Using Transform Gizmos
Command entry:Select an object. main toolbar Click any transform button to display the objects Transform Gizmo icon.

The Transform gizmos are viewport icons that let you quickly choose one or two axes when transforming a selection with the mouse.

You choose an axis by placing the mouse over any axis of the icon, and then drag the mouse to transform the selection along that axis. In addition, when moving or scaling an object, you can use other areas of the gizmo to perform transforms along any two axes simultaneously. Using a gizmo avoids the need to first specify a transform axis or axes on the Axis Constraints toolbar, and also lets you switch quickly and easily between different transform axes and planes.

Move gizmo

Rotate gizmo

Scale gizmo

A Transform gizmo appears when one or more objects are selected and one of the transform buttons (Select And Move, Select And Rotate, or Select And Scale) is active on the main toolbar. Each transform type uses a different gizmo. By default, each axis is assigned one of three colors: X is red, Y is green, and Z is blue. The corners of the Move gizmo are assigned the two colors of the related axes; for example, the corner for the XZ plane is red and blue.

When you position the mouse over any axis, it turns yellow to indicate that it’s active. Similarly, position the mouse over one of the plane handles, and both associated axes turn yellow. You can now drag the selection along the indicated axis or axes. Doing so changes the Axis Constraints toolbar "Restrict to ..." setting.

NoteWhen no transform tool is active and you select one or more objects, axis tripods appear in the viewport.

The axis tripod appears when the transform gizmo is inactive.

Each axis tripod consists of three lines, labeled X, Y, and Z, and shows you three things:

  • The orientation of the tripod reveals the orientation of the current reference coordinate system.
  • The location of the junction of the three axis lines shows where the current transform center is.
  • The highlighted red axis lines show the current axis constraints.

Move Gizmo

The Move gizmo includes plane handles, and the option to use a center box handle.

You can select any of the axis handles to constrain movement to that axis. In addition, the plane handles allow you to constrain movement to the XY, YZ, or XZ planes. The selection hotspot is within the square formed by the plane handles. You can change the size and offset of the handles and other settings on the Gizmos panel of the Preferences dialog.

The Move gizmo with the YZ axes selected.

You can constrain translation to the viewport plane by dragging the center box. To use this optional control, turn on Move In Screen Space.

Rotate Gizmo

The Rotate gizmo is built around the concept of a virtual trackball. You can rotate an object freely, about the X, Y, or Z axis, or about an axis perpendicular to the viewport.

The axis handles are circles around the trackball. Drag anywhere on one of them to rotate the object about that axis. As you rotate about the X, Y, or Z axis a transparent slice provides a visual representation of the direction and amount of rotation. If you rotate more than 360°, the slice overlaps and the shading becomes increasingly opaque. 3ds Max also displays numerical data to indicate a precise rotational measurement.

In addition to XYZ rotation, you can also use free rotation or the viewport handle to rotate objects.

Drag inside the Rotate gizmo (or the outer edge of the gizmo) to perform free rotation. Rotation should behave as if you were actually spinning the trackball.

The outermost circle around the Rotate gizmo is the Screen handle, which lets you rotate the object on a plane parallel to the viewport.

You can adjust settings for the Rotate gizmo on the Gizmos panel of the Preferences dialog

Scale Gizmo

The Scale gizmo includes plane handles and scaling feedback through the stretching of the gizmo itself.

The plane handles let you perform uniform and non-uniform scaling without changing your selection on the main toolbar:

NoteTo perform a Squash operation, you must choose Select and Squash on the main toolbar.

The Scale gizmo provides feedback by changing its size and shape; in the case of a uniform scale operation, it will grow or shrink as the mouse moves, and during non-uniform scaling, the gizmo will stretch and deform while dragging. However, once the mouse button is released, the gizmo returns to its original size and shape.

You can adjust settings for the Scale gizmo on the Gizmos panel of the Preferences dialog


Using a Transform gizmo sets the default axis constraint to the last axis or plane you used.

If Lock Selection Set is on, you can drag anywhere in the viewport to transform the object. Dragging an axis, however, still applies the constraint along that axis.


Example: To explore use of the transform gizmo:

  1. Reset 3ds Max, then create a sphere, and then click (Select And Move).

    The Transform Gizmo Appears At The Center Of The Sphere. Because The Default Axis Constraint On The Axis Constraints Toolbar Is Xy Plane, The X And Y Shafts Of The Transform Gizmo Are Yellow (Active), While The Z Shaft Is Blue.

  2. Use (Orbit) to adjust the Perspective view for a better view of the Transform gizmo. When you’re done, right-click to return to Select And Move .
  3. Point to any part of the sphere away from the Transform gizmo, and drag to confirm that the sphere is locked to the XY plane.
  4. Point to the Z-axis shaft, and drag.

    The Z shaft turns yellow, the X and Y shafts turn red and green, respectively, and the sphere moves along the Z axis.

  5. Point to the Y shaft, and drag.

    The Y shaft turns yellow, and the sphere moves along only the Y axis.

  6. Point to the red-and-green corner mark opposite the ends of the X and Y axes, and drag.

    The sphere moves along the XY plane.

  7. Press the Spacebar to turn on Selection Lock.
  8. Drag the mouse anywhere in a viewport away from the selection.

    The sphere moves along the XY plane.

  9. Point to the X shaft, and drag.

    The sphere moves along only the X axis.

Experiment with other transformations, such as rotation and scale. Try different reference coordinate systems. Experiment with sub-object transformations.


Change default colors

Customize menu Customize User Interface dialog Colors panel Gizmos Element Active Transform Gizmo and Transform Gizmo X/Y/Z.

Enable/disable Transform Gizmo

Customize menu Preferences Gizmos panel On check box.

NoteWhen you turn off the Transform gizmo in Preferences, the standard axis tripod appears instead. To toggle display of either the gizmo or the tripod, press the X key or use Views menu Show Transform Gizmo.

There are additional controls for each Gizmo in the Gizmos panel of the Preferences dialog.

See Also