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Data analysis and visualisation: 3D Visualisations

When to use 3D

The most important part of creating a three dimensional (3D) visualisation is making sure that the data and visualisation type are suitable for displaying in 3D. Incorporating 3D elements in a visualisation purely for aesthetic appeal usually results in a less effective visualisation. While there will be exceptions, it is generally only appropriate to employ a 3D visualisation when:

  • your visualisation is dynamic and allows people to view it from multiple angles. A single angle view of 3D data can present a very misleading picture of the data, however allowing viewers to fly-through in an animation, or change the view in an interactive visualisation can allow for in-depth exploration of the data
  • it is important to convey the 3D spatial relationships in you data

Do not add 3D effects to 2D visualisations, such as bar charts or pie charts! The 3D effects will distort your data and make it difficult for viewers to interpret, resulting in misleading or useless visualisations.