Technical illustration is a poorly understood field. After all, the vast majority of these illustrations go unnoticed in daily use. From industrial graphics to diagrams that show us how to assemble furniture, these illustrations are everywhere, but when it’s done its job well, we don’t even realize what went into it.
People working in the field of technical illustration create extremely accurate renderings of just about anything that requires precise interpretation. This includes machinery, scientific instruments, plants and animals, maps, and many other subjects.. The important part is to make sure that the drawing is as accurate and “readable” as possible – flights of fancy or artistic interpretation are not a good choice in this kind of illustration.
Traditionally, technical illustration has been done in black and white – usually pen and ink. However, modern illustration is just as likely to be generated using a computer program, and may involve complex 3-D image generation in addition to more conventional line drawings. Technical drawings in the modern world may also be presented in the form of an animation, as video, or combined with web design.
The method used will be the one that best serves the purpose of the technical illustration. For instance, industrial graphics are more frequently being represented in 3-D now, since that more readily shows the details that need to be understood. For devices with components that move, an animation might be required, while traditional line drawings are still the method of choice for assembly instructions and booklets.
Technical illustration has a few basic goals that are more important than anything else. The subject must be illustrated accurately, and the image needs to be produced in such a way that the result is visually appealing, yet clear and easy to understand. Technical illustrations that merely look good, rather than conveying information, are useless to the viewer and can actually cause mistakes later on.
Every project presents its own unique problem, especially those with limited resources and references. However, a professional good at technical illustration can use industrial graphics to explain a topic that would be extremely difficult to convey using just words. Diagrams, 3-D visualizations, blown apart views and other illustrations can be a vital tool in getting the point across to the viewer, no matter what the subject at hand may be.
It’s extremely important for anyone working with industrial graphics or any other form of technical illustration to have a good grasp on detail, and be able to reproduce that detail as accurately as possible. Errors or inaccuracies will work against the goal of the illustration, and could end up being very expensive in the long run. Without accuracy, any illustration is a lot less useful.
For anyone working with diagrams, technical information, or complex devices, technical illustration is an important element in getting the point across. It may not be flashy or obvious, but without it, many things would be a lot more difficult to understand. Technical illustration isn’t terribly glamorous, but it’s extremely helpful and important to people in all kinds of industries – including yours.