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Drafting for the Theatre

Dennis Dorn and Mark Shanda

Publication Year: 2012

In this newly revised second edition, veteran stage designers and technical directors Dennis Dorn and Mark Shanda introduce industry-standard drafting and designing practices with step-by-step discussions, illustrations, worksheets, and problems to help students develop and refine drafting and other related skills needed for entertainment set production work. By incorporating the foundational principles of both hand- and computer-drafting approaches throughout the entire book, the authors illustrate how to create clear and detailed drawings that advance the production process. 

Early chapters focus on the basics of geometric constructions, orthographic techniques, soft-line sketching applications, lettering, and dimensioning. Later chapters discuss real-life applications of production drawing and ancillary skills such as time and material estimation and shop-drawing nomenclature. Two chapters detail a series of design and shop drawings required to mount a specific design project, providing a guided path through both phases of the design/construction process. Most chapters conclude with one or more worksheets or problems that provide readers with an opportunity to test their understanding of the material presented. 

The authors' discussion of universal CAD principles throughout the manuscript provides a valuable foundation that can be used in any computer-based design, regardless of the software. Dorn and Shanda treat the computer as another drawing tool, like the pencil or T-square, but one that can help a knowledgeable drafter potentially increase personal productivity and accuracy when compared to traditional hand-drafting techniques. 

Drafting for the Theatre, second edition assembles in one book all the principal types of drawings, techniques, and conventional wisdom necessary for the production of scenic drafting, design, and shop drawings. It is richly illustrated with numerous production examples and is fully indexed to assist students and technicians in finding important information. It is structured to support a college-level course in drafting, but will also serve as a handy reference for the working theatre professional.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Title Page, Copyright Page

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pp. v-vi


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pp. vii-viii

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Introduction—Drafting, the Graphic Language of Planning

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pp. ix-x

This book is finally in its second edition. In the nearly twenty years since the first edition was published, it has been widely accepted as a reference resource for professionals as well as a course textbook by many schools. This newly updated edition may be used as a...

Part One: Tools, Standards, and Basic Techniques

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1. The Pencil and CAD—Two Great Choices

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pp. 3-8

Drafting skills have always been important to the field of stagecraft. Early in their careers, set designers and technicians must learn the variety of graphic skills that are so indispensable to communicating their design ideas, as well as their technical solutions, to others. To develop our imaginations and then graphically express these visions, it is necessary to achieve a successful mastery of the field’s...

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2. Getting Equipped—Tools of the Trade

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pp. 9-20

Technical drawing requires the use of a variety of tools to produce clean, accurate, and reproducible drawings. As with most activities, only a few pieces of equipment are required, but additional equipment can make certain tasks easier. For the purposes of this text, drafting tools have been divided into...

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3. Graphic Standards and Conventions

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pp. 21-29

The primary purpose of drafting is to graphically convey design and technical information. Theatre graphics are used to communicate design and construction ideas to members of the production team and studio crew. As in most fields, drafting should be viewed not as an end product, but as a means to an end. For...

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4. Lines and Letters

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pp. 30-44

Whether a drawing is created with pencil and paper or in a computer software program, the resultant product must be of such a high graphic quality that all subsequent users can clearly understand the information presented. This is achievable only when the drawing techniques used are appropriate and consistent. This chapter...

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5. Geometry—The Foundation of Drafting

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pp. 45-59

Technical drawing involves a great deal of geometry, although this fact is often not acknowledged. In many instances, solving a design or construction problem means drafting something in scale to determine dimensions, joinery, or some other aspect of the object that was not at first apparent. Geometric constructions can result in easier and more accurate drawings...

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6. Dimensions and Those All-Important Notes

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pp. 60-76

A drawing is of little use if it does not contain complete dimensions and adequate notation. Unfortunately, this requirement seems to create real hardships for many drafters. Too often, tight schedules “force” the drafter to take shortcuts, leaving many dimensions missing and assembly choices left up to the option of...

Part Two: Orthographic Projection

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7. 3D to 2D and Back

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pp. 79-88

The very root of technical drafting is the challenge of describing three-dimensional shapes. To be useful, technical drafting must be drawn accurately and provide all of the information essential to successfully construct the needed object. Furthermore the drawing must convey the true size and shape of the object. Once the...

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8. Section Views—The Inside Scoop

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pp. 89-96

Typical multiview drawings describe an object through six standard planes, i.e., the planes projected on the surfaces of the theoretical glass box that surrounds the object. Using these six views, any information about the object’s interior must be shown through the...

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9. Finding an Object’s True Size and Shape

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pp. 97-111

Some objects, such as a raked stage or a ceiling piece that is canted in two directions, have a surface that is not parallel to any of the six principal planes of a multiview drawing. Obviously, if the object is to be fabricated, that surface must be accurately described. Two types of drawings achieve this goal, although...

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10. Scalable 3D Drawings—Isometric and Oblique

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pp. 112-120

Individuals not familiar with the conventions of orthographic projection generally find two-dimensional drafting difficult to understand. For these people, a sketch that shows an object in a three-dimensional form is more effective and certainly more user friendly (fig. 10.1). Three-dimensional drawing techniques...

Part Three: Specialized Techniques

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11. Mechanical Perspective—The Long Way and Some Shortcuts

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pp. 123-135

Since a significant amount of scenery is constructed using either true or forced perspective, theatre designers, scenic artists, and set fabricators all need to understand the basic principles of perspective. Forced perspective is a term used when the converging lines do not meet at correctly defined vanishing points...

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12. Sketching—Where All Our Drafting Solutions Begin

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pp. 136-141

Although not frequently associated with technical drafting, sketching is a significant and vital part of the drafting process. With sketches, we can often solve problems more quickly. By downplaying the need for precision and suspending perfectionist tendencies, most designers are better able to quickly produce...

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13. Simplified Drafting Techniques for Both Pencil and CAD

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pp. 142-152

As noted earlier, drafting is a graphic means used to translate ideas that initiate many of the visual elements found in a theatrical production. Put another way, the end product of set drafting is scenery, not a drawing. To facilitate that goal, whenever possible every effort should be made to reduce the time necessary...

Part Four: Computer Drafting

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14. CAD—The Twenty-First-Century Tool of Choice

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pp. 155-172

Unlike pencil drafting, where essentially all drafters use the same tools in much the same way, computer-aided design (CAD) drafting consists of a variety of computer software packages and a wide divergence of computer setups. Additionally, CAD software is updated nearly annually to respond to user...

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15. Keeping Track of All Those Files

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pp. 173-180

To maximize the efficient creation, storage, and plotting of CAD drawings, each drafter should abide by and each organization should establish standards that support universal exchange of information. While it may be relatively easy enough to convert some basic things when drawings are shared, like English...

Part Five: Design and Shop Drawings Overview

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16. Scoping Out Design Drawings

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pp. 183-209

The scene designer’s drawings are to the scenery construction process what an architect’s drawings are to the building trades. These drawings, also known as design drawings or working drawings, are the means by which the images previously captured by the designer in sketch or rendering form (fig. 16.1) become...

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17. A Case Study of How Design Drawings Are Created

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pp. 210-228

In order to describe the range of drawings typically required to graphically communicate a scenic design, this chapter leads the reader through the critical steps necessary to prepare the two-dimensional drawings needed to articulate a design. The project featured is Dennis Dorn’s design for Fire in the Basement...

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18. A Case Study of How Shop Drawings Are Made

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pp. 229-244

Once a production has been designed and drafted, the design drawings are sent out for bid or the costs estimated in-house. During this period, changes may occur in the design due to artistic decisions and the inevitable costs of construction. In commercial theatre and similar businesses, because of time constraints...

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19. Stage Walls with Square Edges

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pp. 245-256

Shop or construction drawings approach scenery from the inside out. These drawings identify the techniques and materials to be used to construct the designs as prepared by the designer. Shop drawings indicate joinery, materials, hardware, covering, and finishes and are accurately dimensioned, typically in ½″ = 1′-0″ scale with perhaps some details...

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20. Levels—Both Stationary and Rolling

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pp. 257-278

Flat frames such as those discussed in the previous chapter are designed to simulate interior and exterior walls and are rarely called on to support much weight other than their own. Standard flat frames use construction materials oriented in the face direction, making...

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21. Stairs and Other Challenging Structures

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pp. 279-285

A stair is one of the most complex units of standard scenery to build or to draft. The complexity of stair units comes from the need for them to be comfortable for the human body, to elevate the actor to a given height, and to fit within a given space. Drafting them requires some understanding of the structural...

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22. Profile Units, Soft Goods, and Similar Design Elements

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pp. 286-299

Most of the scenic units discussed in the previous chapters on shop drawings have had rectilinear shapes. For the most part, however, scenery does not fit into this convenient world of right angles. For purposes of discussion, we refer to these nonrectilinear forms as “irregular...

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23. Wood Is Good but . . . Metal Is Good Too!

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pp. 300-312

Metal construction has become almost as common as wood construction in most academic, regional, and commercial scenic studios. Steel and aluminum framed structures, trusses, and design elements appear on many stages. The price of tube steel, a commonplace and convenient metal shape, is not much...

Part Six: The Portfolio Project

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24. In Summary—The Final Project

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pp. 315-324

In this final chapter, we encourage the creation of a “portfolio piece” and provide one possible framework for such an experience. A “final project” provides an opportunity to incorporate the book’s information into a cumulative effort that will “test” a drafter’s ability to synthesize the information discussed...


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pp. 325-362


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pp. 363-372

Authors Bios

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Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780809387731
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809330379

Publication Year: 2012