I want to draw a 3D (rotational) Cartesian coordinate system as shown in the attached figure. As a new user of TikZ, I stuck on the following points:

1) How to plot two arcs with same center and different radius (arrow head)

2) intersection points b/w arc and line

3) rotated co-ordinates (one of the case is shown in figure) on that intersection point

There is something I managed to do today with the help of examples and manual, but this is surely not an efficient and smart way to start this problem.

I would really appreciate your help.


% add: rotation option
\coordinate (O) at (0,0,0);
\draw[thick,->] (0,0,0) -- (1,0,0) node[anchor=north east]{$x$};
\draw[thick,->] (0,0,0) -- (0,1,0) node[anchor=north west]{$y$};
\draw[thick,->] (0,0,0) -- (0,0,1) node[anchor=south]{$z$};

\draw[red] [name path=A1] (3,0) arc(0:120:3);

\draw[red][name path=r1] (0,0) -- (3,3);
\draw [name intersections={of=A1 and r1, by=y}] (y) circle (1pt);

\draw[blue] (6,0) arc(0:120:6);


enter image description here

  • 1
    The most immediate thing is that you have not yet installed the 3d coordinates. Please consider adding [tdplot_main_coords] to the options of the tikzpicture.
    – user121799
    Mar 9, 2019 at 15:37

1 Answer 1


In order to make use of tikz-3dplot, you need to install its coordinate system. And then the 3d library allows you to transform to various planes. In these planes, you can draw arcs as usual.

\begin{tikzpicture}[tdplot_main_coords,bullet/.style={fill,circle,inner sep=1.5pt,transform shape}] 
 \coordinate (O) at (0,0,0);
%  \draw[thick,-stealth] (0,0,0) -- (1,0,0) node[anchor=north east]{$x$};
%  \draw[thick,-stealth] (0,0,0) -- (0,1,0) node[anchor=north west]{$y$};
%  \draw[thick,-stealth] (0,0,0) -- (0,0,1) node[anchor=south]{$z$};
 \begin{scope}[canvas is xy plane at z=0]
  \draw[blue,-latex] (120:\r) arc(120:-30:\r) node[above,black]{$s$};
  \path (\myangle:\r) node[bullet] (P1){};
  \draw[-stealth] ($(P1)+(\myangle+90:1)$) -- ($(P1)+(\myangle-90:2)$) node[above]{$\hat z$};
  \draw[-stealth] (O) -- (0:\r) node[midway,right]{$\rho$};
  \draw[-stealth] (O) -- (90:\r) node[midway,below]{$\rho$};
  \draw[-stealth] (O) -- (\myangle:\R+1) node[below left]{$\hat x$};
  \path (\myangle:\R) node[bullet](P2'){};
 \begin{scope}[canvas is xy plane at z=2]
  \draw[red,-latex] (120:\R) arc(120:-30:\R) ;
  \path (\myangle:\R)node[bullet] (P2){};
  \draw[-stealth,thick] (P2) -- ++ (\myangle-90:0.5) node[midway,above]{$\mathrm{d}\vec r$};
  \path (\myangle:\r) node[bullet](P1'){};
  \draw[thin] (P2'.center) -- (P2.center) -- (P1'.center);
 \path (P1.center) -- (P1'.center) coordinate[pos=-0.3] (aux1)
 coordinate[pos=1.5] (aux2); 
 \draw[-stealth] (aux1) -- (aux2) node[right]{$\hat y$};

enter image description here


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