A few tips. Originally, I'm from the old school of using a drawing board, set aquare and sharp pencil. It's only in the past 20 years I have turned to CAD (computer aided software), because I needed the production output, storage and easy reproduction abilities of the computer and professional printer.
The big question is; how far do you want to go with drafting? For a simple one off job, you can't beat the drawing board and pencil. You see exactly what you get, you can reproduce copies for others and most importantly, you can easily modify the original.
Are you drafting for the love of drawing, or to save a penny.?
Do you want to progress to a more commercial enterprise, and earn a living from drafting?
The available choices are vast, but just to jump in the deep end and try out what CAD is all about, get a free copy of TurboCad, and try it out (the older versions are fine for learning on). Use the icons (with the mouse) to find out what each one does. Each one will give sub options and sub options and sub options and so on.
What you can draw with a ruler and pencil in five minutes, will take you a week on CAD, so don't be daunted. Your speed will increase exponentially.
CAD assumes you know basic maths and trigonometry. Each of the elements (usually lines) have properties, and these properties are set as you draw on screen. For example, a line has a start point, it goes in a particular direction (angle) and an end point, and therefore length. It also has thickness, color, and linear or non linear, curved or random shapes. It also can be in a single plane, x, y grid reference (two dimensional) or in a 3-dimensional plane, so it has x, y and z properties. Even the ends of a line can be defined as square or rounded and what happens when it intersects another line.
It also assumes you know what an arc, a circle, a square, a rectangle, a triangle are in two dimensions and what a sphere, a cube or rectangular volume actually are, and how you mathematically relate all of them to each other.
CAD takes care of the mathematics. For example if you know the centre point and radius of a circle, cad will draw the circle to very high precision (beyond 12 decimal points), and you can use the circle to establish things like intersection points, right angles areas and equalised dispersion of elements.
The power of a professional programme like AutoCad is such that the explanatory manual runs to over 1800 pages. Turbocad is a cheaper and useful alternative.
If you like the learning challenge, it will assist you, if not feed you, for the rest of your life. Perhaps start by reading up what you can about CAD drafting to see if you will last the distance of the learning curve. Then do the hard yards, and you will eventually be satisfied and succeed in drafting.
Hope to see more drafters and architects, structural, mechanical, hydraulic, electrical and process engineers come onto the scene and make life easier for everyone. There are many others out there who use CAD and most make a living from it, so what have you got to lose?
Cheers, just to wet your appetite. From Joe in Oz