Isometric Design for Beginners | Hayden Aube | Skillshare

Playback Speed

  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x

Isometric Design for Beginners

teacher avatar Hayden Aube, Illustrator & Designer

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Watch this class and thousands more

Get unlimited access to every class
Taught by industry leaders & working professionals
Topics include illustration, design, photography, and more

Lessons in This Class

    • 1.



    • 2.

      Understanding Isometric Perspective


    • 3.

      Sketching a Blender (Optional)


    • 4.

      Preparing Your Document


    • 5.

      Designing in Isometric


    • 6.

      Wrapping Up


  • --
  • Beginner level
  • Intermediate level
  • Advanced level
  • All levels

Community Generated

The level is determined by a majority opinion of students who have reviewed this class. The teacher's recommendation is shown until at least 5 student responses are collected.





About This Class

You asked for it so here it is!

Isometric Design is everywhere—illustrations, icons, video games, etc. And, while working in 3D can sometimes be overwhelming, it doesn't have to be! No matter your skill level or what program you are using this class is sure to start you off right with the wonderful world of isometric design.

We'll be covering:

  • the fundamentals of working in the isometric perspective
  • creating an isometric sketch
  • how to set up your document
  • converting flat shapes into perspective views
  • working with different stroke weights
  • how to easily change the colours of your entire piece
  • all sorts of tips and tricks for working in Adobe Illustrator

You'll even be getting a set of super cool actions for Adobe Illustrator that's going to make typically repetitive tasks a thing of the past.

Having trouble downloading the Illustrator actions?

Meet Your Teacher

Teacher Profile Image

Hayden Aube

Illustrator & Designer


Hayden here and I am an illustrator, designer and most importantly to you, teacher!

I am constantly hunting for the actions that will have me producing my best work possible--I assure you it's no easy feat. That's why my primary goal in all of these classes isn't to give you just any information, but only the information that's going to make the biggest difference in your work. Think of it as optimizing your artistic development ;)

So if you're looking to level up your skills in design and illustration, consider checking out my classes. I've gone to great lengths to keep them short and to the point so you can get the information quickly and jump to creating.

See full profile

Level: Beginner

Class Ratings

Expectations Met?
  • 0%
  • Yes
  • 0%
  • Somewhat
  • 0%
  • Not really
  • 0%

Why Join Skillshare?

Take award-winning Skillshare Original Classes

Each class has short lessons, hands-on projects

Your membership supports Skillshare teachers

Learn From Anywhere

Take classes on the go with the Skillshare app. Stream or download to watch on the plane, the subway, or wherever you learn best.


1. Introduction: Hello my name is Hayden Aube and I am a Graphic Designer and Illustrator. Today I'm going to talk to you about isometric design. This is a topic that a lot of people were asking for, and while it was traditionally just a form of technical drawing that architects and engineers used to use, now it's become something that's so present in the design world. We see it in video games, we see it in icons, all sorts of illustrations, it really is all over the place and it looks pretty cool. So in this class we're going to making an awesome illustration of just an everyday object around the house in Adobe Illustrator. We'll start off by going over the fundamentals of working in isometric, and then use that to create a sketch, and then our finished design. I'm also going to be including a lot of actions for Adobe Illustrator just to make your life a whole lot easier when you're working. Now if you're not using Adobe Illustrator, that's completely fine because these techniques are universal. Finally, this is a class for all skill levels. So as long as you have an interest in isometric design, this class is for you. I hope to see you there. 2. Understanding Isometric Perspective: Before we jump into our designs, is going to be very beneficial for us to go over the fundamentals of working in isometric. Just with any design, starting out with a solid sketch before moving to the vector part and will make things go a lot smoother. For your sketch, my recommendation is that you use an isometric grid to draw onto. I've provided a resource that you can download, print off, that will allow you just to draw onto a grid. Or you can always do things digitally, just like I am doing right now in Photoshop. Isometric deals in three planes. It deals in the left, the right, and the top view. If we were to imagine each side of this cube, it would look like a perfect square. However, when we put it into the isometric view, it ends up looking like it does here. What this means? Is that when we're trying to draw the sigh of an object in an isometric view, it can be really helpful for us to consider what it would look like in two dimensions. For example, if I know that the straight on view of one of my sides looks like an L shape, that will make it a lot easier for me to actually draw the isometric view of it. This is really helpful because in Illustrator, often what we'll do, is draw it flat and then convert it. Boxes are a very easy thing to draw in general. What we tend to do is that when we're drawing more complex shapes, will start off with a box as a guideline. If we take a cylinder, for instance, if we start off with a box, it may seem like a bit more work, but will better be able to map out that cylinder inside. It'll just be really helpful for us to make sure that it is properly in perspective. From a two-dimensional point of view, the top of the cylinder could be considered a circle and a square. Don't worry too much if you're having a hard time getting your head wrapped around the perspective, it can be tricky at first, and know that your sketch doesn't have to be like pinpoint accurate. It just has to be a good enough guideline for us to move into Illustrator. You'll get more comfortable with this as time goes on. 3. Sketching a Blender (Optional): This section is completely optional. If you're confident enough to just jump into your sketch, by all means, go right ahead. But if you want to get a bit more of a sense of what it's drawing in the isometric view, you can just follow along with this process that I went through to create the sketch for my blender. This video has been sped up. Obviously, I don't draw this quick. What you're going to notice is that I'm using a lot of basic shapes, particularly squares drawn in perspective as guidelines for more complex ones. For this main container here, I used a smaller square at the bottom and a larger square at the top, and then just drew some connecting lines. This is just because I know that's the way a blender container looks. It's small at the base, and then as it gets towards the top, it gets bigger. Even the lid here although it's rounded, I started off with some very sharp simple blocks, and then once I had those in place, I rounded them. Once again, I think it's worth mentioning that it's really helpful to consider what the side of your object looks like from a front on point of view, as this really gives you a good sense of how you'll need to draw it in perspective. Just as I said previously, you don't need to do this in Photoshop. You can do use pen and paper. You don't even necessarily have to use an Isometric Grid, although I would recommend it. I find it's a lot easier that way. But this doesn't have to be the most accurate thing in the world. Because once we get to Adobe Illustrator, the software can take care of a lot of the accuracy for us. I feel my sketches are at a good place, and if you do too, we can move onto Adobe Illustrator. 4. Preparing Your Document: The first thing that we want do is create our guides. We really want those to mimic the construction lines that we have from our isometric sketch. Now, if you're working at 800 by 600 pixels, like I'm, I've included a template that you can download for Adobe Illustrator. But if you're working at a different size, I'm going to show you quickly how to make guides at any size you'd like. So you're going to want to grab the rectangular grid tool and just clicking, you can open up the options for it. You're going to want to set the width and the height to be the same pixel value. I'm choosing 800 right now because that's the width by page. Then for the horizontal and vertical divisions, you want to also have those be the same number. I usually just use like a tenth of what the width and height life set has. This is just a good way to make sure that your grid is perfectly square. From here, I'm going to use the align options to make sure the greatest in the center, and then I'm going to do what's called the SSR method, which is something that we're going to be using very frequently throughout the isometric process. SSR just stands for scale, shear, and rotate. What I'm going to do is I'm going to scale the grid only vertically. So clicking non-uniform by 86.602 percent. Then I'm going to use the Shear Tool to shear the angle of 30 degrees. Then I'm going to use the Rotate Tool to rotate at negative 30 degrees. This is going to give us our isometric grid. The next thing you're going to want to do is do your very best to line up your grid with the lines of your sketch. Now again, this doesn't have to be perfect because depending on how you did your drawing, how you scanned it in, there's a lot of reasons why you might not be able to line this up perfectly. But just do your best job doing so. Once you've landed up the best that you can, we're going to turn it into guides. That will be what we're working from. At this point of time, I want to show you the actions I've included as part of this class. You can get them from the resource assumption. They're really going to speed up your process. Working in isometric, pretty much all of these different actions will perform the SSR method in a variety of ways. Just by clicking in the top menu here, you can turn all of the actions into buttons, which I find just makes it a lot easier. I've also gone as far as creating an action that helps you create isometric grids. So that you don't always have to go through that process each time you make one. Once your grid and your sketcher in place, we can move on to the illustration. 5. Designing in Isometric: So rather than walk you through the entire hour and a half that it took for me to make this, I'm just going to be jumping to different points to make sure that you get all the important information. Now if there is one section that I don't cover that you'd like to know more about, just post that in discussion section and I'll give you more of an explanation on how I did that. Using the Pen Tool, I'm going to trace the sketch that I made. While I'm doing this, I have snap to guide selected in the view settings, which means that all of the points I place will go right along the perspective grid that we made. You'll notice here and in a couple of other places, I decided to deviate a bit from the sketch. Now you're totally welcome to do this yourself, because the sketch really was just a rough way for us to plot out the object we're making. If you decide that you'd rather change something, then change it. You'll notice that all of these shapes I'm making have a thin black stroke and a white fill, we're obviously going to be changing this later on. I just find this to be a good way for me to create the object itself from a rough point of view, but as always, I recommend that you work how it best works for you. At this point, I want to give you more information about the actions that I provided for this class. Now typically, every time you want to take a flat view or a straight on view and convert it to the side of an isometric object, you're going to have to use the SSR method. That means doing a scale, a shear and a rotate action every single time you want to make a panel. Seeing is that's a really tedious way of doing things, these actions take the SSR method and do all of those steps for you, for each side of a shape. What this means is if you have a straight on view and you want that to be the left side of an isometric object, all you need to do is perform the left action. That goes the same for the right and for top, there are two options, clockwise and counterclockwise and that really just depends on if you want the bottom of your straight on shape to be to the left or the right. Often times, it's easier to work on the side of your object when it's not in perspective, and for that, I've created a set of undo actions which allow you to undo that left, right or top view, that way you can work on it straight on. A great example of the application of these actions is where I can take the top piece of this blender and undo the top of it to bring it back out of perspective. This is really helpful because if I want to round the corners, if I just do it here while it's in view, the corners aren't going to be equally rounded because they're in perspective, whereas when I'm dealing with a front on object and I try to round the corners, they're all going to be equal. Then once I'm happy with how it looks, I just need to apply the perspective action again and put it back into place. That being said, I decided to go back just to a normal square just for the time being to make it easier for me to construct the rest of the shape. Once again, I'm using very basic shapes to create a guideline for me to make the more complex ones. There are a lot of rounded shapes on the lid of this blender, and if I just start by making them simple blocks, it'll be a lot easier for me to run them later on. Here's another great example of using an undo action on something that's already in perspective that way I can around the corners and then put it back into perspective, therefore ensuring that all of the corners are rounded equally. You'll notice that I like to keep the unrounded square in perspective as well, just as it serves as a nice guideline as I'm trying to align things. It's something that I can easily hide or remove later on. It may seem a bit confusing what I'm doing right here, but I'm using the Pathfinder tool to combine two shapes together just to get this shape that I've created right here. If you're not familiar with Pathfinder tool, it's extraordinarily useful and actually I have a class called give the pen tool a day off, where I go really in depth on its uses. To save myself from creating the same shape twice, I'm going to hold option and drag this whole piece up to the top. When you're working with a lot of shapes, sometimes it can be helpful to temporarily hide them and a great way of doing that is to press Command, 3 and then to make it reappear, you can do Option, Command, 3. When you're dealing with a lot of shapes that go on top of and behind one another, it's really great to know the shortcuts for moving things forwards and backwards, like I'm doing here. Once again, by taking this shape out of perspective, I can make sure that all the corners I want rounded are rounded equally and then I can put it back in. Here, I want to square that is smaller than the one that's at the base of this blender, so what I've done is I've pulled it out of perspective and used offset path of negative 10 pixels to make a smaller square inside of it. Then just as before, I can reapply the top perspective action and put it back into place. I want to do the same thing at the halfway point of the container, so I'm going to make a square that just touches the edges here and then do the exact same action of using offset path to make a smaller square inside. Then once I have it how I like it, I'll once again put it back into perspective. From here, I can just draw a line joining these two edges and it'll look like I have liquid in my blender. I want to include a bit of a handle at the top of this blender lid, and because there's going to be a bit more of a complex shape, I'm going to build it in a two-dimensional view first, so I'm doing it just flat right now and then I'll use the top action to convert it to the isometric top view. Just because I know it can get confusing when I'm doing a lot of actions, the pathfinder here is this piece just as a black shape, just see you can get a sense of what I created here. Just as before, once I have the shape that I want, I'm going to use the top isometric action. There are two things that I want to point out here. One is that I am using the isometric guides that we've created to easily put in these texts that come along the side of the blender, but the other thing that I'm doing, which is a really great tip, is using the Reflect tool to translate the ticks to the other side. In order to do this, all you need to do is use the Selection tool to choose the different objects you want to reflect, and then using the Reflect tool, clicking on the middle point between where your objects currently are and where you want them reflect on the other side, so for me, I'm actually choosing behind of center here of this blender because I think that's a really good mirror point. Then once you have that chosen, you are holding Option and Shift and dragging them to the other side of where you clicked. What you'll notice here is that even though in my sketch, the handle is quite rounded, I start off just by using simple rectangular shapes to build the construction lines of it, and then once it was set as a block form, then I go and I round everything up. Here you can see the first instance of me rounding out this very angular handle. Just as I've done before, I'm taking it out of the isometric view, rounding the corners evenly and then putting it back. Once you have your objects line work all complete, what we're going to do is we're going to add more interest to the line work by adding varying degrees of thickness. Now from a whole design, I'm going to use strokes at one pixel, two pixel, and three pixels wide and nothing besides that. This is because it really adds a lot of consistency. It makes the design a lot tighter rather than using all different stroke weights and it can be a little sloppy sometimes. Stick with three defined sizes, it doesn't have to be what I chose as depending on what size you're working at, it might not make sense. When considering which lines to make thickest and thinnest, you really want to think about what sections do you really want to come forward. The way it tends to work is that when the line weight is thicker, that's going draw your eye in a lot more. Typically, I will make more of the detail work thinner so it doesn't stand out as much whereas the main pieces of an object I will make thicker. If you're having a tough time wrapping your head around line weight, that's fine because it is quite a big subject and it takes a lot of practice to get used to, but that being said, I've included a great article here where you can read up more about it. You'll also notice that I made a very thick line around the entire object, actually thicker than those other three and this is more just a stylistic decision, I really like how it looks. You can do this, you can not do it, it's entirely up to you. Something else I would add in is another great way to get good at using line quality is to just look at other people's work and see how they're doing it and try and figure out what decisions are informing, whether they make a line thick or thin. That was really helpful for me in understanding how I should do my own lines, so I totally recommend it. The final step that we're going to take in our illustration is to add color. We're actually going to use global swatches for this, which is a really helpful way of trying a lot of different colors. To create a global swatch, you just do it the same you would a normal one, and you click on the "New Swatch" icon in the panel. Once you've done that, there's a little check box just to make it global, that's all you need to do. For the style that we're working with, we're doing three swatches, we're doing one for the line weight, one for the shadows, and one for the highlights. Once you've created these three swatches, just go ahead and apply them to the areas of your picture that you want to put them, so of course, the shadows where you think it will be darkest. The stroke will be applied to all of the strokes that you've created and then the highlights will be pretty much everything else. Once you have all these in place, we can continue to tweak the parameters of the color inside the Swatch panel since they are global and it'll give us a really great way on the fly trying out different color schemes. Just as a side, an easy way to change all the stroke colors at once is to go up to the top and click 'Select, Same, Stroke Color" and that will select everything for you and then you can just apply the swatch there. If you want more information on global swatches, I actually have a quick tutorial on YouTube that goes into them in a bit more depth. Looking at my blender, I have all the colors in the places that I want them, but the colors themselves, I'm not too thrilled about, but because they're global, I can go here and easily change them around to get something I like. Just remember to select Preview when you're changing the options that way you can get a live update of the changes you're making. Once you've decided on a color scheme that you like, you are finished, you can go ahead and add a background if you like or maybe you want to create a series of these and use them in a bigger illustration, and It's really up to you, but now you have the foundations for creating isometric work. 6. Wrapping Up: Now you should have a finished isometric piece and all the skills you need to translate that to new isometric projects in the future. But there're a couple of things before you go. First of all, make sure to upload your project. It's very helpful both for the community and for yourself to get input on the thing that you came up with. Number two, if you want to go a step further, you can comment on somebody else's project as just giving that critique doesn't just help them out but it also helps you. The final thing also in line with the community is, I'm really excited to announce that just a couple of weeks ago, I started an online Slack channel called Vector Friends. This is just a place for designers, illustrators, all sorts of digital creatives to come and talk to one another, get feedback on their work. Just after a couple of weeks, we already have 200 people, so it's quite a strong community already. I'll post a link to sign up in the description of the class. Finally, I just want to thank you for taking the class. This was a topic that a lot of people were asking for so I really hope that you walk away with a lot of tools and knowledge in working with isometric. If you really enjoyed the class, a positive review here on Skillshare goes a long way, and you could always check out some of my other classes. Above all else, I hope you got a lot, and I look forward to seeing what you come up with. Thank you.