Cursor and Origin in Blender

The Cursor and the Origin in Blender

When we want to Scale or Rotate an object, there always needs to be a reference point – i.e., a point about which the rotation takes place or a point from which the scale starts “growing” from. There is a lot of confusion between the Cursor and the Object Origin . Let’s get it clear:

  • Scale and Rotate use the Object Origin as the reference point about which things are rotated or away from which objects are scaled.
  • The cursor is used as a location marker.
  • If the point about which the object is to be rotated (or scaled from) is not where the Object origin is located, then the Cursor is moved to the correct position and then the Object Origin is moved to the cursor.
  • This is achieved with a “Pie” menu called up with the keystrokes Shift keyS key.

Let’s see how this works in practice:

Let’s say we want to rotate this prism by 30 degrees around this corner:

We want to scale this Prism 2x and rotate it 30 degrees clockwise

Suppose we just execute the Rotate command as it stands. In that case, the rotation will not only be uncontrolled and mess matters up, but Blender will also try to rotate the prism about the Origin point, which is currently in the middle of the diagonal surface. The Scale command will grow it in all directions using a reference point of the middle of the diagonal surface. We must therefore change our reference point to the corner indicated.

How?

First switch to Edit mode Tab Key. Then click the corner vertex to activate it:

The vertex in the corner of the prism is now active

Note: the Origin Point has not moved.

Now let’s move the cursor to that active vertex. (We cannot just click it in Cursor mode).

Type Shift keyS key and the Cursor/Origin Point pie menu appears:

Click on the pie menu option Cursor to Selected

Note: A “pie” menu is a set of menu options arranged in a circle or oval instead of in a row or column.

The cursor now moves to the activated vertex position:

The Cursor is now in position. The Origin point has not moved.

Now we move the origin point to the cursor. We first go into Object mode Tab Key and then click Options:

Tick the checkbox Affect Only Origins. (Otherwise the whole object will move)

Click Shift keyS key again, and the pie menu re-appears:

Click Selection to Cursor
The Object origin now moves to the cursor position
Uncheck the Affect Only Origins checkbox

Now we must switch to ortho view Numpad-3 key before rotating:

Orthogonal view

Now we can rotate 30 degrees:

The prism is rotated 30 degrees clockwise

And now we scale The prism up 2x:

And we scale the prism up by a factor of 2 on all axes.

To Summarize

Move the cursor into position first. Then move the origin (only) to the cursor. Then perform a Scale or Rotate operation in Ortho view.

If the cursor needs to be on a particular corner, first switch to Edit mode so that the vertices are accessible. Select a single vertex. Then Shift keyS key and click

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