One problem perhaps eternal for the beginners: how to create and annotate an image like this one. below The image contains hidden lines specific to a 3D body represented in the plan. If the software is easy to use, and possibly free, the better.

  • Please, please, PLEASE, don't ever use ALLCAPS. It reads like yelling and is considered very rude. Thank you.
    – Vincent
    Apr 18, 2017 at 15:30
  • I don't think this is a question for graphic designers. This looks like a technical drawing so you might want to take a look at LaTeX with TikZ. You can create technical diagrams of high quality with TikZ and it's quite popular at universities. But it's something completely different than using a graphic editor.
    – BlueWizard
    Apr 22, 2017 at 5:40

3 Answers 3


Well that image isn't very hard to draw*. But that seems to me a bit premature. I would first start by answering following questions:

  1. Would you know how to draw that by hand. If yes then use a vector drawing application. Like Inkscape or Illustrator, or even something like vectorpaint. This is not much beyond lesson 3 into isometric drawing.

  2. Do you know how to use TEX? If so consider using something like TIX. Or consider pylab/Matlab/Mathematica/R/etc. Again not a big deal.

  3. Maybe a cad application? But most likely you may need 2 apps.

  4. What do you consider easy? I mean there is no application that can just magically do that image with no training whatsoever.

  5. Where do you intend to use the image?

* I could do the same in illustrator in less than 10 minutes.

  • 5) This is not my figure. A similar figure with others annotations, will be used in a scientific book I intend to write. 4) I can use Mathematica, but, programming the up image is not an easy work! 3) What apps? Don't forget the hidden lines and the annotations! 2) I don't know TEX. 1) vectorpaint seems too simple! Apr 18, 2017 at 16:53
  • @rosu_constantin 4) Well yes it takes 15 minutes to do but not much more work than drawing. 1) i assure you vector paint can do all you need to do that image. Its not like illustrator is THAT much more sophisticated in this case. OK so it has 2 more snapping commands.
    – joojaa
    Apr 18, 2017 at 17:05
  • 1
    Also consider hiring somebody to do these for you.
    – joojaa
    Apr 18, 2017 at 17:09
  • I'm surprised you didn't suggest Notepad ;)
    – Cai
    Apr 18, 2017 at 17:15
  • 1
    @Cai i did. I just caalled it TEX
    – joojaa
    Apr 18, 2017 at 17:22

My option regarding the free software is pretty simple.

You also could use for example Sketchup* https://www.sketchup.com to generate a 3D model to be used as a reference, (and then manually drawn in Inkscape), but Blender have some options to export to SVG (2D vector format)



But I would use Blender on more complex scenes, and probably if you want some kind of diferent perspectives, or you have some crazy slicing on the model.

The specific Image as joojaa pointed out is pretty simple to do as an isometric image, so the cuts on the sphere for example are simple elipses. In that case, Inkscape alone will do.

  • Sketchup aditionally has something called "Face Me" components. This would be handly for example to put some labels that stay in the 3D space when rotating and moving the camera arround. The problem is that you need to render as raster images, not vector. But if the images are small inclusive a screen capture would be a fast way to get them from screen.
  • 1
    I dont think he can do that image in blender easily. But given that OP uses Mathematica its MUCH easier to do in Mathematica
    – joojaa
    Apr 18, 2017 at 16:50
  • Yeap I will expand some clarification there.
    – Rafael
    Apr 18, 2017 at 16:51
  • Because I know Mathematica quite well, I will use it. The picture obtained in Mathematica must be annotated! Using Inkscape for annotations would probably solve the problem? How to render (colour) the drawing square da from the image above? Apr 18, 2017 at 17:11
  • @rosu_constantin Perhaps, but annotating stuff in mathematica is not hard all you nee doo to put stuff in a Text[annotation, position] The benefit is that Mathematica understands mathematical notation which inkscape does not
    – joojaa
    Apr 18, 2017 at 17:14
  • Actually, you can make that image with Blender using Freestyle, but it's nontrivial if you want to use it only for that.
    – Kroltan
    Apr 18, 2017 at 17:43

A low cost and easy to use option = Use a freeware 3D CAD for the base drawing and add the annotations in a drawing program

Here is sample screenshots (=bitmaps) from Design Spark Mechanical. That program is a free version of SpaceClaim Engineer 3D modeler. DSM's professional usage is prohibited by disabling a carefully selected part of the functionality - for example the text annotations.

Drawing colored extras is left possible.

enter image description here

The pictures are bitmap screenshots (=BMP). From left to right:

  • shaded
  • hidden line (=wireframe without removing hidden lines, which are shown a little lighter
  • hidden line, but some parts are selected
  • In Photoshop enhanced version; line widths are doubled and hidden lines are spliced by the eraser

Unfortunately the output is not a vector drawing, only a bitmap. But it's resolution is full computer screen. So, the screenshots are useful in vector drawing programs.

If you need the images as vectors, do not expect good automatic tracing results from Inkscape's Trace Bitmap or Illustrator's Live Trace. I have not found even nearly usable settings in Inkscape. In Illustrator the big arcs and long lines get traced quite well (trace only strokes), but the dense central part must be redrawn manually. See the result:

enter image description here

DesignSpark Mechanical does not allow to edit imported non-native 3D files. That's a part of the "no freeware for professional users" policy.

An easy way to get mathematical symbols is copying and pasting from an equation editor. I have relatively new MS Powerpoint. From there one can launch (by Insert an equation) MS Equation 3. It's not a high quality math typesetter, but usable in many cases. The equations can even be pasted as vector images to Adobe Illustrator. Unfortunately Inkscape ignores them.

MS Visio is much more capable drawing program than Powerpoint for technical illustrations. It also has MS Equation.

About Open Office:

It has everything to add rich annotations. But its user interface needs serious studies. It's so different when compared to Inkscape or Adobe's and Microsoft's stuff. For example tracing manually some curves is very difficult until one succeeds to forget, how the curves were drawn in Illustrator or Inkscape.

  • You can get a vector drawing out of say freecad or fusion360 , first one free and other free under some circumstances. Inkscape and Illustrator can do middle of line tracing, although inks capes one is better! See example of your image traced in illustrator as lines here
    – joojaa
    Apr 20, 2017 at 21:26
  • @joojaa Thanks for a notice. I fix the answer if i found proper settings that do not demand exessive path editing int the dense center part. If you have them, someone would be glad te see them - me too.
    – user82991
    Apr 20, 2017 at 22:20
  • Do not try to make the dashed lines in your cad instead make them solid and maybe diffeent color then dash them after vectorisation.
    – joojaa
    Apr 21, 2017 at 3:46
  • @joojaa my vectorizing trials were done using the raw hidden line version screenshot. It"s too dense for AI. I have no idea how to do middle line trace in Inkscape.
    – user82991
    Apr 21, 2017 at 4:06

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