Transforming Location Part Three: Technical Drawing Terminology

Technical Drawing Overview

The second step in our transforming location project was to produce a technical drawing of our chosen location and to do this we worked under the instruction of expert model maker, David Neat. David specialises in model making and to do this, has to be very informed of technical drawing and has produced some outstanding works to support this. He keeps an intensely instructive blog on WordPress where he frequently records methods of technical drawing and methods of model making. His lectures were beyond fascinating and it was shame there were only a few hours in the day to hear his information! His WordPress site can be found here:

David simplified and explained each step so thoroughly that as a class, we were confident to produce our own technical drawings.

Technical Drawing – What is it?

A technical drawing is simply a means to communicate a building or construct (such as a set) that allows viewers to easily read plans and dimensions. This is used in film and theatre so that set builders and dressers can realize said plans and work new designs that the given space can accommodate.  Often, this is used in conjunction with a white card model of said location, which also acts a great way to triple check any measurements!


There are a number of words you will encounter when undertaking a technical drawing and this can also be quite intimidating as it is similar to learning a new language.  I have made a list of key words I have encountered during these lectures:

Breaking the Line – This refers to a wavy line that breaks a drawing in two. This is used to explain to the viewer that there is more to the drawing than displayed because the drawing may be too large to accommodate all of its components.

Coding – Coding relates to the letters and numerals seen in technical drawing. Often you will see each elevation labelled “Elevation A” or “Elevation A- A”. “Elevation A-A” is an example of coding. On the ground plans, there will be dashed lines across and labelled at the end with A, B,C … which indicates its relating elevation. Coding is used to match the ground plan indications to its relative elevation drawing should a secondary part of a technical drawing be on another sheet.

Drafting or ‘draughting’ – This is an alternative word for drawing. If you hear of someone being a “draftsperson” or “draughtsman”, this means they specialise in technical drawing. This could cover architectural drawing, engineering or product design.

ElevationsElevations are simply the front view of each wall, interior and exterior.  They are referred to as elevations because this indicates that the drawing is of a risen or “upright” subject.

Ground Plans (or Floorplans) – As the name would indicate, this is simply a technical drawing that specifies a ground plan. This is achieved by drawing the floor space from an eye level aerial perspective (or bird’s eye view) and is used to give a clearer understanding of wall density and location of built in features such as doors and windows. When used in conjunction with elevation drawings, this gives the viewer a very clear, accurate impression of a proposed space to transform.

Layouta layout refers to the way in which the drawing in presented as a whole.  This must be well thought out prior to drawing because this saves a lot of rubbing out and redrafting! The drawing should be clear, with the ground plans centre bottom and divided with directional arrows indicating which accommodating elevation drawing the directional arrows refer to. The elevation drawings should be positioned so that upon observing the ground plans, the viewer can naturally follow the direction of each indication and observe its matching counterpart.

Scale Scale is the term used to describe size. If something is “in scale” or “scale” this means it is drawn exactly to its original size. However, if you are trying to draw a large building or room onto A0 paper, this would be impractical. Practitioners often work to a scale that allows them to present their drawings on a single sheet, which means they would have to reduce the measurements. In this instance, we are to work to a 1:25 scale. To “scale up” you simply take measurements from the technical drawing and times this by the amount indicated. For example, if my technical drawing stated the length of a room was 10 cms, I would times this by 25 and discover that the true length of the room is 250cms. Another term you may encounter is “scaling down” which is the exact opposite of “scaling up” in that you take the true measurements and divide them by the stated amount.

Section A section is a cut through. It simplifies the drawing by exposing the interior but projecting the exterior shape. For example, if I wanted to draw a sink; I would cut through half way so I could include measurements of the plumbing inside and the shape of the sink outside, giving a simplistic but informative diagram.

Please view Transforming Location: Part Four to follow and example of technical drawing and tips that assisted with my work.


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