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posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 08:20 AM
Any old draftsmen here??

"What is this thing you call a "Draftsman"?", you say?

Back in the Stone Age, long before AutoCAD, before computers, there were Draftsmen. Technical drawings and "blue"prints were all done by hand then. And this is probably where my love of writing instruments stems from. I was a draftsman.

Back then highly complex design documents were as much a technical document as they were a work of art. A highly qualified and experienced draftsman could bring in a LOT of money. I know I sure did. In fact, in just two days in 1981, I earned enough money to pay for a brand new Jeep! (I'll never forget that week). Yes, they were unusual circumstances, and the 'two days' were Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but it costs staggering sums of money to shut down something like a major chemical plant. And when they shut down we worked around the clock 24x7 generating as-built conditions for equipment you normally couldn't get near (because of heat or other hazards). Literally decades of additions and changes would have to be documented in just days.

Thousands of full sized drawings would be produced, each one done by hand, every single letter and character done by hand. There were drafting tools to help people do neat lettering, but they were far too slow and those who needed them needed not apply. All of this work had to be done by hand. Pencil drawings were prepared first, then "mylars" were done in ink from the pencil drawings...then "Sepia" drawings were made from the mylars. Then blueprints were made from the sepias.

Even today people hear terms and don't know what they mean. Terms like "Blue"print and "Sepia" are lost on the younger generation. Some may remember drawings being 'blue', but most don't know why they were blue. It wasn't because someone liked the color blue. They were produced by a process involving ammonia using another document called a "Sepia" which turned the color of the paper blue. Many people today think the term "sepia" refers to a color, and while it does that's not the real origin. A sepia was a drawing which was made from another document called an inked "mylar". The chemicals involved in the production process turned the special paper brownish (aka "sepia"). The purpose of a sepia was to serve as a source document from which multiple blueprints could be made. The ink on a mylar (the true original) was far too fragile to make thousands of reproductions from, so a sepia was used for this.

So the process was; pencil to paper first, then the paper drawing was overlayed with a clear sheet of mylar. The mylar was then inked. The inked mylar was reproduced into a sepia (in some cases several). And the sepias were used for mass production of blueprints for distribution.

This is just one example of drafting, and there are many others. All of them, all technical construction and building documents of the era were drawn by draftsmen (and women)...a highly skilled trade of a bygone era.

I was a draftsman.
edit on 11/6/2015 by Flyingclaydisk because: (no reason given)

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 08:38 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

One of the greatest things about draftsmen, that blew me away one day -

I was given some old drawings of some structures and they were imperial (in the UK we've been metric for ages), all the drawings were hand drawn. But to me it looked like all the letters and numbers were typed in a 'relaxed font' made to look like hand writing....

Turns out these were handwritten too - One of the first things a draftsman learns is how to hand write/print neatly. I was astonished at how uniform this writing was.

I kid you not every 't' looked the same, every 's' looked the same etc etc

I'm going to dig them out and post them up....

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 08:42 AM
I am a young engineer and work with Autocad/Solidworks on a fairly regular basis. But, my company has been around for over 50 years and occasionally I dig up some large drawings done by hand (fairly complex models, tools, etc.) and I am amazed at the detail in these hand drawn prints. It's amazing.

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 08:44 AM
Yes I was a ships draftsman.

Did drawings for all types of warships mainly.

Later moved to other types of structures.

Often I used lettering / numbering guides to make everything look neat. But sometimes I just worked freehand.

A lot of effort went into drawings but I sometimes wondered if anybody ever looked at them cos on board there was always problems with things not fitting. So we had to get called in to rehash the whole thing.

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 08:46 AM
And a footnote...

Sepias were made using a treated photosensitive paper using a light process. The reason for this was the ink on the mylars used to produce sepias could not withstand the ammonia process of making blueprints.

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 08:48 AM
I have to be careful not to lose my job posting stuff like this, all the drawings are easily recognisable unfortunately but here is a snapshot:

All the 'L's, all the '11's all the '2's - All the same.

Some of the material lists/take-off sheets were so impressive too. Look:

The letters all look typed!


posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 08:50 AM
a reply to: and14263

Yes, lettering was very important. It took me years to perfect my lettering. I started at a very young age and by the time I got to that level my lettering was just how you say, very uniform. Lettering is not like riding a bike, you have to do it regularly to keep the skill. My lettering is still good, but not to the level it was back then. I imagine if I practiced I could get it back, but anymore things are more rushed and you don't have the time to focus on the effort.

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 09:08 AM
a reply to: and14263

My dad used to do these types of things for PG&E out in California by hand before AutoCAD and the like came into existence. His handwriting was always relatively slow and deliberate, and oddly enough, that top picture looks like it could have been written by him--numbers and letters look really similar. He is the reason that I print in all-caps today.

But I must say, as a graphic designer and self-confessed type nerd, the hand-printed block of text you posted doesn't look like a font to me, but part of my job is to dissect fonts for their applicability to each individual project, so I look at it differently. I do like the way it is tracked out and uses condensed letters, though--aids in legibility, especially if it is small (which it looks like it is, considering how the some of the "A" letters are lacking the negative space [counter] above the crossbar, and one "G" lacks a crossbar while the other's touches the spine of the letter).

But, yes, their ability to master and cultivate such skills is becoming a lost art, sadly enough. I love hand-lettered fonts and typefaces, and I have often converted my own letters to vector shapes for use in graphic design.

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 09:20 AM
a reply to: SlapMonkey

The human hand, brain and eye are not as perfect as a machine, but that was the true 'character' of many of the drawings of that age.

One of the things I marvel at is computer generated fonts which are made to look like hand drawn ones. These wouldn't even exist if it weren't for the love of the 'character' I refer to above.

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 09:33 AM
a reply to: Flyingclaydisk

I was a draftsman.

Bully for you.

I was too, almost a draftsman. I was taught two years in Elementary School, then told draftsman were no longer necessary, they were switching to Computer Aided Design (CAD). Then back to it again in Middle School, then stopped again.

What a waste, I had become proficient twice only to be dashed by computers, again.

I know the work you have to put in, the skill required. A true art form, a real Profession.

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 10:00 AM
As a practicing engineer now days I see so many examples of carelessness and constructability issues with CAD documents. To me I think the actual drawing out of an object caused one to think more carefully about how that object / building would go together in real life. And I think that level of thought hurts modern day designs sometimes. The draftsman had to be consciously thinking in three dimensions to portray something on a two dimensional sheet of paper. That same level of thought doesn't always happen now, and detail in drawings suffer as a result.

Recognizing these shortcomings, now we are seeing the introduction of tools like REVIT and BIM which take traditional CAD into three dimensions. These tools come complete with things like collision detection, but the level of effort required to get all the detail included in a 3-D model in order to truly benefit from true collision detection is most often lacking.

Collision detection has always been an issue, and even in traditional drafting measures had to be undertaken to prevent collisions. In our day we used powerful light tables where multiple drawings would be overlayed on top of each other as part of a QC process to prevent collisions. Sure, layers can be turned on and off in CAD to accomplish similar results, but it just doesn't seem to have the same quality result.

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 10:02 AM
I had drafting classes for four years in high school and two more years in college while getting an associates degree in tool and machine design.
I only worked on computers for one class in one semester. That bit me in the butt after graduating because every company I applied for had gotten rid of drafting boards and were using computers.
That was in 1991. Talk about bad timing.

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 10:14 AM
We called it Mechanical Drawing in high school. Took it in '68 and '69, made A's and B's, actually loved the class. Still have my drawing kit.

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 11:20 AM
I earned my Associates Degree in drafting in '92. Auto Cad was a new thing. You still had to use DOS commands to operate it. I was much faster drawing manually. Mostly boring stuff...pressure vessels and pipe line stuff. Remember the smell of fresh blue prints?

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 11:33 AM
a reply to: skunkape23

Oh yes I DO!! I used to have to make them as part of my job. At one project our print machine wasn't very well ventilated and the smell of ammonia was almost overwhelming.

Many times new sets of blueprints had that distinctive ammonia smell for years, until they had been opened so many times they finally off-gassed all the ammonia.

posted on Nov, 6 2015 @ 03:36 PM
I preferred lettering free-hand. I would lay out my level lines and use a mahl-stick to steady my strokes.

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