Placing Objects on Stage
      by kirupa

Because Swift 3D is a three-dimensional vector editing/creating program, you can create and edit objects in all three dimensions (x, y, z). Because it is difficult to visualize a three dimensional plane on a 2D monitor, Swift provides you with different camera angles for you to work in. Learning to use the camera angles to your benefit will make you a better "swifter" in the end!

This tutorial will help you to grasp positioning objects in a three-dimensional space in Swift 3D. The final source and a sample animation that I created combining Swift 3D and Flash will be provided towards the end of this tutorial!

Problem: I want to create the illusion of looking through a series of rings using Swift 3D.

Here's the Solution:

  1. Launch Swift 3D and create a new document.
  2. Ensure that the Show Secondary Camera button is selected.

[ the show secondary camera button ]

  1. You should see two empty panels display in your window. One panel should be tabbed "Front-Active" and the other panel should be tabbed "Top".
  2. Press the Create Torus button from your main toolbar:

[ create torus button ]

  1. You should now see a large hollow circle display in your Front-Active camera panel; likewise, you will see a top-down view of your hollow circle (torus) in the Top panel on your right.
  2. Select the torus from the Front panel. Copy the object by pressing Ctrl + C (Edit | Copy). After copying the object, press Ctrl + V (Edit | Paste).
  3. Now, in your Top panel, click on the torus (it should simply be a thick line) and drag the torus up two horizontal lines. Your top panel should look like the following image:

[ the top panel ]

  1. When you moved the torus further up in the Top panel, you should have noticed that the torus is also moved behind in the Front panel:

[ you see two torus'es' ]

  1. Now, go back to your Top panel. Copy the torus near the top. Paste the torus and drag it up a few more notches. Right click on an empty spot and drag back to zoom out to see more of your shapes.
  2. Keep repeating the copy and paste method until you have achieved our original goal of looking through rings. The following image shows you how my front panel looks after I had completed my frenzied copying and pasting:

[ note: I colored all the toruses to a lighter shade of gray ]

Camera Angles
I'm writing this in the hope that I do not confuse you any further :-) The Front and Top panels in Swift are nothing more than camera panels. Imagine that there are two video cameras taping your every movement. One camera is directly in front of you while another camera is directly above you. You see the images from both cameras on your computer.

As you move backward, you notice that in the Top panel, the top of your head seems to move backward - while in the Front panel you seem to get smaller as you move away from the camera. The equal but different motion you see of yourself is the same way Swift works.

 That is the best way for me to explain how the camera angles work in Swift. For every movement you make in one camera panel, an equal change occurs in another camera panel. The camera panels fulfill their goal in making it easier to place and arrange objects in a 3D plane. It is very difficult to place an object behind by using only the Front panel, but if you use the Top panel, you can place objects easily on a horizontal plane.

The following is a sample animation I created using the technique discussed in this tutorial. Instead of using a torus shape, I used rectangles for a smaller file size:

Being the kind, benevolent guy that I am, I have provided the source files for the above animation and tutorial. Click on the following links to download:

Sample Animation
Rectangular Blocks in Sample Animation
Torus Sample (Tutorial Source)

With the download links mentioned above, this tutorial comes to a close. I have not explained how to create the animation featured in the tutorial, but the animation does show how organizing objects in a three dimensional space is useful.

Just a final word before we wrap up. If you have a question and/or want to be part of a friendly, collaborative community of over 220k other developers like yourself, post on the forums for a quick response!

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