Picture of Technical sketching and drawing.
If your making something that is less than simple it will almost always pay you to do some kind of drawing the try to get things straight in your head before you commit to cutting expensive materials up.

This never replaces modelling things, or making mock ups in cheap simple materials but these come after the design work has been done on paper.

After all Paper and pencil are  cheap.
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Step 1: Sketching

Picture of Sketching
Almost everyone can draw despite what they think or say, but most people don't, I believe because they feel that the end result isn't photo realistic (although it can be), - in maker world this level of realism isn't necessary only enough skill to be able to work out how things fit and what might work.

In general for most people sketching flat is easier and will do.

A side view, a top view and a front view will show you all round your design

If you can manage it, then a 3D view, (called isometric view,) will give most none engineering people a better idea of your object

Step 2: Sketch book

Picture of Sketch book

I have maintained a sketch book for my ideas most of my making life. I quickly found I had more ideas than time to make them and if not captured then ideas were quickly forgotten, although I can often recall I had the idea just not the detail.

These sketches often look muddled but do mean things to me and jog the memory.

I also use the book to explore how things may happen and work.
MelihG2 months ago

Bill WW2 years ago
Nice work, Rick.

I always struggle with which method to use: cad, pencil, MS Paint. For designing modifications to an existing object, I like taking photos of the existing structure (for instance) , then sketching in the additions.
rickharris (author)  Bill WW2 years ago
There is no right - Personally I tend to use a pencil. If it's complicated like you I use photographs.

I have CAD which I used to teach kids to use so I am very familiar with it and tend to do things for public demand or for final scale drawings on that.

i am trying to get a grip of Autodesk 123D
jeffrey42833 years ago
This is a very good basic explanation of technical drawing. Being a drafter believe me I've seen what happens when someone doesn't think something all the way through and being someone who likes to build and create I've seen what happens when I skip this step and make many unnecessary trips to the store when if I had just spent a little time sketching or better for more complicated builds modeling on my computer I could have avoided wasted time, money, and effort. I think this is a step that is often overlooked by many people. It can also help get your creativity flowing allowing you to develop your idea before you build.
rickharris (author)  jeffrey42833 years ago
Thanks. Paper is cheap, fast, available and you can use it ANYWHERE! :-)

zcshiner3 years ago
What CAD program do you have?
rickharris (author)  zcshiner3 years ago
I use a number of easily available free CAD systems - Alibre for example.

Mainly for simple things such as illustrated here I use a old version of a simple CAD system produced for schools in the UK (an authorised copy I hasten to say)

Students and teachers (at least in the U.S.) can get AutoCAD and Inventor for free from AutoDesk. They only have a three year license, but I won't complain since they're free. You may want to check it out.
schumi23 dkop13 years ago
Also, while it is only a three year license, you can get it renewed, if you are still a teacher, student, or meet one of the other requirements (i think veterans get it too, and other people)
pfred23 years ago
One of my rules is if I can't draw it I probably can't make it either! No matter what I'm doing I invariably scribble something down to keep measurements etc. straight while I'm going along. So step 1 of projects I do entails grabbing a piece of paper and a pencil.

Maybe it is the drawing habit that separates the doers from the dreamers? As soon as I got something down on paper I got it out of my head and in doing so it is more real already.

I have difficulty drawing on computers though. I admire those that can.
rickharris (author)  pfred23 years ago
For most of us it is more that likely true that if you can't s "see it" well enough to make a quick sketch of the important detail then your not ready and won't be able to make it.

A LOT of money is wasted on making and remaking because it didn't work the first time.

IMHO For some reason tinker toys Lego and others produced a mind set where just messing and putting together until you have -something - has become the way people think things get made.

Meccano required a much more disciplined approach to construction.

I don't decry modelling - Indeed often do so to make clear what I need to draw. But the Pencil is cheap!!!
I've been stalled on a project because of an inability to accurately render it, but my mental image of it I feel is strong. I'm going to have to just go for it on this one and let the chips fall where they may.

I'm justifying my decision by calling the first prototype a full sized working model. Now how is that for creativity? I know, genius!
joen3 years ago
Where's the drawing by Juan Francisco Casas? I am not sure but I don't think that the girl with the bow in her hair is that drawing.
rickharris (author)  joen3 years ago

It came from here I should have credited it. thanks - according to the article it is his drawing. I know no more other than they are fantastic.
joen rickharris3 years ago
I Goggled Juan Francisco Casas and I still have a hard time thinking it is a drawing. His "Bicmanship" is really amazing! I wonder what he could do with colored pens Hmmm. . .
rickharris (author)  joen3 years ago
For even more - see here

I strongly suspect because of his choice of subject matter and the presentation  he does it from or over a print from a photograph - not to take away from his evident talent
joen joen3 years ago
I Googled not goggled Juan Francisco Casas. LOL! Although I did "goggle" at some of those amazing photo-realistic drawings, The simplest of your drawings are closer to my speed. Thanks for the great article.
rickharris (author)  joen3 years ago
:-) keep practicing - he is a very exceptional artist - I believe there is a youtube video showing him doing it - or at least there was.

they fetch a pretty high price as well.
riprock693 years ago
I found this very informative and helpful. Really appreciate this.
rickharris (author)  riprock693 years ago
Chumlee3 years ago
rickharris (author)  Chumlee3 years ago
Hope it's helpful