scale 1:16

Creating Isometric Architecture Drawings

In this tutorial we will go through my process of how I make these isometric drawing.

Programs needed

  • Rhino 5 
  • Illustrator

First of all we need to start with a new file, so what ever file you are working on save it as, for example, Iso_drawing_model.  We do this because we will be changing the layers around and you don’t want to mess up the work flow of the original file.

Step one

We need to go through the layers and delete the excess layers.

Much better in terms of management

Step two: Setting up the view port

The default setting for the three dimensional view port is Perspective, we can change this and save the view for future uses of the file if you need the same view.


  1. Right-Click the box in the upper left corner of your view port window
  2. Scroll down to set view
  3. scroll then to isometric and depending on the view you want you have options but if those don’t work you can manually set the isometric view in the view port by panning and rotating the view.

Named Views

Now to make sure you always have this view for future reference, you can save this by going to your docked window on the right side (default) and right-clicking and making sure Named views is checked.  This will allow you to save the views you like for renders, diagrams,etc…

Now the next step is to save the view, to do this it’s as simple as saving anything. you Can either right-click in the Named View box and save current viewport or their is a button in the upper right hand corner of the named view box is a save button.

Name the file, and you are done with the first step of the process.

Once you have your layers and your view set up the next step is making the three dimensional model into flat line work, the command for that is Make2d

An option menu will pop up and give you options for how you want the lines to be processed, always click Maintain Layer Source. this makes the drawing process go super fast.

You will receive something similar to this

I have added a crop box in yellow because he diagram I am doing doesn’t need all the excess information. the resulting looks much cleaner and site orientated.

So far it’s looking good, we have all the line work needed in the right layers, This is important to do all of this before illustrator because the process just goes so much faster in illustrator pertaining to line weights and color fills.

Exporting Layers

Select all the line work you want to export from the top viewport, but you don’t want to just export, make sure you choose the export selected option.

Export the file as an adobe Illustrator file and preserve the model scale, I have chosen to scale my diagram 1/16" scale this might be too big but you can always re-save it a different scale if needed.

You should have your file imported into illustrator and looking similar to what the image below

Since changing the line weights is now a simple task just select the layer and change accordingly, i start with all my lines at .25 and adjust from there. 

I really like the look of more thin lines than one thick line

Design Building

Change outer perimeter lines to a 2 point line

Surrounding Buildings

Since we want the same overall look for the whole diagram hard exterior lines and soft interior but not to take away from the focus of the main design I choose a lighter line say 1 pt outside and .15 inside 

To get this effect you will have to split the lines to change some of the lines and the hot key is ©

All the lines are now popping a little better and the drawing does not look flat

Next the drawing needs color i use a variation of two shades of the same color, for example I use a light grey for the east side and a darker gray for the north side of the buildings.

To do this select separately by layer and start filling in one color for the north and one for the east or west depending on the orientation of your view

The image is now starting to develop, after this point it is all up to you to do what you want with the image. Do you want to add a color to your structure for program, do you want to add the grass, do you want to do nodes, the limits are endless but now you have a basis for a graphic standard. 

Lets add some color to the main structure 

Thank you for reading this tutorial and I hope this helped in your Architecture Graphics

-Christopher Voltl

Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, Charles Gwathmey, Robert Siegel

Addition to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York, New York, Scale model 1/16" = 1’