Many years ago an illustrator colleague of mine devised and put together a stand-alone app that would generate axonometric set-ups for use in easily constructing 3D objects in Adobe Illustrator. This process is similar to the Scale/Shear/Rotate method shown in tutorials on this site, as well as on other sites.
The app uses a Rotate/Scale/Rotate method. In the app, the user chooses the desired view/set-up by entering either the left and right axis angles or, tilt and turn values into the respective fields. As these values are entered, a small cube (representing the resulting axonometric set-up) displays/changes in real time in the app. Once the user has settled on the desired view, the user can then export the rotate/scale/rotate numeric values either to a PDF file or copy to the clipboard (then paste into an Ai file).
I've attached an example of such an export for a simple –20/20° dimetric view/set-up. Some things to note here: The app not only provides the rotate/scale/rotate values for each face in the view, but it also generates the inverse values for each of the respective faces. The inverse values are tremendously useful in situations where the user may want or need to 'back out' an orthographic shape/profile from an existing illustration, photo reference, etc. This allows the user much greater flexibility in moving between ortho and axo elements/views at will. You'll notice that the export also shows details such as tilt, turn, axis angles, and constrain angles. Knowing the constrain angles are especially important when constructing elements and moving said objects in relation to one another in Illustrator. Another feature of the app is that it will also generate the numeric information for off-axis rotations/views just as easily.
It is a very powerful, yet deceptively simple tool for the tech. illustrator working in Adobe Illustrator. Only the two of us and a small handful of our close illustrator colleagues have used it. While there are all sorts of high caliber 3D softwares on the market today, this app bridges the gap between those and Adobe Illustrator. It allows the user to accurately construct infinite axonometric set-ups and objects, without getting bogged down in the mathematics involved or the unwanted bloat and extraneous details resulting from 3D software.
We are looking into the possibility of having someone build an Ai plug-in based upon the existing app. While we realize that such a plug-in would have a narrow user appeal/base, we feel it would be invaluable for those of us who understand what it does. So my question to you: Does this kind of tool appeal to you? If such a plug-in existed, do you envision yourself or other tech. illustrators using it?
Would love to hear any feedback. My apologies for the lengthy post. Thanks for reading.