Creating an Exploded Isometric Projection
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Creating an Exploded Isometric Projection

Mar 29, 2019
Video Length:  48:31
Presented By:  Paul Houchin

Exploded isometric projections are great tools for separating the different landscape layer elements while still conveying how they relate to each other. We’ve all seen these snazzy layered drawings in landscape architecture presentations and magazines, but do we all know how to make one? Join us for a workflow demonstration on creating these graphics so you can really impress anyone viewing your project.

Webinar Contents:

Note: The following catalog of content covered in this webinar is time stamped to allow you to follow along or skip to sections of the video that are relevant to your questions. You can also search for content on this page using the FIND command in your browser (CTRL + F in Windows, Command + F in Mac OS.)


  • Intro/TOC
  • Definitions
  • Examples
  • Initial Setup
  • 3D Isometric Image Using SketchUp and Photoshop
  • 2D Image Using CAD and Photoshop

0:00 – 2:21: Intro/TOC

2:22 – 4:29: Definitions

Isometric projection defined (2:22):

An isometric projection is a way to represent 3-dimensional objects in 2 dimensions.



1. Lacks perspective

2. 60 degrees between Z and Y and X and Y axes


Exploded isometric projection (3:04)

An exploded isometric projection that is made up of separated layers


Benefits of an exploded isometric projection (3:24):

1. Clear portrayal of different landscape layers.

2. Shows how each layer fits in with the rest of the puzzle.

3. Great for diagrammatic and conceptual graphics.


Examples of exploded isometric projection layers (4:00):

  • Grading and terrain
  • Soft and hardscape
  • Circulation patterns
  • Existing vs. proposed elements
  • Seasonal color

4:30 – 5:19: Examples

Exploded master plan (4:30)


Seasonal color (5:10)

5:20 – 6:49: Initial Setup

Today’s goals (5:20)


3D preliminary steps taken (5:54)


See our 3D Connection Basics for SketchUp webinar for further information about our 3D Connection and using Land F/X with SketchUp.

6:50 – 35:41: 3D Isometric Image Using SketchUp and Photoshop


Isolating layers in SketchUp (7:11)


Deciding on an angle that will become the isometric view (8:49)


Turning on Parallel Projection (Camera menu, Parallel Projection option) (9:25)


Selecting the isometric view (Camera menu, Standard Views submenu, Iso option) (9:40)


Stylizing the isometric view using the Styles Manager (10:20)


Adding shadows (11:05)


Adding fog (12:05)


Setting up scenes (View menu, Animation submenu, Add Scene option) (13:24)


Updating a scene (16:50)


Exporting the scenes as 2D graphics (19:15)


Moving into Photoshop and opening the main image (21:10)


Adjusting the canvas size to accommodate the additional layers (21:40)


Importing the other scenes (23:00)


Adding transparency and moving the layers to their intended positions (23:40)


Rasterizing the layers (24:50)


Creating dashed lines to connect the layers and adding icons (26:40)


Adding notes (33:40)

35:42 – end: 2D Image Using CAD and Photoshop

For steps on the initial setup for this workflow, see Paul’s Using Photoshop in Post-Production Renderings webinar.


Photoshop workflow (36:10)

In CAD, Paul plotted a separate PDF for each of the following items:

  • Overall
  • Ground plane
  • Circulation
  • Planting


Selecting all layers at once and rotating them to the desired angle (example: 45 degrees) (37:38)


Adjusting the height percentage (Paul recommends adjusting it to 58%) (40:30)


Pulling the layers apart and placing them in their desired locations (41:10)


Adding stock images (42:40)


Merging or grouping layers (43:47)


Adding shadows (44:50)

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