We can move, scale, and rotate objects, collectively called transformation.

Action Description
G Grab (move, translate)
S Scale (resize)
R Rotate
LMB or Enter Confirm transformation
RMB or Esc Cancel transformation

Exercise: experimenting with transforms

  • Move, rotate, scale the cube to get used to the controls
  • Note the changing numbers in the lower left corner of the 3D View

Coordinates show the tranformation values (here, a move operation)

  • Use Ctrl-Z to undo and get the cube back to the origin.

Constrain a transformation

Immediately after pressing G, S, or R we can constrain the transformation to a particular axis by hitting the key for that axis

Action Description
X (immediately after initiating transform) Constrain transformation to X axis
Y (immediately after initiating transform) Constrain transformation to Y axis
Z (immediately after initiating transform) Constrain transformation to Z axis
MMB (while moving the mouse) Constrain to last-moved-in direction
Ctrl (while moving the mouse) Snap to the grid
Shift (while moving the mouse) Fine-tune the transformation (10x slower)

Exercise: constrained transforms

  • Make the cube taller (S, Z)
  • Move the cube back 5 units (G, Y, hold Ctrl and pay attention to the numbers at the bottom left)

The stretched cube, in the process of being moved back in the Y direction 5 units.

Type numbers to be more precise

One way of making precise transformations is to type numbers after choosing a transformation axis.

Action Description
number keys (immediately after initiating transform) Precise entry of transformation

Exercise: numerical transforms

  • Rotate the cube around the Y axis by 45 degrees (R, Y, 45, Enter).

The stretched cube, in the process of being rotated 45 degrees

Properties shelf

In the Properties Shelf, we can type in exact values for the position of an object. Toggle the shelf on and off with N (think “numbers”).

Action Description
N Toggle the Properties Shelf

Exercise: precision transforms

  • Using the Properties Shelf, reset the cube to its original location (0, 0, 0), rotation (0, 0, 0), and scale (1, 1, 1)

Properties before resetting transforms


Properties after resetting transforms


For 3D printing, we want to be able to relate what we do in Blender to the real world. By default, Blender uses arbitrary “Blender units”: one unit per grid square. Let’s set the units to millimeters.

Exercise: setting units

  • In the Properties panel (far right of the interface), click the button for Scene Properties (see figure below)

Scene properties (after clicking highlighted button)

  • Click Metric, and enter 0.001 into the “Scale” text box. Now one “Blender unit” will be equivalent to 0.001 meters or 1 mm.

After setting units to millimeters

  • In the Properties Shelf (the one toggled by N), look for the Display section. It may be folded up, so click the arrow to unfold it.
  • Enter 0.001 into the “Scale” text box. This makes the background grid use millimeters as well.

Set the scale of grid lines to be 0.001 units (mm) as well.


If importing a file that someone else created, you may have to reset the units. You may find yourself doing this a lot . . .

See also

Since transformations are such a common task, Blender has many ways of doing this. See the Blender manual sections on grab, rotate and scale for many more details and tricks for transformations.