Bitter Grounds Magazine

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Cleaning up a magnificent 1908 Antoinette Flyer schematic

Written by catpaw

November 26, 2020

One frustrating aspect of collecting pioneer aviation material is the lack of clean schematics to use for display purposes. One of my favourite airplanes is the Antoinette Flyer, from 1908. It’s a beautiful monoplane.

Photo of the Antoinette Flyer in flight 1908

Fragile and magnificent

I’ve scoured the internet looking for something presentable and concluded last week that I’d have to do my own. When it comes to something like schematics, it’s essential the lines are crisp and easy to follow. They also need to be free of scan artifacts. The little spots of black and paper markings are distracting.

To achieve all of this, I had to get over my phobia of using the pen tool in Photoshop. It was the only way of getting sharp lines and smooth curves. But, I’ve never been successful in earlier attempts. And yes, I developed a bit of a fear about using the pen tool. After this job, the fear is gone. I’m embarrassed to admit, it’s easy to use and I’m unsure why I made such a fuss over it through the years. I have a lot of work to do before I become proficient with it, but the Antoinette Flyer schematic was a great start.

Antoinette Flyer schematic – 1908

 Antoinette Flyer schematic airplane 1908

Cleaned up and ready to display – click on the image for a larger image

I used a composite of a couple grainy and badly scanned schematics to build the above. It took hours to lay out the lines and align them correctly. I don’t have all the measurements included yet. I’m hoping to layer them in at a later point.  I also have the entire Antoinette engine somewhere on my hard drive. I might pull it out, clean it up a bit, and post it.

I played with several backgrounds to highlight the airplane as well as thicknesses for the lines. I opted for a very thin 2px white line and a black background. It displays the framework’s delicacy better. I tried traditional blueprint blue, but the airplane didn’t show well. The final schematic is 5,000 px x 3,843 px and prints to 10″ x 7.6″. It looks smashing.

Technology as art

One of my motivations, aside from the sheer joy of watching the Antoinette appear in pristine shape, was to use them over at Redbubble for a few merchandise ideas. I’ve played with a few postage stamps and early aviation photographs from my collection and have been pleased with their overall look. It takes quite a bit of time getting everything the right size and clarity. Schematics like the Antoinette adapt to Redbubble designs well.

Technology as art is an appealing genre. There’s something elegant in a simple schematic. I have a thing for industrial and mechanical style art, so I guess my passion for schematics is a natural extension.  I’ll be working up more ideas in the coming months.

I’m currently taking a stab at a schematic for an Avro CF-100 Canuck. It’s a bit uncharacteristic for me, I’m not normally a jet fan, but it’s a bit of a sentimental journey. The Canuck was the jet my father worked on when he was in the RCAF with the old 440 Nimble Bat squadron. It’s not looking good at the moment, I need a few more drawings and blueprints if I want it to look correct.

Enjoy the Antoinette Flyer in the meantime and pop over to and check out how well the Antoinette Flyer looks.  Wish I had more space for pillows in my little apartment.

Pillow with Antoinette Flyer schematic as the pattern

Worked out better than I expected

If you’d like to learn more about the magnificent Antoinette read my previous article here:

Diving into pioneer aviation with the amazing Antoinette Flyer


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