Let’s use color on drawings.

It’s 2023 and the time is right to start using color on engineering drawings.

For as long as I’ve been in the industry engineering drawings have been produced in two colors: black and white. Apparently back in the day they were blue. We haven’t come very far.

By Joy Oil Co Ltd – via Wikipedia

When drawings needed to be printed out on paper (and later copied, also on paper) this made some sense. Color printing was expensive and you wouldn’t want critical information to get lost in the process of copying from color to black and white.

But now we’re using fancy electronics with screens that can display millions of colors… to look at 2-color drawings.

Photo by Greg Rosenke on Unsplash

Let’s do better! Here at CopelandBEC we’re experimenting with using color on our drawings in a few different ways—all with the goal of better communicating design intent and, ultimately, producing better outcomes in the built world.

One way we are exploring the use of color is to highlight the function of certain materials within an assembly (check out this post for more on why it’s better to focus on function than on specific materials). In the screenshot below, which is a working prototype we’ve been playing with, the colors mean the following:

  • blue = water control
  • yellow = thermal control
  • green = air control
This is a prototype of how we might approach using color to clarify design intent for a window sill detail.

By identifying the intended function of each material in this way we hope to accomplish several things, including:

  1. clearly identifying any gaps in continuity of the various control layers in the design stage
  2. creating a better-defined goal for the installer (i.e. more than just “put this stuff here”, we’re trying to convey the message of “create a continuous airtight assembly here”)

This is a work in progress and just an illustration of our thinking on one way the use of color could be helpful on engineering drawings. Do you have ideas? We’d love to hear them in the comments below.

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One thought on “Let’s use color on drawings.

  • Love the idea! I think color in building details makes sense.

    Seeing color in architectural plans makes things simple because it allows for a visual representation of the project. Color can be used to convey information such as the type of material or the size of a room, while also helping to make the plan easier to read and understand.

    Color can be used to emphasize certain areas of a plan, such as those that require more attention or those that are important to the overall aesthetic of the project. This makes it easier to focus on the relevant components of the plan, while also providing a way to highlight the most important points.

    Color can also be used to create a sense of depth and dimension in a plan, which can be beneficial when designing complex projects. Different colors can be used to highlight different levels of a building, or to emphasize the texture or pattern of certain materials. This helps to bring the plan to life and makes it easier to visualize the finished product.

    Cheers, Brian
    Marketer @ Alpen High Performance Products https://thinkalpen.com
    Founder @ Materials Museum https:/materials.museum
    Founder @ Materials Magazine https://materialsmagazine.com

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