Translating Objects

Translation changes an object's position in space. There are several different translation modes that control the reference frame and interaction — that is, how the object moves when you move the mouse.

To translate objects

  1. Select the objects to translate.

  2. Activate the Translate tool by doing one of the following:

    • Press V.


    • Click the t button on the Transform panel.

  3. If necessary, change any options:

    • The translation modes control the axes used. The last-used mode is automatically activated. For a description of each mode, see Translation Modes.

    • You can restrict the translation to specific axes. See Specifying Axes.

    • Set the pivot as described in Setting the Pivot. When snapping, the pivot defines the point that snaps to the target.

  4. Translate the objects using the mouse in the 3D views:

    • If you are using the SRT manipulators, click and drag on different parts (handles) of the displayed transformation axes to translate the objects in different ways.

      For general information about the SRT manipulators, see Transforming Interactively with the SRT Manipulators. For specific information about the Translate manipulator, see Using the Translate Manipulator.

    • If you are not using the SRT manipulators, click and drag the mouse anywhere in the 3D views.

      The function of the left, middle, and right mouse buttons depends on the tool, mode, and other options — check the mouse/status line at the bottom of the main window for details. You can also drag while pressing multiple mouse buttons simultaneously.

Translation Modes

The translation modes control the axes used when you translate elements. When the Translate tool is active, you can set the transformation mode using the buttons below the SRT boxes on the Transform panel. The transformation modes are divided into two groups, based on their interaction when you are not using SRT manipulators:

  • The View and Plane modes use the left mouse button to drag across the corresponding plane.

  • The Global, Local, Object, and Ref modes use the different mouse buttons to translate along the separate X, Y, and Z axes.

    Translation Modes: XYZ modes (A) and Drag modes (B).


Global translations are performed along the scene's global axes.


Local translations are performed along the axes of the object's local coordinate system as defined by its center.

NoteFor components, Local mode uses the components' averaged reference frame. For more information, see Transforming Components and Clusters [Modeling and Deformation Basics].


View translations are performed with respect to the 3D view. The plane in which the object moves depends on whether you are manipulating it in the Camera, Top, Front, Right, or other view.

NoteIf you are using the SRT manipulators in a perspective view like Camera or User, View mode uses the global scene axes.


Par, or parent, mode translates along the axes of the object's parent. This is the only mode where the axes of interaction correspond exactly to the coordinates of the object's local position for the purpose of animation. When you activate individual axes on the Transform panel, the corresponding local position parameters are automatically marked.

NotePar translation mode is not available for components. In its place, Object mode uses the local coordinates of the object that "owns" the components.


Ref, or reference, mode lets you translate an object along the X, Y, and Z axes of another element or an arbitrary reference plane. For more information, see About Reference Planes.


Plane mode lets you drag an object along the XZ plane of another element or an arbitrary reference plane. For more information, see About Reference Planes.

Using the Translate Manipulator

When using SRT manipulators to translate, there are seven handles that you can click and drag:


Click and drag on a single axis to translate along it.

Double-click to toggle between a single active axis and all three axes, or Shift+double-click to toggle activeness of a single axis (If Allow Double-Click to Toggle Active Axes is on in Transform preferences).


Click and drag between two axes to translate along the corresponding plane.

This behavior is affected by Translate/Scale Interaction Style in your Transform preferences.


Click and drag on the center to translate in the viewing plane.

In addition to dragging the handles, you can:

  • Middle-click and drag anywhere in the 3D views to translate along the axis that most closely matches the drag direction.

  • Click and drag anywhere in the 3D views (except on the manipulator) to perform different actions, depending on the setting for Click Outside Manipulator in the Tools Transform preferences. See To choose the behavior when clicking outside of the manipulators.

  • Right-click to open a context menu, where you can set the manipulation mode and other options. If Click Outside Manipulator is set to either Select Tool or SI|3D-style Transform in your Transform Preferences, then you must right-click directly on the manipulator because those options use the right mouse button for other actions; otherwise, you can right-click anywhere for the context menu. Right-click again to dismiss the menu without choosing an item.

For information about using the SRT manipulators in general, see Transforming Interactively with the SRT Manipulators.

Imposing Limits to Translations

You can set maximum and minimum limits to an object's position in local space.

To limit an object's position

  1. Open the object's Kinematics property editor. For details, see Kinematics Property Editor.

  2. Click the Pos. Limit tab of the Local Transform page.

  3. Toggle the minimum or maximum position box for the object's X, Y, or Z axis.

  4. For each check box you toggle, a corresponding control displays, allowing you to set the minimum position and maximum position for that axis in SOFTIMAGE units.

Snapping Multiple Objects

The COG (center of geometry) option on the Transform panel controls how multiple objects snap when you translate them. When COG is on, the objects preserve their positions relative to each other, and their combined center of geometry snaps to the target. When COG is off, each object in the selection snaps individually to the target.

If, instead of the center of geometry, you want to snap a specific point to a target while keeping the relative positions of the objects, then first set the pivot to that point. For more information, see Setting the Pivot.

For more information about snapping, see Snapping.