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TOPIC SECTION:
Aesthetic value
E
Image: Drawing of Stephenson 'Long Boiler' Locomotive
Drawing of Stephenson 'Long Boiler' Locomotive, 1841
Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
ngineering drawings can vary between the purely aesthetic variety intended to impress and seduce the viewer, through to complex technical diagrams that provide a three-dimensional slice through an object. Some combine the two styles. The balance between illustration and information has varied over time. Initially the drawings were working approximations used by the engineer as an aide-mémoire; then, to suit various uses, they became more attractive and architectural. To aid production they then became more technical as well, and now with AutoCAD (computer-aided design) they have reverted to purely utilitarian forms. The need for attractive drawings is now met by photography and graphic design.
Railway companies developed definite house styles for their locomotives and civil engineering, which became part of their brand development. These individual styles were of course evident in the engine
then, to suit various uses, they became more attractive and architectural
ering drawings themselves and the type of shading and colouring employed. Many railway companies continued to maintain these house styles until after the nationalisation of the railways in 1948.

National methods of producing engineering drawings became s
Image: Waverley Class 4-4-0 broad gauge locomotive from Daniel Goochs' Sketchbook
Waverley Class 4-4-0 broad gauge locomotive from Daniel Goochs' Sketchbook, 1855
Credit: Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library
tandardised in the latter half of the twentieth century. However, unlike mathematics, engineering drawing never truly crossed international boundaries, as each country’s system was different. It was only with the advent of computing that ways of producing and understanding engineering drawings became a universal language.

Today, historical drawings have become highly attractive to the non-specialist, who might not be able to deconstruct the data held in the drawing, but can appreciate the beauty of the work. The use of colour and shade and the sheer amount of detail in many drawings reflect the skills of the draughtsmen who created them. Increasingly, this type of drawing is being regarded as a work of art in its own right and has become commercially as well as historically valuable.

 
 
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Topic section: The production process
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James Watt pioneered the use of drawn-to-scale engineering plans. The skills needed were adapted from the work of the rural blacksmith  > more

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Topic section: Selling
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Before photography, the engineering drawing was the main selling tool. Now videos of locomotives promote the product  > more
 
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