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Understanding pivot points

From: 3ds Max 2010 Essential Training

Video: Understanding pivot points

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.

Understanding pivot points

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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This video is part of

Image for 3ds Max 2010 Essential Training
3ds Max 2010 Essential Training

134 video lessons · 11365 viewers

Steve Nelle
Author

 
Expand all | Collapse all
  1. 5m 30s
    1. Welcome
      1m 0s
    2. How to use this title
      1m 59s
    3. Using the exercise files
      2m 31s
  2. 25m 1s
    1. Getting a handle on the production process
      4m 32s
    2. Understanding the importance of traditional art concepts and principles
      3m 13s
    3. Using reference material
      2m 46s
    4. Understanding 3D space
      3m 51s
    5. Improving your workflow
      4m 45s
    6. The built-in help system
      5m 54s
  3. 31m 25s
    1. Getting to know the interface
      5m 54s
    2. Getting around in the viewports
      10m 39s
    3. Controlling how 3ds Max measures
      3m 5s
    4. Customizing the interface
      7m 13s
    5. Useful right-click commands
      4m 34s
  4. 25m 45s
    1. Starting a new project
      5m 10s
    2. Opening, importing, and merging files
      5m 57s
    3. Saving and exporting files
      7m 6s
    4. Holding and fetching files
      4m 24s
    5. Summary info and object properties
      3m 8s
  5. 1h 24m
    1. Selection techniques
      8m 23s
    2. Naming objects
      3m 23s
    3. Reading the Transform Gizmo
      5m 0s
    4. Moving objects
      13m 33s
    5. Rotating objects
      6m 44s
    6. Scaling objects
      6m 13s
    7. Coordinating systems
      10m 8s
    8. Understanding pivot points
      6m 35s
    9. Hiding and freezing objects
      4m 57s
    10. Making copies
      13m 20s
    11. Grouping objects
      6m 41s
  6. 1h 22m
    1. Creating standard primitive objects
      19m 3s
    2. Creating extended primitive objects
      12m 39s
    3. Creating shapes
      12m 7s
    4. Creating lines
      9m 3s
    5. Creating architectural objects
      11m 0s
    6. Project: Creating a car axle and wheels
      18m 37s
  7. 1h 31m
    1. Extruding objects
      8m 33s
    2. Lathing objects
      9m 7s
    3. Lofting objects
      10m 54s
    4. The Boolean commands
      6m 45s
    5. Box modeling
      8m 43s
    6. Building a chandelier with box modeling
      7m 59s
    7. Paint deformation
      9m 39s
    8. Patch modeling
      10m 4s
    9. NURBS modeling
      13m 33s
    10. Surface normals
      6m 36s
  8. 31m 55s
    1. Building the stand
      6m 49s
    2. Building the motor housing
      3m 16s
    3. Building the fan blades
      6m 36s
    4. Building the fan blade cage
      4m 38s
    5. Adding the electrical cord
      5m 54s
    6. Adding the hardware
      4m 42s
  9. 49m 56s
    1. Understanding sub-object types
      3m 48s
    2. Selecting sub-objects
      7m 9s
    3. Converting or using a modifier
      4m 9s
    4. Transforming sub-objects
      7m 18s
    5. Using 2D sub-object modeling commands
      7m 4s
    6. Using 3D sub-object modeling commands
      12m 38s
    7. Ignoring backfacing
      4m 44s
    8. Making soft selections
      3m 6s
  10. 1h 10m
    1. Understanding the modifier stack
      3m 25s
    2. Working with the modifier stack
      4m 35s
    3. Understanding modifier order
      4m 4s
    4. Applying modifiers in the middle of the stack
      6m 26s
    5. Copying and pasting modifiers
      5m 20s
    6. Collapsing the stack
      8m 43s
    7. Using freeform deformation modifiers
      7m 18s
    8. Using the flex modifier
      5m 12s
    9. Using the lattice modifier
      5m 49s
    10. Modifying hair and fur
      7m 43s
    11. Using modifiers that reduce geometry
      6m 14s
    12. Applying modifiers at the sub-object level
      5m 56s
  11. 2h 29m
    1. Building materials
      3m 54s
    2. Understanding the material editor interface
      5m 15s
    3. Controlling the main body color
      5m 0s
    4. Adding and controlling shine
      4m 6s
    5. Controlling transparency
      3m 26s
    6. Using self-illumination
      3m 17s
    7. Applying materials
      7m 13s
    8. Retrieving a scene material
      3m 50s
    9. Designing a complex material
      7m 31s
    10. Creating rough surfaces with bump maps
      8m 19s
    11. Using reflection maps
      7m 24s
    12. Using opacity maps
      7m 51s
    13. Editing maps
      11m 53s
    14. Building a multi sub-object material
      10m 30s
    15. Taking advantage of material libraries
      8m 15s
    16. Mapping coordinates
      12m 32s
    17. Using sub-object mapping
      7m 53s
    18. Using the UVW unwrap modifier
      10m 58s
    19. Using Photoshop to edit maps
      8m 0s
    20. Applying materials to an oscillating fan
      11m 55s
  12. 1h 19m
    1. Comparing real-world and computer lights
      3m 20s
    2. Identifying the types of lights in 3ds Max
      6m 43s
    3. Applying omni lights
      6m 46s
    4. Using spot lights
      10m 12s
    5. Controlling shadows
      10m 12s
    6. Adjusting how far a light shines
      8m 41s
    7. Excluding objects from light
      4m 8s
    8. Using projector lights
      6m 6s
    9. Setting light volume
      4m 51s
    10. Setting global illumination
      5m 52s
    11. Lighting a scene
      12m 42s
  13. 57m 23s
    1. Comparing real-world and computer cameras
      1m 17s
    2. Identifying Max's camera types
      9m 51s
    3. Camera viewport navigation
      5m 59s
    4. Changing a camera's lens length
      3m 36s
    5. Controlling focus with depth of field
      4m 46s
    6. Applying motion blur
      8m 34s
    7. Using clipping planes
      3m 21s
    8. Activating a show safe frame
      5m 3s
    9. Putting a camera on a path
      11m 6s
    10. Locking a camera onto an object
      3m 50s
  14. 1h 46m
    1. Understanding the principles of animation
      5m 41s
    2. Understanding the animation process
      2m 29s
    3. Controlling animation
      5m 14s
    4. Animating with auto key
      8m 42s
    5. Animating with set key
      10m 58s
    6. Moving keyframes
      8m 26s
    7. Copying keyframes
      5m 21s
    8. Deleting keyframes
      5m 39s
    9. Using the Dope Sheet
      9m 15s
    10. Using the Curve Editor
      12m 29s
    11. Linking and unlinking objects
      10m 6s
    12. Animating an object along a path
      13m 44s
    13. Animating an oscillating fan
      8m 51s
  15. 43m 45s
    1. Rendering techniques
      8m 10s
    2. Using active shade
      5m 25s
    3. Creating previews
      4m 23s
    4. Using the RAM player
      5m 49s
    5. Saving a rendering
      5m 24s
    6. Loading background images
      7m 18s
    7. Using mental ray
      7m 16s
  16. 31s
    1. Goodbye
      31s

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