then go to drafting, while the designer reconsidered their solution. It might go back and forth three or four times before going back out to the field. We had time to come up with a good solution. Now we might have ten or twelve minutes to come up with something before the contractor is screaming that we are holding him up! I think this is why we have building failing, ugly and simplistic structures going up all through the world.
    Take a look at an older building, look at the top of the building, and take notice of the details in brick or plaster or whatever the building is made of. Could we detail those kinds of details today? Could we find someone who could do the work?
    We have lost more than just the art of drafting, and the world will be a duller place because of it.

    Just venting
    Jonathan Schade
    CADD manager – Drafter

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