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Each and every object that you create will have a specific location from where it will both rotate and scale. That position is known as the object's pivot point and it's important that you are able to not just locate that pivot, but also be able to control it. Here is how that's done. Let's create a box in the Top view. After doing so, we will center it on the screen by hitting Z. Now let's go ahead and activate the Rotate command. I will simply right-click on the object, go to the lower part of the menu and choose Rotate.
An object's pivot point is almost always represented, on the screen, by the position of the transformation gizmo. Remember, you can make that gizmo larger or smaller by using the plus and minus keys on the keyboard. If we grab the yellow ring in top view and rotate the box, you will see that it appears to be rotating from the middle. If we, instead, activate the Front view grabbing the yellow ring there and rotating, you will see that the box is actually rotating from the center bottom of the box. And the same holds true from where it will scale.
So if you activate the Perspective view, change to the Scale command and maybe grab the blue stick only and scale down, you will see it's scaling from the bottom of the box. If we, instead, grab the gold triangle on the scale gizmo, you will see that, again, we are scaling from the bottom of the box. That's probably most easily seen in the Front or Left view. Let's right-click to cancel, to put it back as it originally was. Even though an object can only have a single pivot point, that pivot's position can be moved and believe me you will be doing a lot more of that in your work than you might think.
Here is how you move the pivot. Let's take the Front view full screen and then reactivate the Move command by hitting the W on the keyboard. My gizmo looks a tad small, so I will hit the Plus key to make it a little bit bigger. Now to reposition the pivot point, we will go the Command panel, under the Hierarchy tab, making sure Pivot is the category that's active, then move down under Adjust Pivot and click on Affect Pivot Only. Now when you do so, a different looking red, green, and blue stick will show up where the gizmo is located. This now represents the fact that you are no longer in control of the box, but in control of the box's pivot.
So, with that now active I will move the pivot point to the upper right-hand corner of the box. Now, it's very important to understand that once you are done repositioning the pivot, you got to go back on the right-hand side and turn off the Affect Pivot Only button. Once you have done that, look now at the repositioned pivot point and if we now go back and reactivate the Rotate command and rotate the red ring, look how now it rotates from the upper right-hand corner of that box. The same holds true for the way it scales.
Let's return to four views and see how things look in the Top. Here, again, you see the position of the pivot, located on the right-hand side of the object and by going back to rotate, you will see that it indeed rotates from that location. And same would go for scale. There are a couple of the controls that you need to be aware of. Let's return to the Hierarchy tab in the Command panel, go back under Pivot and reactivate the Affect Pivot Only button.
About another inch or two down, under the Alignment, you will see Center to Object, click on that. That will take the position of the pivot and center it directly in the middle of the object. A little below that you also have the Reset Pivot command. Clicking on that returns the pivot point to its original default location, which as you can see, isn't always in the center of the object. Max also offers a way to temporarily move the pivot, which comes in real handy when you want a quick reposition, but don't want to leave the pivot in that new location. The temporary repositioning of the pivot will have you working what is called Working Pivot mode.
Here is how you do that. This is a file named Working Pivot. If you select the chair and activate the Rotate command, notice the position of the pivot point. It's located at the bottom center of the chair and you can see that, if you rotate the chair. Let's now go to the Modify column. Open up the Editable Poly, click on Element and then select the seat cushion. What's important to note is that anything selected at the sub-object level, will rotate or scale from the center of whatever you have selected.
So you can see with the rotate and with the scale. Let's go back to the top of the Editable Poly, in the Command panel. There is a thing about a temporary pivot. Let's see how you activate that. Again, you will go back to Hierarchy column, but this time going about half way down and clicking on Edit Working Pivot. Now, again, this will put you in control of a pivot, but this is the temporary one.
For our example, let's move that pivot to the back right corner of the chair. In order to be able to rotate and scale off that new temporary position, you will have to go a little further down and click on Use Working Pivot. Check out where the pivot is this time. If you go to rotate the chair, you will see it now does so from that temporary position. The same holds true for scaling.
What's nice is you can even use it in the sub-object mode. So we will go back to our modify column and re-enter element and you see we are still using that temporary pivot position. When you are done with the temporary pivot and want to return to the default pivot location, you will simply go back in the Hierarchy and turn off the Use Working Pivot button.
Notice how the gizmo has repositioned itself to the bottom center of the chair. There you go with the working pivot and pivot points in general. There won't be many projects where moving a pivot a time or two won't come into play, so practice the technique and be ready to put it into action.
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