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Technical Illustration FAQ (v 1.1.1)


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Archive-name: graphics/Techill-FAQ
Posting-Frequency: monthly
Version: 1.1.1

See reader questions & answers on this topic! - Help others by sharing your knowledge
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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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


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Last Update March 27 2014 @ 02:11 PM