• How did you want that drawing to look? Part 2

  • In my last blog I discussed how figures and drawings play an important part of our Phase One and Two ESA reports. This month I continue with some more helpful hints from my drafting colleagues. Thanks again to my go-to drafting suppliers at THINK Envirotechnical Services in Calgary AB, and Automated Engineering Technologies, in Guelph ON for their insightful comments.

    As the consultant, you may know what you want your final drawings to look like, and (like me) you may be able to draw a decent pencil sketch, although personally I couldn’t begin to draw a stick figure using CAD. But unless you communicate with your drafter, they may not see your particular vision. Communicate throughout the project, the drafters are an integral part of the consulting team and need to be included from the start. It may take the drafter some time to make sense of individual styles, use of abbreviations, and personal ‘chicken scratches’ we loosely refer to as field notes. From the initial discussions about an accurate estimate of time and budget required to complete the drafting, through data presentation, to review and revisions; the project manager needs to keep drafting staff fully in the loop.

    Clarity and Consistency
    Informing your drafter about final use and frequency of reporting (i.e. one time only, or regular reporting with annual or quarterly edits) is also useful. Providing as much of the markup information digitally as PDF comments, text files or tables is a best practice which allows text notes and tables to be directly imported into figures and formatted to avoid errors. When it comes to your data preparation and presentation, be consistent in your text and descriptions. Show and describe sample locations the same way the lab results/report shows them. If you take a photo of your sketch to submit, take the photo perpendicular to the paper, no slant. Don't rely on digital data only - always include a rough sketch in case data gets lost or for clarification. Make copies of your field notes and logs ASAP in case anything gets lost, stolen or misplaced.

    Drawing Details
    Consideration should be given to templates and use of colour vs hatching (colours in figures can be useful to add more clarity but may not show up as effectively in black and white or when scanned). The drafts-person likely has access to libraries of standard details, property limit information, interdisciplinary experience and other resources that can reduce the amount of information the consultant may need to provide and increase the accuracy of figures. It’s always worthwhile discussing what each draftsperson can bring to the table. Utilizing those skills and expertise can significantly add to the capabilities of the entire project team, and ensure quality work is achieved in the most cost effective manner.

    These simple tips can help save hours in drafting time. Every edit can cost money and potentially impact your budgets and delivery dates.

    Bill Leedham, P. Geo., CESA
    Bill is the Head Instructor and Course Developer for the Associated Environmental Site Assessors of Canada (www.aesac.ca); and the founder and President of Down 2 Earth Environmental Services Inc. You can contact Bill at