Plans and Elevations

Learning Objective:

  • we are learning to draw plans and elevations from a 3D object or a 2D isometric drawing of an object.
  • success criteria: after studying this unit you should be able to
      • accurately draw the plan, front and side elevation of any object made from a small number of identical cubes
      • draw the plans and elevations of 3D shapes made by combining simple cubes, cuboids, prisms and pyramids
      • begin to interpret plans and elevations of more complex objects such as those used in technical drawings


  • This is useful because we may need to communicate to other people exactly how to build an object.
  • Learning how to use plans and elevations can help us design houses, furniture, and other goods and get them built accurately.

  • Sometimes we need to see how 3D objects work and fit together using drawings, such as those for cars, computers or toys.
  • A functional (real-life) application is to design packaging for a smoothie drink.
. . . . .
Functional skills task:
'Smoothie Box' from Bowland
. . . .

  • This skill leads to isometric drawing, nets and other 2D representations of 3D objects.
  • A 'free gift' with this skill is that we can now also interpret maps better.
  • This could help you if you want to work in engineering, design, architecture, horticulture (garden design), theatre design, plumbing, buiding trades, advertising (packaging), ... [many more]


  • Are we ready?
  • Can you already:
      • measure accurately,
      • describe 2D and 3D shapes using key vocabulary,
      • draw accurately using a ruler and protractor?
  • Let's be sure you can...
  • Before you start you need to know:
  • You will have a deeper understanding if you also know:
      • what isometric drawing is


  • Can you figure out how plans and elevations work for yourself from these examples?
  • Interactive tool: building_houses.png

  • Use the 'Hide views' button and try to predict the next one on a piece of paper or on a mini-whiteboard.


  • Here are some examples of people getting it right:
  • Here are some examples of people getting it wrong in typical ways:
  • Here are some more examples. Did they get it right or wrong? Explain how you know!


  • What would this one be? Show your learning partner. Convince them you're right.
  • Explain how you know.
  • How would you explain how to draw plans and elevations to someone who was new to it?


  • One way to draw plans and elevations is to make a model and rotate it so that it matches your view, but this can be time-consuming and difficult.
  • Another approach might be to imagine the shape in your mind
  • A useful approach is to count the number of cubes in each direction and/or think about the lengths that you can see from each perspective.
  • It doesn't work when some cubes or faces are hidden.
  • Watch out for hidden faces and curves: these make things rather harder.
  • A common mistake is to draw in solid lines where they are not needed - the interactive tool does this


  • Room makeover a functional mathematics project.
  • Some straightforward examples.
  • Some harder examples.
  • Some mixed examples.
  • Some mixed questions with redundant, insufficient or contradictory data: say what is wrong with each.


  • Create a web page or wiki to share what you have learned.
  • Create a presentation (with or without PowerPoint or video); plan what you will say; take care over your English.
  • Create a poster - answer the Smoothie Box problem above:
      • explain how you arrived at your solution and why it fits the brief;
      • use good English, check your spellings, consider your audience and use good handwriting;
      • draw neat diagrams to communicate your ideas clearly; use colour to make it visually arresting
      • include a cardboard net of your smoothie box made to a scale of your choice.
      • for ideas, see the 'smoothie box solutions' file I uploaded above


  • Check you've mastered this skill by trying these exam-style questions:
  • Show you understand by explaining...
  • Prove you're an expert in... by...


  • Next we could learn isometric drawing.
  • Make plans and elevations for your favourite piece of furniture or toy. LEGO and IKEA may be good places to start.
  • Plans and maps have a lot in common. Explain why.
  • Now try designing something useful in GoogleSketchUp8 this free 3D CAD program can help you get some experience of visualising in 3D

last edited: Jul 14, 2011 5:54 am
  1. ^ image adapted from