what is a plan

A plane is a graphical representation of an object or area on a two-dimensional surface. The word comes from the Latin planswhich means ‘flat’ or ‘smooth’.

The plans have application in various fields of knowledge, such as mathematics (geometry), geography, design, architecture, urban planning, engineering and construction in general.

Therefore, the plans are used to design, calculate and / or visualize different objects and spaces, either to bring them to reality, to describe reality or to imagine the appearance of something.

For examplea plan can be used to determine the area of ​​a geometric figure, orient ourselves in a new city, or design the floor plan of a house.

Characteristics of a plane

All plans, regardless of their type, have a set of common characteristics.

  • They are two-dimensional, that is, they are made on a surface with two dimensions: height and width.
  • They are a graphic representation of reality, be it an object or a space.
  • They respond to a certain scale.
  • They serve to project objects and locate elements in space.

Types of planes

There are different types of plans depending on the areas of knowledge in which they are applied. The best known are: Cartesian plane, cartographic plane and drawing plans.

Cartesian plane (geometric plane)


Cartesian plane example.

The Cartesian plane is a concept of geometry, branch of mathematics. It is used to describe the location of points by their coordinates or ordered pairs.

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It is formed with two mutually perpendicular number lines: one horizontal, called abscissa (x), and another vertical, called ordered (Y). The point where the abscissa and ordinate intersect is called origin. Values ​​to the right of and above the origin are positive, while values ​​to the left of and below the origin are negative.

The characteristics or properties of a Cartesian plane are the following:

  • The plane space can be extended without limitations.
  • The coordinate axes are on the same scale.
  • It has infinite points and lines.
  • For a line to be part of a plane, it must have at least two points on it.
  • When planes intersect each other, they establish a line.
  • A line is traversed by infinite planes.

You can delve into: Cartesian plane.

Map map (geographic map)


Example of a cartographic map of the department of Artigas, Uruguay.

In geography cartographic plans are used, that is, maps. A map plan is a scaled representation of the features of an area or terrain on a two-dimensional surface. These characteristics can be geographic, geological, hydrological, topographic, geopolitical, urban, etc. Maps are used to locate us in space (map).

The characteristics of a cartographic or geographic map are the following:

  • They describe the relationships of space through graphic elements and symbols.
  • They stick to a certain scale of measurements.
  • They are two-dimensional, which implies that they partially distort reality.
  • They only represent the aspects of space about which it is necessary to have information. For example, hydrological, geopolitical, geological, tourist maps, etc.

See more at:

  • Map
  • Map Types

technical drawing plans


Example of a technical drawing plan, specifically architectural.

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Technical drawing plans are all those that serve to represent the design of an object to scale. They have application in different professional areas, such as architecture, engineering, graphic design, industrial design, etc.

Within these areas, there can be many varieties of planes. For example: geometric planes and organic planes in graphic design; architectural and civil engineering plans (plants, electrical installations, pipes, etc.); and plans of various machinery and mechanisms.

film shot


From left to right, above: Large general shot, General shot, American shot and Medium long shot. Below: Medium close-up shot, Close-up, Extreme close-up close-up and Detail shot.

In film and photography, a plane is the imaginary surface that the camera picks up through the lens. It is considered the basic unit of audiovisual language. Although it is a concept linked to aesthetic composition, it is still a graphic and two-dimensional representation of reality.

There are several types of photographic or cinematographic plane, depending on the position and height of the people or objects in the composition. The best known are:

  • Grand General Plan (GPG): it shows a great scenario where the object can be missing or blend into the environment.
  • General plan (PG): shows the object in a general environment that gives it context.
  • American plane (PA): displays three quarters of the subject’s image (up to the knees).
  • Medium Long Shot (PML): shows subject up to hip, with some context.
  • Short Medium Shot (PMC): shows subject up to chest, with some context.
  • Foreground (PP): shows subject’s face and shoulders.
  • Extreme close-up (PPP): shows only the subject’s face.
  • Detail drawing (PD): its focus is on a detail of the captured subject/object.
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