Manual drafting techniques
Manual drafting is the practice of creating drawings by hand. Manual drafting techniques have traditionally enabled the planning and communication of design ideas and construction information. As there is a very diverse range of information that may need to be communicated, there are a similarly wide range of drawing types. See Types of drawing for more information.
The evolution of manual drafting techniques has created a discipline around which other forms of drafting, such as computer-aided design (CAD) have subsequently developed.
The advantages of manual drafting include; the low cost of equipment compared to CAD hardware and software, the clarity that can be achieved by being able to see all shapes, sizes and angles on one sheet, the ability to bring creative style and expression to drawings, and a degree of depth and weight that can be easier to convey with 'analogue' rather than 'digital' drawing techniques.
However, manual drafting is now becoming something of a lost art, as; it requires a large amount of space, both for the drawing process, storage and viewing; drawings cannot be linked to digital information, they can take much more time to prepare in comparison with CAD drawings, they are more difficult to correct, text and colour can be more difficult to apply, it is more complicated to create three-dimensional representations and so on.
Manual drafting requires a flat drafting table, drafting or drawing board, typically with a parallel motion, that allows consistent drawing of parallel lines. Drawing boards can often be adjusted in height and angle to suit the user.
Vellum paper was used traditionally for drafting and came supplied in rolls. More recently, drafting paper, standard paper sheets, or tracing paper have become more common as they are less expensive.
Manual drafting tools include:
- Specialised pencils with varying lead strengths.
- Technical drawing pens of varying sizes (see technical drawing pen sizes for more information).
- Colour application pens.
- Scale rules.
- Set squares.
- T squares.
- Steel rules that are not damaged by being used repeately to draw lines.
- Drafting tape or clips to secure the corners of the sheet to the board.
- Pencil sharpeners.
- Pen cleaners.
- Scalpel blades for scraping off ink or removing sections of drawings.
- Clear tape for repairing drawings (this does not show on reproductions)
- Mechanical lead holders for using various size leads for different parts of the draft.
- Templates or stencils allowing easy drawing of certain objects, symbols, common shapes, text and so on.
- Text writing machines.
- Letraset lettering sheets that can be applied to drawings as a form of transfer. Other sheets include people, trees and other common objects and symbols.
- Pantone colour and greyscale sheets than can be cut and applied to drawings to bock colour or shade areas.
- Tipex (which does not show on reproductions).
- Drawing board attachments that can be fixed to the parallel motion to create specific angles, reproduce lines or change scales.
Lines in manual drafts should be clean and sharp. A straight edge should always be used when manually drafting. A parallel motion, or T-square can be used to draw horizontal lines, and a T-square or set square to draw vertical lines or other common angles. Typically, the bottom of the set square is placed on the top of the parallel motion, and the vertical portion used to draw straight lines. To draw a vertical line using a T-square, the T portion should be placed flat against the top of the drawing board.
Equal pressure should be applied on the pen or pencil when drawing lines, slightly rotating the point, and not removing it from the paper until the line is completed.
Sprinkling setting powder, or using fixing sprays over pencil lines can help maintain the integrity of the lines when the sheets are folded or rolled, or otherwise brushed against.
 Line weights
Manual drafting techniques typically involve drawing different line weights to represent different items. Different line weights can be created by using a different size mechanical pencil lead, or a different size of technical drawing pen.
Exterior walls are typically drawn on floor plans and sections with heavy, solid lines. Windows may be drawn lighter, or with the same heaviness but in a dash-dot-dash format. Interior walls have slightly lighter line weights. Elements such as fittings should be drawn with the lightest line weight, and sometimes dashed lines.
It is important to maintain correct lettering sizes in manual draft, for example:
- Notes: 3/32 inch letters.
- Special notes: 1/8 inch letters.
- Titles: 1/4 inch letters.
F pencils or technical drawing pens are typically used for lettering, with a small right triangle to draw straight portions of the letter. Curved portions may be drawn freehand. Thicker strokes are used for horizontal lines, thinner strokes for vertical lines. It can be useful to draw light guidelines first to ensure the correct and uniform text height.
Alternatively, stencils, transfers or writing machines may be used.
The use of different scales enables objects and spaces to be depicted at a specific ratio to their actual size, helping to maintain consistency. Suitable scales will vary depending on the size of object, size of paper and level of information that needs to be conveyed, however, floor plans are commonly drawn with a 1/4 inch scale, kitchens and bathrooms with a 1/2 inch scale, wall sections with a 3/4 inch scale and so on.
There are a number of techniques of projection that can be used to represent three-dimensional objects in two-dimensions by 'projecting' their image onto a planar surface.
See Drawing projections for more information.
Standard notation conventions should be followed so that there is clear communication between different people and mistakes are avoided.
See Notation and units for more information.
A range of standard symbols and hatching techniques can be used to convey recognised meaning without the need for explanation.
See Symbols on architectural drawings for more informaiton.
Since the 1980's, computer aided design (or computer aided drafting), and more recently, building information modelling have transformed drafting techniques, in particular allowing alterations to be made with relative ease.
Parametric modelling allows the 'automatic' creation of aspects of drawings based on a series of pre-programmed rules. So for example, a rule might be created to ensure that walls must start at floor level and reach the underside of the ceiling. Then if the floor to ceiling height is changed, the walls will automatically adjust to suit. Other examples might include the colour of similar elements, the height of window cills above floor level, the relationship between walls and a pitched roof, and so on.
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