How to straighten objects quickly using the new origin feature in Blender 2.81


Assalamualaikum. Hi guys!

My name is Widhi Muttaqien from Expose Academy.

Blender 2.81 brings tons of cool new features. One of them is the ability to transform the origin directly. With this feature, it is now possible to straighten tilted objects easily and quickly without the need for a secondary object or the need to align our view to the selected mesh elements. In this video I explain the basic concept and then after the techniques gradually from the easiest example scenario to the hardest one.

I hope this tutorial can be helpful. Happy Blending!

Regards, Widhi Muttaqien

Video transcript:

Assalamualaikum. My name is Widhi Muttaqien from Expose Academy. Blender 2.81 brings tons of cool new features. One of them is the ability to transform the origin directly. With this feature, it is now possible to straighten tilted objects easily and quickly without the need for a secondary object or the need to align our view to the selected mesh elements. So how can we do this? I will explain the techniques gradually from the easiest example scenario to the hardest one. But before that, first I will explain the basics.

Basics of origin’s transformations

If you have an object, like this monkey head object for example. No matter how you rotate the object. You can easily reset the object’s rotation back to its original orientation. Why? Because the original information about the object’s orientation is still there. If you go to the “transformation orientation” option up here, and select “local” here. We can see the object’s origin still hold the information of where the original X, Y, and Z-axis relative to itself. So in this local mode. We can easily move the monkey head forward by dragging the Y-axis. Or move it sideways, or move it up and down, relative to its own orientation. If the object’s origin still correctly aligned to the geometry like this, it is very easy to reset the orientation. You can simply hold Alt and then press R. Or if you forget the shortcut you can also go to the object menu, then choose “clear” then choose “rotation” here. We can see the object is back to its original orientation.

Now, If we rotate this object again to a random orientation. Currently, the origin’s orientation is still correctly aligned with the geometry. But if we apply the orientation by pressing Ctrl + A and then choose “rotation” here. Now the local or the origin’s orientation is not aligned anymore with the geometry. Instead, we just re-oriented it to follow the current world orientation. If we rotate this object around, we can see that the origin’s axes are just not right. And if we try to reset it using the Alt + R command, it will go back to the orientation of where we apply the rotation before. So how can we fix this kind of tilted object? Well, this is what the video is all about, straightening tilted objects.

Basics of object straightening

The workflow of straightening tilted objects using origin manipulation is basically divided into 2 steps. First, fix the Z-axis, then second fix the Z rotation. And that’s it. Although it looks simple, the details of each step may differ depending on the type of object you are working on. I’m going to go over this step by step, by showing you how to straighten different objects from the easiest one to the hardest one. Here I already have several tilted objects.

Let’s go with the easiest one which is a cube. First, make sure the snap mode here is set to “face”. And, this is super important, make sure this “align rotation to target” option is turned on. The whole technique we’re discussing relies on this option. Okay. Now we don’t need to turn on the snap button here as we’re going to use the Ctrl key shortcut to activate the snapping mode. Next, go to the tool options panel here, and choose “origin”. With this option, if we do any transformation, only the origin will get affected. The geometry will stay still. The shortcut for this option is Ctrl + dot. Not the dot key on the Numpad, but the dot key or the period key on the left area near the L letter key. Next, we need to find the face that should be pointing up to the Z-axis. Because this is a cube we can pick any face that we like. Press G, now we’re moving the origin freely. Move the mouse cursor on this face and then hold Ctrl to activate the snapping mode. Then left-click to confirm. We can see how the origin’s Z-axis is now perfectly perpendicular to this face. So we successfully pass the first step. Press Alt + R to reset the rotation. The cube now stands straight vertically. The next step is to fix the Z rotation. For this, you need to find a face that is straight vertically and facing to the front side of the object. Again, because this is a cube, you can pick any of the side-faces here. Let’s pick this one for example. Press G to move the origin, then move the mouse cursor on this face. Then hold the Ctrl key so snap the origin to this face. Then left-click to confirm. Next in the sidebar panel or in the object properties panel. In the rotation Z-axis value, type in 0 here then Enter. Now we can see the cube geometry becomes perfectly straightened. But we’re not finished yet. You need to apply the transformation so if anything happens you can simply reset is back. To apply the transformation you can press Ctrl + A and choose rotation. If you forget the shortcut you can go to object menu up here and then choose “apply” here. And then “rotation”. We can see the orientation is correct but the origin location is not centered. To center the origin you can go to the object menu again, “set origin” and then choose “origin to geometry” here. Now we’re done.

Next, let’s fix this cylinder. Essentially the process is almost similar to fixing the cube. Press G, then Ctrl to snap to this face. Alt + R. G again and Ctrl to snap to any of these side-faces. Then input zero in the rotation Z-axis. Center the origin. Then apply the rotation. It looks like we are done, but we are not yet. You see, the original cylinder has the vertices aligned at the Y-axis line. So we need to rotate this a bit. We now that the default cylinder has 32 vertices. If we want to rotate half of the amount of the side-faces. We can multiply 32 by 2 which is 64. And then use that number to divide 360 degrees. So we can type here 360 divide symbol, then 64, then Enter. Now we have vertices at the center or at the Y-axis line. Just apply the rotation again, and we’re done.

Advanced object straightening

Next, we’re going to use more advanced techniques because we’re now dealing with objects that don’t have any straight vertical face like this cone object. Or object that doesn’t have any face pointing out to the Z-axis like this monkey head model.

Let’s tackle the cone object first. The cone object only has a face that is pointing down not up. We can still use this face. But then later we need to rotate it 180 degrees. So press G and then hold Ctrl and snap the origin to this face. Press Alt + R to reset the transformation. The cone is now rotated upside down. In the X or Y rotation axis, type in 180 and then Enter. Then apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and choose rotation. Next, we need to find a face that is vertically straight and facing the front direction. Currently, the cone object doesn’t have that kind of face. All of these side faces are tilted therefore we can not use them. So, how can we solve this problem then? Well, we can just create the face. We can delete it later after we are done. So go to the edit mode. And go to the edge mode. Select any of the bottom edges here. Press E to extrude then press Z. You need to constrain the extrusion to the Z-axis, otherwise, it will not create a perfectly straight vertical face. After we have something like this. Go back to the object mode. Press G, hold Ctrl and snap the origin to the new face. Input zero in the Z rotation axis. Go to the edit mode. Delete this face. Go back to the object mode. Center out the origin. And then apply the rotation. And just like how we did this with the cylinder. If you want to be super perfect. Type in 360, divide symbol, 64 then Enter. Then do another apply rotation. Now we are done.

Finally the monkey head object. Now, this is the hardest model that we can fix. Why? Well, even though the cone object doesn’t have any face pointing up, it still has a face pointing straight down. The monkey head model, on the other hand, doesn’t have that kind of face. None facing up, nor facing down. Also, it doesn’t have any face that is vertically straight facing the front direction. Because there is no reference in the object itself that can indicate its original orientation. We can only fix this model so far but we won’t be able to get 100 percent accurate to the original orientation. That just impossible to do. Yes, we can create another monkey head model and compare that side by side. But that is not the point of this tutorial. Just imagine that this monkey head object is a custom model that you can not just create simply by pressing Shift + A.

Okay, so the way we can approach this is by looking at the center edges instead. Let’s turn on the wireframe overlays so we can see the edges better. Try to find the center edges that are almost aligned to the original Z-axis. Let’s pick this edge at the mouth here. Now, because we’re going to snap to an edge. Make sure the snap mode is set to edge. Press G and then move the mouse cursor to this edge here and then hold Ctrl, then left-click. Press Alt + R. Next, we need to create a face just like how we did it with the cone object. It should be straight vertically and facing the front direction relative to the object. So, go to edit mode. Select this edge and this edge here. We don’t want to break the original geometry so let’s duplicate these first. Shift + D and then press Z. And then move it down a bit. The press E to extrude, then press Z to make is straight vertically. Select the center edge, then press Ctrl + X to dissolve it. We now have the face that we need. Go back to object mode. Remember we’re going to snap to a face now, so change the snap mode back to “face”. Press G and then hold Ctrl on this face to snap to it. Then input zero in the Z rotation. We now have a straighten monkey head mesh. Apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and choose rotation. Go back inside the edit mode and just remove this floating face. Go to the object mode, and go to the “object” menu, “set origin” and choose “origin to geometry” to center the origin. But as you can see, the monkey head is facing backward. We can easily fix this by typing 180 in the Z rotation. Apply the rotation again. And we are done.

Okay guys. If you want to learn more about computer graphics. Perhaps you want to jump into the video game industry. Or perhaps you want to create digital assets that can generate passive income. Or you want to have a career doing something you really love. Or become an entrepreneur in the creative industry and build your own design firm. Or maybe you just want to learn CG as a hobby. Then you should check out my courses at Udemy or at Skillshare. The links are in the description below. Currently, I have courses in Blender, 3ds max, Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Krita. And more to come -in sha Allah-. All of these courses will guide you from the very basic, step by step, until you can master the skills that you need. As always, subscribe to my channel. Share the video. Give a thumbs up if you like the video, and give a thumbs down if you hate the video. Check out my other tutorials. Wassalamualaikum.