The terms 2D and 3D stand for two-dimensional and three-dimensional, respectively. When defining the appearance or existence of a specific object in space, we use terms like two-dimensional or three-dimensional to describe its structure.
It means that the object either exists in two dimensions (length and breadth) or three dimensions (length, breadth and height). There also exists four-dimensional, five-dimensional, six, seven and so forth structures.
- 2D (two-dimensional) refers to objects or images with only two dimensions: length and width, which appear flat on a screen or surface.
- 3D (three-dimensional) refers to objects or images with three dimensions: length, width, and depth, giving the appearance of depth and volume.
- The choice between 2D and 3D depends on the desired visual effect, with 2D being simpler and more traditional and 3D offering a more immersive and realistic experience.
2D vs 3D
2D objects are flat and have two dimensions, used in graphic design, animation, and video games. 3D objects are created using computer graphics software and can be viewed from any angle or perspective, and are used in movies, video games, virtual reality, and architectural design.
A 2D-shaped object will comprise length and breadth, visible to our eyes. They are sometimes referred to as plane figures or flat shapes since their dimensions are limited to two-dimensional structures, not extending to height, appearing flat or plane to the eyes.
The most common examples of 2D structures can be a sheet of paper, circle, square, rectangle and pentagon.
A 3D-shaped object will comprise length, breadth and height, visible to our eyes. Unlike two-dimensional structures, they do not appear flat or plane. While 2D structure only uses two surfaces (X and Y axes) to deter its measurements, 3D uses other axes (Z) to give depth to its structure further.
Most common examples of 3D structures can be a cube, cuboid, prism, pyramid and cylinder.
|Parameters of Comparison
|A two-dimensional structure uses only two axes, the x-axis and the y-axis.
|A three-dimensional structure uses three axes, the x-axis, y-axis and z-axis, respectively.
|Length and breadth
|Length, breadth and height
|They are also called “plane” or “flat” figures due to their appearance.
|They are only referred to as 3D figures.
|Circle, square, rectangle and pentagon.
|Prism, cuboid, pyramid and cylinder.
|Has no volume
What is 2D?
A 2D or a two-dimensional structure is an object existing in two dimensions to define its structure; that is, it exists in two planes or axes, the x-axis and y-axis, to determine its shape. A 2D figure has only length and width on the x-axis and y-axis, respectively.
Since two-dimensional figures can exist on a flat surface, they are also called plane figures or plane shapes. These figures do not have any volume, unlike 3D figures.
They exist on flat surfaces. They can see the area as much as possible, but they do not have any volume due to their restricting shape.
We have a variety of shapes and intangible structures encircling our daily lives. Out of these various shapes, 2D and 3D objects are the most common type of structure we come around.
Good examples of 2D structures can be sheets, circular objects, rectangular objects, square objects and pentagons.
These objects exist strictly within the periphery of the x-axis and y-axis. They cannot cross or overtop these two margins, which is unusual for 3D structures.
Geometrically speaking, two-dimensional objects can be seen as existing in between two imaginary dimensions/planes, labelled as the x-axis and y-axis, respectively.
What is 3D?
A 3D or a three-dimensional structure is an object existing in three dimensions to define its structure; that is, it exists in three planes or axes, the x-axis, y-axis and z-axis, to determine its shape. A 3D figure has length, width and height on the x-axis, y-axis and z-axis, respectively.
Unlike 2D figures, 3D figures exist beyond the margins of a flat or plane surface; they have a defining depth to their structure, extending to a new dimension called the z-axis. This added axis is to determine the height of the figure.
Since they do not exist within the parameters of two dimensions, they are not plane or flat figures. Instead, they have volume in them, which is a significant point of difference in 2D and 3D structures.
As mentioned earlier, we have a variety of shapes and intangible structures surrounding our daily lives. Of these various shapes, 2D and 3D objects are the most common structure we come across.
Good examples of 3D structures can be sheets, cuboid objects, pyramids, cylindrical objects and prisms.
Main Differences Between 2D and 3D
- A two-dimensional structure uses only two axes, the x-axis and the y-axis. At the same time, a three-dimensional structure uses three axes, the x-axis, y-axis and z-axis, respectively.
- A two-dimensional structure has only two surfaces; length and breadth. A three-dimensional structure has three surfaces; length, breadth and height.
- Two-dimensional figures are also called “plane” or “flat” due to their appearance. In contrast, three-dimensional figures are only referred to as 3D figures.
- Examples of two-dimensional structures are circles, squares, rectangles and pentagons. Examples of three-dimensional structures are Prism, cuboids, pyramids and cylinders.
- A two-dimensional structure has no volume. In comparison, a three-dimensional structure has volume.
Last Updated : 11 June, 2023
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Sandeep Bhandari holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Computers from Thapar University (2006). He has 20 years of experience in the technology field. He has a keen interest in various technical fields, including database systems, computer networks, and programming. You can read more about him on his bio page.