Design Trend Report: Isometric Design

Design Trend Report: Isometric Design
Kate Rooney
Marketing Director
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3D objects in a 2D universe. Designers the world over are in love.

 

Isometric illustrations are simple but detailed; professional yet quirky; realistic, but, like, not. What brought this cool “new” look to the table, and how can it help your brand engage with its audiences better?

 

Why is isometric design so popular this year?

The rise of isometric design comes hand in hand with the trend of custom illustration. This year, brands that use original graphics in their collaterals and campaigns have reported better engagement.

 

Its popularity has a lot to do with the rise and fall (and rise again) of skeuomorphic, or realistic, design. In the dawn of the millennium, audiences appreciated hyperrealistic, analog-type graphics to aid user experience — and for the aesthetic appeal.

Before long, people’s design sensibilities evolved; after all, we now know how most interfaces work without overly realistic visual aids. But the flat design trend soon died down (from overuse, some would say), to give way to more organic eye candy.

 

So we’re harking back towards familiar, realistic elements, like gradients, 3D objects, asymmetry, and today’s special guest, isometric illustration and iconography.

What is isometric design?

As a rendering technique, it’s far from new. Isometric drawings are one of many ways to represent 3D objects following accurate measurements. “Isometric” means equal measure: all its three axes (width, height, and depth) intersect at a 120-degree angle. For example, this cube drawn any other way would not be isometric:

 

 

It’s isometric if it follows this grid:

 

 

Or as long as vertical lines remain vertical while all horizontal lines are inclined at 30 degrees:

 

 

When an object is illustrated using isometric projection, it exhibits visually equal and accurate measurements. But wait. If it follows exact measurements, why doesn’t it look really real?

 

Well, humans don’t really see things in “equal measure.”

 

This is because, in real life, things extend into the distance and disappear into the horizon. So drawings are more realistic with an implied vanishing point, or points. Take a look:

 

Where to use isometric design:

Icons and Logos

Are flat icons getting a little too old for you? Maybe they’re too flat. Isometric icons can add depth and interest.

 

Infographics

There are so many infographics bouncing around these days, people probably get fatigued just looking at them. Clean, 3D elements in your infographics can encourage viewers to stay, read — and click.

 

Hero images

It’s more playful than just a simple color, less serious than a stock photo.

 

Detailed maps

Whether it’s a real location, a fantasy location, or a board game, the isometric view is a great way to show people a top-and-side view of a single map.

 

Should I follow this trend?

Isometric illustrations convey precision, cleanliness, and warmth, and so work well with creative, I.T., medical, and other similar industries.

 

As with all design trends, they don’t work for all brands at all times. For one thing, using them too much can blunt their visual impact. For another, their structured look simply may not be your vibe: you need design elements that don’t clash with your existing branding.

Fortunately, they’re highly versatile and can be stylized to fit your branding.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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