Isometric View: Definition & Examples

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  • 0:00 Definition of an…
  • 1:55 Drawing an Object in…
  • 3:59 Other Isometric Figures
  • 4:50 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Michael Quist

Michael has taught college-level mathematics and sociology; high school math, history, science, and speech/drama; and has a doctorate in education.

How do you make an object, such as a race-car, look real on a flat piece of paper? In this lesson, we'll explore how the isometric view is used to make accurate, useful drawings of real-life objects.

Definition of an Isometric View

Grab any object in front of you. A pencil, remote control, computer mouse, bobble-head doll, coffee cup, etc. Look at it. Now turn it upside down, unless it's full of your favorite beverage! Turn it around. Turn it sideways. Each time you move it you're looking at a different view of that object. You can see depth and edges. You can tell that it's not just a picture, but a real thing. Your eyes give you many clues to the objects in your world that are three-dimensional.

A piece of paper has only two dimensions; it's flat. If you try to draw an object on a piece of paper, you'll notice that it's not easy to make the drawn object look like it has depth. One way is to use an isometric view, which is derived from the Greek words iso, meaning equal, and metric, meaning measurement. When using an isometric view, you line up the drawing along three axes that are separated by 120-degree angles from each other. The three axes, or visible or invisible guidelines that establish directions for measurement, extend all the way to the edge of the paper or screen in both directions, forming 60-degree angles between the axes. Many of the lines in an isometric drawing will be parallel to one of the axes. Generally, every right angle on an isometric drawing will line up with at least two of the three axes.

Here's an important rule regarding isometric drawings: Every measurement on a line parallel to an axis will be correct. It will be either be the same length on the drawing as it is on the object, or it will be drawn exactly to scale, like the scale on a map or a model airplane. Every line that is not parallel to one of the axes will not be drawn to measurement or to scale. You can see how that works in the following examples.

Drawing an Object in Isometric View

Let's look at how to draw an isometric view of a cube, such as you might find in dice or ice cubes. A cube has all right angles, so every line will be parallel to one of the three axes. As you can see in the figure below, the gold-colored lines follow the vertical axis, while the red and blue lines each follow one of the other axes:

Figure 3: Isometric Cube
image Isometric Cube

You can use isometric paper, which has guidelines pre-drawn for you, or you can grab a protractor to help you get the angles right. To draw your cube, you can follow the numbered steps, which correspond to the axes of the cube in our figure.

1. Draw the front vertical, two inches long, with the top of the line right in the center of the drawing.

2-3. Draw the bottom left and right edges, following the left and right axes (60 degrees to either side of the vertical).

4-5. Draw left and right verticals.

6-7. Draw the left and right top front edges, 30 degrees from horizontal.

8-9. Draw the left and right top back edges, 30 degrees from horizontal.

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