You’ve likely seen an isometric pattern somewhere without realizing, whether it was in an art museum, a graphic design class, or even a magazine.
In this tutorial, we’ll show you how to create your own patterns including an isometric background and standalone graphics, along with examples of isometric drawing that you can use as inspiration for your next project.
What Is an Isometric Pattern?
Isometric drawing is one of the key methods that artists and designers use to create three-dimensional objects within a two-dimensional space. It’s commonly used to add shape and depth to sketches and illustrations as the 3D look of isometric patterns helps to bring dimension to a flat surface.
The word isometric itself comes from the Greek term for “equal measure.” A technique called parallel projection, where the same scale is used to draw along every axis on the design grid, is used when working on isometric graphics. The width, depth, and height all intersect at a 120-degree angle to give you a top-down view of the shape.
For those of you familiar with one-point perspectives (where the object appears smaller the further away it is from the viewer), think of isometric patterns as the opposite—the object is the same size, no matter where you stand to observe it.
What Is Isometric Design?
There are plenty of ways that you can apply this design style to your work, but an isometric cube pattern like the one above is the most common illustration that artists work on when getting started with this method.
Isometric design helps to give perspective to otherwise flat images so that you can see the top and sides of the shape you’re drawing. Businesses with products or services that are conveyed better in 3D often make use of isometric design in their marketing illustrations to show more details without adding clutter to a flat icon or graphic.
Industries like architecture, engineering, or interior design are some of this style’s most prolific users when they put together product development images and detailed floor plans, as they can achieve the same 3D vision without needing to build a physical model. Digital tools like AutoCAD help to streamline this process, as you can group and layer different elements of a design and save them for future use. Creating isometric hatch patterns in AutoCAD is one way that designers and architects create building-like illustrations that can be used in presentations and planning.
Isometric graphics have also become popular in recent years in logo design, as their three-dimensional appearance often makes them memorable—perfect for building a recognizable brand! Dropbox is a great example of how an isometric cube pattern can work outside of practice grids and out in the real world.
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Logos are one of the most popular elements to design using isometric styles. They’re easy to put together using digital software like Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator, which can help you create high-quality and memorable graphics in no time.
Isometric graphic elements are often used to make a complete scene in an infographic. These can be helpful in conveying important information with lots of details in a way that feels fun and exciting, rather than cluttered and overwhelming.
Icons don’t need to be flat and repetitive when you understand how isometric patterns work! Adding dimension to your icons makes them more interesting to look at and can be eye-catching elements of larger designs like website landing pages or digital brochures.
Isometric illustrations can range from architectural outlines and interior design plans to comical artwork and imaginary landscapes. This illustration style gives you the freedom to create a top-down view of your design, leaving plenty of room for small details that only work in this three-dimensional space.
How to Make Your Own Isometric Pattern
Step 1: Pick Your Drawing Tool and Grid
Before you get started, you’ll want to decide how you’re going to draw your graphic: by hand or digitally.
Digital tools, like the Photoshop isometric grid or Illustrator isometric grid, are usually a good place to start as these will give you the correct angles and dimensions to create your pattern. If you’re working by hand, grid paper will also give you the same effect as digital tools. You can even start with a sketch and scan this into a digital format later for adding final design details.
Step 2: Start With a Repeating Pattern
Isometric backgrounds are great for beginners to practice their new skills. The repeating patterns will help you to get your 120-degree angles right and understand the difference in perspective. These designs work nicely to create isometric stained glass patterns that you can print off and color in or build into your digital artwork.
With the Adobe Illustrator isometric grid, drawing an isometric tile with patterns is quick and easy. Once your grid is in place, simply hit “Object” in the main navigation bar, then “Pattern” and “Make.” This will bring up the options panel where you can set the height and width of your original design and have this replicate across your full project.
Step 3: Develop Individual Elements
When you feel confident in making repeating patterns, it’s time to move on to creating standalone graphics like logos and infographics. It can help to have a rough sketch drawn out by hand on isometric paper that you can scan into your digital software and replicate.
Now that you understand the basics of what isometric design is and how you can create your own patterns, it’s time to get practicing!
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