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What Is an Isometric Drawing?

By Staze Gonzalez
Updated May 17, 2024
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An isometric drawing is a three-dimensional representation of an object on a two-dimensional surface. Three views of the same image are combined to make an isometric drawing. The blueprint drawing can be accomplished freehand or by using computer drafting computer software. This type of technical drawing is commonly used in engineering, architecture and related fields.

When engineers and architects try to illustrate an object, they draw the object as seen from different sides. These views include the top, bottom, front, back, left side and right side. Placing all the different views in a single blueprint is known a multi-view drawing. Multi-view illustrations are two-dimensional. This type of drawing helps translate those images to create a three-dimensional object.

For people who have no background in engineering or architectural, a multi-view drawing can be difficult to understand. The problem with a multi-view is the individual reader has to be able to decipher what the different types of lines mean and put the different views together to form an image. Translating a multi-view drawing requires skill and imagination to mentally round out how the image looks. This is where an isometric drawing becomes beneficial. It combines three adjacent views to create an image with depth and volume.

Isometric drawings are only one of several types of pictorial drawings used to illustrate objects in three-dimensional forms. Perspectives and isometric projections are other ways of translating a multi-view drawing. Each type has a different look and purpose.

This type of drawing is different from a perspective in that perspectives are used to give a feeling of distance. Objects that are farther away appear smaller than those closer, even if both objects are the same size. In these drawings, the lines remain parallel whether an edge is nearer or farther away. With perspective drawings, parallel lines move closer to one another until they converge at the vanishing point.

Equally confusing is the term isometric projection. Both the isometric drawing and the isometric projection are types of axonometric projections, but they produce slightly different results. The difference is in how the two sides are drawn.

In an isometric drawing, the angle between the two base edges is 90°. When doing an isometric projection, a base line is drawn. The two connecting base edges are drawn measuring 30&deeg; from the base line, creating a 120° angle between the two edges. As a result, an isometric projection is smaller. The size of the object drawn using an isometric projection is only 80 percent of that of an isometric drawing.

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Discussion Comments

By miriam98 — On Sep 01, 2011

@SkyWhisperer - Yeah, you can also find some free web based tools that let you do the same thing.

I used an application once that let me draw using colored cubes instead of lines. In the end, my isometric structure looked like that old arcade video game "Zaxxon" which let you fly a fighter through a fortress.

The 3D scene in that game was rendered in an isometric manner, with angled parallel lines of blocks that represented the structure.

By SkyWhisperer — On Aug 31, 2011

@hamje32 - I’ve played with free CAD software before, and it makes it very easy if you want to learn how to draw isometric drawings.

Basically you select a tool from the palette and start dragging it to draw lines, just like you would with any other drawing application. The only difference is in what direction the lines are drawn.

You start by drawing the lines at an angle from top left to bottom right, then when you start hitting certain function keys, the lines can be drawn “up” or “down,” from an isometric perspective.

You can also click and modify the lines and extend them in different directions.

By hamje32 — On Aug 30, 2011

I was looking to completely remodel my kitchen once, and downloaded some free isometric drawing software.

It enabled me to create a variety of views of the kitchen, rotate my model and move objects around. It even had a preview mode that allowed me to apply material to the finished model so that I could see how it would look when completed.

In addition to providing me with tools for drawing my own line structures, it also had a large library of stock models like cabinets and things like that which I could just plug into the drawing.

It was very user friendly. I was able to print out the completed design and take it to a contractor when getting quotes on the remodeling project.

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