This article defines orthographic drawing (drafting or projection) and uses 21 images to illustrate the meaning and types of orthographic drawing. The eBook/technical drawing PDF document for this article is available for free download at the end of the article (along with a list of world-class technical & engineering drawing/graphics books in electronic form/PDF, available for sale at cheap prices). Generally, both the article and eBook elaborate on the following:
- Definition of orthographic drawing
- Types of orthographic drawing
- First angle projection
- Third angle projection
- Orthographic drawing views
- Orthographic drawing tutorial & practice
- Tools required for orthographic drawing practice
- General procedure
- Applications of orthographic drawing practice
- Orthographic drawing shapes/objects for practice
You can click a link at the end of this article, and download a free eBook which contains all the content in this article.
1. Definition of orthographic drawing
Orthographic drawing, which is one of the three types of parallel projections (orthographic, oblique, and axonometric), can be defined as a type of technical drawing in which 3-dimensional (3D) objects are represented in 2 dimensions (2D) by projecting planes (consisting of 2 major axes) of objects so that they are parallel with the plane of the media (paper, or computer) they are projected upon.
The two major types of orthographic drawing use two-dimensional views (obtained from different directions or lines of sight) to represent different parts of three-dimensional objects, or planes of objects viewed from/along different axes—typically, the x, y, and z axes.
Generally, the best way to fully express all of the most important visible parts of any 3D object in 2D views—in either first angle orthographic projection or third angle orthographic projection—is by using a maximum number of views, which in most cases is six.
However, in practice most people or organizations use three or four views to illustrate how shapes and sizes of various parts of an object look. Generally speaking, the number of views used in an orthographic drawing or projection depends on the purpose and objective of a drawing.
2. Types of orthographic drawing
Orthographic drawing (also known as orthographic projection) consists of two types: first angle projection, and third angle projection.
First angle projection
In first angle projection, which is popularly practiced in Europe, whenever six views are used to illustrate how the sides of a 3D object look from six directions (as shown in Figure 1 below), they are usually arranged in the following manner (as shown in Figure 2 below):
- The bottom view E is placed at the top of the paper or computer screen.
- The front view A is placed beneath the bottom view E.
- The top view D is placed beneath front view A (i.e., at the bottom of the paper or computer screen.
- The right view C is placed on the left side of front view A.
- The left view B is placed on the right side of front view A.
- The back/rear view F (which is not shown in Figure 2) is usually placed at the extreme left or right—whichever position is convenient.
Figure 1: Six directions for six views. (Image Credit: Simmons, C. H. and Maguire, D. E. (2004). Manual of Engineering Drawing: p. 33.)
Figure 2: Five views of first angle projection; the sixth view F would depend on the shape of the back/rear view of the object. (Image Credit: Simmons, C. H. and Maguire, D. E. (2004). Manual of Engineering Drawing: p. 34.)
Whenever four views are used, the front view is usually placed at the top of a medium (paper, computer screen, etc.) along with the right side view which is placed at the left side of the front view, while the left side view is placed at the right side of the front view, and the top view (T) is placed alone beneath the front view.
It has to be noted that in many first angle orthographic drawing practices, three views could be sufficient enough to describe the shapes and dimensions of the most important sides of an object which actually exist in 3D as shown in Figure 3 below:
Figure 3: A three dimensional object with 7 visible edges (A, B, C, D, E, F, and G)
Third Angle Projection
In third angle projection, which is mostly practiced in North America, whenever six views are used to describe the sides of a 3D object from six different directions (as shown in Figure 1 above), they are usually arranged in the following manner (as shown in Figure 4 below):
- The top view D is placed at the top of the paper or computer screen.
- The front view A is placed beneath the top view D.
- The bottom view E is placed beneath front view A (i.e., at the bottom of the paper or computer screen).
- The right view C is placed on the right side of front view A.
- The left view B is placed on the left side of front view A.
- The back/rear view F (which is not shown in Figure 2) is usually placed at the extreme left or right—whichever position is convenient.
Figure 4: Five views of third angle projection; the sixth view F would depend on the shape of the back/rear view of the object. (Image Credit: Simmons, C. H. and Maguire, D. E. (2004). Manual of Engineering Drawing: p. 34.)
Whenever four views are used, the top view is usually placed alone at the top of a medium (paper, computer screen, etc.), while the front view is placed beneath the top view, and the right side view is placed at the right side of the front view, while the left side view is placed at the left side of the front view. (Note that third angle projection is the most popular type of orthographic drawing or projection.)
Generally speaking, the difference between first angle projection and third angle projection depends on where each view is placed on paper or computer screen according to the universally accepted requirements of the two main types of orthographic drawing/projection.
3. Orthographic drawing views
There is no general rule per se, but the best or most recommendable way to fully express the most important visible planes/parts of any 3D object in 2D views, is by using as many views as possible: probably between three and six views.
Unlike in Figure 1 above, whenever six views are used, different directions (lines of sight projected on the sides of an object) can be chosen to illustrate the top, bottom, front, rear/back, left and right views, respectively, as can be seen in Figure 5 below:
Figure 5: Six different directions (lines of sight) for six views. (Image credit: Google.)
The third angle projection of Figure 5 is shown in Figure 6 below:
Figure 6: Third angle projection of object in Figure 5. (Image credit: Google.)
The orthographic drawings or projections of other objects/shapes can be viewed in Figures 7, 8, and 9 below:
Figure 7: First angle projection of an object: (Image credit: Google.)
Figure 8: Projection of an object. (Image credit: Google.)
Figure 9: Third angle projection of an object that has dimensions in millimeters. (Image credit: Google.)
Always remember that in many orthographic drawing practices across the world, the number of views chosen or used, usually depends on the number of views required or needed.
4. Orthographic Drawing Tutorial & Practice
Tools required for orthographic drawing practice
With regular drawing practice, it is very easy to learn and perfect orthographic drawing skills. The tools usually required for practicing orthographic drawing are quite the same as the ones specified in technical and engineering drawing, respectively. Generally, the tools include:
- Drawing board.
- Drawing paper: either Ao, A1, A2, A3, and A4.
- Drawing pencil.
- 30°×60° and 45°×45° set squares.
- 300 mm (30 cm) ruler.
- Drawing compasses
Figure 10: Drawing board and drawing paper
Figure 11: A set consisting of a drawing board, drawing paper, tape/clips, set square for drawing vertical lines, and T-square for drawing horizontal lines. (Image Credit: The Hong Kong Polytechnic. (N.D). Fundamentals of Engineering Drawing & CAD: Engineering Drawing Lesson 1: p. 10.)
Figure 12: 45°×45° (bigger: on the left), and 30°×60° (smaller: on the right) set-squares
Figure 13: T-square
Figure 14: Drawing compasses (for drawing circular and elliptical shapes)
T-squares and set squares must be aligned perfectly on the pure/true x and y axes, respectively, before perfect vertical or horizontal lines can be produced. It will be difficult to produce good orthographic drawings without drawing or projecting perfect vertical and horizontal lines.
Generally, when projecting sides or different views of 3D objects in 2D, a certain degree of concentration will be needed to ensure that shapes, sizes or dimensions are consistent and accurate. The following are recommended when making orthographic projections:
- Estimate the area of paper that would be enough to draw all necessary and important views. In addition, determine an appropriate scale for your drawings. A scale is any ratio (examples: 1:10, 1:100, 1:1000, etc.) of the size of an object on paper, to the actual size of the same object in real life. Common scales for “enlargement of objects” include: 3:1, 6:1, 10:1, etc. On the other hand, common scales for “reduction of objects” include: 1:3, 1:6, 1:10, etc.
- Put equal distances (which should also be considered in the total area that would be enough to accommodate all views) between views; vertically (for the top, front, and bottom views), and horizontally (for the left, right, and back/rear views).
- When drawing any view—whether square-, rectangular-, or circular-shaped—mark the center lines of each shape and the center/centroid of each shape. Center lines are very important, not just because they are center lines, but because they serve many other purposes, one of them being that they help in establishing other points and lines in drawings.
- Draw the top view, and project the most visible and important lines into the front view, or vice versa.
- After drawing the front view, the right and left side views can be projected and drawn. In addition, the bottom and back/rear view can be also be constructed if required.
Figure 15: Top view of an object drawn on drawing paper
As an example, in order to draw perfectly straight vertical and horizontal lines for the two dimensional (2D) top view ABCD of a 3D object on paper (as shown in Figure 15 above), the following steps should be taken:
- Points and A and B should be the same distance away from the top border line on the drawing paper.
- Points and C and D should be the same distance away from the bottom border line on the paper.
- Points and A and C should be the same distance away from the left border line on the paper.
- Points and B and D should be the same distance away from the right border line on the paper.
Applications of orthographic drawing practice
Orthographic drawings have many applications scattered across various fields that require planning and designing such as architecture, construction, design, engineering, environment, estate management, manufacturing, surveying, etc.
Orthographic drawings are usually produced according to precision and requirements. It is possible for an orthographic drawing that has been produced in one country, to be used to manufacture an object in another country.
Orthographic drawing shapes/objects for practice
Like we said earlier: “practice makes perfect”. In order to strengthen your orthographic drawing skills, you may practice how to draw the views of the following objects:
Figure 16: Third angle projection of object with six views. (Image credit: The Hong Kong Polytechnic. (N.D). Fundamentals of Engineering Drawing & CAD: Engineering Drawing Lesson 1: p. 32.)
Figure 17: Three commonly practiced orthographic views. (Image credit: The Hong Kong Polytechnic. (N.D). Fundamentals of Engineering Drawing & CAD: Engineering Drawing Lesson 1: p. 33.)
The three main 2D views, and six general 2D views of an L-shaped object can be seen in Figures 18 and 19, respectively.
Figure 18: Three popular 2D views. (Image credit: Dr. Akhilesh Kumar Maurya. (N.D.). Orthographic Projections (ME 111): p. 13.)
Figure 19: Six views of the object shown in Figure 18 above. (Image credit: Dr. Akhilesh Kumar Maurya. (N.D.). Orthographic Projections (ME 111): p. 15.)
The use of colors makes it easier to understand, locate, and draw 2D views of 3D objects. With the aid of colors on objects, you can study and practice how to draw Figures 20 and 21, respectively:
Figure 20: The use of colors in orthographic projection. (Image credit: Dr. Akhilesh Kumar Maurya. (N.D.). Orthographic Projections (ME 111):p. 36.)
Figure 21: Three orthographic third angle projection views with colors. (Image credit: Dr. Akhilesh Kumar Maurya. (N.D.). Orthographic Projections (ME 111):p. 36.)
Anyone who is interested in succeeding with orthographic drawing or projection must practice consistently; there is no other easy or painless way out. The more one practices, the more proficient they will become in drawing and developing newer, sharper and more efficient ways to draw. Always remember that practice makes perfect; therefore, always practice.
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1. Technical Graphics Communication, 4th Edition, by Gary R. Bertoline, Eric N. Wiebe, Nathan W. Hartman, William A. Ross (1335 pages), 2009
Chapter 1: Introduction to Graphics Communication, pg.5
Chapter 2: The Engineering Design Process, pg.27
Chapter 3: Design in Industry, pg.46
Chapter 4: The Role of Technical Graphics in Production, Automation, and Manufacturing Processes, pg.109
Chapter 5: Design & Visualization, pg.135
Chapter 6: Technical Drawing Tools, pg.187
Chapter 7: Sketching and Text, pg.237
Chapter 8: Engineering Geometry and Construction, pg.305
Chapter 9: Three-dimensional Modeling, pg.399
Chapter 10: Multiview Drawings, pg.488
Chapter 11: Axonometric and Oblique Drawings, pg.577
Chapter 12: Perspective Drawings, pg.631
Chapter 13: Auxiliary Views, pg.652
Chapter 14: Fundamentals of Descriptive Geometry, pg.691
Chapter 15: Intersections and Developments, pg.716
Chapter 16: Section Views, pg.759
Chapter 17: Dimensioning and Tolerancing Practices, pg.818
Chapter 18: Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing (GDT), pg.875
Chapter 19: Fastening Devices and Methods, pg.908
Chapter 20: Working Drawings, pg.949
Chapter 21: Technical Data Presentation, pg.1064
Chapter 22: Mechanisms: Gears, Cams, Bearings, and Linkages, pg.1105
Chapter 23: Electronic Drawings, pg.1146
Chapter 24: Piping Drawings, pg.1163
Chapter 25: Welding Drawings, pg.1187
2. Technical Drawing with Engineering Graphics, 15th Edition, by Frederick E. Giesecke, Shawna Lockhart, Marla Goodman, Cindy M. Johnson (1077 pages), 2016
Chapter 1: The World-wide Language for Graphic Design, pg.2
Chapter 2: Layouts and Lettering, pg.30
Chapter 3: Visualization and Sketching, pg.62
Chapter 4: Geometry for Modeling and Design, pg.124
Chapter 5: Modeling and Design, pg.170
Chapter 6: Orthographic Projection, pg.234
Chapter 7: 2D Drawing Representation, pg.284
Chapter 8: Section Views, pg.326
Chapter 9: Auxiliary Views, pg.362
Chapter 10: Modeling for Manufacture, pg.414
Chapter 11: Dimensioning, pg.502
Chapter 12: Tolerancing, pg.546
Chapter 13: Threads, Fasteners, and Springs, pg.592
Chapter 14: Working Drawings, pg.636
Chapter 15: Drawing Control and Data Management, pg.710
Chapter 16: Gears and Cams, pg.730
Chapter 17: Electronic Diagrams, pg.756
Chapter 18: Structural Drawing, pg.780
Chapter 19: Landform Drawings, pg.808
Chapter 20: Piping Drawings, pg.828
Chapter 21: Welding Representation, pg.846
Chapter 22: Axonometric Projection, pg.W870
Chapter 23: Perspective Drawings, pg.W900
3. Engineering Drawing & Design, 6th Edition, by David A. Madsen and David P. Madsen (1104 pages), 2017
Chapter 1: Introduction to Engineering Drawing and Design, pg.2
Chapter 2: Drafting Equipment, Media, and Reproduction Methods, pg.39
Chapter 3: Computer-Aided Design and Drafting (CADD), pg.61
Chapter 4: Manufacturing Materials and Processes, pg.109
Chapter 5: Sketching Applications, pg.162
Chapter 6: Lines and Lettering, pg.181
Chapter 7: Drafting Geometry, pg.205
Chapter 8: Multiviews, pg.228
Chapter 9: Auxiliary Views, pg.259
Chapter 10: Dimensioning and Tolerancing, pg.277
Chapter 11: Fasteners and Springs, pg. 347
Chapter 12: Sections, Revolutions, and Conventional Breaks, pg.387
Chapter 13: Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, pg.409
Chapter 14: Pictorial Drawings and Technical Illustrations, pg.495
Chapter 15: Working Drawings, pg.526
Chapter 16: Mechanisms: Linkages, Cams, Gears, and Bearings, pg.561
Chapter 17: Belt and Chain Drives, pg.601
Chapter 18: Welding Processes and Representations, pg.617
Chapter 19: Precision Sheet Metal Drafting, pg.644
Chapter 20: Electrical and Electronic Drafting, pg.669
Chapter 21: Industrial Process Piping, pg.717
Chapter 22: Structural Drafting, pg.773
Chapter 23: Heating, Ventilating, and Air-conditioning (HVAC) and Pattern Development, pg.847
Chapter 24: Civil Drafting, pg.899
Chapter 25: The Engineering Design Process, pg.950
Engineering Drawing and Design Student Companion Website, pg.973
4. Engineering Design and Graphics with SolidWorks by James D. Bethune (829 pages), 2017
Chapter 1: Getting Started, pg.1
Chapter 2: Sketch Entities and Tools, pg.41
Chapter 3: Features, pg.123
Chapter 4: Orthographic Views, pg.225
Chapter 5: Assemblies, pg.299
Chapter 6: Threads and Fasteners, pg.375
Chapter 7: Dimensioning, pg.439
Chapter 8: Tolerancing, pg.509
Chapter 9: Bearings and Fit Tolerances, pg.605
Chapter 10: Gears, pg.639
Chapter 11: Belts and Pulleys, pg.699
Chapter 12: Cams, pg.725
Chapter 13: Projects, after pg.774
5. Interpreting Engineering Drawings, 8th Edition, by Theodore J. Branoff (530 pages), 2016
Unit 1: Introduction: Line Types and Sketching, pg.1
Unit 2: Lettering and Title Blocks, pg.11
Unit 3: Basic Geometry: Circles and Arcs, pg.15
Unit 4: Working Drawings and Projection Theory, pg.22
Unit 5: Introduction to Dimensioning, pg.39
Unit 6: Normal, Inclined, and Oblique Surfaces, pg.52
Unit 7: Pictorial Sketching, pg.67
Unit 8: Machining Symbols and Revision Blocks, pg.78
Unit 9: Chamfers, Undercuts, Tapers, and Knurls, pg.86
Unit 10: Sectional Views, pg.91
Unit 11: One- and Two-View Drawings, pg.110
Unit 12: Surface Texture, pg.117
Unit 13: Introduction to Conventional Tolerancing, pg.130
Unit 14: Inch Fits, pg.142
Unit 15: Metric Fits, pg.150
Unit 16: Threads and Fasteners, pg.161
Unit 17: Auxiliary Views, pg.181
Unit 18: Development Drawings, pg.190
Unit 19: Selection and Arrangement of Views, pg.196
Unit 20: Piping Drawings, pg.202
Unit 21: Bearings, pg.214
Unit 22: Manufacturing Materials, pg.220
Unit 23: Casting Processes, pg.232
Unit 24: Violating True Projection: Conventional Practices, pg.249
Unit 25: Pin Fasteners, pg.264
Unit 26: Drawings for Numerical Control, pg. 274
Unit 27: Assembly Drawings, pg.280
Unit 28: Structural Steel, pg.289
Unit 29: Welding Drawings, pg.294
Unit 30: Groove Welds, pg.305
Unit 31: Other Basic Welds, pg.315
Unit 32: Spur Gears, pg.328
Unit 33: Bevel Gears and Gear Trains, pg.337
Unit 34: Cams, pg.347
Unit 35: Bearings and Clutches, pg.353
Unit 36: Ratchet Wheels, pg.362
Unit 37: Introduction to Geometric Dimensioning and Tolerancing, pg.368
Unit 38: Features and Material Condition Modifiers, pg.380
Unit 39: Form Tolerances, pg.394
Unit 40: The Datum Reference Frame, pg.402
Unit 41: Orientation Tolerances, pg.415
Unit 42: Datum Targets, pg.432
Unit 43: Position Tolerances, pg.440
Unit 44: Profile Tolerances, pg.461
Unit 45: Runout Tolerances, pg.469
6. Architectural Graphic Standards Student Edition, 12th Edition, by The American Institute of Architects (689 pages), 2017
Chapter 1: Functional Planning, pg.3
Chapter 2: Environment, pg.31
Chapter 3: Resilience in Buildings. Pg.53
Chapter 4: Architectural Construction Documentation, pg.77
Chapter 5: Concrete, pg.93
Chapter 6: Masonry, pg.107
Chapter 7: Metals, pg.125
Chapter 8: Wood, pg.141
Chapter 9: Glass, pg.165
Chapter 10: Element A: Substructure, pg.176
Chapter 11: Element B: Shell, pg.203
Chapter 12: Element C: Interiors, pg.363
Chapter 13: Element D: Services, pg.427
Chapter 14: Element E: Equipment and Furnishings, pg.517
Chapter 15: Element F: Special Construction, pg.565
Chapter 16: Element G: Sitework, pg.581