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Hand Drawing vs CAD


You spoke about hand sketching and the fact that you make jewelry
that is special for each customer. Do you want a clip art approach to
design? I believe this is what you will be doing with someone else’s
idea of a library. Biting the bullet and learning Rhino will make you
far more efficient in the long run, than trying to shortcut your way
to design through this medium. Making your own library will do two
things, learn the basic functionality of the program by starting with
simple parts, and make a database which is yours alone and totally
usable. This will give you the foundation to make more complicated
pieces much faster. In traditional pencil and paper design versus
modelmaking/fabrication, the first is a 2D process, whereas the latter
is 3D. It is the same with digital media. When you speak of drawing in
Rhino this is inaccurate, it is a building process, no different than
building it in the analog world. When you described your process it
was totally 2D, but you referenced 3D programs. It needs to be clear
what you want to do, 2D or 3D. This is an important distinction. Of
course it will take longer, but that 3D can be
manipulated and edited, to provide unique ways of design problem
solving. In addition you can take advantage of manufacturing
technologies that use this As far as how you choose to
work, 2D or 3D, it all depends what kind of you need.

The library issue comes up many times on this forum. How much will
you be willing to pay for such a library? One hundred dollars, one
thousand dollars, five thousand dollars? Remember, a digital model
does not have an equal analog counterpart. The model lives forever and
can be manipulated forever. One model can turn into thousands of
copies, and those copies have the potential of generating millions of
dollars for the end users. What is that worth to the maker of that
does that person get a flat fee, or royalties on that
model? Napster has certainly heightened our awareness on this issue. A
digital model is a hybrid of physical property and intellectual
property, and I believe its value far exceeds what we currently have
with hard models. The industry is already paranoid about outright
stealing of designs and “re-interpreted” product. The technology
certainly has the potential for new forms of abuse. Companies are
already devaluing the product development process by wanting push
button design, thinking they can replace modelmakers and designers
with less experienced staff. I read ID magazine and I do not see this
trend among industrial designers and ID firms. Good design is
paramount, and for them having a library is more crippling than

I think as designers and modelmakers using this medium we should
carefully weigh the benefits and liabilities.

Dominic Ventura

As far as training yourself on Rhino, M2 systems has a two CD
tutorial set for $189.00 (CAD Basics and CAD Basics for Jewelers). I
am ordering it and will give it a look. Has anyone tried it? Mark


As a jewelry designer I have found using Rhino for both 2D and 3D
applications extremely helpful. I do pencil and paper designing for
clients and use Rhino to give accurate line art for the final
mechanical that will then go to the modelmaker. Sometimes I made a
3D model and print it in views, other times I do my drafting in 2D
which works out very well. Since I started working in Rhino, I have
not had to do a single mechanical drawing on vellum.

As to the issue of libraries: I have made my own libraries in the
various stone shapes that I know I need for certain clients. This
can be a time and energy saver. Making one stone shape that can then
be imported into your project and scaled as necessary is also a good
way to go. But for such things as ring shanks and other forms, I
find that the more projects that I do, the more source material I
have to go back to - importing a previous project into my present
project and then using its construction curves and other relevant
elements to create a new model without having to start from square
one rebuilding the geometry is a great time saver. And if you are
designing your own line, you may find that shapes and motifs from
past projects will build a natural library that will all your own and
much more personal and useful than any library that you might buy. I
used to design and make my own line of contemporary jewelry and would
have appreciated this capability.

The commercial jewelry field has certain more or less standard items
that might be useful if bought in a library. I don’t think that even
this segment of the jewelry industry is going to be able to rely
solely on this approach as even here there are too many variations of
shapes and forms. Experienced Rhino users in this segment of the
industry continually refer back to previous models in their files -
their own libraries, so to speak.

I am always interested to hear of other designers using CAD. I wish
I had had it when I was producing my own line.

Dana Buscaglia

Dominic , While I found your letter interesting I believe finding
companies prosper because we don’t all want to build every crown
pin back we use . A 3D library of common findings would only free up
time to make the piece in which they would be used .I have a couple
years worth of bezels peg crowns four and six prong die struck
as well as common shanks in my personal library . I even have some
real time tutorials I have been working on . But as a bench jeweler
turned bench plus cad cam the one thing that would have been nice
would be files of common parts . I was just curious so I posed the
question . All legalese aside it would cost something to disseminate
the library to those who would like it ,and it would take some of my
time to do it . So I should be paid for it . As I teach some cad design
, I preach build your library , Once was fun , Twice was boring ,
Three times ? There is a six prong head on the
that I did as a demo how much value would you place on every one
building them ? Libraries of fancy shanks or designer type pieces I
have seen don’t do any thing for me , that is where I choose to
express myself .And I believe that as long as making the new images
have in mind is my focus all anyone can do is copy my past . Maybe too
much defensive thinking is bad for the soul .I still work for the fun
of it . Peace , health ,and prosperity ,


Hello - me again still banging on about Hand drawing vs CAD! But I
hope this chain has been useful to others too.

I have done quite a bit of research now and am seeing benefits from
all sides really. I think that if I was making a master and then
sending this to production there is no question that one of the
excellent CAD packages I have been looking at would be brilliant.
However I have also found the comments from a couple on this list in
particular particularly interesting. These have been the suggestion
that hand drawing for one off hand made pieces. I think that I had it
in the back of my mind that it would be best to stick to hand drawing
for large budget pieces like engagement rings but that computers might
be able to help me for things like lower budget rings and more
conventional pieces - particularly those with repeatable elements like
standard settings.

So my current thinking is that for these type of pieces (still one
offs but ones where repeatability would be great and the hand drawn
element might not be so vital to the customer buying into the whole
process by seeing a lovely hand drawing) that the right answer might
be a good graphics tablet. That way I build up a library of these
sketches which I can reuse as a starting point when I need an
accelerated start for something conventional - but they are still
essentially hand done. I have been looking into the WACOM tablets but
don’t seem to be able to fine any supplier who can let me try before
I buy. Has anybody got the Wacom Intuos A4 (or other size) tablet?
If so - what do you think?

Thanks once again for everybody who has taken the time to reply to
this chain - every single reply has been so useful and I feel so
grateful once again for this wonderful group!

Best wishes
Hitchin, UK

Harriet, The Wacom Intuos pads are great. You probably do not need
the A4 size though unless your drawings are that large. Try one out
if you can to get an idea how they work and see if you can use a
smaller size. I use the 6"x9".

James Binnion Metal Arts

Member of the Better Business Bureau

    I have been looking into the WACOM tablets but don't seem to be
able to fine any supplier who can let me try before I buy.  Has
anybody got the Wacom Intuos A4 (or other size) tablet? If so - what
do you think? 

Harriet, If you want to buy a Wacom tablet, do it. You can’t go wrong
with these tablets. It will help you design better and faster. They
are precise, reliable, easy to work with, and you will never work with
a mouse again. I use a 8" X 6" and it’s the perfect size for designing
jewelry. Smaller tablets like the PenPartner will not give you the
precision you need, and the lager tablets (A4 and larger) will require
to many arm and hand movements while designing (those are great for
architects and engineers). Do not seek to try one before you purchase:
the first time you will work with it, you will feel awkward and you
may not like it. But give it a few hours you will never part from it.

Fady Sawaya

Wacom Tablets: The best source on this product is to visit the web
site of Wacom and see for yourself. Their site is Mike


I use an AcecatIII Graphics Tablet (made by AceCAD) available at
Fry’s Electronics for $70 US. It has an active area of 5"x5".
(great for mobility!) That has been more than enough space for me
with Rhino3D, Corel Painter 6, Adobe, and TrueSpace3. I’ve also
tested out JewelCAD, Matrix and a bit of AutoCAD. The tablet was a
big help for me. I did try the Wacom and wasn’t overly impressed.
The Acecat has been fine for all jewelry formats, resolutions, and
line widths.

Regarding hand versus computer representations… Each one is, at
core, a communication tool and has it’s own strengths. The
repeatability of an element is great on a computer. It also lets me
double check that views match up in no time flat. Some software also
allows frames to be recorded on video tape that can be played in a
VCR. Clients can actually see the rendered object (inside and out)
moving in space. Pretty amazing. I do still use paper and paper for
clients that prefer that. Mostly though I’ve found that even on
higher end items, clients care mostly about being able to truly
understand the piece. My two cents would be: use whatever tools YOU
can truly get behind because your passion will come across.

I do still find myself using gouche renderings for competitions or
when I just want the enjoyment of painting. Hope this all helps.


Hi Gang- Another visualtion tool that I find comes in handy is
Materialise’s Magics Communicator (available in as shareware). It is
capable of Real-time, on-line 3D Viewing, annotation/mark-up,
presentation, measurement and chat capabilities. A great way to work
with a client.

Hope this helps-
Doug Bucci