Note to Self, Don’t Draft


One of the most time-consuming aspects of “The Anarchist’s Design Book” has been making the illustrations ready for Briony Morrow-Cribbs, who is making the copperplate etchings for the book.

After building the piece from my working drawings (which are drawn by hand), I construct a SketchUp version of each project so it accurately reflects what was built – not what was drawn on my working drawings. Things change during the construction process.

Using the SketchUp model, I create a variety of views that can be assembled into a coherent plate. I’m making these look more like early plates, so I’m taking artistic license with the arrangement of the views of the piece – instead of creating a modern engineering print.

Each view of the piece is then cleaned up in Illustrator and then laid out in InDesign (yes, there is the Layout program, but I’m much faster in InDesign).


Then the sample plate and its individual images go to Briony. She then creates a line drawing and we go back and forth on how to show the project’s details and what to shade. After we settle on a line drawing, then Briony can use that to make the copperplate etching.

She’s writing an appendix on the copperplate etching process for the book, but if you’d like to see how she made the etchings for the book “Wicked Bugs,” check out this YouTube video.

After she makes the finished plate, they comes back to me for high-resolution scanning on our big flatbed scanner and some cleanup in Photoshop.

After writing all this out, I question my decision to go down this route. But one thing will make it all worthwhile. When Briony finishes all the plates she’s going to print up 100 sets of the plates and we’re going to bind them, making a mini “Book of Plates” for the book.

Today I finished modeling the Staked Worktable (shown here) and shipped off the sample plate to Briony. I was going to start in on modeling the backstool, but my eyes are swimming from all the screen time. Better to drink a beer and listen to the new Wilco album “Star Wars.”

— Christopher Schwarz

About Lost Art Press

Publisher of woodworking books and videos specializing in hand tool techniques.
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12 Responses to Note to Self, Don’t Draft

  1. And I want one. Are you taking reservations for the mini book of plates?

  2. toolnut says:

    Hi Chris,
    Will you also be including some of the hand drawn working sketches? it would be interesting to see the evolution of the design from sketch to copper plate and why you decided it needed to be changed.

  3. How about some wood prints? You can engrave in the end grain but you need good box wood for that so the prints are usualy small. For larger prints cut in the long grain just like lino cut prints. It is also possible to print large side grain blocks in colour as the Japanese do. You probably know all that. Just a thought.

  4. tombuhl says:

    Just watched Briony’s video. Guess I’ll have to buy another book. Then build a case to house the treasure. Well done, everyone involved in this project.

  5. 61chrysler says:

    What a wonderful trip back to my college days in graphic reproduction class when printing was an enjoyable mix of craft and art. I miss it.
    Thank you

  6. Nice piece, easy to make but enough meat on the bone. Taking the trouble to get those images to etched plate is a formidable challenge that i believe you are right to take on. Modern reprographics would lack the clarity of image .
    hats off …

  7. durbien says:

    At the risk of starting a post with “You should..”, why not just do the Drafting by hand? None of the drawings you’re making are particularly difficult (at least not by Roubo standards!). Just saying if you’re tired of looking at a screen there are “lost art” alternatives.

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