# Programs Will my horrible drawing skills hurt me as a physics major?

#### Nik_2213

Some thoughts...
I was so bad at 'Art', my school totally missed my modest talent for technical drawing...

You can get inexpensive squared paper to keep blocky plane diagrams aligned, and 'isometric' paper with diagonal ruling for a neat 2½ dimensional look. Though not 'true perspective', the latter is a practicable and quick compromise. Given restricted 'depth of field', few would notice, fewer complain...

If you hunt around on the wwweb, many free templates are available. Also, bespoke protractor-ruled, which I've used for visualising complex barrel vaulting...

There's a lot to be said for a budget set of geometric stencils, so your plane circles appear round, and 'perspective' circles acceptably elliptical...

There are many introductory works on Technical Drawing and visualisation, even some at 'hobbyist' level like the classic, ~10 Workshop Drawing (Workshop Practice) Paperback – 6 Feb 2003 by Tubal Cain (Author) YMMV... #### ZapperZ Staff Emeritus Science Advisor Education Advisor 2018 Award Some thoughts... I was so bad at 'Art', my school totally missed my modest talent for technical drawing... You can get inexpensive squared paper to keep blocky plane diagrams aligned, and 'isometric' paper with diagonal ruling for a neat 2½ dimensional look. Though not 'true perspective', the latter is a practicable and quick compromise. Given restricted 'depth of field', few would notice, fewer complain... If you hunt around on the wwweb, many free templates are available. Also, bespoke protractor-ruled, which I've used for visualising complex barrel vaulting... There's a lot to be said for a budget set of geometric stencils, so your plane circles appear round, and 'perspective' circles acceptably elliptical... There are many introductory works on Technical Drawing and visualisation, even some at 'hobbyist' level like the classic, ~10
Workshop Drawing (Workshop Practice) Paperback – 6 Feb 2003 by Tubal Cain (Author)

YMMV...
But really, is this even necessary? Nothing here approaches, even remotely, a technical drawing.

Let me present you with the scenario: 2-hour exam, you are supposed to show all work, and you are supposed to write your answer on blank sheets of paper, or one of those "blue books" that are often used in US schools.

How would any of the stuff described above, or any drawing apps or programs, be of any help?

Zz.

#### Nik_2213

Using these as pitons on learning curve, the OP should be able to grow even modest skills, develop enough confidence to tackle such tasks free-hand.

( FWIW, I'm currently trying to re-build the competency I had in TurboCAD Pro a decade ago. I remember those initial stages as being very, very hard. Then, I 'caught a wave' and came good. Fun times ensued !! Now, I'm staring at those scary breakers again, wondering how I managed it back then... )

#### CrysPhys

But really, is this even necessary? Nothing here approaches, even remotely, a technical drawing.

Let me present you with the scenario: 2-hour exam, you are supposed to show all work, and you are supposed to write your answer on blank sheets of paper, or one of those "blue books" that are often used in US schools.

How would any of the stuff described above, or any drawing apps or programs, be of any help?

Zz.
I really don't understand why you keep limiting the scope to tools that can be used during an exam. Drawing tools (including computer drawing programs) can be useful for understanding material outside exams. Would you advise students not to bother with word processors, but to stick to pen and paper?

#### CrysPhys

That is also worth repeating:

It is so good that it's also worth reading again:
That's the same mantra repeated by people who are against composing documents on a word processors (oh, pen and paper or manual typewriters are so much better for creative thought). Not worth repeating, in my opinion.

#### ZapperZ

Staff Emeritus
2018 Award
I really don't understand why you keep limiting the scope to tools that can be used during an exam. Drawing tools (including computer drawing programs) can be useful for understanding material outside exams. Would you advise students not to bother with word processors, but to stick to pen and paper?
This is now a different topic. I am more than happy to debate with you on why when you start a new thread.

Otherwise, this is off topic.

I also notice that you IGNORED the rest of the point of my post. I will then assume that you finally agreed with what I stated or you have no witty comebacks.

Zz.

#### Dr Transport

Gold Member
Otherwise, this is off topic.
This thread has been off topic for pretty much most of the thread.

#### symbolipoint

Homework Helper
Gold Member
This is now a different topic. I am more than happy to debate with you on why when you start a new thread.

Otherwise, this is off topic.

I also notice that you IGNORED the rest of the point of my post. I will then assume that you finally agreed with what I stated or you have no witty comebacks.

Zz.
This thread has been off topic for pretty much most of the thread.
The started topic is a good one. Maybe enough important advice has already been given and discussed, but if nothing more and to the point follows, then,....? ....!

#### DaveC426913

Gold Member
I really don't understand why you keep limiting the scope to tools that can be used during an exam. Drawing tools (including computer drawing programs) can be useful for understanding material outside exams.
Again, because sketching simple shapes stimulates (and thus strengthens) the same parts of the brain as visual/spatial problem-solving. Not only is that good for physics problem-solving, but is a general skill that will help in many other places. Including, BTW, getting proficient at graphical rendering software.

Using software will certainly help the OP navigate its interface and type some shortcut keys, but that software is specious - the skills are poorly transferable.
(Let's assume the OP already knows how to type and use software - after all, he didn't come here to express his inability to push a mouse around.)

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#### CrysPhys

Again, because sketching simple shapes stimulates (and thus strengthens) the same parts of the brain as visual/spatial problem-solving. Not only is that good for physics problem-solving, but is a general skill that will help in many other places. Including, BTW, getting proficient at graphical rendering software.

Using software will certainly help the OP navigate its interface and type some shortcut keys, but that software is specious - the skills are poorly transferable.
(Let's assume the OP already knows how to type and use software - after all, he didn't come here to express his inability to push a mouse around.)
I consider a simple drawing program (such as the one in Word or Visio) to be a tool analogous to a word processor. To compose a good document, you need to develop good writing ability. The word processor merely takes out the mechanical drudgery of pen and paper or a typewriter. Similarly, to create a good drawing, you need to develop good drawing ability. The drawing program merely takes out the mechanical drudgery of pencil and paper or various drafting instruments of days gone by.

And, by drawing ability in this context, I mean drawing ability for technical illustration, not drawing ability for fine arts; similarly, in this context, by writing ability, I mean writing ability for technical documents, not writing ability for novels. If you deal with non-trivial drawings, drawing ability needs to be developed, just as writing ability needs to be developed for non-trivial documents. And it's not just a matter of "practice, practice, practice". Practice is essential, but by itself not sufficient. Figure skating coaches have a favorite saying: "Practicing the same move correctly over and over will make you a better skater; practicing the same move incorrectly over and over will not." Knowing what works and what doesn't requires deliberate, thoughtful effort, analysis, and understanding.

That's all I'm going to say on this topic. The OP can decide whether it's worthwhile for him to enhance his drawing ability, or not; and whether it's worthwhile for him to learn some new tools, or stick with pencil, paper, and eraser.

#### Nik_2213

"or stick with pencil, paper, and eraser."

I'd beg to differ. Like scribbling ideas for stories, then typing them up in a word-processor, I'll often do simple pencil / pen sketches that are barely more than doodles to firm up a notion in my 'Minds Eye'. With this 'sanity check' done, I'll either have enough visualisation to proceed, or need to get out the drawing tools. Solving geometry problems, some can be done with the help of an annotated sketch, and some need careful graphing. With a bit of luck, I'll soon be able to deploy my CAD tools again...

#### CrysPhys

"or stick with pencil, paper, and eraser."

I'd beg to differ. Like scribbling ideas for stories, then typing them up in a word-processor, I'll often do simple pencil / pen sketches that are barely more than doodles to firm up a notion in my 'Minds Eye'. With this 'sanity check' done, I'll either have enough visualisation to proceed, or need to get out the drawing tools. Solving geometry problems, some can be done with the help of an annotated sketch, and some need careful graphing. With a bit of luck, I'll soon be able to deploy my CAD tools again...
I never said to use one or the other tool exclusively. I sometimes use pencil and paper, sometimes Visio, and sometimes VCADD, depending on the complexity of the application. So I have a choice. That's better than knowing only pencil and paper. [I jot down my grocery list on a notepad; I don't compose it with a word processor. Note my "non-trivial" qualifier in my post above.]

#### DaveC426913

Gold Member
I never said to use one or the other tool exclusively.
Well, neither did anyone else.

#### CrysPhys

Well, neither did anyone else.
But others are saying it's essentially a waste of time to learn something else.

#### DaveC426913

Gold Member
But others are saying it's essentially a waste of time to learn something else.
The straightforward answer is: it will improve.

#### CrysPhys

The straightforward answer is: it will improve.
Again, not necessarily. As I wrote above:

"Figure skating coaches have a favorite saying: "Practicing the same move correctly over and over will make you a better skater; practicing the same move incorrectly over and over will not." Knowing what works and what doesn't requires deliberate, thoughtful effort, analysis, and understanding."

(Over and out)

#### DaveC426913

Gold Member
Again, not necessarily. As I wrote above:

"Figure skating coaches have a favorite saying: "Practicing the same move correctly over and over will make you a better skater; practicing the same move incorrectly over and over will not." Knowing what works and what doesn't requires deliberate, thoughtful effort, analysis, and understanding."

(Over and out)
I'm afraid I fail to see how that post applies, or how it furthers your argument.

But I respect your contributions here. I don't disagree with your input, I'm just trying to not second-guess the OP.

#### symbolipoint

Homework Helper
Gold Member
I never said to use one or the other tool exclusively. I sometimes use pencil and paper, sometimes Visio, and sometimes VCADD, depending on the complexity of the application. So I have a choice. That's better than knowing only pencil and paper. [I jot down my grocery list on a notepad; I don't compose it with a word processor. Note my "non-trivial" qualifier in my post above.]
That ability to make the distinction means that maybe you have the understanding that a few (so very few) of us are trying to explain. A student in the classroom at lecture time, and the student doing routine homework exercises, should use pencil and paper and maybe a small set of other simple very low-technology tools for any figures, sketches, or drawings. In case of some course that by its nature requires more sophisticated technology, then maybe that and software tools would be expected; and always had been. One may want modern sophisticated technology for drawing when one has more time to work with the tool/s, but , depending on the course being studied, probably not during class time.

#### symbolipoint

Homework Helper
Gold Member
I'm going to return to college starting Fall, 2019 as a physics major. In preparation, I've been going though various textbooks, studying the material and working the problems. The concepts I understand reasonably well.

The problem?

I'm horrible at drawing.

I see some problems, especially in classical mechanics, where drawing a sketch of the problem is needed. I'm worried I'm going to miss out on an important detail or concept simply because I can't draw well enough. I know I don't have to draw a Mona Lisa or anything but I have trouble drawing three dimensional figures and I worry that'll be a problem when I'm trying to visualize something in spherical coordinates.

Has anyone else had this issue?
Steven_Scott,

Just how horrible is your drawing skill? Our best guess is that you will learn with either little trouble or you will improve. The shapes and forms which you will need to draw are not really too complicated most of the time. You will often free-handledly sketch or draw lines, circles, triangles, parallel or intersecting lines, parts of circles, graphs, plot points on graphs, approximately draw shapes based on points on graphs either with or without labeled number-line values. So many other often simple things like these.

DID you study Geometry in high school? Did you study the same course in college? If you did, then YOU DREW geometric figures. In some cases you used protractor, straight-edge or ruler, or compass. Did you learn to draw on paper, a two-dimensional representation of a three-dimensional figure? How was all this for you? Was your drawing effective? If not, did you get the help you needed?

"Will my horrible drawing skills hurt me as a physics major?"

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