I was going through Google looking for data visualisation inspiration and came across a thread in the Tableau Forum which talks about creating a Cylinder Chart, and more interesting, if it is possible to do. As such, I thought that I would create the following tutorial for you all, so I hope you all enjoy and as always, let me know what you think.

Note: This is an alternative type of data visualisation, and sometimes pushed for by clients. Please always look at best practices for data visualisations before deploying this into production.


Load the following data into Tableau Desktop / Public.

United Kingdom,Top,1,60
United Kingdom,Top,361,60
United Kingdom,Bottom,1,60
United Kingdom,Bottom,361,60
United States,Top,1,40
United States,Top,361,40
United States,Bottom,1,40
United States,Bottom,361,40

Note: we need two records for each Metric as we are going to be drawing lines and using densification to get more points on our canvas. For more information, check out our article on Data Densification.

Calculated Fields

With our data set loaded into Tableau, we are going to create the following Calculated Fields and Bins:

Create Path (bin)

  • Right click on Path, go to Create and select Bins…
  • In the Edit Bins dialogue window:
    • Set New field name to Path (bin).
    • Set Size of bins to 1.
    • Click Ok.





TC_Max Value



[TC_Value]/[TC_Max Value]






IF [TC_Type] = "Bottom" THEN
    IF [Index] < 181 THEN

So now that we have created a lot of Calculated fields, we will now put this together into a Worksheet.


We will now build our first worksheet:

  • Change the Mark Type to Polygon.
  • Drag Segment onto Columns.
  • Control and select Segment and Type and drag both items onto Color; ensure that Segment is on top.
  • Drag Path (bin) onto Columns.
    • Right-click on this object and ensure that Show Missing Values is selected.
    • Drag this object onto Path.
  • Drag X onto Columns.
    • Right-click on this object, go to Compute Using and select Path (bin).
  • Drag Y onto Rows.
    • Right-click on this object, go to Compute Using and select Path (bin).
    • Right-click on this object and select Edit Table Calculations.
      • In Nested Calculations select TC_Max Value and go to Specific Dimensions.
        • Tick Segment and Path (bin).
        • Ensure that Segment is on top.

If all goes well you should not see the following:

So now we are going to work on the cosmetics:

  • Edit the Colors.
  • Edit the X-Axis to be a fixed range and from -2 to 2.
  • Hide the Axis Headers.
  • Hide the Grid Lines.
  • Hide the Zero Lines.
  • Add a Tooltip.

You will want to have the following:

Now we are going to create the outline of the Cylinder.

  • Drag Y onto Rows.
    • Right-click on this object, go to Compute Using and select Path (bin).
    • Right-click on the new Y object and select Dual Axis and Synchronize Axis.
  • Edit the Color Mark.

Edit: You want your Marks to look like the following:

You should now see the following:

and boom we are done, this was a fun blog and you can see my version of this visualisation on Tableau Public at https://public.tableau.com/profile/toan.hoang#!/vizhome/CylinderCharts/CylinderChart


I hope you all enjoyed this article as much as I enjoyed writing it and as always do share the love. Do let me know if you experienced any issues recreating this Visualisation, and as always, please leave a comment below or reach out to me on Twitter @Tableau_Magic.

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  1. Hi Master Toan,

    I confused the same issue with Navindran. Once I drag the 2rd Y to the Row, I got the exactly the same looking with the first Y on the View.
    I tried to add or remove the color mark or edit the table calculation for 2rd Y….
    Well…I can still figure what wrong with the problem.
    Oh year, I read your 1-year anniversary article.I was exactly a big big fun from China.(The guy who twittered you for the video playback of London speech:)
    Thank you for your every chart you created for all of guys today.
    I would like to subscribe your further project you talked about in that anniversary test and will like to enroll once that course is available:)
    谢谢!(Thank you!)

    • Hi Navindran, that’s the problem. I think Toan’s original workbook help us a lot on figuring that problem.

      Hi Tian, could u kindly explain for that why the “measure name” marked as color on the second Y object matters quite a lot on making the outline. Thank you sooooo…. much

      • By using Measure Name in the color mark, we plot polygon for Y along Path Bin, hence we get the outline perfectly. If we use Segment and Type it plots the same cylindrical shape for both Y

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