by kirupa

Many people, including me, once believed Swift 3D can do nothing more than simple 3D spins and turns that come with the software. Of course, you can create complex animations entirely in Swift 3D. Before you can learn how to create your own animations in Swift 3D, you need to master important techniques such as transforming objects and their camera angles.

Setting up the Initial Object
How can we transform an object when the object does not exist? The next few steps briefly explain how to create the object:

  1. Launch Swift 3D and create a new document.
  1. Click the Create Box button found near the top of the Swift 3D window. A large cube will display in your main work area. We will be using this cube and modifying it throughout this tutorial.

Scaling An Object
Surely you do not want your cube to take up almost all of the workable area do you? When an object is too large or too small, you need to scale it. The following steps explain how to scale your object:

  1. Look at your cube. It is far too large and must be scaled down in size.
  1. To make an object smaller, right click on the cube and drag down. When you are scaling, you will notice that your mouse cursor changes.

[ mouse pointer changes during scaling ]

  1. To increase the scale of an object, right click on the object and drag up. The object will scale up.

Zooming In/Out
I bet you are wondering what the difference between zooming and scaling is. When you scale an object, you are literally modifying the width, height, and depth of the object to make it smaller or larger. When you zoom in, on the other hand, you simply move the camera's focus further back or nearer to the object. The object's length, width, and depth are not affected during zooming.

The following steps explain how to zoom:

  1. Find an area outside of your cube. Don't right click on the cube, but right click outside the cube and drag the cursor down.
  2. As you drag the cursor down, you will notice that you are zooming out:

[ mouse pointer changes during scaling ]

  1. To zoom in, right click on any empty spot of your animation and drag up.

There are several more methods of transforming the object that you will learn in this tutorial. Before we continue, there is an important idea for you to comprehend first. The object and the area around it are completely independent of each other.

When you right click on an object, you are modifying the object's properties such as position, scale, etc. When you click on the empty space around the object, you are modifying the camera. The use of the camera, the empty space around the object, confuses many people. When you do anything to the empty space around the object, you are, figuratively, telling the cameraman or camerawoman to shift positions. The subject of the camera, the 3D object, is not altered in any way shape or form.

Rotating, Tilting, and Spinning
The final three ways in which an object can be modified are by rotating, tilting, and spinning. Here's how:

  1. Click on the cube with your left mouse pointer. The cube will be selected.
  2. Now, look at the panel on your bottom left:

[ the rotate, tilt, and spin panel ]

  1. From that panel (see image above) you will be able to rotate, tilt, and spin the cube. In that panel, click the button with two arrows going on either side. That button with the two arrows is called the Lock Horizontal button:

[ the lock horizontal button ]

  1. Once you clicked the Lock Horizontal button, select the cube found in the panel (not the cube in your main work area). Select the cube and drag the mouse cursor horizontally. Notice that the cube is now rotating in the direction of your dragging:

[ notice that your cube is rotating ]

  1. The other two buttons control the vertical tilt and spin. You would repeat steps i - iv except click the two other transform buttons besides the Lock Horizontal button.
  2. If you decide that you don't like any transform effect you applied, you can use the reset buttons on the right. The table near the end of the page will explain what all the buttons mean.

Rotating, Tilting, and Spinning the Camera
Just like you were able to modify the cube, you can modify the camera angle. The primary difference between transforming the cube and the camera, is that the camera rotates the x, y, and z axis instead of the cube.

I will not be repeating the instructions on moving the camera because the instructions are redundant. To modify the camera positions, simply click on an empty portion of your animation. Go to the bottom left panel (it should be empty) and then click one of the three transform buttons and drag the mouse around in the empty sphere:

[ transforming the camera ]

The above tutorial basically summarizes all there is to know about transforming the object and camera angle. The following table explains the function all the buttons in the bottom-left panel:

 Button Functions:
Lock Horizontal
Enables you to only rotate the camera or object horizontally.
Lock Vertical
Enables you to only rotate the camera or object vertically.
Lock Spin
Enables you to only spin the camera or object without modifying the vertical and horizontal positions.
Rotation Increment
Allows your camera or object to rotate in set increments instead of the full 360 degrees offered.
Reset Position
Resets the object's position after a transform.
Reset Pivot Location
Resets the object's pivot change position to its default setting before any transform effect was applied.
Reset Rotation
Resets the rotation of the object.
Reset Camera Location
Resets the camera position to its default position before any camera positions were modified.

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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