I’ve decided to learn to draw as a part of my engineering education. I’ve got three main reasons.
First, I think art helps with observation. In order to capture the essence of something, you really have to take in every detail. Since I want to rely less on equations and more on experimentation and inspiration from existing designs (both natural and man-made), observation is critical.
Second, engineers use the eye test plenty during design work. “It just doesn’t look right” is a perfectly valid reason for an experienced engineer to send someone back to the drawing board. I am fairly convinced that an eye for good design can be trained. Master studies (copying the works of masters) are used in art instruction to develop intuition and good taste. Maybe I can apply that to engineering and copy noteworthy historic designs.
Third, I’d like to incorporate art into my designs. Some of my favorite things to look at in museums are functional things that have been made beautiful too, like ancient weaponry. There’s something magical about the combination that elevates both the art and the engineering in my eyes.
I settled on the Cours de dessin by Charles Bargue for my instruction. Apparently used by the likes of Picasso and van Gogh, so I suppose it’ll be good enough for me. I liked the simplicity of it - basically just trying to copy plates provided in the text. And I like the style - lots of studies of ancient sculptures. At the very least, I think I’ll get $10 of value from it and recoup my costs.
So here’s my first attempt. My copy is on the right (as if you couldn’t tell).
Being a design engineer for 30 years, I always marveled at a few of my co-workers that had that skill of designing mechanisms that not only worked well, but also were pleasing to the eye. My stuff usually worked, and worked quite well, but it always had a stern nuts & bolts look to it. Later, I lucked into consulting for an art studio that needed a little engineering expertise building audio-kinetic machines, and ended up working there for 10 years. I became one of the "builders" and came up with some entertaining, creative designs that got incorporated into the final builds, but I never was able to get that "look" that was pleasing to the eye. Not for lack of trying. My true artist co-workers were appreciative of the skills that I brought to the table, and we talked endlessly of form, function, balance and density, but if it needed that artist's touch, I did the inventing, and they did the build. And we were all rewarded with things that performed well and looked beautiful too.
There's a book you might enjoy checking into: "Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain" by Betty Edwards; although I think from your example that you might already be doing this.