3D coordinates overview

In a standard 2D Motion project, coordinates are measured in two dimensions, along two axes: X (side to side) and Y (up and down). A 3D Motion project contains an additional dimension (depth), which is measured along the Z axis (front to back). All three axes (X, Y, and Z) meet in the center of the Canvas, at a point called the origin, where X=0, Y=0, and Z=0. Moving an object to the left subtracts from the X value, while moving it to the right adds to the X value. Moving an object up adds to the Y value, while moving it down subtracts from the Y value. Moving an object “closer” adds to the Z value, while moving it farther away subtracts from the Z value.

In a 2D project, the X and Y axes remain static: X always runs horizontally, and Y always runs vertically. However, in a 3D project, you can change your point of view, which reorients (from your perspective) the direction of the 3 axes. As a result, moving an object up (from your perspective) doesn’t always mean increasing its Y position value.

Diagram showing two-dimensional representation of three-dimensional X, Y and Z axes

Note: In a new project, the Canvas is oriented with the Z axis pointing straight at you. This orientation preserves the traditional two-dimensional orientation of the X and Y axes.

Motion uses the following conventions for 3D coordinates:

  • Object movement is along an axis.

  • Object rotation is around an axis.

  • Each axis is color-coded: X is red; Y is green; and Z is blue.

  • Positive rotation is counterclockwise around an axis.

  • The coordinates of an object (as shown in the Inspector) are relative to the coordinates of the group in which the object resides. For more information, see About relative coordinates.