How to Add 3D Images in iBooks Author - dummies

How to Add 3D Images in iBooks Author

By Galen Gruman

A very compelling capability in iBooks Author is its support of 3D objects that your e-book readers can rotate on their iPads. You need to create such a file in the Collada 3D model format (a .dae file) supported by programs such as Adobe Photoshop Extended (version CS5 or later), SketchUp, and Strata 3D.

To add a 3D image object to iBooks Author, choose 3D from the Widgets icon menu in the toolbar or choose Insert→Widget→3D.

You can get your Collada 3D file into the 3D image object in a couple of ways:

  • Drag your file from the Finder onto the object.

  • Import the file by clicking Choose in the Widget inspector’s Interaction pane, navigating to the desired file in the settings sheet that appears, selecting that file, and clicking Insert.

If the 3D file is too complex to display on the iPad, a white field appears in the 3D image object. Otherwise, you get a static preview of the 3D image. (You can’t rotate it in iBooks Author.)


After you import the 3D file, you can use only two controls, available in both the Interaction pane and by choosing Format→3D:

  • Object Rotation pop-up menu: You have three choices for how you want the image to rotate:

    • Free Rotate: The default. Rotate the object in any direction along any axis.

    • Horizontal: Spin the object around the y axis only (like a record on a record player).

    • Horizontal and Vertical: Spin the object from side to side (along the y access) and up and down (along the x axis) — but not forward and back (along the z axis).

  • Auto-Rotate Object When Idle check box: When this option is selected, the 3D object self-rotates when viewed on the iPad; enabling this option lets the e-book reader know the object is a 3D one that can be rotated by dragging.

Because you can’t rotate a 3D object within iBooks Author, you should preview it in iBooks on an iPad.

Two views of a rotated 3D object as displayed on an iPad.

Two views of a rotated 3D object as displayed on an iPad.