Manual drafting is the practice of creating drawings by hand. Manual drafting techniques have traditionally enabled the planning and communication of design ideas and construction information. As there is a very diverse range of information that may need to be communicated, there are a similarly wide range of drawing types. The evolution of manual drafting techniques has created a discipline around which other forms of drafting, such as computer-aided design (CAD) have subsequently developed.
The advantages of manual drafting include; the low cost of equipment compared to CAD hardware and software, the clarity that can be achieved by being able to see all shapes, sizes and angles on one sheet, the ability to bring creative style and expression to drawings, and a degree of depth and weight that can be easier to convey with ‘analogue’ rather than ‘digital’ drawing techniques. Those with experience of manual drafting would agree it gives a much deeper sense of knowledge and understanding of the drawing and then the finished building compared with CAD. Indeed some find it easier to sketch, in pencil, their drawing on paper then produce it on CAD.
However, manual drafting is now becoming something of a lost art, as; it requires a large amount of space, both for the drawing process, storage and viewing; drawings cannot be linked to digital information, they can take much more time to prepare in comparison with CAD drawings, they are more difficult to correct, text and colour can be more difficult to apply, it is more complicated to create three-dimensional representations, with isometric being the most common and a lot of experience is needed to complete a drawing efficiently without wasting too much time.
Those with experience can churn out a drawing just as quickly as a CAD drawing but the effort getting to that level is much higher compared to using CAD. There is a lot more cost with manual drawings as draughts people would need to be employed.
Traditionally, house plans and technical drawings are done on paper with pencils, rulers and protractors, but more recently, computer-assisted design, or CAD, has become the preferred way of drafting design. It produces a three-dimensional technical image of the object or building and is quicker and more accurate than a manual drawing. It can also be stored electronically and provides more detail and options. Drafting services use CAD and archiCAD as their major method of creating plans and designs.