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Defining an Object's Location (Translation)

As you work in DAZ Studio, you will undoubtedly want to move objects around your scene. You accomplish this by exercising the first and easiest type of motion: Translation.

Translation occurs when an object’s local origin moves in relation to the global origin, assuming that the local and global axes do not move.

You’ve already learned that DAZ Studio refers to the three-dimensional axes as X, Y, and Z. These designations are part of what is known in 3D software programs as the Cartesian coordinate system. This system uses these three axes to represent the three dimensions.

The 3D universe extends an infinite negative and positive distance in each dimension, and the origin is literally the center of that universe. The center of the DAZ Studio universe lies on the floor in the exact center of your scene. In fact, an item appears in the exact center when you first load an item from the Content Tab. From that point, you can use the xtran, ytran, or ztran Parameter dials to move your objects in a positive or negative direction as follows:

  • Move your object along the X axis (xtran) to move it left or right. Negative numbers move it to the left of the center point. Positive numbers move it to the right of the center point.
  • Move your object along the Y axis (ytran) to raise or lower it. Negative numbers move it down, and positive numbers move it up.
  • Move your object along the Z axis (ztran) to bring it closer or move it farther away. Negative numbers move it backward, and positive numbers move it forward.

To show an example, use the Create > New Primitive > Cube command to place a cube inside an empty scene. It loads in the exact center of the default viewport, at the (0,0,0) position.

Now, say you want to move your object 60 units to the left of the origin point. Select the cube, and adjust the X Translate dial to -60. The Cartesian coordinate system now looks at the position as (-60,0,0) because the position is always listed as (X,Y,Z).

What if you want to move the object in more than one direction? You already have the cube moved 60 units to the left, but let’s say you want to position your object 70 units up, and 90 units backward. Simply adjust the Y Translate dial to 70 to move the cube up, and the Z Translate dial to -90 to move the object backward. The new Cartesian coordinates will now be (-60,70,-90).

You can see the results of the preceding example below, where the original position is shown partially transparent. The red line indicates the X axis, the green line indicates the Y axis, and the blue line indicates the Z axis. The darker cube is the cube that has been relocated to the new position in the scene.


Rotating Objects

Need to rotate a figure, body part, prop, light, or other object? Programmatically, this requires trigonometry to calculate each point’s new location. Luckily, DAZ Studio handles this for you.

Technically, rotation is the opposite of translation. In other words, rotation occurs when you move an object’s local axes, relative to the global axes, without moving the local origin.

To help this make sense, imagine you are six feet tall. Now, imagine being spun upside down. Your head is still six feet from your feet.

Even though you’re upside down, you still consider your head as the “top” side and your feet the “bottom” side. In other words, your head will still be above your feet (in your own local coordinates) low your feet in global coordinates.

The image that follows shows an example of rotation. DAZ Studio allows you to rotate entire objects or parts of objects (such as turning a figure’s head).


Defining an Object's Shape and Size

Besides defining an object’s location, Cartesian coordinates also define the shape or size of an object. In this case, the locations of each of the corners defines the size, shape, and location of the cube in relation to the origin.

A cube is a very simple example. Look at the image on the right and notice how each point defines a corner of a cube. Defining point locations, then connecting the dots gives us our shapes, complete with size and location information. What about a more complex shape like a human?

Scale is a fancy term for changing an object’s size along one or more of its local axes. Again, this requires complex calculations, which DAZ Studio performs for you.

There are a number of different ways to scale:

  • You can scale the entire object uniformly. For example, you could make a figure twice as big while preserving its proportions, as shown below.
  • You can scale the object along one or more axes. For example, scaling the figure by 200% along its X axis will make it look twice as wide while preserving its height and length. This will result in a squashed look.
  • You can scale one or more of a figure’s body parts. For example, you can enlarge or shrink a figure’s head without affecting the rest of its body. You can also scale his head uniformly or along only one or two axes.