Discernable Details


Illustration and Point of View


Users need to identify objects, their orientation in space and their arrangement with relation to other parts.


How to depict objects so users can correctly identify them and their orientation.


  • Some components are similar in size and/or shape. They need to be differentiated so the correct element is used at the correct stage.
  • Some components are close to symmetrical and only small details can be used to determine the orientation of the part.
  • For successful assembly parts need to be placed in the correct arrangement in relation to other parts. The orientation of the part needs to be clear to the user.
  • Users look for distinctive landmarks in order to identify and orientate them.
  • Some objects can have very similar proportions such as the relative location of features and object sizes. Small proportional differences can be difficult to discern.


Illustrations of a part must contain enough details of that part to make it distinct from other parts.


Agrawala et al., (2003)

Blanz, et al., (1999)

click here for complete reference information

Related Patterns:


Viewing Angle

There is a preference for three-quarter views, but on occasions these views may obscure important details. Alternate views to show these details may result in views that are strange and difficult to interpret.

See Everything

The requirement the entire object is depicted in order to provide contextual information can result in smaller details becoming so small as to lose definition.

Style of Depiction

The use of thicker line weights for each element can result in small details becoming obscured. The use of line drawings allows for irrelevant detail to be omitted so important details are more evident.

Size Matters

When using full-scale elevations to identify the size of the part required, the elevation can lack details required for part identification.

Parent to

Zoom in

In cases where details are too small areas may need to be enlarged so the detail can be illustrated in the line drawing style without losing definition.


Absence of Details

This pattern describes how a lack of information is not necessarily interpreted in a positive manner and states the importance of clear details for object identification.


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IKEA - Hemnes Side Table

There is a rebate on the bottom edge of the main panel that is not easily seen given the scale and point of view of the image; thus an enlarged view is used to draw attention to this feature. This is important as these distinctive features are used to assist users in establishing the orientation of the parts. Note the callout does not change the point of view.

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