Re: Doing your own graphics (an illustrators perspective)

Subject: Re: Doing your own graphics (an illustrators perspective)
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 14 May 1996 06:59:52 PDT

>Technical writing (prepared by a professional writer) should be edited by an
>editor, place into a document designed by a publishing specialist and should
>be accompanied by professionally produced technical illustrations.

Not to mention being hand-typeset by a typesetter, printed
on 100% rag-content paper by a printer, bound in morocco
leather by a bookbinder, delivered by a postal carrier, and read
by talented and appreciative engineering professionals.

But we are sometimes compelled deviate from this ideal.

>Sure, the
>writer can decide the content of the illustrations, but if the writers
>intend to produce the illustrations themselves, they will limit the
>technical complexity to their own skill level and therefore possibly produce
>a less effective document.

I do almost all my own illustrations. I call in the heavy artillery for
cover art, stuff that's supposed to look hand-drawn, the creative use
of color, and two-point and three-point perspective. I do my own block
diagrams, timing diagrams, isometric, schematics, and one-point-perspective

My work generally calls for huge numbers of timing diagrams, many block
diagrams, a few dimensional drawings -- and that's about it. Such material
is completely covered by taking one drafting course and in introductory
technical illustration course. I think that technical writers should have
at least this level of training in technical illustration, because less
training than this leaves them too little background in illustration to
figure out what to ask for when dealing with an illustrator, and also
gives them the skills to do all the nickel-and-dime stuff.

While good illustrators are worth their weight in gold, I prefer to do
all my own illustrations because that's the best way of figuring out the
best combination of words and pictures. I do my own page layouts for
the same reason -- to keep important concepts together, and rewriting
if necessary to accomplish this.

-- Robert
Robert Plamondon, President/Managing Editor, High-Tech Technical Writing, Inc.
36475 Norton Creek Road * Blodgett * Oregon * 97326
robert -at- plamondon -dot- com * (541) 453-5841 * Fax: (541) 453-4139

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