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Erik Selin
Erik Selin

3D artist & all that other stuff

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How to center objects, origins and pivot points in Blender

If you are anything like me you jumped straight in when you started learning about Blender. Not too long into the learning experience you might have realized that you need some help with basics, centering objects, origins and pivot points is probably one of them if you came across this page. So how do we center these things?

To center an object to the scene, press “Shift+S” and choose “Cursor to world center”. Then select your object and press “Shift+S” again. This time choose “Selection to cursor”.

In this example we used the 3D cursor to move the object to the center of the scene. In the rest of this article we will continue to explore alternative ways to center objects, origins and the pivot points.

What is the difference between object, origin and pivot point?

Object, origin and pivot point are three different things in Blender.

The object is a container. It contains all the data that an object holds. For instance, it holds the mesh that we access when we tab into edit mode. The mesh, or geometry, is different from the object. It is just contained inside it.

The object has an origin point. This is a single point in space that represents the position of the object. We see it as a yellow dot in the 3D viewport.

The pivot point is different. This is the point we do transformations around. By default, the pivot point is set to the selected objects’ origin. But we can change this to be a number of different positions.

A related important issue is applying scale in Blender. If you are experiencing weird problems with some modifiers or tools sometimes, that may be exactly what you need to look into.

Related content: How and why do we apply scale in Blender?

How to center an object in Blender?

To center an object in Blender we follow these steps.

  • Press Shift+S
  • Choose Cursor to world center
  • Select your object
  • Press Shift+S
  • Choose Selection to cursor

We can also center the cursor with Shift+C. This shortcut will also center our camera on the scene at the same time. Giving us a sense of the scale of our scene.

We can use the 3D cursor to move our object to any precise location by following these steps:

  • Make a selection, this can be in object or edit mode
  • Press Shift+S
  • Choose Cursor to selection
  • Tab to Object mode if you are in edit mode
  • Select the object you want to move
  • Press Shift+S
  • Choose Selection to 3D cursor

This way we can center our object to anything that we can select. But some locations can’t be selected, like the world origin that we center to in the first example.

If you need an object to test this on you can always check out this article and add some cool object to your scene.

Related content: Blender add-on overview: Extra objects mesh

Center multiple objects

We can center multiple objects at once. We will use the same procedure as outlined above. Hold shift and select multiple objects and then press Shift+S and select “selection to cursor”.

By default, Blender will take all the selected objects and stack them on top of each other at the position of the 3D cursor.

If we don’t want to stack the objects, but instead want to center them as a group as if it was a single object. Essentially moving the median point of the selected objects. Then we can press F9 to open the operator panel at the mouse cursor position after we moved the selection to 3D cursor. We then get a single “offset” checkbox. Check it to move the objects as a group.

Center object to another object

If we want to center an object to another object, we move the 3D cursor to that object by selecting it and pressing Shift+S, choose cursor to selection, then hit shift+S again and choose object to cursor.

By now I am sure you see the pattern. Since Shift+S opens a pie menu we can choose the menu entry just by moving the mouse and release the shortcut. As you do this more and more you will learn to do this very quickly.

How to center an objects’ origin in Blender?

If we need to move the objects’ origin to the center of the object we select the object, right click and go to “Set origin→Origin to geometry”.

We can also choose “Origin to 3D cursor”. Since we can move the 3D cursor to any selection with the Shift+S pie menu, and move the mouse to the 6’o clock position we have a large set of options.

For instance, we may need to set the origin point at the floor level of an object. In that case we go into edit mode, select one or more faces at the bottom of the object press Shift+S and set the 3D cursor to selection. Then we tab back to object mode, right click and set the origin to 3D cursor.

We can also use this if we have an object like a door, and we want to rotate the door to open it. We can use the origin point to rotate around to open and close the door in an animation.

We can also manipulate the origin directly if we to go the top right corner of the 3D viewport and hit options we can check “origins”. With this checkbox, we can use any transformation tool to move the origin independently. A faster way to toggle between regular transformation and origin only is with Ctrl+.. That is a period.

This enables us to also use the regular snapping tool that you can read more about here.

Related content: How to use snapping tools in Blender

How to center the pivot point in Blender?

To center the pivot point to an objects’ origin, find the pivot point menu in the middle of the header of the 3D viewport and choose “Median point”. Make sure you are in Object mode and your transformations will be in relation to toe objects’ origin.

When choosing our pivot point we have a few different options. The same pivot point system is used in both Object and edit mode. These are our options:

  • Active element
  • Median point
  • Individual origins
  • 3D cursor
  • Bounding Box center

The most common pivot points are Median point, Individual origins and 3D cursor. Depending on our needs we can use these to center the pivot point to any element.

If we need to transform from the center of a single element, like a face or edge, we can use median point. This is the default pivot point option and is suitable for the most common transformations. It will always transform from the center of our selection.

If we have multiple non-connected elements that we want to transform around their own center individually, we can set pivot point to “Individual origins”.

The 3D cursor is our best option when we need to transform from a specific point. We can place the 3D cursor with the Shift+S menu in this case.

Related questions

How do I align two or more objects on a specific axis?

Select the objects, go to object→Transform→Align objects. From the operator panel you can set the axis and properties for the alignment.

How can I align the view to a face?

Go into edit mode, select the face and press Shift+Numpad 7.

How can I create a custom orientation?

Go to edit mode, make a selection and go to the orientation menu in the 3D viewport header. Press the plus button and a new orientation will get added to the list based on your selection.

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