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Accurate Offset Curves by Hand? Roadways, etc.

- - - - - drafting hand pen and ink

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#1
Terra

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Hi all. This is my first post (excluding my introduction) so if you missed that let me preface this post by mentioning that I draw pen and ink maps by hand as a hobby and I am trying to improve my technical ability in this area.

 

I've always had bad luck drawing roads (think of any typical USGS topo map road style) because I can never get the two lines to be equidistant from a drawn or imaginary center line. I find that French curves make for unsympathetic transitions and flexible rulers are...flexible. Is there some big secret I'm missing? It seems as simple as a two point nib but I have yet to find one. Am I missing a very obvious secret to accuracy in this area?



#2
Charles Syrett

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I used to do this kind of drawing in the early years of my career. In those days, there was a special pen called a "railroad pen", that was basically two ruling pens on one handle, specially designed for drawing parallel lines. The distance between the 2 nibs was adjustable, and the two together had an optional swivel function, so that you could do freehand curves.

 

It was a tricky pen to use, if you wanted really good linework, and usually it was necessary to go back and clean up your work after you'd finished. I actually had better results with a single ruling pen. Draw a line, carefully measure the offset and mark with tiny pencil ticks, draw the parallel line, repeat. It just takes patience and diligence. B)


Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

 

Hi all. This is my first post (excluding my introduction) so if you missed that let me preface this post by mentioning that I draw pen and ink maps by hand as a hobby and I am trying to improve my technical ability in this area.

 

I've always had bad luck drawing roads (think of any typical USGS topo map road style) because I can never get the two lines to be equidistant from a drawn or imaginary center line. I find that French curves make for unsympathetic transitions and flexible rulers are...flexible. Is there some big secret I'm missing? It seems as simple as a two point nib but I have yet to find one. Am I missing a very obvious secret to accuracy in this area?

 



#3
Terra

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Thank you! That's exactly what I was looking for. I'll have to pick up one of those old drafting sets full of ruling pens on eBay.



#4
Dennis McClendon

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This is an area where scribing was superior to working in positive pen-on-ink.

 

I actually never scribed, but I did use Mylar overlays with Rubylith and thin crepe tapes made by Letraset and Chartpak (don't know if you can still get them anywhere).  For double-line street maps, I would draw the centerlines with positive tape on clear Mylar, then send it out for two negatives: a "fatty" and a "skinny" (also called a spread and a choke).  The photostat service or darkroom operator would then sandwich those together to create a print with only the thin offset lines, which I would then touch up to remove artifacts and use as a base for further layers.

 

Something you might try with pencil or fast-drying ink (like a Sharpie) is putting thin crepe tape down as a guide and using that as your guide edge for lines on both sides, removing the tape afterwards.  Wet ink will easily creep under the tape edges, though, so it's not likely to prove a very robust technique.


Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com

#5
Terra

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Thanks for the tip, Dennis! I haven't seen Rubylith since high school (the last time I did any sort of extensive drafting until recently.) I'm surprised they still make it! After watching this (8:49) it makes me want to order some just for the fun of it. It's amazing what a little tape and razor can do.



#6
Charles Syrett

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Dennis, you just made my day. I never heard of anybody using spreads and chokes to do double line roads!


Charles Syrett
Map Graphics
http://www.mapgraphics.com

 

This is an area where scribing was superior to working in positive pen-on-ink.

 

I actually never scribed, but I did use Mylar overlays with Rubylith and thin crepe tapes made by Letraset and Chartpak (don't know if you can still get them anywhere).  For double-line street maps, I would draw the centerlines with positive tape on clear Mylar, then send it out for two negatives: a "fatty" and a "skinny" (also called a spread and a choke).  The photostat service or darkroom operator would then sandwich those together to create a print with only the thin offset lines, which I would then touch up to remove artifacts and use as a base for further layers.

 

Something you might try with pencil or fast-drying ink (like a Sharpie) is putting thin crepe tape down as a guide and using that as your guide edge for lines on both sides, removing the tape afterwards.  Wet ink will easily creep under the tape edges, though, so it's not likely to prove a very robust technique.



#7
Dennis McClendon

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You couldn't get sharp crisp corners, but it worked.  To show grade separations, I touched it up with a technical pen.  Here's one from a 1986 book:

 

ivnBa.jpg


Dennis McClendon, Chicago CartoGraphics
chicagocarto.com




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