3ds Max provides three controls, collectively referred to as the transform managers, for modifying the action of the transform tools.
The transform manager controls are as follows:
- The Reference Coordinate System drop-down list, which controls the orientation of the transform axes, is found to the right of the Move, Rotate, and Scale transform buttons
on the main toolbar.
- The Transform Center flyout, which controls the center about which 3ds Max applies the transform, is found to the right of the Reference Coordinate System drop-down list.
- The Axis Constraint setting lets you restrict the transform to a single axis or two axes (that is, a plane). The axis constraint tools appear on the
Axis Constraints toolbar, which is off by default. You can open the toolbar by right-clicking an empty spot on the main toolbar
and choosing Axis Constraints from the menu.
Certain terms are used in the description of transforms and the transform managers.
- An axis is a straight line along which an object is moved or scaled, or about which an object is rotated. When you work in 3D, you
use three axes, labeled X, Y, and Z, which are oriented 90 degrees from each other.
- A coordinate system specifies the orientation of the X, Y, and Z axes used by a transform.
For example, in the World coordinate system, as seen from the Front view, the X axis runs horizontally from left to right,
the Y axis runs from back to front, and the Z axis runs vertically, from bottom to top.
On the other hand, each object carries its own Local coordinate system. If the object has been rotated, its Local coordinate
system might be different from the world coordinate system.
- The transform center, or pivot point, is the spot about which a rotation takes place, or to and from which scaling occurs.
Using the transform managers, you can specify any combination of axes, transform coordinate systems, and transform centers.
Axis Tripod Icon
An axis tripod appears in the viewports when you select one or more objects, to assist you visually in your transforms. This
tripod consists of three lines, labeled X, Y, and Z, and shows you three things:
- The orientation of the tripod reveals the orientation of your coordinate system.
- The location of the junction of the three axis lines shows you where your transform center is.
- The highlighted red axis lines show you the axis or axes to which the transform is constrained. For example, if only the X
axis line is red, you can move objects only along the X axis.
The Transform gizmo supplants the axis tripod for selections when a transform mode is active. Besides providing all of the
above functions, it lets you specify the transform axis or axes without explicitly setting constraints; see Using the Axis Constraints
. For more on the Transform gizmo, see Using Transform Gizmos
You can toggle the display of the axis tripod in all viewports by choosing Views menu Show Transform Gizmo, or by pressing the X key.
Transform Manager Settings
The state of the three transform managers (coordinate system, center, and axis constraints) is stored with each type of transform.
When you switch from Move to Rotate to Scale, the transform managers change to whatever combination they were in when you
last used that transform.
For example, if you click Rotate and set the transform managers to Local, Selection Center, and Y constraint, when you click
Move, the controls might shift to View, Pivot Point, and XY constraint (whichever combination was set the last time you used
Move). When you go back to Rotate, the controls revert to Local, Selection Center, and Y constraint.
To avoid surprises, always click the transform button first, and then set the transform managers. If, instead, you first set
the transform managers, their settings are likely to change as soon as you choose a new transform button. One way to remember
this is always to set the transform and managers by working from left to right on the toolbar. Alternatively, you can turn
on Customize menu
Reference Coordinate System group
Constant, which keeps the transform manager settings the same for all transforms.