My Working Day - Simon Rodway archive

Monday 17 June 2013

We pay our technical illustrator a visit

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Woodworking Plans & Projects; the clue's in the name - for every project, we supply plans, and that's where we turn to Simon Rodway. Simon has been providing illustrations for us and our sister magazines since the very first issue of Furniture & Cabinetmaking in 1996 - in fact, he is the only person to have contributed to every single issue of F&C!

Simon gained his skills in technical drawing when studying architecture: "I suppose what I do day-to-day is best described as 'virtual woodworking'" he explains; we send him the pictures and step-by-step instructions for each project, and he then builds them, not in the workshop, but in 3D on screen in his home study, using AutoCAD. His most important piece of kit is not a router or bandsaw, but a mousemat: "This thing saved my working life!" he says, "I started to get terrible RSI from using a mouse on the desk all day - now I have this larger mousemat which I put on my lap instead, and the problem has completely disappeared."

After Simon creates the 3D model, he pulls it apart on screen to show you how it's made, generating sections, plans and elevations.

The drawing is imported into SketchUp, where it is rendered and grain and colour added, from SketchUp to PhotoShop, and then finally into Illustrator. In the dark but not that distant past, Simon would then print out and post the finished drawings, but he now sends these to us online, so we can slot them into the project pages in no time!

Simon's Golden Rule

"In technical illustration, you should never sacrifice clarity for looks. It's important for the drawings to look fresh, interesting and lively, but their main purpose is always to explain how something works or is put together. That means that the illustrations also have to be accurate, and understanding what you are drawing is crucial to this."

Likes

"I love the fact that my commute to work is down a single flight of stairs, especially on cold, dark winter mornings. The variety of things that I draw means that I've never got bored in nearly 20 years of illustration, and I usually look forward to Monday morning."

Dislikes

"I spend a bit too much time on my own, and can end up having conversations with myself. I also spend too much time sitting, so I try and make sure I go for at least one walk every working day."


Tegan Foley

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LineMine, is a resource for sharing and selling technical drawings and 3D models