What is an Isometric Design? A Definitive Guide for Designers

isometric design

Design is all around us. From the Tv set in your room to your customized coffee mugs, flyers across your apartment hall, billboards, and poster down the street, we interact with different forms of designs from the beginning of the day to the end.

Every design is made up of lines, shapes, colors, textures, and spaces. These design elements have majorly characterized the visual design space for many years now. More specifically, flat design has been the standard choice for many designers due to its streamlined, modern and clean look.

However, with recent trends in the creative design industry, we have come to see Isometric design become the hottest design trend among present designers. The isometric design has become so popular that we see it all around us without even realizing it. From logos to illustrations, infographics, posters, and billboards, a 3D design which is the umbrella under which isometric art falls has taken over the creative space.

The isometric design combines both flat design and 3D to create professional, unique, and realistic graphics. If you are in the creative design industry and are still struggling to get a hang of what isometric design is and how you can implement it in your designs, sit back and relax. It’s your lucky day.

In this guide, we have put together the basic definition of isometric designs, their benefits, how to create isometric art, and other important information that you should know about trendy design.

What is Isometric Design?

isometric design illustrator

Isometric design or art is a facet of graphic design that makes two-dimensional (2D) figures appear three-dimensional (3D). It refers to a unique way of presenting visuals and showing an object as though it’s viewed from one corner at a bird’s eye angle.

The core of isometric art is majorly in the way an artist renders three-dimensional (3D) objects on a two-dimensional (2D) plane to create realism. Isometric artists or designers make use of what’s called “parallel projection” to bring life to their flat design and create an illusion effect that will appear to be the same size regardless of the viewpoint.

The 3D objects in an isometric design and they are created by starting a vertical line and two defined points at a 30-degree angle. The isometric design presents images in a way that illustrates the interiors, exteriors, objects, or logos with height, width, and depth to create the illusion of a 3D perspective.

Isometric art being a further development of flat design makes viewers of the design feel as though they are looking down at three-dimensional objects from an elevated corner. Unlike other 3D designs with the traditional view of perspective, isometric design shows objects at right angles or 30 degrees to make complex 3D structures very clear and with details.

Why is Isometric Design Trending Now?

For a long time, the flat design has been the standard design for organizations, however, the ability of isometric art to give more perspective on a subject – allows viewers to see the side and top of a design.

In recent times, Isometric design has become the go-to choice for branding and marketing as a result of their beautiful designs with depths to make the imagery more realistic.

The uniqueness, simple and realistic design of isometric art using custom illustrations and graphic design makes it popular among marketers and entrepreneurs. Since custom illustrations are known to drive higher engagement and more conversions, many designers are increasingly incorporating isometric art in corporate graphic design. 

The isometric technique also enables designers and marketers to show more details leaving little or no chance for confusion.

Benefits of Isometric Designs

Here are some of the key benefits of Isometric Designs.

1. It is a simple and creative design

what is isometric design

Isometric design is your best option if you want to keep your icons, illustrations, or designs minimalist and creative.

This style of design is mostly used to keep designs straightforward, recognizable, and visually appealing. However, you should take note to keep the design simple so as not to confuse the viewers.

2. It emphasizes every detail in the design

isometric design software

An isometric illustration is the perfect go-to choice if you are looking to emphasize all details of your design.

For example, if you have data that you want your audience to view from the top, sides, or front, you can use an isometric style to show this data in a creative and visually appealing manner.

3. To Present Products from All Angles

cool isometric design

If you are looking to showcase all angles of your products on your website, social media designs, or other digital designs, your best shot is using isometric designs to present them most creatively and engagingly.

Isometric drawings are an extension of flat designs and can show hidden or internal parts of a product that most flat images won’t show.

4. It is modern

isometric design drawing
Envato Elements

If you have been conversant with the recent trends in the design industry, then you would know that isometric designs are a popular trend that will continue to be a top choice for designers and marketers for presenting visuals more distinctly.

Beyond their growing popularity, isometric graphics are very refreshing, modern, and very attractive to look at, and have a way of making products or designs catch the eye and stand out. In addition to this, isometric illustrations are known to appeal to the younger audience better and keep your brand visuals more up-to-date.

5. It Helps Convey Messages More Clearly

isometric design meaning

Another important benefit of using an isometric style for your brand visuals s to help you convey your messages more clearly. For example, marketers would often create 3D infographics to make the data or information more understandable.

6. It is Useful

isometric design in illustrator

A striking fact about isometric design is that they are useful in various fields of design from graphic design to industrial design, product design, website design, architectural design, interior design, and engineering design.

They are an impressive way to quickly test out different design ideas and are ideal for visualizing different forms of products, interior spaces, and infrastructures. Aside from digital product designs and visualization, isometric designs are also useful in many other situations such as wayfinding in buildings, museums, or galleries.

7. To Create Better Representations

isometric design definition

Isometric drawings are super effective in representing places or to represent information or create better impact with isometric projections. Additionally, isometric graphics are ideal for the final presentation of the final designs to clients.

Difference between Flat Design and Isometric Designs

isometric design examples

Before the use and popularity of isometric designs, flat designs were the standard for designs for many years and had a simpler approach to conveying information via attractive visuals.

Unfortunately, flat designs unlike isometric designs didn’t have depth and don’t add more details to the design. Flat designs are clean, two-dimensional (2D) objects that feature crisp lines, shapes, and edges with an open space leaving no room for distracting elements in the design.

Isometric designs, on the other hand, are three-dimensional design that shows all angles of a design with equal and accurate measurements. Coined from the Greek word that means “equal measure”, the isometric design creates a visual appeal that attracts people’s attention due to its realism and depth.

Another interesting reason why many artists, designers, and illustrators prefer isometric design to flat design is the versatility they give to designs. Most isometric arts are created with shapes and geometry through a surprisingly straightforward process.

Although isometric design become popular in recent times, this does not in any way mean that flat designs have become outdated. Many designers still combine flat and isometric graphics in their various designs.

The Limitations of Flat Design

Isometric design is a modern development of the flat design that added some depth, and realism to the design while retaining its simplicity. Although flat designs are not entirely outdated, here are the five ways that flat designs can be limiting.

1. Flat designs are not very advanced with user experiences

When it comes to complex user experience, flat designs are not as detailed and ergonomic as isometric designs. Isometric designs give depth to the use of design elements such as icons to make it look embossed or raised, which makes it easy for users to know exactly where to tap or click.

The disadvantage of using flat designs for user designs interface is that it focuses more on the aesthetics, focusing less on the design’s ease of design. Instead of creating completely flat icons, you can create complex isometric icons or illustrations to enhance user experience.

2. Flat designs make bad typography obvious

Flat designs are known for their clean, modern, and attractive visuals that make it easy to bad typography. They can also be very unforgiving and limiting when it comes to boldness in the designs.

A wrongly paired font can override the entire visual appeal of the flat design compared to an isometric design where the focus is mostly on the depth of the design elements.

3. Flat design can be too basic

A flat design can be too elementary when displaying complex and detailed visual information. Most businesses, brands, and individuals planning a design project want a design that accurately reflects or represents their unique abilities and stand out from their competitors.

The main concern with flat design in this area is that visual hierarchy and realism can be difficult to achieve with very simple interface designs.

4. Flat design limits visual options

Due to the basic nature of flat designs, they can limit the number of visual design options that you can use in the project. Aside from the aesthetics and clean design, flat designs lack depth and detail that can further enrich the design.

5. It can be hard to match colors in flat designs

Colors generally add a spark (or life) to a design. It makes it look visually appealing and attractive, however, the major challenge with using colors in a design project is the challenge of creating a harmonious color palette.

It is even harder when there are four or more colors in a design. This is why most successful flat designs stick with lesser colors to give them a uniform look compared to isometric designs that effectively blend colors to give the design a classy, clean, modern, and realistic look.

How to Make an Isometric Design?

An isometric flat design is created in a two-dimensional (2D) space but appears as a three-dimensional (3D) due to the way the specific line angles are used.

Contrary to popular opinion, you don’t need fancy 3D design software to create isometric designs, what you need the most is the basic knowledge of some geometry. An isometric design has key elements that make up its style. They include:

1. 120-degree rule

benefits of isometric designs
Blue Compass

One of the key factors that make isometric designs a lot more trendy than flat designs is their eccentric, realistic, and exciting visuals.

An important element that makes this achievable with isometric design is the rule that the 3D object’s x, y, and z axes and vertical lines should be at a 120-degree angle. Additionally, the horizontal lines must also be at a 30-degree angle from their converting point.s

2. Parallel Lines don’t converge

the limitations of the flat design

There is a thing called perspective in graphic design and this naturally means the natural way people look at objects.

In most designs including flat designs, the parallel lines meet at a vanishing point, however, with isometric design, the parallel lines don’t ever meet. This is mainly because all axes’ angles are equal in measurement and spacing.

3. Minimalist design

how to make an isometric design

Since isometric design displays several angles in the design, it can make it a bit confusing if there are many elements in it. As a result, many designers keep isometrics graphics simple with fewer elements to avoid unnecessary clutter.

Similarly, you also must ensure that while the elements are minimal, the colors are also vibrant but subdued to portray the image message.

When to Use Isometric Deigns

Wondering when is the appropriate time to use an isometric design? Here’s a rundown of the scenarios when you can use an isometric design

1. When you want to convey more details

One important benefit of the isometric design is its ability to convey more details in the designs through depth. While traditional 2D shows an area from the top, 3D isometric maps all angles of a design showing the sides, top, and front of the design.

2. When you want a simple design with depth

Isometric icons are the top choice when you want to create a design that is visually appealing and easy for people to recognize. 3D icons eliminate clutters and add structure and depth to the design.

3. When illustrating interconnected information

If your design or presentation contains interconnected images or illustrations such as a visual representation of an entire neighborhood or community plan, then your best shot is to visualize this with an isometric design to make it easily digestible.

4. When you want to give your design a fresh look

As stated above, isometric designs are trendy. So if you are looking to give your design a fresh look, then you should consider using isometric illustrations in the design.

Where to Use Isometric Designs?

You can apply an isometric design in the following designs;

1. DIY Instructions

Before the isometric style became popular among graphic designers and web designers, a large percentage of engineers and technical illustrators were already isometric projections to visualize complex objects, machines, and systems.

For this reason, the flat 3D style remains one of the best ways to illustrate complicated processes and objects.

2. Layered Graphics

when and where to use isometric design

Just as isometric designs are used for technical drawings and DIY diagrams, Isometric style is also perfect for visualizing layered graphics, concepts, or items.

Most viewers can see the two full sides of an object in a layered isometric graphic instead of the flat surface they see in a flat design. Giving more depth to an image or graphics with an isometric style makes it more detailed, simple, and easy to understand.

3. Icons

why is an isometric grid important

Isometric illustrations started with icons. Adding 3D icon illustrations in your company website and business app designs makes it very easy for your users to easily navigate through the site and app and make it visually appealing.

A major challenge with using flat icons for tour design is that it makes the icons blend in with the background thereby making it hard to differentiate them from other design elements. However, with an isometric icon illustration, the realism in the design makes it easy for users to quickly see where they need to click.

4. Logos

isometric designs

Additionally, an isometric design is a perfect choice for you if you are looking to create a clever and stylish logo design. The isometric style can help you create a logo design that is unique, distinct, and visually striking.

5. Landing pages

free isometric designs
Lapa Linja

Isometric illustrations can be used to spice up your landing page designs and bring life to the design showing all the usual website design elements in an interactive and detailed manner.

6. Creative Lettering

isometric graphic design

Isometric design can be used in various design forms. One of these is using them for creative lettering – it is the type of lettering that incorporates illustrations, textures, perspectives, play on words, etc., besides just letters.

7. Infographics

3d isometric graphic design

Using isometric design in infographics not only brings life to the essential components of the document but also makes the data very easy to understand. The isometric design leaves nothing to the imagination and is easy for the audience to memorize and understand.

Why is an Isometric Grid Important?

Graphic Design Stack Exchange

An isometric grid is a game changer that allows designers to create an impressive 3D appeal in the design to make it stand out. This tool is something every designer should know and be skilled at using to make your design aesthetics pop and take the design game to the next level.

An isometric grid is a guideline that informs designers about the right angles to have when drawing from an isometric perspective, irrespective of the design. Several graphic design tools or software enable designers to easily edit the angle of an isometric design as well as increase and increase the grid size.

Isometric Design: The Bottom Line

Isometric design is a new revolution in the creative design industry. Beyond being an extension of the 2D style of design, it also presents a creative and effective way to visualize objects, concepts, and information with great depth and spark.

Every success-driven business and designer should consider working with isometric designs to create designs that accurately reflect your brand values and portray your brand as a trustworthy brand that goes all the way with its philosophy.

Among all the benefits that we have identified above, a cool psychological benefit of using the isometric style is that it ranks your customers above your products or service through the high angle synonymous with many isometric designs. This high angle reportedly makes the audience feel more in control by looking at the subject.

Although isometric designs have so many benefits and generally help to present a concept, idea, or data better, you must also understand that it might not always be the best option for your visual materials all the time. Consider the design you want to create and the goals you aim to achieve with the design before deciding whether or not you want to use an isometric style.

December 29, 2022
10 min read
9 reads

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