How To Rotate Models In The Viewport?

All objects in Blender are positioned somewhere within 3D space, and therefore each object has a relationship with the 3D space surrounding it. This relationship is often defined using the global transforms, ie, the model’s location, rotation, and scale. We can access these transforms in various ways, such as object rotation.

The easiest way to rotate an object in Blender is to select the model and then use the R key to activate the rotate tool. We can switch from view rotation to trackball rotation by pressing R a second time, and we can look to a specific axis by using the X, Y, and Z keys. Alternatively, we can use either the rotate tool on the tool shelf or the side panel to affect our rotation.

Rotation, like all transforms, can have a profound effect on how our objects behave in Blender. So it is essential to understand, first and foremost, how we can rotate any object in Blender.

Rotating Your Objects Using The Hotkey

The ability to change the rotation of your model is so common in blender that the easiest way to use the tool will always be for us to use the hotkey for quick access. This allows us to press a single button on our keyboard and grab the selected object so we can begin moving it with our mouse.

The hotkey for moving our objects in Blender is R. Make sure that your object is selected, and then press the R key to initiate the rotate tool. The highlights around the selected object will appear in white to indicate that the tool is active.

Rotating Objects With R

You can now move your mouse around your 3D viewport, and your cube object or whichever objects you have selected will rotate along with the movement of your mouse cursor.

Note that the rotation is heavily affected by the view within the 3D viewport. For example, if you were to view your object from the top orthographic view then the model would only rotate on the Z-axis based on that view.

Limit Rotation Based On The View

If you want to rotate the object more freely, without the influence of the viewport, then you can press the R key a second time while the tool is already active.

This will enable trackball rotation, allowing the user to freely rotate their model across all axes regardless of the view in the viewport.

Press R Twice For Trackball Rotation

If we want to go the other way and limit the rotation to a single axis, we can press the X, Y, or Z keys while the rotate tool is active to lock the rotation to that axis.

For example, if we press the R key to initiate the rotate tool and then the Z key to lock to the Z axis, then the model would only rotate on the Z axis, not on the X or Y.

Rotate On A Single Axis Using X, Y, Or Z

Rotating With The Rotate Tool

If you don’t want to use the hotkey, then the best method is to use the rotate tool that can be found on the tool shelf.

Go to the tool shelf, which can be opened with the T key if it is not currently visible, and select the rotate tool, which should be the fourth option in the tool shelf.

The Rotate Tool In The Toolshelf

When the tool is active, it will be highlighted blue, and a gizmo will appear over the option origin of the selected model.

If you do not see a gizmo, you have not yet selected the object, so left-click to select any object you wish to rotate.

The Rotate Gizmo

A large white circle surrounds the gizmo. Click and drag on the white circle to rotate the object based on the viewport’s view.

This is the same as simply pressing the R key to activate the rotate tool.

A Hollow Sphere Appears For Trackball Rotation

If you hover your cursor inside the circle, another hollow sphere appears. This is for trackball rotation.

Click and drag within the circle without touching any of the curved lines to activate trackball rotation in your viewport. This is the same as pressing R twice with the hotkey.

The three colored lines each represent the three axes of 3D space. Clicking and dragging the red curve will allow you to rotate on the X-axis.

Clicking and dragging on the Green curve will allow you to rotate your object on the Y axis, and the blue curve will allow for the rotation on the Z axis.

Rotating On An Axis

Rotating Using The Side Panel And The Properties Panel

The third method we can use for manipulating the rotation values in our 3D viewport is the numerical values in the side panel.

If the side panel is not already open, you can bring it into view by pressing the N key on your keyboard. The first thing you will see here are the transform values for your selected objects’ location, rotation, and scale.

The Side Panel

We can simply click and drag on any of the three axes to manipulate the rotation values of our model. We can change one axis at a time or click and drag to select multiple axes and edit them simultaneously.

Alternatively, we can click on a specific value and then just type in the exact value to which we want to set that access. For example, we could rotate a cube by 45 degrees on the axis.

Rotating On The Z Axis

Also, note that these same values are visible within the properties panel. Go to your properties panel and then select the Object Properties tab. You will see the same values for your selected object’s location, rotation, and scale.

The Properties Panel Transforms

More Control With Shift And Control Keys

All of the methods as mentioned earlier can be further manipulated by using the shift and control keys while those tools are active.

The shift key would allow us to rotate using smaller values. For example, if we press the R key on our keyboard, then lock it to the Z axis, we can rotate on that axis.

But if we hold down the shift key while rotating on the Z axis, you will notice that we can rotate on a much smaller level.

This also applies to the rotate tool and manipulating our values in the side panel and properties panel.

On the other hand, the control key is used to snap our change in rotation by increments. For example, let’s say we wanted to rotate our objects on the X-axis.

We would click and drag on the X value in the properties panel to change it. We can then hold down the control key, and while rotating, we will notice that the rotation snaps to increments of 10 degrees.

We can gain even more influence over the rotation by combining the shift and control keys. This will rotate the model by increments of single whole degrees, one-tenth of the incremental value applied only using the control key.

Thanks For Reading

We appreciate you taking the time to read through the article. We hope you found the information you were looking for. If you are interested in learning more about the Blender software, you can check out a few of the articles we have listed below.

  • How To Move Objects In The 3D Viewport
  • How To Scale Objects In The 3D Viewport
  • Using The Scale Cage Tool
  • Applying Your Transforms In Blender
  • Clearing Your Transforms In Blender