Napoleon Bonaparte once said ‘A good sketch is better than a long speech.’ Technical illustrations can be a very effective way of imparting information, their graphical nature giving proof to Napoleon’s statement, often translated as ‘A Picture speaks a thousand words’. Whether assembling flat pack furniture or in a service manual for their car, most people will have encountered technical illustrations at some point in life.
Technical illustrations generally have to describe and explain the subjects to a non-technical audience. Therefore the visual image should be accurate in terms of dimensions and proportions, and should provide “an overall impression of what an object is or does, to enhance the viewer’s interest and understanding”. They can be incorporated into technical manuals and operating instructions or company websites.
Today, technical illustration can be broken down into three categories based on the type of communication:
- Communication with the general public : informs the general public, for example illustrated instructions found in the manuals for automobiles and consumer electronics. This type of technical illustration contains simple terminology and symbols that can be understood by the lay person and is sometimes called creative technical illustration/graphics.
- Specialized engineering or scientific communication : used by engineers/scientists to communicate with their peers and in specifications. This use of technical illustration has its own complex terminology and specialized symbols; examples are the fields of atomic energy, aerospace and military/defence. These areas can be further broken down into disciplines of mechanical, electrical, architectural engineering and many more.
- Communication between highly skilled experts : used by engineers to communicate with people who are highly skilled in a field, but who are not engineers. Examples of this type of technical illustration are illustrations found in user/operator documentation. These illustrations can be very complex and have jargon and symbols not understood by the general public, such as illustrations that are part of instructional materials for operating CNC machinery.
For many companies, designing a great product is only the start of their product development process. Component sourcing, supply chains, manufacturing, regulatory compliance, sales literature and more all have to be handled before the products even reach the field.
In today’s global marketplace — where businesses are operating across borders and time zones — your customers demand that accurate, relevant product information be delivered in real-time. The capability to define, author, illustrate, manage and deliver dynamic product information — in the user’s preferred language and format — on demand is a requirement that more and more companies have to meet.
The ability to reuse CAD and other design data can make this possible, reducing the need for translation and the time taken to produce accurate illustrations. To find out more about the range of illustration tools we are able to provide, please get in touch