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Subject: Technical Illustration FAQ (v 1.1.1)

This article was archived around: 21 May 2006 04:22:48 GMT

All FAQs in Directory: graphics
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Archive-name: graphics/Techill-FAQ Posting-Frequency: monthly Version: 1.1.1
-----------------------------------------------------------------------= ----- TECHnical ILLustration Frequently Asked Questions Version: 1.1.1 Please forward any comments, suggestions, additional information and = so forth, I will endeavour to include them in future versions of this continously updated FAQ. More FEEDBACK equals more USEFUL! richard@rfitech.com -----------------------------------------------------------------------= ----- INDEX * 1. Where to get this FAQ. * 2. What, Why, Where? * 3. Programs for technical illustration o 2D o 3D o CAD o Macintosh. o IBM/PC. o Other systems. * 4. File formats * 5. Internet related information, other useful resources o Mailing Lists. o Newsgroups. o Websites. * 6. Disclaimer and Credits -----------------------------------------------------------------------= ----- SECTION 1 - Where to get this FAQ. This latest version of this FAQ may be retrieved from the following = sites as an HTML doc. (or email me if you only want the text version): =A0 The TechIll website http://www.uplex.net/mdf/techill =A0 The RFI web site: http://www.rfitech.com/text/techill-FAQ.html =A0 By email request from myself at (I'll send the html version unless you request the text): richard@rfitech.com =A0 The central FAQ site: ftp to rtfm.mit.edu as /pub/usenet/news.answers/graphics/Techill-FAQ =A0 The following newsgroups: comp.graphics.misc,comp.answers,news.answers =A0 Back to Index -----------------------------------------------------------------------= ----- SECTION 2 - What, why, where? Q. What programs should I use for technical illustration? A. Check out Section 3 below, for suggestions. =A0 Q. Should I use a Mac or an ibmPC or? A. People have been debating this one for a decade or more. Without = wishing to start a flame on the subject; if the people you deal with use = imbPC's, get one, if they use Mac's, get one. If you can afford it, get both = and experiment! (I use a PowerMac with a DosCard in it for beta-testing = and variety!) You might find youself running on a Sparc or something else I know = nothing about, please inform this FAQ if we can usefully add something on the subject. Having said that, this FAQ is aimed more at the individual = than the industrial giant. =A0 Q. I'm told computers can't do 'Thick & thin'? A. This is like saying, "Cars can't do more than 30-miles/per/hour", = these days they can! Each program will have it's own way of doing it, RTFM, experiment. Further, in Illustrator, for example, a satisfactory method is to = take an object with a fill, and 'paste behind' the same object with a line = weight twice the width you require. So where you need a 2pt line, give the = rearmost object a 4pt line. (Try it). This is also a good way of 'outlining' = letters, the true character of the frontmost letter is then retained. Another way to do it, and commonly more used 'in the field' is to have everything in a thin line, then thicken up where required. This is = visually acceptable, though sometimes you can lose the traditional advantage of thickening up on one side of a line. =A0 Q. I'm told computers can't do 'perspective'? A. Similar to above quote, they can do perspective "IN SPADES". = Adjustable perspective, turn on, turn off, fly-throughs... Technical shapes can = be drawn with no foreshortening, perhaps using 'x' & 'y' & 'z', or = 'plan' & 'elevation' & 'rear' views, then adding appropriate, mild, perspective later. =A0 Q. What is a typical 'drawing standard' on a computer in the US or UK = or elsewhere? A. Inking 'on the board', usually requires a 0.25mm or 0.3mm pen = alongside between 0.5mm & 0.7mm for the heavier line weight. This is equivalent = on the computer to between 0.35pt & 0.5pt for thin, with between 1.0pt & = 2.0pt for thick. There may be a 'house-style' which will dictate the actual line weights used. Otherwise the following is a reasonable middle-ground to tread: Thin = =3D 0.5pt, Thick =3D 1.0pt, Annotation lines =3D 0.7pt =A0 Q. How do I 'thicken up' a colour rendering? A. Generally colour illustrations do not use edge shadings as used in traditional black & white illustrating. The colour and shade is = usually enough to form the shape and 'feel' of depth. =A0 Q. Computers are cheating surely? A. That's what they said about photography back in the 1840's, "Art is dead!" Probably what those old guys with brushes and ink said about technical pens and ellipse guides! =A0 Q. How on earth do I draw with a mouse? A. Don't! (another area of debate) ;-) Seriously, there are 3 prime methods of digitising by hand; mouse, = puck, and pen. The good ol' MOUSE has it's limitations but if you get an = ergonomical (hand-shaped) one, it will be quite sufficient. The PUCK is more = accurate with a cross-hair on a magnifying glass and particularly suited to = tracing and plotting. The PEN, usually pressure sensitive, has a more natural = feel and is probably less likely to promote RSI. =A0 Q. What is RSI? A. Repetitive Stress Injury. Incurred by (in this case) computer = usage with too much keyboard and mouse operation and unsupported wrists. I wear a fingerless glove to keep the wrist warm, and give a soft contact with = the desk area. Try it before you dismiss it giggling, you may look = stupid, but your hand may last longer! See also "RSI Newsletter", contact Caroline Rose = (crose@applelink.apple.com) and check the mailing lists below. =A0 Q. Why are my straight lines jagged when printed? A. Sometimes the lines on the screen look straight until printed. = This is because the screen resolution is 72dpi (dots per inch), which is quite coarse and the screen is incapable of showing the detail, so it = approximates the line. Usually there are constraining key/s in a program to ensure = the cursor is 'snapped-to' a grid, to ensure they are 'true'. Also your printer might not have the resolution to print fine lines. = 300dpi is a minimum, 600dpi is usually OK, imagesetters at 2400dpi are of = course, the best. =A0 Q. How do I set the transparency bit on my web page? Q. How do upload my illustrations to the 'net? Q. How ... ? A. These and all other Internet related questions can be answered by ferreting about in the appropriate FAQ, or asking in a pertinent = newsgroup, see section 5 below. Back to Index -----------------------------------------------------------------------= ----- SECTION 3 - Programs for Technical Illustration. There are several different 'types' of program used for technical illustration, which you use will depend on how you are going to = construct your drawings. 2D, 3D, CAD: =A0 2D - Illustrator and Freehand type programs are 2-dimensional, they = can be treated a bit like the 'inking' of a traditional pencil drawing, and = are responsible for much of the technical illustration done on the = computer to date. IsoDraw is a program designed specifically to replace the board, and = will tend to be more familiar for traditionally trained illustrators, who = may be unused to the 3D modelling world or 'virtual-reality' style programs. = Used a lot for tracing over photographs and updating existing illustrations. =A0 3D - A program typically working with a 'wireframe' or block shapes to construct a 'working model'. Dimensions can produce a 3D framework and simple renderings which may be manipulated further in the 2D programs = above. You might for example produce a basic shape, export it and add colour = or 'thick & thin' techniques. Complex rendering within Dimensions alone = can produce unwieldy (big) files. Form-Z is a program which can 'draw anything', from a simple = unfolding box, to a complex organic shape, to a multi-layered technical cutaway. = Boolean operations cut shapes from other shapes, spirals can be automatically generated etc. The results can be rendered plain or = photo-realistically and then exported in many different file formats. =A0 CAD - For example: AutoCad & MicroStation, the 'big boys', are = designed for 2D drafting and producing blue-prints. These are now able to = automatically generate complete 3D perspective and rendered views of the objects, = based purely on the CAD drawings. There is a full range of CAD programs = from these 'high-end' to simpler pixel based versions, the latter working purely = in 2D. =A0 These applications will NOT replace illustrators until companies are prepared to pay engineers, (rather than illustrators), to 'visualise' = the item 'in-situ', and in colour with appropriate cutaways, and so on. = Even though different skill bases are bound to overlap, engineers or = draughtsmen are _not_ graphic designers, or technical illustrators. =A0 The following are programs that might be used for technical = illustration. Program name with current version number in brackets; company; typical usage; typical output file formats. =A0 APPLE MACINTOSH AUTOCAD* (v11) from AutoDesk; 2D drafting & 3D modeling; DXF & DWG. DIMENSIONS* (v2) from Adobe Systems; 3d Graphics; Illustrator & = Freehand. FORM-Z (v2.8.1) from Alt-Sys-Desk; 3D modelling/rendering; DXF & EPS. FREEHAND (v5) from Macromedia; 2D illustration; EPS. ILLUSTRATOR (v6.0) from Adobe Systems; 2D illustration; EPS & PDF & = TIFF. ISODRAW 3.0.3 from ITEDO; 2D Illustration; EPS & CGM & IGES & DXF. MICROSTATION (v5.0) from Bentley; 2D drafting & 3D modelling; DXF & = EPS & DWG & DGN & CGM & IGES. PHOTOSHOP (v3.1) from Adobe Systems; Image manipulation; EPS & TIFF & = GIF & PICT & JPEG etc. (most formats). RAY DREAM DESIGNER (v4.0) ; 3D modelling and rendering; TIFF & PICT. EXPLODE; (V2.0); 2D Isometric style illustratione; EPS & TIFF & PICT. =A0 =A0 IBM/PC COMPATIBLE AUTOCAD* (v13) from AutoDesk; 2D drafting & 3D modeling; DXF & DWG. CORELDRAW (v4.0) from Corel; 2D illustration; EPS & TIFF. FREEHAND (v3.1,) from Macromedia; 2D illustration; EPS. ILLUSTRATOR v(5.0) from Adobe Systems; 2D illustration; EPS & PDF. ISODRAW (v3.0) from ITEDO 2D Illustration; EPS & CGM & IGES & DXF. MICROSTATION (v5.5) from Bentley; 2D drafting & 3D modelling; DXF & = EPS & DWG & DGN & CGM & IGES. PHOTOSHOP (v3.0) from Adobe Systems; Image manipulation; EPS & TIFF & = GIF & PICT & JPEG etc. (most formats). Micrographx Designer () Windows 3.11, Windows 95 and Windows =A0 OTHER PLATFORMS Catia (v4) from Dassault (fr); 2D drafting/3D modelling; IBM6000 MicroStation (v5.5) from Bentley; 2D drafting & 3D modelling; DXF & = EPS & DWG & DGN & CGM & IGES; IBM/RS 6000, Sparc, SGI INTERLEAF TI PLUS () Auto-trol =A0 Further 3D drawing programs (Mac/PC): 3DStudio Infini-D Mechanisto PatchDance RayDreamDesigner RenderCadPro StrataStudioPro Truespace Vision3D =A0 Further 2D drawing programs (Mac/PC): Clay Canvas MacDrawPro DanCad CadKey TurboCad GammaCad* BluePrint MiniCad Tk316e =A0 Of the above program, those marked with an asterisk (*), have a review uploaded on the TechIll website: http://www.uplex.net/mdf/techill Back to Index -----------------------------------------------------------------------= ----- SECTION 4 - File Formats. Typical file formats: V =3D vector, B =3D Bitmap, V/B =3D 'hybrid' = format using both vector & bitmap together. (For an extensive explanation of image = file formats see the FAQ available from the comp.graphics.misc newsgroup = and from rtfm.mit.edu as /pub/usenet/news.answers/graphics/fileformats-faq). =A0 CGM =3D Computer Graphics Metafile, V/B =A0 DWG =3D AutoCad DraWinG file, V/B =A0 DXF =3D Digital eXchange Format, V =A0 EPS =3D Encapsulated Postscript, V/B =A0 GIF =3D Graphics Interchange Format, B =A0 IGES =3D International Graphics Exchange System, V/B =A0 JPG =3D Joint Photographic Group format, B =A0 PDF =3D Portable Document Format, V/B =A0 PICT =3D Macintosh PICTure file, B =A0 TIFF =3D Tagged Image File Format, B =A0 Back to Index -----------------------------------------------------------------------= ----- SECTION 5 - Internet related information, other useful resources. Related newsgroups and mailing lists, web sites etc. =A0 MAILING LISTS Techill mailing list; To subscribe, send "subscribe techill" to majordomo@uplex.net To unsubscribe, send "unsubscribe techill" Technical Writers List; send an email message to LISTSERV@LISTSERV.OKSTATE.EDU, don't put anything in the subject = field, put "SUB TECHWR-L _firstname _lastname" in the body field. ie; SUB = TECHWR-L John Smith The health effects of computer use Address: listserv@iubvm.ucs.indiana.edu Message: sub C+HEALTH Your Name Carpal tunnel syndrom, tendonitis etc. (discussion) Address: LISTSERV@ITSSRV1.UCSF.EDU Message: subscribe sorehand Your Name =A0 NEWSGROUPS =A0 alt.cad alt.corel.graphics alt.industry alt.sys.intergraph bit.listerv.techwr-l comp.cad.i-deas comp.cad.microstation comp.graphics.apps.freehand comp.graphics.apps.photoshop comp.graphics.apps.pagemaker comp.graphics.misc comp.graphics.rendering comp.graphics.visualisation comp.sys.mac.graphics comp.prepress.electronic comp.publish.electronic.end-user comp.publish.prepress news.answers =A0 =A0 WORLD WIDE WEB SITES The TechIll website with a Forum for all of us; http://www.uplex.net/mdf/techill =A0 Technical communicators resource site; http://www.rpi.edu/~perezc2/tc/ =A0 The International Society for Technical Illustrators http://www.epic-isti.com/epic =A0 Technical Communicators site; http://www.in.net/~smschill/techcomm.html =A0 A useful Graphics page; http://www.best.com/~bryanw =A0 DTP tips & tricks; http://www.winternet.com/~jmg/GetInfo.html =A0 CAD related web site listings http://www.webcom.com/~imt/other.html =A0 Maps, cartography, DXF and Adobe Illustrator links http://www.shef.ac.uk/~sc/ =A0 FAQ's, (Frequently Asked Questions): TechIllFAQ http://www.uplex.net/mdf/techill or http://www.rfitech.com/ text/techill-FAQ.html TechWrFAQ http://www.best.com/~miket/TECHWR.FAQ.html Usenet FAQ's (central site); ftp to rtfm.mit.edu Scanning FAQ http://www.dopig.uab.edu/dopigpages/FAQ/the-scan-FAQ.html Computer Graphics Journals email kouhia@ftp.funet.fi WWW info FAQ http://www.boutell.com/faq/ Comp.Graphics FAQ, ftp from = rtfm.mit.edu/pub/usenet/news.answers/grahics/faq Graphic File Formats FAQ; by ftp at rtfm.mit.edu /pub/usenet/news.answers/graphics/fileformats-faq =A0 For a really good place to start with Internet info try looking at = "The Internet and Computer-Mediated Communication" authored by John = December (decemj@rpi.edu), ftp to "ftp.rpi.edu". Back to Index -----------------------------------------------------------------------= ----- SECTION 6 - Disclaimer and credits. * This FAQ is the product of it's lack elsewhere coupled with a = percieved need. Thanks in particular to Mark Foster <mdf@uplex.net> and = various other people for their encouragement. This FAQ is not affiliated = to any group or company (except my own), and all comments are mine, and = should be treated with caution, unless expressly stated otherwise. This document may be distributed freely so long as it is unaltered in = any way. All comments welcome, (within reason)! * ;-) Copyright RFI richard@rfitech.com Richard Foley, RFI Ingleton, LA63AN, UK richard@rfitech.com Maintainer of the Technical Illustration FAQ doc: "Techill-FAQ" http://www.rfitech.com