How does one generate accurate isometric grids in Illustrator CC?

  • While a grid is fine, i find that drawing isometric drawings is easier without a grid at all (mainly because illustrator does not allow you to manipulate snapping order). So unless you need the grid itself as a design element i wouldn't bother drawing it at all, but if you do take a look at this post. Just save SSR and use the flat representation as a guide.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 7:59

2 Answers 2

  1. Use the Rectangular Grid Tool to create a uniform grid.

rectangular grid tool

  1. Object → Transform → Scale, check Non-Uniform and set Vertical scale to 86,602%


  1. Object → Transform → Shear at 30 degrees


  1. Object → Transform → Rotate at -30 degrees


  1. View → Guides → Make Guides

final grid



I would like to offer an alternate solution. The SSR method used by @CAI is perfectly valid transformation technique that has uses beyond grids. SSR is actually setting a orthographic matrix in place the hard way because theres no way to set it directly (do save the scale sequence as an action it is super useful). While its one of the things you should know, doing a orthographic grid with other construction techniques is also basic shape construction, so good to know.

An Alternate and Simpler Methods Construction

The basic floor isometric grid is simply 2 lines in a 30 and 150 degree (120 degree separation) to the main grid of illustrator. So we can simply do as follows:

  1. Enable line tool and alt click on your canvas.

    This opens a dialog:

    • Type 30 in the angle box

    • and some nice number in the length box

  2. Move a duplicate whilst holing alt to clone it (or use the move dialog if you want accurate scale)

  3. Press ctl+d until you have as many copies as you want
  4. Chose 1:
    1. Repeats steps with angle of 120
    2. Mirror
    3. Rotate 120 with transform each (pivot about lower left corner)
  5. (Optional) Select all and trim with shape builder (tip: hold shift and alt down to delete square regions)

The benefit of this method is that you can decide other shapes than the diamond pattern too. Though there is no reason you could not cut them out later ro before with SSR either.

enter image description here

Image 1: Quick screen cast of doing it more manually.

  • Saving transform actions for each plane (i.e. left, right, top) is definitely worth doing
    – Cai
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 8:13
  • @Cai there are more symmetry variants for the isometrics than just the 3. Anyway its worth being able to decompose any linear projection as a saved transform. But nobody has really asked this question so there has not been a chance to explain.
    – joojaa
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 8:24
  • Of course, you could define an infinite (i guess?) number of transforms but the top/left/right planes are the most useful, at least to someone who doesn't do much isometric drawing (e.g me).
    – Cai
    Commented Jun 7, 2016 at 11:56

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