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Readers will no doubt be disappointed that this post isn’t a racy commentary on Sophie Marceau or some such foreign lovely. But, there’s humor to be had. These drawing aids come from (no kidding) Dick Blick art materials. Ever heard a name like that outside of the kind of film you don’t want your kids finding?

Silly retailer aside, these can turn back-of-the-napkin sketches into much more polished pieces. Engineers and designers who don’t get along with drawing (pretty common thanks to commonplace CAD systems) will appreciate the smooth, easy arcs a French curve can produce, and they can be a real time-saver. Additionally, they’re cheap. Dick Blick sells a set of three made by Alvin for $7.10, but your local Staples may be a better bet.

French curves [Dick Blick Art Materials]

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8 Responses to French Curves

  1. fred says:

    These drafting tools are handy – but so are their bigger brothers that come from the “fashion industry”


  2. Tim C says:

    I would love to see a video on how to use these. My Dad had wooden ones which may still be somewhere in his house and my father-in-law had wooden ones as well. I really need to find them.

  3. KaiserM715 says:

    It is a shame that everything is done in CAD these days. There is a true art to drafting that has been lost. I have seen a drawing of an equipment stand on wooden skids. The drafter properly shaded all of the components (including the heads of bolts and screws) and included grain on the wooden skids. Truly a technical work of art.

  4. Fred B says:

    I could do drafting once, was not that good (lot of erasing) at it in the first place, don’t know where all my drafting tools are stored. Can freehand draw so the Back shop knows what to make.

  5. jeffrey immer says:

    i was a draftsmen by trade prior to joining the army, when i got paid for it i used CAD, however since i could not afford a good CAD system i have been drawing by hand again, and really love doing it. i need to get the proper equipment since i no longer have it

  6. johnnyp says:

    I own several of these and had used them extensively. And yes it does take practice, when a circle is cut at an odd angle it produces an odd shape, not necessarily a true ellipse that is laid with a series of points projected from other views. Some people are better than others. One thing I can say about decent 3d CAD systems these views are generally generated from a solid model and usually consistent from regardless of the operators skill.
    2d systems , you still lay out your points, but use what is called a B-spline and connect the dots. I hate to say it but in the real world it’s productivity, not craftsmanship

  7. Dave P says:

    To use a french curve to smoothly connect dots, find a spot on the curve that lines up three dots. Connect the first two. Then, starting at the end of the line you drew, line up three more dots (end of line is dot #1). Draw in one segment. And so on.

  8. Bubbub says:

    I still have my set from college days. It looks just like that, in a clear plastic (or maybe it’s vinyl) case with 3 pockets to hold them. I don’t think I ever used them.

    The nice thing about CAD is that once you have it modeled, you can get just about any view you want. And minor redesign doesn’t require you to start from square one, just modify what you have. Unfortunately, I don’t do CAD. I only have access to 2-D drawing software. My other excuse is that I haven’t the time or patience to learn CAD.

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