I'm new to Inkscape and I'm trying to create some figures related to maths. One of them is a curved 3d grid, like the images below:

enter image description here

enter image description here

I know for a fact these images were done in Inkscape.

Is there a practical and replicable way to make these, without having to resort to manual tracing?

  • Inkscape has no 3D functionality. If this was created entirely in Inkscape, it was likely drawn manually.
    – Billy Kerr
    Nov 13 at 23:23
  • You can draw mathematical functions in inkscape. Anyway this was almostvcertainly done i pstricks or some such tex package. But in order to help you id need to know what you have tried.
    – joojaa
    Nov 14 at 18:34

3 Answers 3


You can try with path effects:

  • draw a square
  • Path > Path Effects...
  • add Tiling effect to create a grid
  • add Enveloppe Deformation to create a 3D like effect

I didn't manage to get exactly what you want, the Enveloppe effect is tricky to work with. Maybe you'll have more luck with the Lattice effect.

enter image description here


Inkscape does't have tools which understand surfaces and curves in 3D space. With 2D tools it's easy to draw only surfaces which are nearly flat i.e. one side of the surface is fully visible and there is no large curvature variations. Use a 3D capable CAD or drawing program or even a math program which can visualize 3D surfaces and curves if you want something of the following:

  • several images of the same surface, but seen from different directions or with different grids
  • complex surface; the local curvature varies widely or the edges are wavy
  • the surface hides itself partially, none of the surface sides is fully visible
  • some perfectly painted shading is wanted to enhance the 3D look
  • there should be geometrically well drawn perspective

These restrictions are severe, but there exists still many possibilities to draw acceptable illustrations for math principles. The next one is surely a fake in pure math. There's no easy way to tell any math equations for it, but it can visually be good enough.

enter image description here

These 2-node paths could be the 2D images of the edges of a simple surface. Make at first some duplicates of the shown 2 paths:

enter image description here

Build at first the outline of the surface and insert the gridlines to one surface dimension. The distances must be eyeballed:

enter image description here

Then insert the gridlines of the other dimension:

enter image description here

The curve endpoints snap if there's not too many snap options active. Snap only to nodes and paths.

As said above, this is not sound in math and the grid is a visual compromise. But it's easy to make. It's easy as long as the surface is simple enough. Large differences in local curvature or poorly selected watching direction cause conflicts which are unsolvable with this method:

enter image description here

Of course, one could fix it by editing the curves with the node tool, but making one edit creates a reason to make 2 more and finally one spends a hour only by tweaking curves. The only fast way to fix it is to restart.

  • Thanks, this seems the best method so far! I also managed to get perfect spacing by using the "Interpolate Sub-Paths" path effect to make the grid.
    – Maury
    Nov 16 at 16:43

A wrong answer. Should be removed. I do not have delete button!

  • I appreciate your comment, but as stated in the question's title I'm trying to do this in Inkscape, as I do not have Illustrator.
    – Maury
    Nov 13 at 23:46

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