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Improving my drawing laying out

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I'd like to up my game a bit.


I'm looking for some advice, tips, recommendations etc on how I can improve my laying out of my drawings.

I am not an architect, interior designer I have never received any formal training. However I am conscious that my drawings lack a professional feel to them.


Spacing, scales of the viewports, dimensions, text sizes, use of different line types/weights, shadows, annotations and labels (section/elevation markers), generally creating neat and tidy and well proportioned drawings that are pleasant to look at. All the sorts of things a good draftsperson knows about!


I design audio visual systems which require me to produce schematics (which I use the excellent VW ConnectCAD for) and they are relatively simple line drawings which I can drop into a Vp and that's about it, but I also need to show equipment positioning in plan, section and elevation along with some detailing. compared to the project architect's drawings mine definitely look amateurish.


Are there any good books (remember them?), on-line courses/videos that anyone can recommend?


All advice gratefully appreciated,


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Lineweight. Use the appropriate lineweight to help convey what the drawing is trying to present. Heavier lines for the objects you're detailing, lighter lines for notations and dimensions. Light/grey lines for context or smaller details within an object.

Edited by Ride
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Who is viewing / using your drawings (and who else may just pop in to the room) - that's all vital IME. 


Choose a single font that's in common use - nothing worse than a fancy font coming though as gibberish. I use Arial Narrow almost everywhere, and a modern Courier for some things. Be consistent with text alignment - I know it's a problem in VW! 


How are items aligned on your pages? It's more comfortable if the eye can move logically across the page, especially with text boxes. Some sort of underlying or implicit grid order is very helpful - it will help you draw faster too.


Test: work on brevity and clarity - I find twitter has helped me be less verbose and have more content.


I have a copy of Thomson 2007 European Landscape Architecture best practice in detailing. It has some sound sensible advice, I would expect there's something similar for UX / AV. Also look out for detail sheets from  the early and radical practitioners - so often we think we've invented a style/idea and waste time down a rabbit hole when it's already a well-known workflow. 

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This is a great question - and something that most of us working in drawing production come across at some point in our career. For me, the most vital question is always 'how can I communicate the information I have drawn more effectively'. 

I've found there are a lot of answers to this question, but I'll summarise what I consider to be the answers that work best for me:


  • Ensure that there is consistency to all information I present
    • This means the same font in everything (sheet layouts, letters, emails). I sometimes change font size or weight, but never the font
    • Have the relevant information in the same location on the drawings always. This has come to mean having a set of custom title blocks for my sheets that I use on all my drawings. I have individual blocks for plans; sections + elevations; structure; electrical; services; presentations. This way I know that the sheets looks uniform and the important information is always going to be exactly where the viewer saw the information previously
  • Hierarchy to the drawing information is vital
    • This is a very personal choice, but I make sure all my drawing lines are black, and I then use a single colour for annotating my drawings (red). I use red for room, door and window labels, note annotations (although the notes are in black as they form part of the layout grid I referenced above). This gives my drawings a readability that I don't think is there when there are lots of colours, or conversely when both the text and drawings are the same colour
    • The drawing always occupies the same space, and I keep annotation and key information to a section of the drawing paper (right hand side and along the bottom). I have carefully managed the sizing of this space and to date I have never not had enough room to include all the information I require
  • Get your branding on point and have it across everything

I've added a copy of a couple of my latest drawing sets (with some private information redacted) below for your interest. I hope they are of some use! 



SV example 1.pdf SV example 2.pdf

Edited by studiovarey
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I try and limit my use of colour on most line drawings. Generally everything is black and white. If I use a colour (for example to make annotations or dimensions clearer) then I try and do it in a way such that the drawing is still legible if converted to black and white.


This is largely a habit left over from the days when drawings went out on paper, and then may have ended up getting photocopied before reaching their final destination.


Arguably this is no longer so important, because drawings are now mostly distributed digitally. However... not everyone has a colour printer, so there is still the possibility that a black and white version of a "colour" drawing is the one that ends up on site and gets built from.


In any case I find it's quite a good discipline to try not to rely too much on colour. I often see drawings where multiple colours have been used as a lazy way of putting some thought into legibility. Communicate as much as possible using linetype and lineweight. If a drawing is getting very crowded with information, this probably means that you need to change the scale or split it into more than one drawing, each showing different types of information. Where separate drawings show different bits of information relating to the same location or area... split that information in a way that makes sense and is useful to those who will be looking at it. Usually for construction drawings that means splitting by trades.

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I definitely agree with a lot of what people have been saying.


1. Share your examples and you can get a lot of great feedback that is specific, as different kinds of drawings would want different information shown.


2. Consistency between drawings is very useful and means that you can create template files and example files to use when you find something you like. 


3. Control over fonts is huge.  I personally would say max 2 fonts and have a reason for the difference.  It generally is much better to use 1 font for the whole drawing however if you do.  


4. Use a title block, they will make it so each page has the same information in the same places to find, that continuity is really helpful.  I recommend using a base version that vectorworks has in its libraries and then modify it so it looks the way you want.


5. Build a drawing label symbol.  That will help speed up the process of communicating your drawings and filling out information that is tied to your viewport names.  This symbol then can be set in a template or easily imported into new files.


6. Line up your drawings whenever possible.  If you line up your drawing labels on the x and y planes then it will give you visual symmetry which tends to look more slick.


7.  Use reference lines.  If you have elevation or section views that are in place give a reference line on the ground level and line them up on the same plane.


8. Control your line weights.  Generally think of drawings, fine details are smaller, perimeter lines are thicker.  If you figure out something that works for you, continue using the same line weights across drawings. 


9. Line up your callouts when possible.  When you are giving information you want to make sure that people can use minimal energy to find what they need so lining things up and being consistent really helps.

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How would your drawing work published on the worst imaginable medium? I once had to urgently fax my lovely set of drawings (20 sheets A3 colour) to a pub in the middle of nowhere, I had 2 hours to make it readable A4 BW and poor reproduction. An 'interesting' exercise, this is always part of my thinking even now as I learned a lot about less that morning.

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A lot of very good advice in this thread.

I would just add that it is a good idea to avoid repetition wherever possible. The use of keynotes and smart markers to reference between drawings and details is important.


Repeating notes or details creates unnecessary clutter, making the drawings harder to read, but more importantly it makes the drawings a lot harder to keep up to date if there are any changes, (which there inevitably are).


Using symbols (as in vw symbols) is also a good way of keeping drawings consistent as well as keep file sizes down.


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Of course, many builders hate keynotes and references because they don't want to shuffle between different sheets to find out what something is - they want the info in front of them directly on the drawing.


Unfortunately for the builders, it's usually not them that pays for our drafting and editing time though....

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