Isometric Illustration: A Guide to Isometric Perspective

Different projects demand different techniques and illustration styles. Logo artwork may demand simple abstractions, while a company website requires minimalism. Video game worlds might be built with photorealistic illustrations or cartoonish designs. The more art styles you know and understand from a technical perspective, the more you can create. In this quick guide, learn about isometric illustration, how it's different from true perspective, and what you can do with isometric illustration design principles.

What is isometric illustration?

Isometric illustration, or isometric projection, is a design style that recreates three-dimensional objects on two-dimensional media. For example, graphic designers might use perspective-based illustration principles to draw a street view, a room, or even something as simple as a box.

However, it's different from true perspective representations that use one-, two-, or three-point perspectives to draw artwork in which the angles all meet at the horizon. In isometric perspective, the angles don't meet and remain parallel. For example, rather than the rails of a railroad coming closer together "in the distance" before finally touching at the horizon, an isometric illustration of a railroad will have rails that stay parallel.

Isometric illustration is one of three types of drawing styles that don't have angles converge, or axonometric illustration. The other types of styles include dimetric and trimeric. Isometric drawings only use degrees that are multiples of 30 degrees (ex. 30, 60, 90, and so on).

What projects work best with isometric illustration?

Unlike true perspective, which is often used to create photorealistic scenes that capture true-to-life angles and perspective, isometric illustrations are often used to create complex diagrams and informative illustrations. For example, a technical writing piece such as a manufacturer's guide might include a diagram of an engine or an explosion view of a complex piece of machinery to highlight each individual component and how they fit together in the final assembly. By using isometric perspective instead of true perspective, everything is laid out in an organized grid and components don't "block" the view of other components.

Traditionally, isometric illustrations are used in assembly guides, repair manuals, technical and educational drawings, and other types of artwork that are needed to capture technical detail for how-to or informative purposes. Isometric art styles were also used in 1980s arcade games.

In today's world of graphic design, isometric illustration principles are often used to create stock art that follows the popular corporate Memphis or Big Tech flat art style, presentation visuals, and modern video and computer games that incorporate maps and wide views.

How to create images using isometric illustration

There are multiple different ways to create isometric illustrations. In the world of virtual graphic design, artists can establish the foundation of their projects by creating isometric grids and systematically skewing and rotating objects to meet the design principles of isometric styles.

Many designers also focus on the "Geometric Technique."

In a three-dimensional representation, there are three main plane structures:

  • The XY structure of an object positioned on the ground
  • The XZ  structure of something standing up in relation to the X plane
  • The YZ structure of something standing up in relation to the Y plane.

Once you visualize these squares on the plane structures, you can create objects with lines that are always parallel to the square in the XY, XZ, or YZ structures, depending on what the object is.

Start your next isometric illustration with CorelDRAW

The isometric illustration style of art design is becoming increasingly popular in educational, corporate, and technical settings. Ensuring that every angle and illustration truly captures the isometric angle principles is essential for creating uncluttering, high-quality work. Download CorelDRAW today to see how it can help you design and create isometrically illustrated objects and scenes.

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