In every art history class, we start by looking at the markings or drawings done in cave paintings. It is understood that these markings were the first attempts of communication. Some of these markings were very sophisticated in their form and proportions. The tools they used were the ones they had at their disposal. According to the Encyclopedia Britannica there are about 400 sites that contain cave art. But these are not the only evidence of primitive drawings.

During the Byzantine period, “anthibolon”, which roughly means cartoon or preliminary drawings, was popular because of demand for iconography. Paintings portraying iconography were very popular and a method was needed to replicate these paintings quickly. Anthibolon was a type of perforated sketch that served as a template to replicate a painting. The photo above was taken by me at the Byzantine and Christian Museum of Athens.

Alan Pipes in his book Drawing for Designers talks about the Bronze age, Egyptian art, and Greek drawings. He mentions albeit briefly, the Greek legend of Dibutades‘ drawing of a shadow being the first evidence of the “link between drawing and manufacture.” The legend goes that Dibutades’ daughter fell in love with a young Corinth man and she drew the outline of his shadow to which Dibutades sculpted in clay.

Pipes also mentions how other artists used projections and perspective to draw such as Paolo Uccello (1397-1475) and Filippo Brunelleschi (1377-1446). But the most interesting aspect is the section on the book titled “The influence of shipbuilding.” Shipbuilding required drawings, which look very similar to modern day engineering drawings. One such example is the drawing of the sloop Atlanta, 1775.

Another factor that contributed to the development of drawings like sketches was mass production. Pipes states that if the products were done by hand and by a single workshop, the draftsman knew what to do. However, once  it is mass produced and the object would be done in multiple workshops, then a drawing to copy from was needed. Pipes credits Ferdinand Redtenbacher (1809-1863) with this development. Redtenbacher thought that instead of making metal prototypes, a drawing could be made and save money. Fast forward to 1927 when according to Piper, engineering drawing practice was standardized.

To be continued…