Rotate in Blender

How do I Rotate an Object in Blender?

Many people seem to have trouble rotating objects. There are hundreds of tutorials about rotating, but most of them don’t mention the trick that makes rotation extremely easy. Consider this image below. We have a plane in our drawing (the orange “line”). It’s not really a line (even though it looks like one); it is actually a flat object which we are looking at facing the edge. So we see the edge closest to us, but looking at it from this direction, we can’t see any depth.

To rotate it,

  • You first select the object you want to rotate. (In this case, the orange plane)
  • You make sure that the object origin is either in the middle of the “line” or on one of the ends. How to place the origin in the right place? Have a look at this article. For the moment, we make sure the cursor is in a good position because the plane will rotate about the cursor.
  • Type R Key to initiate the Rotate command.
  • Move the mouse in the direction of the arrow shown until the plane rotates to the approximately correct orientation. It doesn’t have to be exact, just approximately. Then Left-Click anywhere in the viewport.
  • A parameter panel will appear (usually in the left-hand bottom of the viewport). It might be the fill expanded panel as shown in the picture, or it might just appear as a heading like this: Rotate Parameters . In which case, click the arrow to expand it.
  • In the Angle field, type in the exact angle it should be. Press Enter Key and then click into the viewport to complete the rotate operation.
Rotating the selected (orange) plane

So what’s the trick?

The trick is that when we rotate an object, we must be viewing the object to be rotated perpendicularly. In the picture above, we rotate the plane with complete control because we are looking at it orthogonally from the side view.

Consider this slab:

A rectangular slab

Now let’s say we want to rotate it so that the long side goes upwards. We need to choose which orthogonal view we can rotate it in.

If we try it in top view Numpad 7 key this is what we get:

Rotating in top view won’t flip it up

So let’s try rotating the slab in the front view Numpad-1 key:

Rotating in Front view just turns it on it’s side

So we are left with rotating in side view Numpad-3 key:

Rotating in Side view flips the long side up giving us what we want

When we then jump pack to perspective view, this is the result of rotating in the side view:

The correct rotation – the slab is flipped up

Another Example

Let’s look at another example in more detail. This time we will use a cone as our object:

A newly added cone object in Ortho view
The same cone, this time in perspective view.

Now let’s say we want to rotate this cone 90 degrees so that the flat base is now vertical. So, without changing the view in the picture above, we select the cone and press R Key to rotate it. We rotate it using the mouse until it is approximately in position and Left-Click. The parameters panel for the Rotate command appears:

We correct the -97.1 measured value to exactly -90 degrees

The resulting cone looks like this:

The Rotated Cone

Well, that looks good, doesn’t it?

Err… Actually not!

If you look at our cone in ortho view by pressing Numpad-3 key, we see this:

The cone in Ortho View

Oops… So what happened to our 90 degrees? Well, in fact, Blender did rotate the cone 90 degrees, but it was done in a non-orthogonal view, so the cone was actually rotated partially on one axis and partially on another. Blender acted as if our perspective view were an orthogonal view. The result is a mess!

Can we fix it? Not easily. We will just have to undo Ctrl KeyZ Keythat rotation and rotate it properly.

OK, so how do we rotate properly? By rotating in an orthogonal view ONLY.

So we undo our rotation and the cone is once again in the upright position. Switch to the orthogonal view Numpad-3 key like this:

Orthogonal view – the rotation has been undone

Now in this Orthogonal view we rotate R Key the cone, and in the parameters panel we type -90 degrees. This is what we get:

Cone rotated 90 degrees

That’s better! The flat base is now vertical as intended. Here is a perspective view of the correctly rotated cone:

Perspective view of the rotated cone

The only time you don’t rotate in orthogonal view is when you want to rotate an object in a diagonal plane or across the face of an object. In which case, select the face in Edit mode and set the view to be orthogonal to that face with Shift keyNumpad 7 key. Or, if you prefer, you can use the Align View drop-down menu:

The Align View menu path

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