Orthographic Projection: Definition & Examples

Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Laura Pennington

Laura received her Master's degree in Pure Mathematics from Michigan State University, and her Bachelor's degree in Mathematics from Grand Valley State University. She has 20 years of experience teaching collegiate mathematics at various institutions.

Orthographic projections are tools that allow us to represent three-dimensional objects with two-dimensional drawings. In this lesson, we will learn about orthographic projections and how they are used.

Orthographic Projection

Suppose you want someone in another country to design this triangular structure for you. You send them this picture, but it causes some confusion.


Triangular Structure
ortho1


Do they consider the green triangle to be in the front or the back of the structure? You don't speak their language, so you can't explain it to them. What do you do?

Thankfully, we have orthographic projections to help in situations like this. Put simply, an orthographic projection is a way of representing a three-dimensional object in two dimensions. It uses different two-dimensional views of the object instead of a single three-dimensional view. This allows you to communicate exactly what you want your structure to look like and eliminates any miscommunication between you and the person creating your design.

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  • 0:04 Orthographic Projection
  • 0:48 Different Views
  • 1:29 Measurements
  • 2:28 Example
  • 3:08 Lesson Summary
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Different Views

Typically, an orthographic projection drawing consists of three different views: a front view, a top view, and a side view. Occasionally, more views are used for clarity. The side view is usually the right side, but if the left side is used, it is noted in the drawing.

To draw one of the views of an object, use lines to represent changes in depth. For example, consider this object with its right side view orthographic projection:


Right Side Orthographic View
ortho2


Notice that there are lines where there are any depth changes in the structure; this changes the right side view of a three-dimensional object into a two-dimensional picture. These next two images show the front view and the top view of the same object:


Front Side Orthographic View
ortho3


Top Orthographic View
ortho4


Measurements

In an actual orthographic projection, all of the views are included on the same page. Normally, the front view is in the lower left corner of the page, the top view is in the upper left corner, and the right side view is in the lower right corner. The same scale is used for all three of the drawings, and their lengths, widths, and heights are all lined up.

Sometimes, the isometric drawing of the object is included in the upper right corner. An isometric drawing is a view of an object from a corner angle so that all the different views of the object can be seen. Though an isometric drawing is two-dimensional, it appears three-dimensional. The isometric drawing need not be drawn to scale or lined up with the three orthographic projection drawings.

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