How to transform that crude sketch into a bona fide patent drawing
One way underfinanced inventors can cut patent costs is to learn to do their own patent drawings. The best book on the topic is the second edition of How to Make Patent Drawings Yourself: Prepare Formal Drawings Required by the U.S. Patent Office (Nolo Press) by patent agent Jack Lo and patent attorney David Pressman, available for $20.97 at www.nolo.com.
The book covers how to do illustrations with a pen and ruler, a computer or a camera. The last two techniques are ones even artistically challenged inventors can manage. You can also read rather extensive explanations of patent drawings to help you understand prior art patents that your patent might potentially infringe on. The book explains all the details required on drawings for the Patent Office. Even if you hire a patent attorney, this book is worth reading, as it can help minimize the $200-per-hour consulting time you'll need with your attorney.
The book also offers recommendations for both 2-D and 3-D drawing software. One such 2-D program is AutoSketch, which I've personally found useful for doing layout drawings for ads, packages and brochures. It's available from Autodesk for $99 (street); visit www.autodesk.com for more information.