How To Use Viewport Gizmos in Blender

Updated on: August 26, 2022

They are some of the most important tools for transforming objects in Blender mainly because they define the perspective of any object and even the Viewport as a whole. In this article we’ll explore how to use viewport gizmos in Blender.

Keep in mind that the center of the world, represented by the little red dotted circle you see right where the axes intersect, represents the value of 0. 

Now, not only the scene has axes. The objects in your scene have them too. If they’re not enabled by default, you can go to the right top corner of the screen and hit the Show Gizmo button, so you make sure it’s on (this way you can toggle the main gizmo on and off).

If the button is On and you still don’t see your object gizmo, just drop down the arrow of the Viewport Gizmos, just aside the Show Gizmo button, and click on the Move option. Now you have your object gizmo.

So, basically a gizmo is just this little arrow manipulator that allows you to transform an object by clicking and dragging the arrows, rather than using the keyboard shortcuts.

We personally think that it’s just faster to go with the hotkeys, but if you have experience with other 3D software like Unity, then you will find this gizmo familiar. If you go to the Viewport Gizmos drop menu and enable the Rotate and Scale options as well, you’ll be able to do all these operations using the arrows for moving the object, the circles being for rotating, and the squares for scaling.

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If you play around with your object’s gizmo moving and rotating it around, you’ll notice that the Object Gizmo will still match our World Gizmo. This is what is called Global Space, and it refers to the orientation of the whole scene.

The rotation of the scene cannot be changed, because it is the basis for which we describe how all the objects within it are rotated. This means that if we want to transform our Cube using the Gizmo, and it is set in Global Space, we will have to rotate it according to the scene for, let’s say, scaling it in the Y axis so we can make a rectangle.

Otherwise, if it is slightly rotated, and a cube’s face doesn’t match the axis, it will grow into a diamond shape, or it will just distort. So, if your object (not the object gizmo) is rotated in a way that doesn’t match the scene, which will certainly be most cases, you can go to the top of the screen and look for the Transformation Orientation drop menu and change it to Local Space.

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Now you can see that your object gizmos are oriented according to the rotation of the cube, instead of the scene. So, if we now scale on the Y axis, it will successfully grow into a rectangle, because it is using the rotation of the cube and its local Y axis.

Tip: A much quicker way to switch between Global and Local Space is by pressing the key of the operation you want, let’s say Scale (S), and then double-pressing the axis you want to scale: when you press once, it will scale using Global Space, but when you hit the second time, it will switch to Local Space so now you can scale it on each of the object’s axes. This works with any transform operation including Rotation and Moving as well.

Lorena M. Rodas leverages her experience across film, writing, and production to make complex tech concepts accessible through storytelling. With a background spanning sci-fi, AI, and emerging tech, Lorena translates her depth of knowledge into engaging, educational content. She is an expert at decoding high-level topics to reach broad audiences.
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