Week 07 - Axonometric Projections & Drawing Techniques

Arch 100a 2013 Fall

Course Arch 100a
Date 2013/10/11
Learning Objectives This class will show examples of architectural axonometric drawings and introduce the method of creating an exploded axonometric projection from a 3 dimensional model in Rhino. Students will utilize many of the techniques they have learned in the previous sessions and also learn the basics of inserting sunlight into a scene using VRay, in order to achieve accurately rendered daylighting conditions.
    • An Overview of Architectural Axonometric Drawings with Example slides
    • Techniques of Making Exploded Axonometric Drawings
    • Basics of Rendering with Sunlight in VRay
    • Presentation Layout
    • Common Mistakes and Additional Workflow Resources
Uses Tool(s) Rhinoceros , VRay

Architectural Axonometric Projection

By now you should be familiar with the different types of Architectural Drawings that can be used to formally describe an object or spatial condition. Last week's session looked at orthographic projections as one technique of graphical projection. This week we will look at some examples of axonometric projections and how this technique can be used to describe selective aspects of a design.

We will begin by looking at an overview of Axonometric Drawings with a specific focus on isometric projections .

Distinctions Among Axonometric Projections

In Axonometric Projections an object is rotated along one or more of its axes relative to the plane of projection. Projection rays are parallel to one another, and perpendicular to the image plane - but in no specific relationship to any dominant plane of the object depicted.

There are three types of Axonometric Projections , which correspond to the angles used to project the drawing:

Isometric projection
Uses equal angles of 120º and is the most commonly used form of axonometric projection because of its ease of use with a 30º-60º triangle and clear representation. There is equal foreshortening on all sides (80% of the true size) and thus the plans and elevations cannot be used as base drawings.
Dimetric projection
Has equal foreshortening along two axis directions often emphasizing the elevation.
Trimetric projection
This technique is less common as all three axes planes are foreshortened and all axis angles are different.

100A F13 Ching Axonometrics.jpg

Oblique Projections

Plan obliques are another method of paraline drawings that communicate the three-dimensional nature of an object or spatial relationship projected from the plan itself. The principal set of horizontal planes oriented parallel to the picture plane are emphasized and in these types of drawings the plan can be used as a base drawing (i.e. the plan reveals the true size, shape and proportions).

100A f13 plan oblique.jpg

Setting Up an Isometric View in Rhino

The following method outlines the steps required for Placing an Isometric Camera View in Rhino using the Camera.

Exploded Axonometric Drawings

An exploded axonometric takes the original construction of an object and displaces selected elements to illustrate construction assembly or, in the context of architecture, spatial relationships. Exploded axonometrics can be extremely detailed, such as a construction detail, or as we touched upon in Week 03, they can be more diagrammatic, such as in a program or circulation diagram.

Chameleon House Exploded Axon.jpg

Exploded axonometric drawings should be carefully considered for what they are trying to convey. There should be a considered logic in how an object is exploded and what the selective exploding means as part of the overall drawing.

Creating an Exploded Axonometric Drawing Using Rhino and Illustrator

Setting up an Exploded Axonometric Drawing
We will only be referencing the first half of this workflow that deals with setting up the Exploded Axonometric view and exporting our linework.
This workflow emphasizes the proper orientation for an exploded drawing and using post-processing effects in Photoshop and Illustrator to illustrate shadows and textures. While you are not expected to apply materials or textures in this project, you should by now have all of the tools at your disposal to know how to do this. We will also look at the basics of VRay rendering as an alternative to Rhino render.

Intro to Rendering in VRay

VRay is a photorealistic render engine plug-in for a variety of 3d modeling programs, including Rhino. While it is an extremely powerful rendering engine with globla illumination, irradiance maps, and raytracing, it's also a complicated one. There are many different variable settings that can change how your rendering comes out and it will take many rounds of trial and error to get exactly what you want out of the renderer. This may be time-prohibitive, especially when you are just beginning to use VRay. Our goal is to use the software as a set-up of lighting and shadow, then take the result into Photoshop or another photo editing program to get finer details.


The toolbar for VRay consists of the following buttons (listed from left to right):

[ Note that while VRay is an effective software for rendering material qualities, we will only be looking at daylighting conditions for this project. ]


Material Editor
Create, edit, and assign materials to objects.
VRay Options
Edit VRay settings and load preset settings. Options shown here include settings for Camera, Output (image), Environment, Displacement, and Indirect or Global Illumination.
VRay Frame Buffer
Open rendering window.
Add Sunlighting System
Create a system based on physically based daylight, or set it to a specific location and time.
Add Infinite Plane
Creates an infinite plane along the XY plane at the Z zero location, creating a horizon.
About VRay
Information about VRay

VRay Settings

The VRay settings is where you establish the general visual environment for the render. These settings may be different depending on the type of render you are creating, such as a night scene or an indoor scene. Settings can be stored for later use.


To begin, there are default settings provided for an interior and an exterior render. In the menu bar in Rhino, click Render->Current Renderer->VRay for Rhino . There should now be a VRay menu option. Click on VRay->Options to open the Options window. Here is where most of the settings for the general visual environment can be modified.

To load saved VRay settings, in the VRay Options window, click on File->Load , and open the settings file.

Output Size


The Output settings control the size and resolution of the final rendering. The larger the rendering, the longer it takes to complete.

Check "Override Viewport" to change the size of the render so that it does not match the view in Rhino. There are preset options for output sizes to choose from that are proportional to screen sizes. Click on the "Get view aspect" button to reset the output size to that of the viewport. Editing the Image Aspect changes the proportion of height to width--for example, a render with a height of 240 and an image aspect of 1.333 has a width of 320 (240 * 1.3333 is 320).

For quick test renders keep the output settings at 640x480. For presentations renders, it is best not to go below 1280x960, depending on the size of your image and desired resolution .

Controlling the Environment

The Environment settings control the overall lighting and sets the background for the render.

Rendering with Sunlight in VRay
This workflow will describe the basic steps of using the SunDockBar and inserting a light into a scene using VRay. Additional controls such as adjusting the camera settings and controlling the intensity of the sunlight are discussed.

Graphic Layout & Presentation Basics

It is just as important to create clear, cohesive visual presentations for project reviews as it is to produce the drawings and work itself. It is helpful to develop a narrative for a project so that your project can be thoroughly understood. Narratives can be created through different modes of representation and the combination of a variety of images to describe a project.

Tips for Presenting

Communication and Speaking to Your Audience
Speak clearly and loudly, with special attention to the audience. Make eye contact and interact with your jury. Take short moments to pause so that the audience can reflect on what you've said.
Using Clear Language
If you can't explain your project with simple language and rely on jargon, you'll be defending your words more than your project.
Talk About What's There
When speaking about your project, every new thought should have an image or model that represents that idea. If you don't have that image or model, speak in terms of the things that are in front of your jury, not to things they can't see or understand.
Building the Narrative
Your project tells a story. Use your words and images to tell it clearly, to build an atmosphere and bring your jury into the project.
Visual Language
Keep a level of consistency across your presentation in visual style. Each image should look like it came form the same designer and represents the same project.

Creating Presentation Boards

While we will be looking in more depth at how to create an effective visual presentation later on in the semester, here are a few pointers for helping to layout project drawings in Illustrator and InDesign :

Laying Out Presentation Boards in InDesign
InDesign is is designed for laying out documents such as large format boards for presentations. The program's greatness lies in its ability to minimize file sizes for complicated layouts with multiple drawing links.
Mocking Up Presentation Boards Using Illustrator
Mocking up final boards is an important step in not only preparing your work for plotting, but also in assessing which drawings take precedence in your presentation. Size and layout can determine which drawings take center stage as well as what drawings might need to be added or removed. Rather than creating generic layout boxes, this workflow uses Illustrator to create final boards with placed artwork.

Additional Resources

Intro to Sun and Sky in VRay
This tool method explains how a sunlight system, when partnered with Physical Camera settings, gives the user a great range of flexibility in creating accurate daylight renderings.
Best Practices in VRay Rendering
VRay is a powerful tool for rendering realistic scenes from a 3D model. Generally, a model is built, a point of view is chosen, the scene is rendered, and the resulting image is edited. This workflow will show the basics of rendering in VRay, including render settings, material selection, and texture mapping.