Have a look at page 7 of the instructions for set 367, produced in the year 1975 (source: Peeron.com):

Page 7 of the instructions for set 376

How were these instructions produced? Were they hand-drawn or computer-generated? If the latter, which computer system and software were used?


2 Answers 2


They would have been hand drawn.

Technical illustration used to be a highly skilled job, similar but slightly different to design draughtsmanship. I can still recall the latter being used about 20 years ago in engineering. There were tricks to remove some of the repetition (drawings were done on translucent drafting film and could be duplicated optically, and templates and stencils were widely used). Translucent film also means it was possible to work on an isometric grid behind the drawing.

2D CAD software, while it dates back to the 1950s, only became accessible, though still very expensive, around the time these 3D drawings were produced. 3D CAD/modelling with rendering is a 1990s invention, and now any fool can use it (e.g. me), and it can be made cheap and user-friendly enough to give away (e.g. Lego Digital Designer). Rendering using something like POV-ray (which can still be used with LDraw) could take days for a single image on a fast PC in the 90s (though you wouldn't need to render like that for these illustrations).

Also, while it's hard to tell with the JPG artefacts and anti-aliasing, if you look closely at say the wheels in panel 8, they're not quite a perfect match; they would be if rendered from the same model.

Here's a picture of what's available at the click of a mouse these days (2020): Various views of an Inventor model of 3 bricks

I used this 3rd party model of a 2x4 brick and a range of view options in Autodesk Inventor (3D modelling software). The top right clearly imitates the old manuals, and the style is called "Technical Illustration". Lego tend to use fairly heavy shading on studs, demonstrating that clarity and style are closely related. Newer instructions use thinner black edges (with better quality printing). The bottom right is suitable for box art but doesn't clearly show the joins between bricks - at a glance the bottom could be a 2x8. This took less than a minute to render on 1 core of my desktop; 20 years ago it would have taken hours.


I doubt in the mid 1970's that The LEGO Group had any computer aided design tools. I was in university during that time and this kind of documentation was all hand drawn illustration.

Remember that computers at that time were big, power hungry and really, really expensive. For what it would cost just to purchase, install and operate one computer for a year you could hire four comercial illustrators for that same year.

  • Not saying that you're wrong, but if anyone could afford it, it would be a big international company like Lego Commented May 28, 2020 at 20:46
  • 7
    @hedgie, In the mid 70's TLG was not that big a company. Organization that did have CAD tools would be in what we call today the Fortune 100 group. IBM, General Motors, Ford, NASA etc... A lot has changed in 45 years.
    – Dan1138
    Commented May 28, 2020 at 23:09

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