Review: Field Templates RULES! English Metric & Striplight Placemat Templates

People say that the old world charms are losing out to technology in this day and age of computers and the internet. It is faster and easy these days to shoot off a quick email, text or tweet to a person to say thank you or convey a message. What use to be the standard of taking time to hand write a note and send it in the mail has quickly evaporated and turned into pounding a keyboard, some quick mouse clicks and our message is sent instantly to a persons digital mailbox.

The same thing can be said about drafting these days.  With the wide assortment of computers aided Design Programs, (CAD), available to us, designing, updating and distributing our paperwork in a timely manner is just as easy. Before CAD programs, every thing was drafted by hand.  It is a true form of art in it’s own right.

If Steve Shelly has anything to say about it, the art of hand drafting is not totally lost.  In the past year, Mr. Shelly’s company, Field Templates has released two more plastic drafting templates to their LARGE collection of templates already available.  At USITT 2010, Field templates introduced the RULES! Striplight Placemat template and at LDI 2010, they released the RULES! English Metric template.

As with all of Field Templates “stencils”, they are made of 0.30″ thick semi transparent plastic and designed specifically for entertainment lighting drafting.  Field Templates does not just throw the most popular lighting symbols on to plastic and call it done.  They listen to designers, user and drafters and organize specific templates for the job.  From there the templates are laid out with Using the patented Pro*Trak 50 System, all of the symbols are pre-spaced 1′-6″ apart and aligned to horizontal axes (like a batten). This makes spacing and laying out your pipes quick and easy.

From there, Field Templates has added in numerous common fixture accessories and useful drafting aids to help make drafting quicker and easier. They pack a huge amount of information and guides along with the lights, accessories and guides not just cut through the plastic, but printed on the surface as well, such as scale rulers based on the scale of the template and reference points to help rotate fixtures on a pipe.

RULES! English Metric Field Template

As mentioned above, Field Templates has received a huge amount of request from designers and drafters over seas asking for metric specific templates to design with.  Field templates answered their calling with the RULES! English Metric Template.  What is really spectacular about the RULES! English Metric Template is that Field Templates laid out 32 fixtures and accessories not just in 1:25 scale, but repeated the 32 fixtures in 1:50 scale as well.  So one template is now giving you two scales two work in! Fixture symbols that are included range from ETC, Strand, Selecon, Robert Juliat, and Reich & Vogel along with some generic striplights and moving light symbols.

Two symbols that are included in the template is a headset cut out, which I think is pretty neat, but how useful, I am not sure.  The other symbol included is and electric symbol. This one confuses me a little as it was a huge request from the lampies over seas.  Someone from the UK will have to explain to me why a “lighting bolt” symbol for electric is required.

RULES! Striplight Placemat

The other template new from Field Templates in 2010 is exactly as it sounds, a template FULL of striplights.  Not just strip lights, but LED fixtures, some cyc fixtures and ground rows.  Again, Field Templates has added an assortment of accessories and profile cut outs to help draft striplights in a cross section.  The Striplights Placemat even includes gel cut sizes printed right on the template for quick reference. The template includes stencils for Color Kinetics, Selador, Source 4 Par strips, R40 and even MR16 strips.


Over all, both templates serve a specific use and offer a variety of choices for that specific use.  Both templates are MUCH larger then the traditional templates that many of us are accustomed to. They both roughly measure 10″ or more on the long edge.  Field templates is calling this an added feature as the templates can function as a separator in our huge production binder.

One thing I have always had an issue with ANY template, regardless of it it was made by field templates is that some symbols are a little close together and that small amount of plastic between them has the tendency to break.  Most times it is just a crack between the symbols, and not a huge problem as the symbol is still traceable.  In the RARE case, that small amount of plastic has completely snapped off.  Field template has designed all of their templates to minimize that.  With some love and care of your templates though, breakage should be minimal if any.

I love hand drafting when time allows and feel that it is an art form that could quickly disappear if not practiced on a regular bases. Pick up your favorite version of drafting templates from and draft by hand once and a while.  There is nothing like the smell of a #2 pencil and the feeling of producing a plot by hand.