Professional technical illustrations are a great way to visualize a technical instruction. They are based on reusing 3D-CAD data, by measurements or by tracing photos. It all depends on the required production process and the available source materials.
Technical illustrations by reusing 3D-CAD data is a great source. In practice this it is a bit different. They files sizes can be huge and most companies do not like it that their CAD data files are being send outside. But in case this is not an issue, it still means that in-house preparation needs to be done by a CAD operator/engineer to collect the desired CAD data and send them to the subcontractor. This is time consuming, and often not the main task of an 3D-CAD operator. For this you do not really need a technical illustrator, a DTP operator with some Adobe Illustrator (or CorelDraw) experience, is mostly sufficient. A better way to deal with CAD data for transforming it into illustrations is with IsoDraw.
Technical illustrations by measurement means literally measuring a part or an object and copying it onto paper or into digital. For this you need an old school illustrator.
Technical illustrations by tracing is the most common variant. Especially in the automobile industry. The client or the illustrator takes a snap-shot of a part or location that needs to be illustrated. The photo is then used as a reference or as a layer, for outlining the desired part(s) into a vector format. This way of illustrating is recommended for producing Service Manuals, which mostly contains a high volume of illustrations. For this you need an experienced and skilled illustrator otherwise it will take too long to produce a quality illustration.
Another variation for making visual instructions in manuals are the use of photos, added with location pointers, callout lines and highlighted parts. This is the most effortless method to create an instruction for in a manual. But using photos has it downside. You can only highlight a location inside the photo to explain where a specific part is located. If you need to explain how a part is taken apart, you need more photos, or more text to make the instruction understandable, into what the end-user is supposed to do. Another critical point with photos are the reproductions, you have to take care that they don’t come out to black or to white in order to keep the photos recognizable. For this you do not really need skilled personnel. Anyone who knows how to work with a photo editing application, will do.
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