Brief History of Technical & Engineering Drawings

Drawing is a universal language that human beings have been using to express the visual images they conceive in their minds; it is such an old practice that its recorded history could be as old as humanity.

There is evidence that as far back as 12,000 B.C., ancient caves were inscribed with drawings that give clues to some human experiences in prehistoric times.

Technical & engineering drawings—or drawings that communicate technical ideas—might have even existed before written language. There is evidence that what we now call “technical planning” in the present-day, actually started about 7,000 B.C.

As ancient and earlier societies became more civilized and advanced, they planned and organized how roads, cities, bridges, and other structures would be built; technical drawing was the most important tool to achieve this goal, especially in the fields of engineering and architecture which are deeply ingrained in society.

At inception, technical drawings were drawn with hands by using tools that can be regarded as primitive versions of the present-day manual (traditional) technical & engineering drawing tools: set square, ruler, protractor, and compass; it would remain this way for about 5,000 years before the beginning of engineering and architectural drawing/drafting.

The earliest form of modern-day drawing instruments can be found in the Museum of the Louvre, Paris, on two headless statues of Gudea (2,130 B.C.).

In ancient times, Gudea was an engineer and the governor of the city/state of Lagash which was located in the country later known as Babylon. Two contemporary drawing boards were also constructed and placed on the statues of Gudea.

The drawing boards had the top (plan) view of the temple of Ningirsu, and another drawing tool that looked like a scribing instrument and scales.

The ancient Greek civilization has had a great deal of influence on modern-day drawing through its work in geometry. Many of the manual tools used in technical & engineering drawings, such as the compass and triangles, were developed when Greek civilization was at its peak.

Around the year 450 B.C., the architects of the Parthenon, Ictinus, and Callicrates used perspective drawing by foreshortening and converging parallel lines in their technical drawings.

At different points throughout history, great civilizations across the world (Africa, Europe, Asia, Middle East, South America, North America) adopted one form of technical drawing or another.

Brief history of non-mathematical and mathematical approaches to technical & engineering drawings

During the renaissance (mainly between the 14th and 17th centuries), two popular approaches to drawing were developed at the time: the non-mathematical, and the mathematical approaches.

Giotto and Duccio used the non-mathematical approach to advance the applicability of perspective drawings by using symmetry, converging lines, and the technique of foreshortening.

On the other hand, Italian architect, Brunelleschi, used the mathematical approach and its terms to demonstrate the theoretical principles of perspective drawing. The era of Brunelleschi was followed by that of Alberti who mathematically defined the principles of perspective drawing in paintings.

Other people who advanced the mathematical approach were Francesca (who made 3-view drawings using orthogonal projection), Leonardo da Vinci (who wrote about the theory of perspective drawings), and Durer (who published a book on orthographic drawing). In the early 19th century, William Farish introduced isometric drawing as a type of pictorial drawing.

During the evolution of technical & engineering drawing, one thing is quite clear: in ancient times, it was difficult for human beings to express or illustrate 3D (three-dimensional) objects on 2D (two-dimensional) surfaces.

Brief history of the science of technical & engineering drawings known as “descriptive geometry

A young and exceptional mathematician named Gaspard Monge developed the science of technical drawing known as descriptive geometry while designing a complicated star-shaped fortress. He used orthographic drawing to solve some problems graphically, instead of mathematically.

The great contributions of Gaspard Monge are the basis of today’s three-dimensional representations on two-dimensional media such a paper and computer screen.

Brief history of the computer graphics (CAD) form of technical & engineering drawings

Computers have had a significant impact on the types of projections used to design and produce technical & engineering drawings. In 1950, the first computer-driven display attached to MIT’s Whirlwind I computer was used to produce simple pictures; advances in computer graphics increased significantly from that time onwards.

An MIT graduate student named Ivan Sutherland published his doctoral thesis in 1963 and paved a way for the development of interactive computer graphics which later evolved into computer-aided design (CAD). In the middle of the 1960s, many studies were conducted in the field of computer graphics at MIT, Bell Telephone laboratories, GM, and Lockheed Aircraft.

Developments continued through the 1970s, and around 1980 IBM and Apple popularized the use of bitmap graphics which led to the widespread use of inexpensive graphics-based applications.

In the early 1980s, computer-based software programs began to emerge, with AutoCAD and Versa CAD being the most popularly used at the time. From the 1990s till date, the world has witnessed the growth of CAD companies and 3D modeling which supports the design of objects, products, and structures.

Thank you for reading. You can download the content of this article by clicking the following link: Download PDF: Brief History of Technical & Engineering Drawings

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Interested in buying world-class technical and engineering drawing eBooks? Please, read on.

Knowledge is power. The more you read, study, and absorb, the more you can greatly magnify your visualization process and become better. There is no limit.

For further reading and study of topics on technical and engineering drawings/graphics—which is essential for your education/future as an engineer/technologist and—we advise that you make a habit of reading good books.

It’s possible to get a good book from a friend or purchase it either from a local bookstore (offline) or online. In case you’d be interested in purchasing, we have six high-quality technical & engineering drawings/graphics books (eBooks/PDF books) for sale at cheap prices.

Continue scrolling down and you’ll come across their respective titles, number of pages, and lists of chapters. Each book is available for purchase at a cost of $5 (or 2,500 Naira) per book; if you wish to purchase all books, you’ll get a discount of $5 (2,500 Naira) and purchase 6 books for $25 (12,000 Naira) instead of $30 (15,000 Naira).


For the past 3 years, until January 19, 2022, all the eBooks on this site were always available for free download (no payment). However, as from January 20, 2022, we introduced payments to be able to acquire, at least, little funds for the upkeep of our domain name and site maintenance for the benefit of present and future visitors who will read our articles on topics of their interest.

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Bank name: Guaranty Trust Bank (GTBank), Nigeria

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Note: If you’d like to pay using a different payment option or another cryptocurrency that isn’t listed above, contact us through our email: or Whatsapp number: +2348033219907.

(2) After payment, take and send a screenshot(s) of the transaction(s) as evidence of payment to either our email: or Whatsapp number: +2348033219907.

(3) After confirming payment, we’ll provide you with access to the book(s) which is/are easy-to-read and contain(s) comprehensive coverage of technical and engineering drawing/drafting and design instructions that comply with present-day industry standards.

The titles of the books (arranged in decreasing order of priority [from 1 to 6]—based on our assessment) and their respective number of pages and titles of chapters are as follows:

1. Technical Graphics Communication, 4th Edition, by Gary R. Bertoline, Eric N. Wiebe, Nathan W. Hartman, William A. Ross (1335 pages), 2009

Chapter 1: Introduction to Graphics Communication, pg.5

Chapter 2: The Engineering Design Process, pg.27

Chapter 3: Design in Industry, pg.46

Chapter 4: The Role of Technical Graphics in Production, Automation, and Manufacturing Processes, pg.109

Chapter 5: Design & Visualization, pg.135

Chapter 6: Technical Drawing Tools, pg.187

Chapter 7: Sketching and Text, pg.237

Chapter 8: Engineering Geometry and Construction, pg.305

Chapter 9: Three-dimensional Modeling, pg.399

Chapter 10: Multiview Drawings, pg.488

Chapter 11: Axonometric and Oblique Drawings, pg.577

Chapter 12: Perspective Drawings, pg.631

Chapter 13: Auxiliary Views, pg.652

Chapter 14: Fundamentals of Descriptive Geometry, pg.691

Chapter 15: Intersections and Developments, pg.716

Chapter 16: Section Views, pg.759

Chapter 17: Dimensioning and Tolerancing Practices, pg.818

Chapter 18: Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GDT), pg.875

Chapter 19: Fastening Devices and Methods, pg.908

Chapter 20: Working Drawings, pg.949

Chapter 21: Technical Data Presentation, pg.1064

Chapter 22: Mechanisms: Gears, Cams, Bearings, and Linkages, pg.1105

Chapter 23: Electronic Drawings, pg.1146

Chapter 24: Piping Drawings, pg.1163

Chapter 25: Welding Drawings, pg.1187

2. Technical Drawing with Engineering Graphics, 15th Edition, by Frederick E. Giesecke, Shawna Lockhart, Marla Goodman, Cindy M. Johnson (1077 pages), 2016

Chapter 1: The World-wide Language for Graphic Design, pg.2

Chapter 2: Layouts and Lettering, pg.30

Chapter 3: Visualization and Sketching, pg.62

Chapter 4: Geometry for Modeling and Design, pg.124

Chapter 5: Modeling and Design, pg.170

Chapter 6: Orthographic Projection, pg.234

Chapter 7: 2D Drawing Representation, pg.284

Chapter 8: Section Views, pg.326

Chapter 9: Auxiliary Views, pg.362

Chapter 10: Modeling for Manufacture, pg.414

Chapter 11: Dimensioning, pg.502

Chapter 12: Tolerancing, pg.546

Chapter 13: Threads, Fasteners, and Springs, pg.592

Chapter 14: Working Drawings, pg.636

Chapter 15: Drawing Control and Data Management, pg.710

Chapter 16: Gears and Cams, pg.730

Chapter 17: Electronic Diagrams, pg.756

Chapter 18: Structural Drawing, pg.780

Chapter 19: Landform Drawings, pg.808

Chapter 20: Piping Drawings, pg.828

Chapter 21: Welding Representation, pg.846

Chapter 22: Axonometric Projection, pg.W870

Chapter 23: Perspective Drawings, pg.W900

3. Engineering Drawing & Design, 6th Edition, by David A. Madsen and David P. Madsen (1104 pages), 2017

Chapter 1: Introduction to Engineering Drawing and Design, pg.2

Chapter 2: Drafting Equipment, Media, and Reproduction Methods, pg.39

Chapter 3: Computer-Aided Design and Drafting (CADD), pg.61

Chapter 4: Manufacturing Materials and Processes, pg.109

Chapter 5: Sketching Applications, pg.162

Chapter 6: Lines and Lettering, pg.181

Chapter 7: Drafting Geometry, pg.205

Chapter 8: Multiviews, pg.228

Chapter 9: Auxiliary Views, pg.259

Chapter 10: Dimensioning and Tolerancing, pg.277

Chapter 11: Fasteners and Springs, pg. 347

Chapter 12: Sections, Revolutions, and Conventional Breaks, pg.387

Chapter 13: Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, pg.409

Chapter 14: Pictorial Drawings and Technical Illustrations, pg.495

Chapter 15: Working Drawings, pg.526

Chapter 16: Mechanisms: Linkages, Cams, Gears, and Bearings, pg.561

Chapter 17: Belt and Chain Drives, pg.601

Chapter 18: Welding Processes and Representations, pg.617

Chapter 19: Precision Sheet Metal Drafting, pg.644

Chapter 20: Electrical and Electronic Drafting, pg.669

Chapter 21: Industrial Process Piping, pg.717

Chapter 22: Structural Drafting, pg.773

Chapter 23: Heating, Ventilating, and Air-conditioning (HVAC) and Pattern Development, pg.847

Chapter 24: Civil Drafting, pg.899

Chapter 25: The Engineering Design Process, pg.950

Engineering Drawing and Design Student Companion Website, pg.973

4. Engineering Design and Graphics with SolidWorks by James D. Bethune (829 pages), 2017

Chapter 1: Getting Started, pg.1

Chapter 2: Sketch Entities and Tools, pg.41

Chapter 3: Features, pg.123

Chapter 4: Orthographic Views, pg.225

Chapter 5: Assemblies, pg.299

Chapter 6: Threads and Fasteners, pg.375

Chapter 7: Dimensioning, pg.439

Chapter 8: Tolerancing, pg.509

Chapter 9: Bearings and Fit Tolerances, pg.605

Chapter 10: Gears, pg.639

Chapter 11: Belts and Pulleys, pg.699

Chapter 12: Cams, pg.725

Chapter 13: Projects, after pg.774

5. Interpreting Engineering Drawings, 8th Edition, by Theodore J. Branoff (530 pages), 2016

Unit 1: Introduction: Line Types and Sketching, pg.1

Unit 2: Lettering and Title Blocks, pg.11

Unit 3: Basic Geometry: Circles and Arcs, pg.15

Unit 4: Working Drawings and Projection Theory, pg.22

Unit 5: Introduction to Dimensioning, pg.39

Unit 6: Normal, Inclined, and Oblique Surfaces, pg.52

Unit 7: Pictorial Sketching, pg.67

Unit 8: Machining Symbols and Revision Blocks, pg.78

Unit 9: Chamfers, Undercuts, Tapers, and Knurls, pg.86

Unit 10: Sectional Views, pg.91

Unit 11: One- and Two-View Drawings, pg.110

Unit 12: Surface Texture, pg.117

Unit 13: Introduction to Conventional Tolerancing, pg.130

Unit 14: Inch Fits, pg.142

Unit 15: Metric Fits, pg.150

Unit 16: Threads and Fasteners, pg.161

Unit 17: Auxiliary Views, pg.181

Unit 18: Development Drawings, pg.190

Unit 19: Selection and Arrangement of Views, pg.196

Unit 20: Piping Drawings, pg.202

Unit 21: Bearings, pg.214

Unit 22: Manufacturing Materials, pg.220

Unit 23: Casting Processes, pg.232

Unit 24: Violating True Projection: Conventional Practices, pg.249

Unit 25: Pin Fasteners, pg.264

Unit 26: Drawings for Numerical Control, pg. 274

Unit 27: Assembly Drawings, pg.280

Unit 28: Structural Steel, pg.289

Unit 29: Welding Drawings, pg.294

Unit 30: Groove Welds, pg.305

Unit 31: Other Basic Welds, pg.315

Unit 32: Spur Gears, pg.328

Unit 33: Bevel Gears and Gear Trains, pg.337

Unit 34: Cams, pg.347

Unit 35: Bearings and Clutches, pg.353

Unit 36: Ratchet Wheels, pg.362

Unit 37: Introduction to Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, pg.368

Unit 38: Features and Material Condition Modifiers, pg.380

Unit 39: Form Tolerances, pg.394

Unit 40: The Datum Reference Frame, pg.402

Unit 41: Orientation Tolerances, pg.415

Unit 42: Datum Targets, pg.432

Unit 43: Position Tolerances, pg.440

Unit 44: Profile Tolerances, pg.461

Unit 45: Runout Tolerances, pg.469

6. Architectural Graphic Standards Student Edition, 12th Edition, by The American Institute of Architects (689 pages), 2017

Chapter 1: Functional Planning, pg.3

Chapter 2: Environment, pg.31

Chapter 3: Resilience in Buildings. Pg.53

Chapter 4: Architectural Construction Documentation, pg.77

Chapter 5: Concrete, pg.93

Chapter 6: Masonry, pg.107

Chapter 7: Metals, pg.125

Chapter 8: Wood, pg.141

Chapter 9: Glass, pg.165

Chapter 10: Element A: Substructure, pg.176

Chapter 11: Element B: Shell, pg.203

Chapter 12: Element C: Interiors, pg.363

Chapter 13: Element D: Services, pg.427

Chapter 14: Element E: Equipment and Furnishings, pg.517

Chapter 15: Element F: Special Construction, pg.565

Chapter 16: Element G: Sitework, pg.581

Appendices, pg.627

Thank you.


6 thoughts on “Brief History of Technical & Engineering Drawings

  1. Imagine the time you’d lose if you DIDN’T plan out your engineering. Everything took so long to be completed, a mistake could cost you decades. Like that pyramid that changes slopes in the top third because it couldn’t support the weight…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. very meaningful comment; thanks…and what you said is true: a single mistake can cost anybody decades, especially if the mistakes are made in anything related to technical or technological matters

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I found your post very interesting but you might want to edit your second link that is labelled: Definition & types of technical drawing (PDF download available)
    When I clicked on the link it didn’t go directly to the page I think you intended, but to a 404 page with links on it. Please try it and see what I mean.

    If you edit the link and put this direct link, which I presume was your original intent.

    Hope my suggestion is taken with the good will it is meant,
    Best Wishes

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks alot for taking your time to inform me…what happened was that I reposted that post but didn’t change the link on other pages… I deeply appreciate your gesture


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