Draw Guide 7.3

Chapter 7,
Working with 3D Objects


This document is Copyright © 2022 by the LibreOffice Documentation Team. Contributors are listed below. You may distribute it and/or modify it under the terms of either the GNU General Public License (, version 3 or later, or the Creative Commons Attribution License (, version 4.0 or later.

All trademarks within this guide belong to their legitimate owners.


To this edition

Peter Schofield

Regina Henschel


To previous editions

John Cleland

Martin Fox

Jean Hollis Weber

John A Smith

Peter Schofield

Regina Henschel

Claire Wood

Elzett Kotze



Please direct any comments or suggestions about this document to the Documentation Team’s mailing list:


Everything sent to a mailing list, including email addresses and any other personal information that is written in the message, is publicly archived and cannot be deleted.

Publication date and software version

Published May 2022. Based on LibreOffice 7.3 Community.
Other versions of LibreOffice may differ in appearance and functionality.

Using LibreOffice on macOS

Some keystrokes and menu items are different on macOS from those used in Windows and Linux. The table below gives some common substitutions for the instructions in this document. For a detailed list, see the application Help.

Windows or Linux

macOS equivalent


Tools > Options on Menu bar

LibreOffice > Preferences on Menu bar

Access to setup options


Ctrl+click and/or right-click depending on computer setup

Opens a context menu

Ctrl or Control

⌘ and/or Cmd or Command

Used with other keys


⌥ and/or Alt or Option

Used with other keys



Open the Styles deck in the Sidebar


Although Draw does not match the functionality of leading drawing or image editing programs, it is capable of producing and editing 3D drawings. In Draw, two types of 3D objects are available: 3D scenes and extruded 3D shapes. The Status Bar indicates when a 3D scene has been selected (Figure 1), but only indicates a shape has been selected (Figure 2) when an extruded 3D shape is selected.

Depending on which type is selected, there are different possibilities for further editing of the object (rotation, illumination, perspective, and so on). Extruded 3D shapes are simpler to set up and edit, but 3D scenes allow for greater customization.

3D objects are created using one of the following methods:


Before creating 3D objects in a drawing, it is recommended that the extra 3D tools (To 3D; To 3D Rotation Object; Toggle Extrusion) are added to the Drawing toolbar (Figure 3) using Visible Buttons or the Customize dialog. For more information on using Visible Buttons and the Customize dialog, see Appendix B, Toolbars and the Getting Started Guide.

After installing these extra 3D tools onto the Drawing toolbar, they only become available for use when a 2D object is selected in a drawing.

Figure 1: Status Bar showing 3D scene selected


Figure 2: Status Bar showing shape selected


Figure 3: Drawing toolbar with 3D tools highlighted


Figure 4: Shapes deck on Sidebar


3D object types

3D scenes

3D scenes are created from objects with dimensions using x, y, and z coordinates and can contain object types, such as cube, sphere, extrusion object or rotation object. These object types do not exist outside a 3D scene.

The Status Bar displays 3D scene selected when a 3D object is selected that has been created from a 2D object using body rotation or conversion, or it is a ready-made 3D object that has been inserted into a drawing.

A 3D scene is similar to a group. Just like a group, a 3D scene can be entered for editing an individual object in the 3D scene and then exit after editing is completed. See Chapter 5, Combining Multiple Objects for more information on entering, editing and exiting groups.

When a 3D scene is created from a selection of more than one 2D object, a group is automatically created as a single 3D scene. This 3D scene can be entered so that individual objects within the 3D scene can be changed, edited and rotated.


Individual objects cannot be ungrouped when a 3D scene has been created from a selection of 2D objects.

3D shapes

2D shapes are flat with only width and height dimensions, but 3D shapes are solid objects that have three dimensions: depth, width, and height.

A 3D shape is created when a 2D shape or an object from the Fontwork Gallery is turned into 3D using Toggle Extrusion. The Status Bar displays Shape selected when this type of 3D object is selected.

A 3D shape can be viewed and edited in 3D or 2D mode. To edit in 2D mode, switch off extrusion, make the editing changes, and switch back to 3D mode using Toggle Extrusion.


Toggle Extrusion can only be used when a 2D shape, a 3D object that has been extruded from a 2D shape, or an object from the Fontwork Gallery is selected in a drawing. It is not available for text, lines, arrows, curves, and polygons.

Creating 3D objects

3D ready made objects

3D ready made objects are 3D scenes and are inserted into a drawing using one of the following methods. The selection and drawing of 3D objects is the same for all methods of inserting a 3D ready made object.

Figure 5: 3D-Objects toolbar



Ready made 3D objects can be repositioned, resized, and edited in the same way as 2D objects. See Chapter 3, Working with Objects for more information.


Extrusion converts a 2D object into a 3D scene by extruding the 2D object toward the observer. The scene is rotated by 20 degrees around the horizontal axis to make the 3D effect more visible. Examples of 3D conversion using extrusion are shown in Figure 6. After selecting a 2D object, convert it to a 3D scene using one of the following methods:

Figure 6: Example of using extrusion for 3D conversion



To 3D Rotation Object or Convert to Rotation Object converts a 2D object into a 3D scene by rotating the object using the left edge of the bounding box around the object as the axis of rotation. Examples of 3D conversion using either of these rotation tools are shown in Figure 7. The actual 3D scene created depends on the angle and shape of the object being rotated.

After selecting a 2D object in a drawing, convert it to a 3D scene using rotation with one of the following methods:

Figure 7: Examples of using rotation for 3D conversion


Toggle Extrusion

Extrusion is where parallel surfaces are moved to create a 3D shape. In Draw, the 2D surface is moved forwards out of the drawing level. At the same time the object is slightly tilted and central projection turned on, creating the impression of a 3D shape. Draw uses a default value for this extrusion (body depth) based on the size of the 2D object. The value can be changed after the extrusion, see “Editing 3D objectsbelow.

Figure 8: Examples of toggle extrusion


Extrusion conversion is carried out using Toggle Extrusion. Extrusion only works on Basic Shapes, Symbol Shapes, Block Arrows, Flowcharts, Callouts, Stars and Banners, and Fontwork that are included as a part of the default set of tools on the Drawing toolbar or in the Shapes deck on the Sidebar. Examples of toggle extrusion are shown in Figure 8.

1)  Select a 2D object in a drawing that has been created from Basic Shapes, Symbol Shapes, Block Arrows, Flowcharts, Callouts, Stars and Banners, or Fontwork.

2)  Click on Toggle Extrusion on the Standard or Drawing toolbar to convert the 2D object into a 3D shape.

3)  To convert a 3D conversion back into a 2D object, select the 3D object and click on Toggle Extrusion on the Standard or Drawing toolbar.


Extrusion cannot be used on text objects created using Insert Text Box or Insert Vertical Text.

Editing 3D objects


Where 3D scenes have been created from more than one 2D object, a 3D scene group is automatically created. This 3D scene group cannot be ungrouped and any editing carried out will affect all 3D objects within the group. To edit an individual 3D object within this 3D scene group, enter the group. For more information on working with groups, see Chapter 5, Combining Multiple Objects.

Position, Size and Rotation

Editing the position, size and rotation of 3D objects is similar to 2D objects. See Chapter 3, Working with Objects for more information.

3D settings

To open the 3D‑Settings toolbar (Figure 9), go to View > Toolbars > 3D‑Settings on the Menu bar. The 3D‑Settings toolbar only becomes active when a 3D shape is selected that has been created from a 2D object using “Toggle Extrusionabove.

The tools available for editing 3D shapes are as follows. The result of any changes made using these editing tools is applied to the selected 3D shape immediately displaying the effect of the 3D setting applied. Figure 10 shows an example of tilting left, increasing extrusion depth, and changing 3D color using the 3D‑Settings toolbar.

Figure 9: 3D Settings toolbar


Figure 10: Example of changing 3D settings


3D effects

The 3D Effects dialog (Figure 11) offers a wide range of possible settings for editing 3D ready made objects or 3D scenes. This dialog can also be used to convert a 2D object to 3D using the tools in the bottom left corner of the dialog. To open the 3D Effects dialog, use one of the following methods:

Any 3D effects applied to a 3D scene are not carried out until Assign is clicked in the top right of the 3D Effects dialog. This allows for all 3D effect changes to be carried out before applying them to a 3D scene.

Figure 11: 3D Effects dialog - Geometry page



The 3D Effects dialog cannot be used on 3D shapes created using Toggle Extrusion because the correct formatting results will not be achieved. If the 3D Effects dialog is used in error, remove any incorrect formatting by going to Format > Default Formatting on the Menu bar.


Any options on the pages in the 3D Effects dialog that are grayed out cannot be used for the selected object.

3D conversion

In the bottom left corner of the 3D Effects dialog are tools for converting a 2D object into a 3D scene and changing the projection used in a 3D scene.


The 3D Effects dialog has five pages to provide options for Geometry, Shading, Illumination, Textures, and Material. The tools to change pages for the different types of 3D effects are located at the top left of the 3D Effects dialog.

3D Effects – Geometry

Click on Geometry in the 3D Effects dialog (Figure 11) to open the Geometry page and use the options available to change the geometry of a 3D object.

Figure 12: Example of rounded edges


Figure 13: Example of changing scaled depth


Figure 14: Example of changing rotation angle


Figure 15: Example of increasing depth


Figure 16: Example of segments


Figure 17: Examples of object specific, flat and spherical effects


Figure 18: Examples of invert normals and double sided illumination



Figure 18 demonstrates the 3D effect of using Invert Normals in conjunction with using the 3D effect Double-Sided Illumination.

3D Effects – Shading

On the Shading page of the 3D Effects dialog (Figure 19) provides options to set the shading, shadow, and camera effects on a selected 3D object.

Figure 19: 3D Effects dialog - Shading page


Figure 20: Examples of shading mode


Figure 21: Examples of shadow surface angle


Figure 22: Example of changing camera settings


3D Effects – Illumination

The Illumination page of the 3D Effects dialog (Figure 23) defines how a 3D scene is lit and the settings apply to all 3D objects in a scene. The direction of the light source, color of the light source, and the ambient light can be specified for the 3D scene.

By default, one light source is already selected when the Illumination page is opened. More light sources can be selected for illumination. A maximum of eight sources can be used and each light source can use a different color. Figure 23 shows three light sources selected with each light source having a different color.

1)  Select a Light source to turn the light source on. The icon changes to an illuminated bulb.

2)  Click again on the selected light source to adjust the color for the light source.

3)  Select a color for the light from one of the color palettes in the Light source drop-down list. A different color can be used for each light source selected.

Figure 23: 3D Effects dialog - Illumination page


4)  Select a color from one of the color palettes in the Ambient light drop-down list to set the color of the surrounding light.

5)  To deselect a light source, select a light source already selected and click on it again.

The light source location and color are shown in the lower right corner of the Illumination page. The vertical slider bar adjusts the lighting angle and the horizontal slider bar rotates the light about the object. Alternatively, click on the light point and drag the light source to the required position.

To change the preview from a sphere to a cube, click on the small square to the right of the horizontal slider bar and below the vertical slider bar.

Each light source selected is shown as a small colored sphere in the color specified for it. The larger colored sphere indicates the active light source.

3D Effects – Textures

On the Textures page of the 3D Effects dialog (Figure 24) the properties of the surface texture can be set for a selected 3D object. Textures is only available after the area fill of a 3D object is set to Gradient, Image, Pattern, or Hatch. For more information on changing area fill, see Chapter 4, Changing Object Attributes.

Figure 24: 3D Effects dialog- Textures page


3D Effects – Material

On the Materials page of the 3D Effects dialog (Figure 25) the appearance of a 3D object can be changed to represent different materials. Materials and textures can be combined with each other and it is a matter of trial and error to achieve the desired result.

Figure 25: 3D Effects dialog - Material page



Metallic and glass surfaces do not simulate well because the appearance of these materials is produced using reflection.


Do not use a very high brightness value for individual colors. Colors are additive and it is easy to end up with a colored area that is white.

Combining objects

Multiple 3D objects cannot be combined using Shape > Combine on the Menu bar or the keyboard shortcut Ctrl+Shift+K (macOS ⌘+Shift+K). Multiple 2D objects have to be created first, then a single 3D object created as follows (see Chapter 5, Combining Multiple Objects for more information on combining objects):

1)  Create multiple 2D objects and carry out all the necessary editing changes.

2)  Make sure that all 2D objects are selected to create a single 3D object.

3)  Create a single 3D object combining the multiple 2D objects using one of the following methods (example conversions are shown in Figure 26):

Assembling 3D objects

3D objects that each form a separate 3D scene can be combined or assembled into a single 3D scene. An example procedure for assembling 3D objects is as follows and shown in Figure 27:

1)  Select a 3D object (for example, a cube) from 3D Objects on the Drawing toolbar or Shapes deck on the Sidebar and place it in a drawing.

2)  Select a second 3D object (for example, a sphere) from 3D Objects on the Drawing toolbar or Shapes deck on the Sidebar and place it in the drawing.

3)  If necessary, set the area fill to None and the lines to Continuous to create wire frame objects. This makes it easier to position both objects in the assembled 3D scene.

4)  Select the second 3D object (sphere) and go to Edit > Cut on the Menu bar or right-click on the object and select Cut from the context menu.

Figure 26: Example of creating single 3D object from multiple 2D objects


Figure 27: Example of assembling 3D objects


5)  Double-click the first 3D object (cube) to enter the group or go Shape > Group > Enter Group on the Menu bar.

6)  Go to Edit > Paste on the Menu bar or right-click on the first 3D object and select Paste from the context menu. The sphere now appears inside the cube and is now part of the same group.

7)  If required, edit the individual objects or change their position within the group.

8)  Double-click outside the 3D assembled scene to exit the group, or go to Shape > Group > Exit Group on the Menu bar.


The second object also reappears in its original position when Paste is carried out. This object is NOT part of the assembled 3D scene and can be deleted if necessary.