Mastering Isometric Illustrations — Part 2

This is an extension of my previous post, How I became an Illustrator by discovering a new dimension

Illustration is a form of art which comes naturally to some, and for the remaining like me, it can be a total nightmare! There used to be a time when I would hesitate to list ‘illustration’ in my list of skills. But things got better over time. Luckily, I managed to understand the science behind this essential art, and today I not only have ‘illustration’ in my list, but also the beautiful word ‘isometric’ prefixed to that 😃

That’s my Dribbble Playbook profile

In the Part 1 of this series, I have listed a detailed step-by-step tutorial for creating Isometric Illustrations using the 2D illustration tool, Adobe Illustrator. By scaling, shearing and rotating the orthographic projections of an object, we can mimic their isometric counterparts. I strongly recommend you check that out.

So, why Part 2?

In Part 1, I demonstrated the SSR Method (I m just trying to sound nerdy 😜) by illustrating a simple cube. You start by drawing the orthographic projections, apply the magical formulae (which is called SSR 😛), and then you just assemble the transformed faces to create the isometric form. Simple.

Here is a ‘cheat sheet’ of SSR Method from my previous post 😉
Assembling the transformed faces to create the isometric form


Here is the catch! Not every object in this world is boxy with 3 distinct faces — top, left and right . So what do we do for objects like these??
Objects without 3 distinct faces and some complex ones

Worry not, just read on 😎

The trick up my sleeve

Let me demonstrate it with this simple cylinder:

Before you start, let me tell you that illustrating an isometric cylinder is simpler than illustrating an isometric cube, I kid you not, you will know it soon! 😊

Step 1 : Draw the orthographic projections

As demonstrated in my previous post, we draw the Top, Left and the Right views of the cylinder. Since this is a regular cylinder with a circular top, the Left and the Right views will be identical. I have used different colours, just to differentiate them.

Orthographic Projections (Top, Left and Right views of a simple cylinder)

Step 2 : Apply SSR modifications to the Top View

Select the Orthographic Top View and :

  1. Scale the height to 86.602% (Yes, this precisely needs to be 86.602%. Should not be rounded off to 86 or 90)
  2. Next, shear the scaled face by +30°
  3. Finally, rotate the scaled and sheared face by -30°
Transformation of the Orthographic Top View

And.. We have the Isometric Top Face ready! 😊

Next, transform the Orthographic Left and Right Views as well.

LOL.. I m kidding you! 🤣

You don’t need to transform any more faces. When I said, this would be simpler than the cube, I really meant it

If you see the case of the cube, the bottom isometric face (which is hidden) is actually same as the top isometric face. We never draw the bottom face because it is redundant. When we assemble the left and the right isometric views, the bottom face is automatically formed (which remains invisible throughout). Here is an image for your reference:

Now, the reverse of this is also true, i.e. when we place the top and the bottom isometric faces, the corresponding left and the right faces are automatically formed. This is particularly useful in the cases where there is no sharp edge separating the left and the right faces, like in a cylinder.

Isometric forms Illustrated with only top and bottom isometric faces

In these isometric forms, I have made the ‘Combined Left and Right Views’ using the pen tool (because it is much simpler than SSR transformation!)

Step 3: Finally, Assembling & Recolouring 😊

Just make a copy of the top view and move it down to make for the length of the cylinder; and then, draw a rectangle to fill in the space between these two faces. You are done! 😃

As a final touch-up, recolour the bottom face and the rectangle with the same shade and yeah.. also move the layer of the top face above the other two.

Now you you have your Isometric Cylinder ready!! 😃

This is not the end…

The word ‘Mastering’ in the title won’t be justified if I do not teach something more complicated (using the same technique, of course). How about this coffee cup? Shall we draw it? 😃

Yes, we definitely should but this post is getting a way too long! (I know that it is tough to grab someone’s attention beyond a certain extent 😉).

So, I decided to slice it out and write a Part 3 with a detailed tutorial for the same. Do check that out (It’s saved in my drafts. Will make it live in a few days). In the meantime, get yourself comfortable with the SSR method and read the Part 1 of the series (I have already shamelessly linked it many times in this post 😛)

Have fun and do post your views in the comments 😊

To check out more things I do and discover, follow us on Dribbble.