Drawing & Design

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by LanaKatz
Last updated 6 years ago

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Drawing & Design


Ancient bronze chisel.

Recreating hand stencils.

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Half-a-million-year-old etched shell.

The first technical drawing tools that have been observed came significantly later than cave paintings (rocks and similar items were used for cave painting)—ancient Egyptians are known to have used wooden corner rulers, and ancient Nuragic people Sardinia used bronze compasses. Although it is not proven, researchers have found evidence that suggests that in ancient Greece, styli, metal chisels, scale rulers, and triangle rulers were used. Excavations in Pompeii have found a bronze tool kit used by the Romans, which contained triangle rulers, compasses, and a ruler to use with a pen.

Although styli were invented in ancient times, they were replaced by quills in the 18th century. Protractors have been used since the 13th century, and adjustable corner rulers were created in the 17th century.

Drawing is one of the oldest forms of human expression and communication, preceding and inciting the creation of the written language. Many 40,000-year-old cave-and-rock paintings have been found, but some containers which may have been used to hold paint date as far back as 100,000 years ago.These cave-and-rock paintings and paint containers seem irrelevant when compared to a discovery made in 2014—430,000-to-540,000-year-old shells that were etched on by homo erectus (an extinct species of hominid) were found in Java, Indonesia. However, etched shells cannot be considered "art" as they are often neither well preserved, nor proven to be a form of human expression. Cave painting are believed to be the earliest form of true art. Particularly in Australia, India, and Southern Africa, there are many well-preserved, artistic cave paintings which date from (respectively) ~40,000 BCE, ~30,000 BCE, and ~25,000 BCE.

What did it do?

All ancient cave paintings depict similar themes; animals (by far the most common subjects), handprints, and abstract patterns. Because they are so old, these cave paintings’ purpose is constantly under debate. It is generally accepted that these paintings had spiritual, religious, or ceremonial ties. A common theory is that cave paintings portraying big game were used as “hunting magic” to increase the numbers of the drawn animals.

Fun fact: researchers still have no explanation as to why cave paintings are so similar around the world, and why humans (hand stencils aside) appear so little in cave paintings.

What did people use?

What's it like now?

The art of today was preceded with the start of industrial production of technical drawing instruments in 1853, when an Englishman founded a technical manufacturing company in London. Although many tools were still made by hand, the industrial production of technical drawing instruments gradually increased.

Wacom Intuos Graphics Tablet

The popularization of this market is what lead to the creation of drawing equipment that would forever change art and how we drew; in the 1990s, computer-aided design was conceived. Although hand-drawn designs are still widely used in the draft design stage, computer-aided design drawings have almost completely ousted hand-made drawings. Computer-aided drawings are no longer “drawn”, but are rather built from a virtually-produced model.

The device consists of a flat surface upon which the user may “draw” or trace an image using an attached stylus—a pen-like drawing apparatus. The image is displayed on the computer monitor, although some graphics tablet have screens.

By Lana V. Katz


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