3. Technical Illustration

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Create a realistic illustration of an actual object/product that shows its component parts by utilizing either an exploded view or cutaway view technique. As an alternative option for this assignment you may choose to do an anatomical drawing showing circulatory, nervous, musculature or skeletal systems detail.


The purpose of this type of drawing is to show how something works, how it is put together or how to assemble it in its entirety.


First you must find an object that you can disassemble. You must be able to take the object apart to see the various parts and how they go together inside the “case” of the overall product. A mechanical object is much better than an electronic object for this purpose because the parts will typically be larger and easier for you to see, as well as easier for you to understand how they all go together.

You will typically not be able to work from a photographic template layer on this assignment. However, I strongly suggest that you roughly sketch with paper and pencil the exploded view or cutaway view of your object first and use that as a template to work from. This sketch can help you plan and visualize how the individual parts work together.

Three key aspects of this type of drawing are;

  1. consistency,
  2. accuracy and
  3. three-dimensionality.
  • Accurate rendering of details requires close observation and patience.
  • Control of light and shadow is achieved by manipulation of gradient fills, use
    of the blend tool, or gradient mesh to give realistic dimension and volume to component objects.
  • It may be in either B & W or color, your choice.
  • Your final illustration size depends on which layout option you choose (see below)
  • The final layout must be in the form of an advertisement or for a catalog page.

3D and/or Perspective Drawing:

3D Effects and/or Shading can be best achieved in Illustrator by using one or a combination of the following tools:

Layout Options:

  • Magazine Ad option
    • layout is for the purpose of promoting and selling the product
    • choose a specific magazine that would be appropriate for your object to be advertised in (examples; Better Homes and Garden, Time, Newsweek, Architectural Digest, etc.)
    • size is determined by this choice but it is a full page ad
    • Create a tagline and selling point copy
  • Catalog option
    • layout is for the purpose of ordering replacement parts of the product
    • online catalog or print catalog
    • ad additional elements: graphics/typography that make ordering/shopping cart possible
    • size/layout determined by either a specific catalog or website that is already in use (examples; Lowes, Target, Office Depot, etc.)

Photograph Your Layout

Insert your technical drawing into a magazine (as if it were printed in the magazine itself). Then photograph this and email me the JPEG file. Try to shoot your magazine at an angle so that we can tell from the photograph that it is in a magazine, not just the flat illustration. In your portfolio, you would normally pair this photo (which shows context) with the flat image of just the design itself.


Emilie Jenkins, 2018