We've all marvelled at Lawrence Watts's drawings and, probably, taken them for granted – the detail, the shading, the 'port-holes' which you could peer through to view hidden mechanical detail. All painstakingly drawn by hand – days of work. But look closer at any Watts pen and ink drawing of a sectioned engine and you will see subtle vertical, hatched and circular shading lines. Maybe it's never occurred to you before, but the vertical ones indicate the direction of travel (such as on a piston), the circular shading shows revolving parts (for example a rotary disc) and the hatched lines provide texture — for instance, on transfer ports.
After some years, and with the increasing availability of colour reproduction, Lawrie became more ambitious and introduced colour, for the first time, in technical drawings. Instead of a pen, a hard pencil (to avoid smudging) was used to draw the subject lightly which was then water coloured on dry paper. Over the dry painting, details were added and 'knife worked' for highlights.
Lawrence was at his happiest at the Isle of Man and this pdf from 1962 shows what he got up to when idle with a pencil and sketchpad to hand.
Lawrie Watts was a remarkable technical illustrator of which we won't see the like again. We have a two-part online feature which celebrates the artist and where you can marvel at some of his more complex illustrative pieces. View original article