Sketching Atomic Orbitals: a Primer for Chemistry 1000
s orbitals are all spherical; in sketching them we ignore any inner nodes that distinguish zs
from 2s, etc.
Similarly, for all the more complex orbitals, we draw only the simplest version, so that for p
we sketch 2p, and for d we sketch 3d. Beyond this it gets too complicated, and we will not y
ask you to learn the f orbital shapes. One reason for this is that the f orbitals are very little
used in any chemical bonds.
p orbitals all have the same “barbell” shape, but differ in orientation.
z z z
There are two approaches to drawing p orbitals. p p p
(1) Drawing on an xyz grid in a perspective mode z y x
emphasizes their differing orientations
simultaneously: + -
y - + y y
x x x
z y x
(2) Draw them in two dimensions, by alternating
the axis labels (be sure to maint