In the past, many people (mainly automotive designers) have attempted to use simple mechanical contours that could be replicated with a single line or an open-loop diagram. (For example, a “D” shape is very common in automotive engineering.) It was a good approach then, but a mess in theory (and sometimes in practice).
It was not until the 1980s that the engineering community had a major breakthrough that would make it possible to draw and manipulate the back of a vehicle like never before. By the 1990s there were a number of design/engineering methods that allowed mechanical diagrams to be drawn without the need for a complex mechanical contour.
Let’s take an example. Imagine a car on a road with sharp bumpers. If you wanted to draw an edge in a single line, you’d draw a straight line from the bumpers to the center of the body. What would it look like? You’d have to use a very thin line that has a lot of horizontal movement, and could not be sharp due to a sharp curve. If you wanted to get to an edge in the line, you would have to use a large curve or to use a long line (as in an arch).
This was not only not realistic, but a waste of time (the designers and engineers working on the automotive industry have been known to complain about the lack of the “natural” motion that a curve and a curve alone could produce). So, the engineers and designers devised many methods to produce a more natural looking curve than a line or an arch. For example, a very thin line could be drawn from the front of the car to the rear of it, but it wouldn’t have any visible movement. A line could be drawn from the rear of the car to the front of it and it would exhibit plenty of motion (as long as the two lines are parallel). A very narrow line could be drawn from the front of the cars body, and the point on the car would show movement. With all this “artistic” motion, it would appear that the car had a very soft touch to it, as if the design and engineering were influenced by the natural movement of the curves and the curves themselves.
The result of the breakthrough in mechanical drawing and manipulations was that we now have a very flexible sketching interface available for drawing a mechanical line or arch. It works very well, and the results can be quite dramatic.
The result of the breakthrough in mechanical drawing and manipulations was that
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