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How to render 3D models as SVG vector graphics? (planar projection)

Inkscape features a nice mode to create isometric projections of three dimensional images. The results can be exported nicely as SVG or PDF. For many applications this is preferable over a rendered bitmap image (as produced by Blender, POVray, etc.).

Also, vector graphics appear more technical and less playful, which looks more professional depending on the context. And finally, vector graphics are more suitable for post-processing.

However, Inkscape's axonometric grid method has a number of disadvantages:

  • The viewpoint is fixed. Once, you have setup the grid, it is not possible to rotate the scene.
  • I cannot figure out how to draw a sphere.
  • Inkscape has no concept of front and back, so you have to manually hide or dash lines that would be invisible. (Or use opaque objects and manually get the order right.)
  • Inkscape doesn't have any concept of three dimensional space at all. The whole thing remains a 2D vector graphic, which if well-done creates a three-dimensional impression.

Is there something like Inkscape in 3D, where I can work with 3D objects, and create the isometric view from the 3D model. To clarify: Technically, I want a simple 2D vector graphic (preferably as SVG), that looks 3D to the human eye. Apparently Google SketchUp can produce such graphics (as PDF, which can be converted to SVG). Here is an example. I want to draw arbitrary solid shapes that automatically get a shading as if they had some simple lighting projected on them.

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marked as duplicate by maythux, Tom Brossman, devav2, Eliah Kagan, Jorge Castro Oct 11 '12 at 12:21

This question has been asked before and already has an answer. If those answers do not fully address your question, please ask a new question.

    
I fail to understand your requirements. SVG doesn't have 3D at all, best it's going to get is 2.5D effects in upcoming SVG2. So how do you expect 3D>SVG saving/exporting to work? Stick to Blender :) –  prokoudine Jan 21 '12 at 20:39
    
Let me clarify: Technically, I want a simple 2D vector graphic (preferably as SVG), that looks 3D to the human eye. Apparently Google SketchUp can produce such graphics (as PDF, which can be converted to SVG). Here is an example: commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/… –  Jan Jan 23 '12 at 14:12
    
OK, now it's getting clearer. So you want drawing arbitrary solid shapes that automatically get a shading as if they had some simple lighting projected on them. No, I don't think there is a free tool that does something like that. LibreOffice Draw probably can do something very basic and export SVG, but that needs checking. –  prokoudine Feb 3 '12 at 21:02
    
Yes, this sums up my requirements. Thank You. –  Jan Feb 6 '12 at 12:26
    
It was asked by the same person so I'm guessing that it is –  hellocatfood Oct 11 '12 at 11:14

3 Answers 3

As an alternative Freecad (http://sourceforge.net/apps/mediawiki/free-cad/index.php?title=Main_Page) can project 2d views from 3D objects.

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Blender (blender.org) is your best option. Standard blender can do edge rendering that creates a drawing-style image from any 3D model. But better yet you can use one of the freestyle blender builds: http://graphicall.org/?keywords=freestyle

Google "blender freestyle tutorial" to get help.

This does not produce vector graphics though, just bitmapped images. Depending on your needs this may work for you.

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can you split Freecad into a separate answer? I'd upvote that, but not blender for this specific question. –  ImaginaryRobots Jul 9 '12 at 16:46

I personally recommend PovRay. It's simply the best rendering engine ever. For more 3D tools, complete list is available here.

http://blog.emmaalvarez.com/2007/12/top-best-50-ubuntu-opensource.html

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@downvoter: care to share..? –  sum2000 Dec 24 '11 at 19:16
    
The question explicitly calls for vector graphics output. PovRay renders a bitmap. –  Jan Jan 27 '12 at 20:54

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