Net, Plan & Elevation of 3D Shapes: Lesson for Kids

Instructor: Nick Rogers
When you draw 3D shapes in 2 dimensions, you need some tricks. Learn to use net, plan, and elevation drawings in this lesson and you will master 3D drawing!

Representing 3D Objects

An architect designs buildings. They make drawings called blueprints which are usually two dimensional (2D), so they need some tricks to help represent three dimensional buildings using only two dimensions! Let's see how they do that!

There are three main ways that you can represent 3D objects in two dimensional form and they are called elevation, plan, and net drawings. Let's review each of those concepts using the easiest 3D shape there is - a cube.

The elevation is the view from any side of an object (the front is also considered a side). This is the view you would see if you were standing on the ground, looking directly at the object. As you can see from our cube image, when looking at the cube from the front or the side, we see one face.

The plan is the view from the top looking down on the object - as if you were in an airplane. Again, looking at the cube from above, we see one face.

The net is the view of a 3D object if it were laid flat - it will show all of the sides at once. So, if you took the cube apart and laid it flat, this is how it would look. Your net drawing should have six squares in it since the net shows all sides at once.


Elevation, Plan, and Net Drawings for a Cube
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Elevation and Plan

Since elevation drawings give a view from just one side of the object, the elevation drawings will usually look different from each side. Let's try to make these drawings using the shape below. In order to make these kind of drawings, you need to try to rotate the object that you are drawing in your mind, and imagine only seeing one side.


Plan and Elevation Visualization
Plan, Elevation


It is very important to note that when drawing your 2D elevation or plan, depth is not taken into account. Let's see what that means.

The example we have here looks like a U shape from the side elevation. Even though the top right-hand block is further back, your drawing would not indicate that depth. From the front elevation, it looks like a square comprised of four blocks; again, the fact that the top left-hand block sits further back is not indicated in the drawing.

The plan also does not indicate anything about the height of the different parts of the object, just the shape when viewed from above. In this case, the plan looks like 'L.' Plans are very important in architecture, and are similar to traditional blueprints.

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