Eight hundred years ago medieval masons built Gothic cathedrals without working drawings. They translated mental visions into glorious structures without them ever touching paper - much less a computer screen.
Technical drawing, also known as Drafting, is usually regarded as the technique of creating engineering drawings, although it encompasses architectural drawings as well explanation.
A skilled practitioner of the art is known as a draftsperson.
Today the mechanics of the drafting task has been largely automated, and greatly accelerated, through the use of CAD systems.
The first half of the 19th century might well be called a formative period in the development of technical drawing. MORE .....
Drawing instruments were being manufactured by the 1850s (example) and the blueprint process* was introduced. Up to this time "draftsmanship" was more or less an art expressing itself in fine lines, shading both by lines and by washes, ornate borders, fancy lettering and the use of colors. These techniques became unnecessary after the introduction of blueprinting. The art of "drafting" was completely lost and the technology of "drafting" was discovered. This was the beginning of modern engineering and technical drawing.
The first half of the 20th century could be characterized as the golden age of drafting. The modern technology of drafting was firmly recognized, and the applications of the graphic technology was found in engineering, design, manufacturing, production, architecture, etc. Engineering, technical and vocational training in the area of drafting was greatly increased.
* Blueprint Process Discovered in France, perfected in England, use began in the 1870's. The photo-reproductive process involves putting sensitized paper in contact with a translucent original and exposing this package to light. Relatively stable image, permanence/stability depends on processing. Some processing may make paper brittle. (example) 'Why are blueprints blue?'
The development of the "blueprint machine" eliminated the need to trace drawings, which was estimated to cost 10 times more than blueprinting early on its history.
One of the most important innovations of the postwar era was the introduction of the diazo process, which used ammonia, heat, and moisture to develop prints, instead of the slow and costly wet bath needed for blueprinting. Because of its speed, convenience and low cost, diazo printing quickly supplanted blueprinting - although the reproductions are sometimes referred to as 'blueprints' (click here)
Today, the long reign of diazo is over ('Diazo at Death's Door?'). In the commercial environment, wide format xerography made its appearance with the Xerox 2080 in 1980. Its ability to copy and change the scale of opaque documents on demand and at extremely low cost immediately impacted traditional photographic services. The subsequent introduction of xerographic printers operating at speeds comparable to commercial diazo printers resulted in the gradual displacement of commercial diazo printing by plain paper imaging. (How xerography works)
However, analog plain paper printing then rapidly yielded ground to fast digital printers, driven by high volume file servers where scanned and CAD-generated files are stored. Digital printing means using an electronic file (on a disk or similar medium) to produce hard-copy originals of your document, rather than placing your original on the copier and making reproductions (the latter is called analog printing).
Reprographic firms were quick to grasp the growing importance of short run color imaging as their clients migrated toward computer-based design. The use of color to better communicate information (example 1 example 2) began with the use of different colors in multi-pen plotters to better distinguish elements of architectural and mechanical designs. The introduction of the first Canon Color Laser Copier in 1987 brought affordable photorealistic copy technology to market.
The universal use of color - especially digital color - has blurred the once sharp distinction between the technical design worlds of architecture and engineering and the graphic arts professions.
The certainty we face is that technology will continue to fuel profound and frequent changes in the way that information is created, managed, and distributed.