In 1962 computer engineers developed a method of drawing both straight and curved lines using computers. This allowed for rapid advances and ultimately allowed people to create even the most technical of illustrations on a computer. Today technical illustration is used in many different ways; it is used by engineers or scientists to communicate highly complex specifications with their peers as well to communicate with people outside their specialisations, and also by highly skilled specialists to communicate with the general public. The arenas which technical illustration infiltrates in this way are multitudinous, from special effects for blockbuster films, to the illustrations in car manuals, to communicating the construction of complex chemicals for scientific review.
Computer animation is a fast-developing area with increasingly rapid technical development and new creative ventures. This has seen the production of fully computer-animated feature films such as Shrek, as well as the significant advancement in special effects seen in the likes of The Matrix and Star Wars. As such, technical illustration is currently a very exciting area to be involved with.
Courses tend to focus on the productive use of computer animation and animation technology, combining traditional artistic disciplines such as life drawing and photography with elements from computing and engineering fields such as applied mathematics and computer programming. This allows students of technical illustration to develop an excellent ability in computer animation as well as forming a good appreciation of the creative and technical processes involved.
Assessment is by a combination of project work, examination and presentations with most courses offering the option for a major final project focusing on the strengths and interests of the student. Throughout most courses students will also have the option to specialise in particular areas of technical illustration.
Example Areas of Study
Technical illustration varies from course to course and you will need to check with your preferred institution directly to find out the exact subjects you will be studying. Common subjects covered include:
- CGI tools
- 3D max studio
- Developing techniques in visualisation
- Engineering computer-aided design
- Aesthetic, perceptual and technical factors
- Managing design innovation
- Engineering illustration
- Product illustration
- Advanced post-production and audio
- Advanced computer animation
- Establishing dimensional control
- Computer animation
- Digital rendering
- Animation design
- Principles of computer systems
- Mathematics for computer graphics
- Digital media applications and post-production
- Innovations in computer animation
- Animation systems techniques
Some Career Possibilities
A sound knowledge of technological issues affecting digital media production and computer animation is a characteristic of graduates in technical illustration. Alumnae may pursue careers in film special effects, computer game design, scientific visualisation, animation production as well as many other related disciplines. You should leave your course with not only an excellent understanding and knowledge of computer animation but also a range of transferrable skills such as maintaining commercial relationships. This makes graduates in technical illustration very employable.
What do I need to get on a Course?
Entry requirements vary from course to course so you will need to check with your preferred institution to get up-to-date information on the requirements they have. To give you a general idea of what is expected please see below:
- UCAS Tariff: 160-300 points
- A-Levels: CCC with one in a computer-related field
- Foundation Degree: In CGI 3D technical illustration
- Interview: May be required
- Portfolio: Required
- International Baccalaureate: Considered on an individual basis
- Mature Entry: Considered on an individual basis, relevant experience must be demonstrated
- Foundation diploma in Art: Considered
- Achievements in one of: Fine art, Photography, Graphic design, 3D design, Mathematics, Physics, Chemistry or Computing are desirable
For Your Application or Interview, the following may be useful:
- For examples of technical illustrations: Technical Illustrations
- For general information: Institute of Scientific and Technical Communicators
To find out more about the typical subjects you will study, potential career paths and further information useful for your application log-on to Course Discover at www.coursediscoveronline.co.uk*
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