Object Manipulation in 3ds Max - Align Tool

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  • Design Visualization
  • Modeling
  • 2011
  • Basics
  • Motion Graphics
  • Environment
  • Workflow
  • 3ds Max
Skill Level
  • Beginner
3 min

Object Manipulation in 3ds Max - Align Tool

In this tutorial, learn how to leverage the Align Tool to match the position, rotation, and scale of two objects.


  • Recorded in: 3ds Max 2010
  • This tutorial is intended for use with 3ds Max version 2010 or higher.


00:00:00 --> 00:00:06
The Align tool enables you to match the position, rotation and scale
of two objects based on criteria you specify.

00:00:06 --> 00:00:09
When you need to align two objects, you select the object you wish
to relocate first,

00:00:09 --> 00:00:12
and then using the Align tool, you click on the target object.

00:00:12 --> 00:00:19
By default, 3ds Max attempts to align the two objects in all three
directions (X, Y and Z), using their respective pivot points as a reference.

00:00:20 --> 00:00:24
In this case, the pivot points of the building blocks happen to be
at their bottom centers.

00:00:24 --> 00:00:28
You can change the reference to align the two objects
based on their 3D centers.

00:00:28 --> 00:00:32
By clicking OK, the dialog closes and the source object is relocated.

00:00:33 --> 00:00:35
Often, you need to align the two objects using various constraints,

00:00:35 --> 00:00:40
As an example, you may want the bottom of the tower to be aligned
with the top of the base.

00:00:40 --> 00:00:44
In such a case, you are looking at a "height-only" translation based
on the Z-axis.

00:00:44 --> 00:00:51
With the Z-axis alone enabled, you can force the minimum value
(lowest Z-value of the tower), to be aligned with the maximum value
(highest point) of the base.

00:00:52 --> 00:00:55
Usually, you do not need to exit the dialog to force changes.

00:00:55 --> 00:00:59
To place the tower on the corner of the base building, you can start
by aligning the two as usual.

00:00:59 --> 00:01:07
Work on each axis independently. Start with X and align the Minimum Value
(left side of the tower) to the Minimum Value (Left side of the base).

00:01:09 --> 00:01:13
By clicking the Apply button, you are confirming the changes without
exiting the dialog.

00:01:13 --> 00:01:17
Any previously enabled axis is now unchecked, and you are ready to make
further changes.

00:01:17 --> 00:01:23
For example, you can now enable the Y-axis, and set the mode to use
Maximum Values for both objects.

00:01:23 --> 00:01:26
This aligns the back sides of the two buildings together.

00:01:32 --> 00:01:36
In addition to aligning in position mode, you can also reorient
one object to another.

00:01:36 --> 00:01:40
Center back the tower to the base by aligning it in X and Y,
center to center.

00:01:40 --> 00:01:44
The tower is already at the correct height, so you do not need
to change the Z-axis.

00:01:46 --> 00:01:52
Using the Move tool, set the coordinate system to Local mode.
This will let you properly view the orientation of the selected object.

00:01:53 --> 00:01:57
Notice the difference in orientation between the tower and this green car.

00:01:58 --> 00:02:02
You can align the orientation of the tower to that of the car without
relocating the tower at all.

00:02:02 --> 00:02:06
With the tower selected, use the Align tool and choose the car
as a target.

00:02:06 --> 00:02:11
By default, the align tool tries to relocate the source object
based on the last Align command you used.

00:02:11 --> 00:02:16
Disable all axes in the Position group. The tower goes back
to its original place.

00:02:16 --> 00:02:19
Align the orientation using the X-axis.

00:02:21 --> 00:02:26
The X-axis is now the same for both objects but the tower
is vertically flipped.

00:02:27 --> 00:02:30
Also, the Y and Z axes don't match.

00:02:34 --> 00:02:39
Repeat the procedure, only this time make sure both X and Y are enabled.

00:02:44 --> 00:02:50
For good measure, and always when forcing the same orientation
for both objects, enable all three orientation axes.

00:02:51 --> 00:02:55
The tower, like the car, is now rotated 45 degrees.

00:02:55 --> 00:03:02
Aligning scale is less often used. It matches the scale of a source
object to that of a target object, using the same principals learned here.

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  • 3ds Max
  • Modeling
  • 2011
  • Basics
  • Motion Graphics
  • Environment
  • Workflow
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