Sketch, outline, diagram, delineate, draft, trace, plot, blueprint are comparable when they mean to present or to represent something by or as if by drawing its lines or its features.
The same distinctions in implications and connotations are observable in the corresponding nouns sketch, outline, diagram, delineation, draft, tracing, plot, blueprint. Sketch may imply a drawing, a painting, a model, or a verbal presentation (as in a description or exposition) of the main lines, features, or points with the result that a clear, often a vivid, but not a detailed impression or conception of the whole is given.
Outline (compare OUTLINE 1 ) differs from sketch in suggesting emphasis upon the contours of a thing that is represented or the main points of a thing expounded and in implying more or less inattention to the details which fill up, amplify, or particularize; the term therefore usually implies a more rigid selection and greater economy in treatment and less consideration for qualities which give pleasure than sketch implies and, often, suggests a presentation of a thing as a simplified whole.
Diagram implies presentation by means of a graphic design (as a mechanical drawing, a pattern showing arrangement and distribution of parts, or a chart, map, or graph) of something which requires explanation rather than representation or portrayal.
Delineate and delineation come close to describe and description and depict and depiction .
Though they carry a strong implication of drawing a thing so as to show its lines or features with great distinctness, they tend to stress amplifying details and therefore often imply greater fullness or richness in treatment than the preceding words.
Draft, especially as a verb, implies accurate drawing to scale, especially of an architect’s plan for a building to be constructed or of a design (as for a ship, a machine, or an engine). The term may apply to the drawing up of a preliminary statement which when corrected, polished, and copied will serve as a final statement.
Trace and tracing in their perhaps most common use refer to redrawing an existent design by following its lines as seen through a superimposed transparent sheet, but they can also apply when a precise and detailed pattern is to be formed by or as if by drawing. The terms are more likely to suggest accuracy in or as if in following or sometimes shakiness resulting from or as if from following a continuous line than they are to imply anything about the qualities of what is to be traced.
Plot is often used in place of diagram or draft or, less often, sketch when a map, chart, or graph rather than a design is implied; distinctively it throws emphasis upon the indicating of specific locations (as points, areas, sections, or objectives) so that their relation to each other or the whole is clear; thus, one who diagrammatically represents the condition of business during a given year by means of a graph is said to plot a graph or to make a plot of the curve of business activity.
Blueprint, from its common application to a photograph in white lines on blue paper of a draftsman’s mechanical drawing or of an architect’s plan, in extended use implies precise and detailed sketching or delineation; it suggests not the act of drawing or drawing up but the effect produced by what is drawn or drawn up.