Sketching for Engineers and Architects
eBook - ePub

Sketching for Engineers and Architects

Ron Slade

Share book
  1. 260 pages
  2. English
  3. ePUB (mobile friendly)
  4. Available on iOS & Android
eBook - ePub

Sketching for Engineers and Architects

Ron Slade

Book details
Book preview
Table of contents

About This Book

Using real working drawings from a 50 year career, Ron Slade shows how drawing remains at the heart of the design process in the everyday working life of engineers and architects. The book explains simple techniques that can be learnt and used to enhance any professional's natural ability. Using over 180 categorised examples it demonstrates that drawing remains the fastest, clearest and most effective means of design communication. Unlike many other books on drawing in the construction industry, this book is 'engineer led' and science oriented but effectively shows that there is a close affinity between the working methods of architects and engineers.

Frequently asked questions

How do I cancel my subscription?
Simply head over to the account section in settings and click on “Cancel Subscription” - it’s as simple as that. After you cancel, your membership will stay active for the remainder of the time you’ve paid for. Learn more here.
Can/how do I download books?
At the moment all of our mobile-responsive ePub books are available to download via the app. Most of our PDFs are also available to download and we're working on making the final remaining ones downloadable now. Learn more here.
What is the difference between the pricing plans?
Both plans give you full access to the library and all of Perlego’s features. The only differences are the price and subscription period: With the annual plan you’ll save around 30% compared to 12 months on the monthly plan.
What is Perlego?
We are an online textbook subscription service, where you can get access to an entire online library for less than the price of a single book per month. With over 1 million books across 1000+ topics, we’ve got you covered! Learn more here.
Do you support text-to-speech?
Look out for the read-aloud symbol on your next book to see if you can listen to it. The read-aloud tool reads text aloud for you, highlighting the text as it is being read. You can pause it, speed it up and slow it down. Learn more here.
Is Sketching for Engineers and Architects an online PDF/ePUB?
Yes, you can access Sketching for Engineers and Architects by Ron Slade in PDF and/or ePUB format, as well as other popular books in Architecture & Architecture General. We have over one million books available in our catalogue for you to explore.




Looking back over fifty years spent working in a consulting engineer’s office, the changes that have affected day-to-day practice are amazing. Our ability to understand materials and the behaviour and performance of complex structures has increased. Engineers no longer rely on slide rules and log tables but on sophisticated analysis software. The basis of design has moved from a simple allowable stress approach to limit state design, an approach where criteria are set such that within acceptable probability, a structure will not reach a limit state in which it fails or is in some way unserviceable. This was a profound and far reaching change in design procedures. Organisations also changed and became more overtly business led and not surprisingly, given the advances in IT, the methods of conveying design intent changed radically. The last drawing boards disappeared from the office 15 or 20 years ago. Now we use CAD and we exchange digital information, we produce 3D models and we can print 3D models.
One thing hasn’t changed. Many engineering designers are employed by organisations that still call themselves consulting engineers. The use of the term ‘consulting engineer’ is appropriate as these firms continue to act in an advisory capacity on professional matters. They employ specialists who give expert advice and information but essential to their modus operandi is the ability to communicate. In engineering and related industries, this entails providing or receiving information, exchanging views and ideas with a wide range of people including clients, designers in other disciplines, contractors and skilled building workers.
However, despite the advances in computer technology and the exchange of electronic data, simple hand sketching and drawing still has its role to play in fast and effective communication – to get a thought on paper is often a first step in a design process. Pencils have not disappeared from the office. Consulting engineering or engineering in general can never become a totally electronic profession populated by analysts and modellers.
Good design and successful buildings owe much to the effective communication in particular between engineers and architects. Both professions need people who are good communicators. Although this book is written from an engineer’s perspective and does not address the artistic quality of drawing and sketching in any depth, the basic approach, ideas and techniques are relevant to both engineers and architects. Hand sketching is a practice that has always had the potential to bring the two cultures of engineering and architecture together.


2.1 Drawing and its historical context

The Cave of El Castillo paintings in northern Spain are about 40,000 years old and are probably the oldest in Europe. In Australia and Indonesia, cave paintings of a similar age have been found depicting long extinct fauna. The most common images are of large animals (bison, horses, aurochs and deer), tracings of human hands and abstract patterns and symbols. Art experts believe that the paintings and drawings are not just images, they are not simple pictorial representations of an animal or a human being or a shape – they are embellished and enhanced to convey a more complex or deeper message or to satisfy some aesthetic imperative.
Art historians speculate on the reasons primitive people made drawings but most were almost certainly made for magical, superstitious or religious reasons. Whatever the reason, it is clear that there has always been a belief in the power of picture making, the power of images. With regard to the development of drawing techniques, most experts agree that its history, at least in some parts of the world, can be more easily traced back to the ancient Egyptians rather than the Primitives. The Egyptians developed a long lasting style that was not art for art’s sake, not beautification but image making for functional reasons designed to preserve likenesses, life styles, status and hierarchies and to give guidance in the afterlife. Perfect clarity was the objective. The ideas of foreshortening and more lifelike representations were left to later ages.
Egyptian art must have been handed down from master to pupil and hardly changed for 3,000 years until the Greeks came into closer contact with the Egyptians. The Greeks moved things on, tackled foreshortening for instance, and all later civilisations learnt from the Greeks, especially after the ‘Great Awakening’ when science, art and literature made great strides forward.
The aesthetic quality of drawings owes much to the designer’s appreciation of proportion and geometry and does not just happen by accident. Rules for building in particular, came from the Ancients. The English The Constitutions of Masonry, written in the fourteenth century, opens with the words: ‘Here begin the Constitutions of the art of Geometry according to Euclid.’ Later we are told that Euclid taught the art of masonry through geometry to the Egyptians. These skills were apparently passed to the captive Israelites and eventually through David and Solomon to King Charles the Second of France. From there, according to the Constitutions, they were taken through St Alban to King Athelstan of England, whose son became a master of masonry, and founded the professional organisation of masonry builders and architects. An earlier document entitled The Old Book of Charges gives a similar account of how the geometrical art of Euclid was passed from Egypt to England. Medieval masons clearly understood the science of geometry used in architectural design and construction which came from its inventor, Euclid. Although the geometry used by medieval architects was traditionally ascribed to Euclid and his postulates, the architects and masons would have had no direct knowledge of Euclid’s works apart from example and craft skills handed down during their apprenticeships.
El Castillo cave paintings in northern Spain
Source: ‘Art and Design, the Guardian’.
The fifteenth century saw the beginnings of the Renaissance and the rediscovery of classical art and the new role of the artist as a professional. This led to an expansion in the concept of drawing, and instead of being just a craft skill, drawing became a tool for investigating the natural world, and gave artists greater ability to express their own views of the world around them. Drawing became a tool for design and experiment, and with the dawn of a system to describe the three-dimensional world – linear perspective – the boundaries of drawing expanded enormously.
It is impossible to ignore Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519) – painter, sculptor, musician, mathematician, inventor, anatomist, geologist, cartographer, botanist, writer and of course architect and engineer. His journals contain over 13,000 pages of notes and drawings and the sheer quality of his sketches is beyond question. Two thoughts for us to remember: first, he collaborated with others, physicians for example with regard to his anatomical drawings, very similar to the collaboration between engineers, architects and other professions today; and second, his use of annotation, which of course separates his scientific drawings from his magnificent artistic works. Leaving room for annotation is important.
In his A Short Book About Drawing, Andrew Marr says: ‘Drawing had always been important for architects but as science began to advance, it became an important skill for mathematicians, anatomists, collectors of botanical rarities, designers of military fortresses, astronomers.’ He goes on to say that suddenly more and more people were sketching ‘as a kind of quick verbal information’ and that in the 1700s, ‘the real drawing craze spreads from small numbers of enthusiasts to the new middle classes’ and that some of this continues ‘for basic practical reasons’.
Throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries a great deal of effort was devoted to attempts to discover the true nature of the geometry used by medieval architects. However, little ...

Table of contents