Technical illustrators create visual diagrams and schematics of technical information. A technical illustrator can create a diagram that shows how a certain machine works in a visual manner. Other uses of technical illustrations include drawings of inventions that are submitted for patents.
Technical illustrators can work in a variety of manners. Some technical illustrators work closely with a team of engineers, since the illustrator is tasked with creating the visual design and schematic of the engineering team’s invention. Technical illustrators can also work as freelance workers, since their work is contingent upon the output of engineering teams. They can be hired “as needed” by companies or individuals. The skills required include drafting and drawing skills, as well as knowledge of drafting software. Many of the drawings completed are initially done by hand, so strong spatial reasoning and mathematics to ensure everything is drawn to scale is important. The final drawings are completed using professional-grade software, so failure to know how to use AutoCAD will be a hindrance to getting hired.
Unlike engineers, technical illustrators do not need a four-year college degree. Illustrators just need to show their competence in using the software tools and their ability to draw in a clean, concise manner. However, many technical illustrators have completed courses at a community college to refine their spatial reasoning and mathematics skills and to hone their artistic and drafting skills.
Technical Illustrator Tasks
Coordinate with other teams to understand the purpose and needed perspectives for illustrations.
Lay out text, instructions, or other information around drawings.
Draw schematics or multi-angle views of products or parts, and create detailed design drawings.