Interacting with 3D models

Change rendering mode, lighting, projection, and background

The model rendering mode determines the surface appearance of the 3D model. The default rendering mode is solid, but you can also choose another rendering mode. You can also change the lighting of the 3D model as well as the background.

Changing the appearance of the 3D model

Changing the appearance of the 3D model

A. Default appearance B. Wireframe rendering mode C. Colored lighting D. Different background color 

  • Use items on the 3D toolbar to make any of these changes:

    • To change the rendering mode, choose an option from the Model Render Mode pop-up menu .
    • To view an orthographic projection, click the Use Orthographic Projection button . An orthographic projection effectively removes a dimension, preserving the size ratio between objects but giving the 3D model a less realistic appearance. Click the button again to use perspective projection.
    • To turn lighting on or off or to change lighting, choose an option from the Enable Extra Lighting pop-up menu .
    • To change the background color, click the arrow next to the Background color swatch and choose a color.


    Model rendering modes, lighting schemes, and background color options are also available by right-clicking the 3D model, and then clicking Viewing Options. Model rendering modes also appear under the Options menu on the Model Tree.

Examples of model rendering modes

The model rendering modes include combinations of factors that affect the appearance of the 3D object. The illustration below shows a simple object rendered in each of the available modes.

Model rendering modes

Model rendering modes

A. Solid B. Transparent Bounding Box C. Transparent D. Solid Wireframe E. Illustration F. Solid Outline G.Shaded Illustration H. Bounding Box I. Transparent Bounding Box Outline J. Wireframe K. Shaded Wireframe L.Transparent Wireframe M. Hidden Wireframe N. Vertices O. Shaded Vertices 

Hide, isolate, and change the appearance of parts

Some 3D models are composed of individual parts. You can use the Model Tree to hide or isolate parts, zoom in to parts, or make parts transparent. Parts that show in the 3D model appear in the tree with a check mark next to them.

Manipulating parts

Manipulating parts

A. Selected part B. Hidden part C. Isolated part D. Transparent part 

  • In the 3D model, use the Hand tool to click the part you want to manipulate. If a preference setting prevents you from using the Hand tool, select the part in the Model Tree list.
  • From the Options menu in the top pane of the Model Tree, choose any of the following:


    The items that appear on the Options menu depend on whether the 3D model is composed of just one part or multiple parts. Many of these options are also available by right-clicking a part in the 3D model.

    Model Render Mode

    Changes the surface appearance of the entire 3D model according to the item you choose from the submenu: Transparent Bounding Box, Solid, Transparent, Solid Wireframe, and so on.

    Show All Parts

    Displays the entire 3D model.

    Fit Visible

    Displays all visible parts and centers them in the view.

    Show Physical Properties

    Displays the surface area and volume (if available) in the Object Data pane of theModel Tree.

    Display Bounding Box

    Displays the box that encloses the 3D object or selected parts of the model.

    Set Bounding Box Color

    Changes the color of the bounding box. Choose this option, select a color, and then click OK.


    Displays the model without showing the selected parts. You can also select and deselect check boxes in the top pane of the Model Tree to hide and show different parts.


    Displays only the selected part, hiding all others.

    Isolate Part

    Displays the geometry, the Product Manufacturing Information (PMI), and all views (including PMI views) for the isolated part only. Views and information for all other parts are hidden or deselected. Changes occur in the Model Tree as well. In the Structure pane (top), only the isolated part is selected. The structure of the other parts is available but deselected. The View pane (middle) lists only the views that have been defined for the isolated part, including PMI views. If you click a view, you see only the PMI for that view in the document pane. (To view the PMI for the isolated part, make sure 3D PMI is selected in the Structure pane.) The View pane hides views related to the assembly or other parts, including custom views created in Acrobat. You can add parts to the view by selecting them in the Model Tree. You can also use the Hide/Show commands in the options menu of the Model Tree. To cancel the isolated part, do any of the following:

    • Select another part with the Isolate Part command.
    • Select the top assembly in the Model Tree.
    • Select the Home View button.

    Zoom To Part

    Changes the center focus from the entire 3D model to the selected parts. This setting is especially useful for rotating a part, allowing the rotation to occur around the center focus of the part rather than around the entire model.

    Part Render Mode

    Displays all of the rendering modes that are available for the part. The rendering mode changes the appearance of the 3D model according to the rendering mode you choose.


    Displays a see-through version of the selected part.

    Export As XML

    Creates a separate XML file of either Whole Tree or Current Node of the 3D model.

    Export As CSV

    Creates a separate file in CSV format that contains all of the model data. You can export the data from the whole Model Tree or a selected node. The file can be opened in any program that supports CSV formatting, such as Microsoft Excel.


    If the 3D model includes Product Manufacturing Information (PMI), options for showing and hiding the PMI are available on this menu.

Model Tree overview

The Model Tree appears in the navigation pane on the left side of the work area. You can also open the Model Treeby clicking the Toggle Model Tree button  on the 3D toolbar. Or, right-click the 3D model and choose Show Model Tree.


Using the Model Tree requires version 7.0.7 or later of either Acrobat or Adobe Reader. Users with earlier versions can interact with 3D models but not with the Model Tree.

The Model Tree has three panes, each of which displays a specific type of information or controls.

Structure pane

The topmost pane shows the tree structure of the 3D object. For example, a 3D object depicting a car has separate groups of objects (called nodes) for the chassis, engine, and wheels. In this pane, you can move through the hierarchy and select, isolate, or hide various parts.

Product Manufacturing Information (PMI) appears as a group of items on the same hierarchical level as its related object or assembly.

View pane

The middle pane lists the views that have been defined for the 3D object. When you change a view, click one of the listed views to return the 3D model to a saved state. See Setting 3D views in PDFs.

You can also add to and edit views in the View pane. For example, after you isolate and rotate a part, you can save that particular view, including the camera angle, background, lighting, and other attributes. This feature is not available for Adobe Reader.

Object Data pane

The lower pane displays other information, including properties and metadata, if any, about the object or part. You cannot edit this information for 3D objects in Acrobat.

Model Tree

Model Tree

A. 3D object hierarchy B. Saved& views C. Part or object information 


To change the default behavior for the Model Tree, open the Preferences dialog box and under Categories, select 3D and Multimedia. Then choose an option from the Open Model Tree On 3D Activation menu.

The author of the PDF can set up a 3D model in the conversion settings so that clicking it automatically displays the Model Tree.

Create cross sections

Displaying a cross section of a 3D model is like cutting it in half and looking inside. Use the Cross Section Controlsdialog box to adjust the alignment, offset, and tilt of the cutting plane.

Before and after cross section

Before and after cross section


  • Click the Toggle Cross Section icon  on the 3D toolbar to turn on or off the cross section.
  • (Optional) Click the arrow next to the Toggle Cross Section icon, and choose Cross Section Properties, which opens the Cross Section Properties dialog box. Then do any of the following:

    • Change settings under Alignment, Display Settings, and Position And Orientation.
    • Click the Save Section View button to save the current cross-sectional view. (The saved view will appear on the Views menu in the 3D toolbar and in the View pane of the Model Tree with a default name, SectionView[n].)

Cross-section properties

Changes you make here are applied immediately. To see these changes, make sure that the Cross Section Properties dialog box does not block your view of the active 3D model. The Cross Section Properties dialog box remains on top if you focus or interact with the underlying PDF. To close it, click the Close button in the upper-right corner.

Enable Cross Section

When selected, makes the other options available.


Determines the axis (x, y, or z) to which the cross-section aligns.

Align To Face

Cuts the cross-section on a plane defined by the surface of any face that you then click in the 3D model. (The dialog box is dimmed until you click the face of a model part.)

Align To 3 Points

Cuts the cross-section on a plane defined by any three points that you click the 3D model. (The dialog box is dimmed until you click three points of a model.)

Show Intersections

Indicates where the cutting plane slices the 3D model by adding a colored outline. Click the color swatch if you want to select a different color.

Show Cutting Plane

Displays the two-dimensional field that cuts the 3D model. Click the color swatch to select a different color, and enter a different percentage to change the opacity of the plane.

Ignore Selected Parts

Removes the selected parts from the cross-section view.

Show Transparent

Displays parts that are not part of the cross-section.

Cutting Plane Opacity

Defines the transparency level of the cutting plane.

Align Camera With Cutting Plane

Rotates the 3D model so that it is level with the cutting plane.


Determines how much of the 3D model is sliced. Drag the slider left or right, or change the percentage.


To understand how each axis divides the 3D model, select an axis and then drag the Offset slider back and forth. Observe the changes in the embedded 3D model.


Reverses the cross-section. For example, if the top half of the model is cut off, click Flip to display the top half and cut off the bottom half.

Tilt sliders

Determine the angles between the cutting plane and the axes. Drag the sliders left or right, or change the percentages.

Save Section View

Opens the View Properties dialog box in which you can select the display properties to save with the view. After you select the properties to save, the cross-sectional view is added to the list of views in the 3D toolbar and the Model Tree. The saved view is given a default name, SectionView[n].

Display properties that you choose not to save revert to the setting of the previous view. For example, if you do not save the background color, the cross-section view retains the background color of the previously displayed view.

Change camera properties

Camera properties define the precise angle and positioning for a view of an object. Camera properties make up a camera view, which can be used both between views and between files.

  • On the 3D toolbar, click the Camera Properties icon .

    If you don’t see the icon, click the arrow next to the navigation tool on the left side of the 3D toolbar.

  • In the Camera Properties dialog box, click Save As to name a new camera view, or select an existing view from the menu.
  • Move the Camera Properties dialog box so that you can see the 3D model. Select a camera alignment:

    • Select Target to align the camera properties only to the target position.
    • Select Camera And Target to align the camera properties to both the camera direction and the target position.
  • Select the type of alignment:

    Select Model

    After you select this option, click a 3D model in the document. The Camera Properties dialog box shows the current camera position.

    • If Target is selected, the new position of the camera target is the center of the selected model.
    • If Camera And Target is selected, the position of the camera target is the center of the selected model. The camera is aligned to the selected model.

    Select Face

    After you select this option, click a face of the 3D model in the document. The Camera Properties dialog box shows the current camera position.

    • If Target is selected, the new position of the camera target is the center of the selected face.
    • If Camera And Target is selected, the position of the camera target is the center of the selected face. The camera is aligned to this face.

    Select 3 Points

    After you select this option, select three points on the same or different models in the document. The Camera Properties dialog box shows the current camera position.

    • If Target is selected, the new position of the camera target is the center of the three selected points.
    • If Camera and Target are selected, the camera target is the center of the three selected points. The camera position is aligned to the plan composed by the three selected points.
  • In the Position section, select Angle Units to change the X, Y, and Z values to Azimuth, Altitude, and Distance. These values enable you to manipulate the camera by azimuth (distance) and altitude (X axis), and to zoom using the distance value.
  • Move the sliders in the Camera and Target positions to the desired location.
  • To change the focal angle of the camera, drag the Field Of View slider to the desired degree.
  • To change the roll angle of the camera, drag the Roll slider to the desired degree.
  • Click Save Camera View to save the settings and add the view to the Model Tree.

    The view is added to the Model Tree with the default name of CameraView[n], with [n] being an incremental number. You can rename the camera view in the Views list.