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Interacting with 3D models

  1. Acrobat User Guide
  2. Introduction to Acrobat
    1. Access Acrobat from desktop, mobile, web
    2. Introducing the new Acrobat experience
    3. What's new in Acrobat
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    12. About forms tracker
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    7. Working with component files in a PDF Portfolio
    8. Publish and share PDF Portfolios
    9. Overview of PDF Portfolios
    10. Create and customize PDF Portfolios
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    1. Share and track PDFs online
    2. Mark up text with edits
    3. Preparing for a PDF review
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    5. Hosting shared reviews on SharePoint or Office 365 sites
    6. Participating in a PDF review
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    8. Adding a stamp to a PDF
    9. Approval workflows
    10. Managing comments | view, reply, print
    11. Importing and exporting comments
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  10. Saving and exporting PDFs
    1. Saving PDFs
    2. Convert PDF to Word
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    5. File format options for PDF export
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    1. Enhanced security setting for PDFs
    2. Securing PDFs with passwords
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    10. Securing PDFs with Adobe Experience Manager
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    12. Overview of security in Acrobat and PDFs
    13. JavaScripts in PDFs as a security risk
    14. Attachments as security risks
    15. Allow or block links in PDFs
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    8. About certificate signatures
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    5. Edit document structure with the Content and Tags panels
    6. Creating accessible PDFs
    7. Cloud-based auto-tagging
  15. Searching and indexing
    1. Creating PDF indexes
    2. Searching PDFs
  16. Multimedia and 3D models
    1. Add audio, video, and interactive objects to PDFs
    2. Adding 3D models to PDFs (Acrobat Pro)
    3. Displaying 3D models in PDFs
    4. Interacting with 3D models
    5. Measuring 3D objects in PDFs
    6. Setting 3D views in PDFs
    7. Enable 3D content in PDF
    8. Adding multimedia to PDFs
    9. Commenting on 3D designs in PDFs
    10. Playing video, audio, and multimedia formats in PDFs
    11. Add comments to videos
  17. Print production tools (Acrobat Pro)
    1. Print production tools overview
    2. Printer marks and hairlines
    3. Previewing output
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    6. Trapping color
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    1. PDF/X-, PDF/A-, and PDF/E-compliant files
    2. Preflight profiles
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    5. Viewing preflight results, objects, and resources
    6. Output intents in PDFs
    7. Correcting problem areas with the Preflight tool
    8. Automating document analysis with droplets or preflight actions
    9. Analyzing documents with the Preflight tool
    10. Additional checks in the Preflight tool
    11. Preflight libraries
    12. Preflight variables
  19. Color management
    1. Keeping colors consistent
    2. Color settings
    3. Color-managing documents
    4. Working with color profiles
    5. Understanding color management

Interact with 3D models in PDF files like never before. Learn how to change the rendering mode, lighting, projection, and background in PDF files using Acrobat.

Before you begin

We're rolling out a new, more intuitive product experience. If the screen shown here doesn’t match your product interface, select help for your current experience.

In the new experience, the tools appear on the left side of the screen.

Change projection, rendering mode, lighting, and background

Acrobat's 3D tools enable you to modify multiple components of a 3D model, such as orthographic projection, rendering modes, lighting, and background color. This creates an engaging and visually appealing experience that brings your 3D models to life in a dynamic way.


To view an orthographic projection, select the Use Orthographic Projection option . An orthographic projection effectively removes a dimension, preserving the size ratio between objects but giving the 3D model a less realistic appearance.

Select the Use Orthographic Projection option again to change the projection to Perspective Projection.

Rendering mode

The model rendering mode determines the surface appearance of the 3D model.
Select the Model Render Mode  from the 3D toolbar. A dropdown list with all the rendering modes appears. 

By default, Solid rendering mode is selected. However, you can change it as per the requirement.

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 


Select the Enable Extra Lighting  option from the 3D toolbar to turn on, turn off, or adjust the lighting.

You can use different types of available lighting options.


Select the Background Color  option to change the background color. 

You can select your preferred color from the color palette.

Here are a few of the graphical representations showing the 3D toolbar functionalities.


You can also change the orthographic projection, model rendering modes, lighting schemes, and background color by right-clicking on the 3D model. Right-click on the 3D model, and then select Viewing Options.

Model Tree overview

The Model Tree appears on the right side of the screen. To open the Model Tree, you can either select the Toggle Model Tree option  in the 3D toolbar or right-click on the 3D model and then select 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.

Model Tree
Model Tree

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

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

Structure pane

The topmost pane shows the tree structure of the 3D model. For example, a 3D model 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 displays the defined views for the 3D model. If you want to have the previously saved view, select it from the list in the View pane. Learn more about setting 3D views in PDFs. You can also add new views or edit the existing ones 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.

Note that 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.


To change the default behavior for the Model Tree, open the Preferences dialog box(Ctrl + K for Windows and Command + K for macOS). Select Multimedia & 3D, then select any of the available options from the Open Model Tree On 3D Activation option.

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

Hide, isolate, and change the appearance of parts with 3D Model Tree

Some 3D models are composed of individual parts. You can use the Model Tree to hide or isolate parts, zoom in on specific 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 

  1. In the 3D model, use the Hand tool to select 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.

  2. Select the Options menu from the upper right of the Model Tree tab.


    The items that appear on the Options menu depend on whether the 3D model is composed of just one part or multiple parts.

    A drop-down menu appears from which you can select the following actions for 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 the Model 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. Select the option, a color, and then select 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, 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. These changes are visible in the Model Tree as well. In the Structure pane (top), only the isolated part is selected while the other parts are available but deselected.

    The View pane (middle) lists only the views that have been defined for the isolated part, including PMI views. If you select a view, you see only the PMI for that view in the document pane. Other views related to the assembly or other parts, including custom views created in Acrobat, are hidden. You can execute different operations on the selected part of the 3D model by right-clicking on the part and utilizing the available functionalities.

     To cancel the isolated part, try the following:

    • Select another part with the Isolate Part command.

    • Select the Assembly option in the Model Tree.

    • Select the Home View option.

    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.

Create cross sections

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





  1. Select the Toggle Cross Section icon  on the 3D toolbar to turn on or off the cross section.

  2. (Optional) Select the arrow on the Toggle Cross Section option to open the drop-down menu. Select 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.

    • Select 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, select 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 select in the 3D model. (The dialog box is dimmed until you select the face of a model part.)

Align To 3 Points

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

Display Settings

Show Intersections

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

Show Cutting Plane

Displays the two-dimensional field that cuts the 3D model. Select 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.

Add Section Caps

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.

Position and Orientation


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, select 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. It makes up a camera view, which can be used both between views and between files.

Select the Camera Properties  from the 3D toolbar. 

If you're unable to see the icon, select the arrow next to the Navigation tool on the left side of the 3D toolbar.

Camera Properties

The Camera Properties of the 3D toolbar allows you to change the way you view and interact with 3D models.

Camera Preset

Save As

Allows you to add a new camera view, or select an existing view from the menu.



Aligns the camera properties only to the target position.

Camera and Target

Aligns the camera properties to both the camera direction and the target position.

Select Model

After you select this option, select a 3D model in the document.

  • 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.

Select Face

After you select this option, select a face of the 3D model in the document. 

  • 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.

Select 3 Points

After you select this option, select three points on the same or different models in the document.

  • 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 plane composed of the three selected points.


Angle units

Changes the Camera X, Camera Y, and Camera 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.


Refers to the point in the 3D model that the camera is aimed at. By setting a camera target, you can focus the camera on a specific area or element in the 3D model, and then move the camera around that area to get a better view.


Field of View

Changes the focal angle of the camera. Drag the Field Of View slider to change the focal angle to the desired degree.


Changes the roll angle of the camera. Drag the Roll slider to change the roll angle to the desired degree.

Save Camera View

Saves the settings and adds the view to the Model Tree.


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