like an engineer’s napkin sketch

jacdac

Senior Member
Lebanese
Joe Reacher at fifteen was already almost full grown, already well over six feet and well over two hundred pounds, a giant next to his mother, but still quiet and studious, still very much Clark Kent, not Superman. Jack Reacher at thirteen looked like an engineer’s napkin sketch for something even bigger and even more ambitious, his huge bony frame like the scaffolding around a major construction project.
Source: No Middle Name by Lee Child
Context: It is August 1974.

What does the bolded phrase actually mean?

Thank you.
 
  • bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español
    The image suggests a sketch, mostly lines and angles, unrefined rather than finished, a very preliminary and incomplete picture with just a little filled in and mostly left to the imagination.
     

    kentix

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    an engineer’s napkin sketch for something even bigger and even more ambitious
    Joe Reacher at fifteen was already almost full grown, already well over six feet and well over two hundred pounds, a giant next to his mother, but still quiet and studious, still very much Clark Kent, not Superman.

    This sentence probably required an engineering sketch.
     

    bibliolept

    Senior Member
    AE, Español

    Joe Reacher at fifteen was already almost full grown, already well over six feet and well over two hundred pounds, a giant next to his mother, but still quiet and studious, still very much Clark Kent, not Superman.

    This sentence probably required an engineering sketch.
    No problem if you write phrases timed to a metronome ticking, or as if you're speaking while out of breath.
     

    Packard

    Senior Member
    USA, English
    It may be apocryphal, but there are several stories about great ideas that were hatched over a restaurant meal. Rather than forget the details the designers would make notes on the only paper available: The paper napkins.

    They would then go back to the office and make more refined drawings.

    Reacher, at that young age, had all the elements of the adult Reacher, but those elements had not been refined yet. It is a visual metaphor.

    Here is a napkin sketch showing an electric circuit. It is clearly not a finished drawing, though all the design elements are included.

     

    Egmont

    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I once worked at a place where cafeteria waste was stored on the premises for 48 hours, each bag labeled as to when and where it was filled, in case anyone had to retrieve a napkin on which he or she had written some important information. I don't recall if this storage was ever accessed, I wasn't there for very long, but I suspect the policy was put into effect after a critical design drawing was discarded.
     
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