3D Bar Chart in tableau

This article explains how we can create a 3D bar chart in Tableau.


As we all know that, Tableau doesn’t support 3d graphs because they aren’t consistent with best practices for presenting data in a way that it can be accurately understood. Studies have shown that 3D Charts are less accurate than other visualization types, and Tableau has a strong bias towards accuracy in presentation. No one finds 3D bars, 3D pies etc. analytically useful. On the contrary they make the charts harder to read with no real benefit. So many Viz Gurus advised not to use 3D charts in tableau.

NOAH SALVATERRA thoughts on 3D charts

I agree with all the above points and advised you not to use 3D charts. This post is just to extend the capability of Tableau. No one is asking you to use this 3D chart until you can convince your end user. 3D charts are only misleading if you cannot display them in a 3D visualization environment. The below article is inspired by great Viz guru and our very favorite Zen master Adam E McCann recent work.

You can also check Bora Beran approach on “Going 3D with Tableau”


Steps to Reproduce:

I have used Adams technique for #MakeoverMonday week 11- The Likelihood of Orgasm .Please refer the below steps for end result. This tutorial will explain how to make a nice but simple 3D bar chart inside tableau.

Step 1:

For creating a 3D surface plot that represents the relationship between two variables, we need to rearrange the data Set. We want to create a bar chart as per the below image.











Step 2:

Restructuring of the data requires some understanding. The above mentioned diagram is basically divided into 8 segments. Refer the below image.











Now we need to duplicate the data 8 times so that we can draw the above diagram.











Likelihood of Orgasm – 3D


Step 3:

Now we need to create a compact discrete axis which the Bar chart will use. In our 3D bar Chart diagram, we have created an numeric discrete Axis base – 1,2, 3 and 4.

Same we need to create similar axis via Calculated Field.


Step 4:

This 3D bar chart is basically a combination of the Tableau Bar chart and shape. So we need to create two calculated field.

Calculated Field for Bar chart:

So if you see the below chart highlighted in yellow color, ID 3 and ID 7 is being used for Bar charts. So we will be using the same Id’s in our calculated Field.

















Step 5:

Similarly we need to create another calculation for shapes.  So ID 4 and ID 8 are being used as “Top” shapes and ID 2 and ID 6 are used as “Bottom” Shapes. But there’s a catch here,

ID 2 and ID 6 are below the Zero axis, so we need to take Negative value which should go towards – Y axis.








Step 6:

 Now add Type, Gender and Y axis on Column shelf and Adjusted Likelihood Bar and Adjusted Likelihood shapes on row shelf.


Under [Adjusted Likelihood Bar], Put ID field on color marks card and add the required Colors by following the perspective technique like (Lighter to Darker shade) so that it generates a 3D look.

Similarly, Under [Adjusted Likelihood Shape], Put ID field on shape marks card and assigned a proper shape like below.











Step 7:

Perform the dual axis operation and synchronize the axis. Define a proper Background color and add it into dashboard. You final result will look like the below image.











There are some flaws in this chart. Special thanks to Eva Murray for her valuable comments. She made a valid point for the above mentioned chart why we shouldn’t use such chart inside Tableau.

Note: This article is only for learning purpose. Please do not use this 3D chart for any of your Business case.





About the Author: Rajeev Pandey

I am a multidisciplinary designer working in data visualization, interaction design and innovation. Expertise in developing Tableau, Web focus based visualization and reporting applications. I have a passion for analyzing, dissecting, and manipulating data sets as well as, building beautiful dashboard. Naturally talented in communicating between technology and business needs. Diverse and experienced in plenty of different domains .I am quick learner who can absorb new ideas and can communicate clearly and effectively.I love creativity and enjoy experimenting with various technologies.

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