Can a CAD design be appreciated as fine art?


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Can a CAD design be appreciated as fine art?

September 11, 2018

You are a designer. You mostly work on various designs of beautiful objects that serve different functions using 3D AutoCAD, or other 3D softwares. As you draw and visualize your designs, this questions will often run through your mind: Can this drawing be seen as fine art, and be appreciated as such?

In your workshop, is it really a workplace?

Most people really go to work. But for you, you have a well-equipped shop in your garage. Most mornings, you move your car out of the garage, to keep it away from sawdust as well as give yourself some space for working. Is this work, though, when you wake up to do what you enjoy doing?

One of your favourite activities in the shop is to work with wood, steel and some sawdust. You love that smell of wood, freshly sawn plus the steel smell when being heated as it is being shaped by the grinder. Not many people have ever experienced these smells, but for you, you grew up following your father around, while working in his workshop, back in the village.

On Your Computer

Plan blue 300x275

You had created a physical prototype of your new sculpture, a crude tabletop. Then using 3D AutoCAD, you had refined the shapes and taken your design to a another level. On your screen, you had rotated your virtual tabletop sculpture this and that way, using View Cube and Orbit tools. You had tested various visual styles, as well as changing materials display, line weights and colours.

As this went on, you got an interesting insight. Having worked with CAD for so long, the way you see the images on your screen totally differs from the way a person who has never used CAD would see them for the first time. You are seeing various metal and wood shapes, a future tabletop sculpture in the making, while the person might see……Art.

That’s great. Looking at the same thing with someone different yet what your eyes see and what the other person’s see are two different things.

Art is defined from Merriam-Webster as:

 the conscious use of skill and creative imagination especially in the production of aesthetic objects, as in the art of painting landscapes; also: works so produced, as in a gallery for modern art


The greatest among artists are obviously aware of the phenomenon of different people seeing the same thing differently. They play around this phenomenon and at times they astonish us using it.

CAD Viewed as Fine Art


Back to you.  After the insight, you started viewing drawings on your screen as if you were that other person that just walked to your workshop with no idea what you were doing. Your drawings started changing, and you wondered……….was what was on your computer screen an emblem of a secret society that existed underground? Was it a navigation device used in the seas? Or some instrument from a yet-to-be-discovered occupied planet?

Perhaps it was something that would appear immediately, then you wouldn’t see it again in a billion years.

With that fascination, you began modifying settings on your drawings. In the end, you came up with a final product that truly emphasizes the purely visual aspect of CAD.

Moving Pictures

You then began to look at some of the images, one by one, and you thought it would be cool to convert them to GIF file in order to morph them into one another. You did that. What you saw was amazing.

To further your exploration, you made an audiovisual version your idea, with some ambient music. From that experience , the question about CAD being appreciated as art, was in no doubt answered.

If CAD design reaches a level where it can move you emotionally, and make you think or feel in a new way, it can rise to the level of fine art, especially with those people that are described as art-loving.

You can think of CAD designs you have seen that are not simply a means to construct a building or some physical thing. Images that make an impact, on a visual level , on their own,  and please share them, and if possible, with links. You can also leave your comments about this topic in the comments section

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