Evolution or Revolution?


This blog post got me thinking about the way that technical illustrations have evolved over the past few years, from the days of airbrushing and photography to a new digital era of creating illustrations on a computer. It also got me thinking about a January 2008 article in Intercom magazine, entitled “Three-Dimensional Illustration for Technical Communicators” which has this to say about the evolution of technical illustrations from flat 2D images into robust 3D images:

“You don’t need to be a skilled illustrator to create effective 3-D graphics. Three-dimensional illustration allows the technical communicator to respond quickly to project changes and create imagery appropriate for most publications or multimedia. Burns’ article shows the benefits of 3-D artwork and its potential for technical communicators.”

Indeed this concept of evolving from 2D to 3D artwork has great potential, and from this article’s abstract it certainly sounds like a great way to improve comprehension. But what is missing in this article is how to improve the life of the illustrator and dramatically improve quality and performance — instead it mostly talks about ways the illustrator can create 3D geometry from 2D engineering data. To me this seems a little backwards, and to an engineer that is accustomed to working in a 3D environment, this workflow can be a shocking realization.

Why would the technical illustrators be happy to recreate 3D geometry when they could simply re-use the 3D CAD data? The answer is that they are not CAD experts, they don’t know how to re-use that 3D data, and they simply don’t have the right tools available to them. They are still in the dark ages when it comes to working in a 3D environment, and are only able to improve their output by tiny, incremental, evolutionary steps.

It’s time to stop looking for incremental improvements. It’s time to take a revolutionary step in the world of technical illustrations and product documentation, and to fully harness the power of 3D thoroughout your organization.

It’s time to start using 3DVIA Composer.

2 comments to Evolution or Revolution?

  • Abhishek  says:

    Its a revolution. Revolution from those old paper drawings to electronic. It is now revolutionizing the AEC industry.

  • Garth  says:

    Abhishek, thank you for your comment. Certainly in the AEC industry the move from paper to electronic format is very beneficial. But compared to the 2D to 3D CAD movement, and the extreme benefits that have been seen by companies in other industries that have revolutionized their proceses by moving to 3D, I would say that staying in a 2D world is still an evolutionary improvement.

    And when you consider the many other industries that have taken advantaged of parametric, associative 3D CAD systems for product design — but then still continue to work with paper, photos, and very basic electronic methods to develop illustrations and documentation — there is an incredible opportunity to truly revolutionize the product documentation process and bring it into a 3D world.

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