3 Views and Projections

Camosun College

Learning Objectives

By the end of this chapter, you should be able to:

  • identify views used in technical drawings including perspective, isometric, oblique, orthographic, plans, elevations, and sections

Architectural drawings are made according to a set of conventions, which include particular views (floor plan, section, etc.), sheet sizes, units of measurement and scales, annotation, and cross-referencing.

Types of views used in drawings

The two main types of views (or “projections”) used in drawings are:

  • pictorial
  • orthographic

Pictorial views

Pictorial views show a 3-D view of how something should look when completed. There are three types of pictorial views:

  • perspective
  • isometric
  • oblique

Perspective view

A perspective view presents a building or an object just as it would look to you. A perspective view has a vanishing point; that is, lines that move away from you come together in the distance. For example, in Figure 1, we see a road and line of telephone poles. Even though the poles get smaller in their actual measurement, we recognize them as being the same size but more distant.


Road tapering into the distance as an example of perspective view

Figure 1 – Perspective view

Isometric view

An isometric view is a three-dimensional view. The plumb lines are vertical. The horizontal lines are set at 30 degree angles from a line parallel to the bottom of the page. Isometric views have no vanishing point, so the objects do not appear as they would in a perspective view. Lengths are exact on isometric drawings only when the item is parallel to one of the axes of the drawing. Figure 2 shows an isometric view of a simple object, as well as the lines that represent the three dimensions.


Isometric view of L shaped object

Figure 2 – An isometric view

Oblique view

An oblique view is similar to an isometric view, except that the face or front view is drawn to exact scale and the oblique lines are extended at a 30 degree to 45 degree angle to create a three-dimensional representation (Figure 3).


Oblique view of L shaped object

Figure 3 – Oblique view of the object in Figure 2

Multi-view (orthographic) drawings

Pictorial drawings are excellent for presenting easy-to-visualize pictures to the viewer, but there are some problems. The main problem is that these drawings cannot be accurately drawn to scale. Also, they cannot accurately duplicate exact shapes and angles. As this information can be essential, another form of drawing is used, one that has several names, including orthographic projection, third angle projection, multi-view projection, and working drawing. Each projection is a view that shows only one face of an object, such as the front, side, top, or back. These views are not pictorial.

To interpret or read these drawings you must first understand how the views in a multi-view drawing are developed and how each view relates to the other views. The best way to understand the principle of orthographic views is to suspend the object you wish to draw inside an imaginary glass box. If you were to look at the object through each side of the box and draw onto the glass the view of the object you see through the glass, you would end up with a sketch similar to that shown in Figure 4.

The view through each side of the glass box shows only the end view of one side of the object. All lines are straight and parallel because the original object has sides that are straight and parallel. Each view represents what you see when you look directly at the object.


Multi-view of L shaped object as if projected onto a glass box

Figure 4 – Multi-view through a glass box

If you were to open up the glass box, as shown in Figure 5, each view would be in the correct position for a true orthographic drawing. Each view is given a name that reflects its position in relation to the other views.


Glass box opened to show projected views of L shaped object

Figure 5 – Box opened to produce orthographic views

When the imaginary glass box is flattened as shown in Figure 6, you can see that each view is in line with the adjacent view. Then the edges of the box are removed and you have a six-view orthographic drawing of the original object (Figure 7). These six views are called the six principal orthographic views. This view alignment is important and is always consistent in orthographic projection. You will seldom need to show views of all six sides of an object; usually it is sufficient to show just two or three. You should remember the names of these six views and understand how they are obtained in case you ever need to show an object that cannot be truly represented in two or three views.


Completly unfolded flat box view of L shaped object projections of L shaped object

Figure 6 – Drawing with the glass box flattened out


Full set of 6 orthographic projections of L shaped object

Figure 7 – Orthographic views of the object in Figure 2

Unless the object is very complex, only the front, top, and right-side views are necessary. If the object has a uniform thickness, only one or two views are necessary. You should not show more views than are necessary. The front, left, back, and right views are also referred to as elevations.

Floor plan

A floor plan (or floor drawing) is an orthographic plan view (or top view) looking down on the various floor levels. Floor plans are one of the most important drawings for construction, as they provide the most information about the building. Floor plans identify rooms by name or number. They give the:

  • room dimensions
  • overall dimensions
  • doorways
  • windows
  • plumbing fixtures
  • equipment
  • location of structural members and walls

Figure 8 shows the floor plan for the main floor of a house.


Floor plan of the main floor of a house

Figure 8 – Main floor plan of a house

Elevation drawings

An elevation drawing (called an elevation) is a view of any vertical surface and is taken from the floor plans (Figure 9). Normally, elevation drawings include the front, back, and side orthographic projections of the buildings. The elevation drawings show what the exterior of the building will look like when it is finished. The drawings show the finished grade line, the finish materials, and the door and the window locations. Elevation drawings may also show interior walls that have special features, such as fireplaces or kitchen cabinets.


Left elevation view of a house

Figure 9 – Left elevation of house in Figure 8

Section drawing

Section drawings (called sections) provide detailed drawings of the cross-section of a building or wall unit (Figure 10). The scale of these drawings is large (about 1:20), which allows different structural members to be drawn so that the construction details are seen clearly.


Section showing interior features of a house footing, wall, and roof

Figure 10 – Section A-A

Sectional views give information about wall construction and exterior and interior wall finish. To avoid any confusion, the precise location or cut of a sectional view is given in another drawing, such as detail drawing or a floor plan. For example, the reference in the lower left-hand corner of Figure 11 shows the location of the section in Figure 10. The line drawn through the wall indicates the point and span of the cut and the arrows indicate the direction of view.


Plan showing placement of section A
Plan showing section location

Figure 11 – Plan showing section A-A

Measurements on orthographic drawings

To get all of the measurements required, you will need to refer to more than one view. For example, you cannot take elevation measurements from a plan view.

Self Test

 Now complete the Learning Task Self-Test.


Key Takeaways

  • Pictorial views show a 3-D view of the object of the drawing and are the best views for visualizing an object’s shape.
  • Orthographic views show a 2-D view of the object from multiple directions and are the best view for showing detail and measurements.



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