Technical Illustration

Subject: Technical Illustration
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 13 Sep 1996 15:37:09 PDT

Darlene Bohner writes:

>Quality technical illustration is extremely important to good
>documentation. As for a writer doing the artwork, there are some who have
>the talent and interest, but this is a completely different field and
>should NOT be "what technical writers need to know!" Writers and
>illustrators need to work hand in hand, each with their own specialty.

Let's not confuse talent with training. Few people are born with
the skills required to be brain surgeon, an illustrator, a writer,
a bookie, or a lawyer. They get these skills through training or
experience -- rarely from first principles.

Some professions have a fully developed course of instruction in which
the unimaginative but hard-working student can have a basic working
knowledge pounded into his skull in spite of his complete lack of flair.

This is a good thing. At one time you had to be Leonardo da Vinci to
figure out how to draw a one-point perspective diagram. Now you can learn
it at your local community college, because the course of instruction
has been refined to the point where most people can grasp it if they
pay attention and do their assigned work.

This is not to say that taking a couple of technical illustration courses
will turn you into Leonardo da Vinci, but you'll walk away knowing why
you might want to use two or three line weights in a block diagram, that
schematic drafting should show control flow that goes from left to right
and top to bottom, that isometric works for some things but not for
cases in which you care about one face of an object a whole lot more than
the others. You'll also learn that there are a lot of advanced things
you can't do, but can now describe to someone who really IS Leonardo
da Vinci.

While it would be nice if ol' Leonardo were available for every block
diagram, schematic, and isometric drawing, the fact is that he's often
busy painting a wall or something, and you're on your own.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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