This blog post will teach you everything you need to know to transform an actor in Unreal Engine 5, from beginner to advanced levels. Transforming an actor simply means changing the location, rotation, or scale of an object in your level.
Knowing how to transform actors will be an essential skill to master when creating and designing your levels and maps in Unreal. It’s not a difficult skill to learn, but the more you practice it, the better your precision and speed will be when transforming actors.
So let’s get started!
How do you transform an object in Unreal Engine?
For the first method, we will use the simplest and most precise method of object transformation in Unreal Engine. To get started, simply left-click an asset in your level or in the Outliner.
Look in the details panel for a section called Transform, which has four options: location, rotation, scale, and mobility. For the time being, we will ignore mobility because it is mostly used for lights and blueprints.
How to change location, rotation and scale
Each of the three transform properties has three numerical input fields. Every input relates to an axis: the X axis is always red, the Y axis is always green, and the z axis is always blue.
- Location: Use it to move the selected object in a single direction. If you’re a beginner, try entering a slightly different value in one of the axes and watch how the object reacts. A value of 0 in the three input fields will result in your object being moved to the center of your level. If you lose sight of your object, remember that you can always find it by pressing the F key.
- Rotation: Some of the most common rotation values in 3D graphics and game development are: 0, 90, 180, and 270 degrees. They are frequently used because they create angles that are easy to work with and neatly align with geometric shapes. Just enter one of these values into one of the axes and observe how the object rotates.
- Scale: This parameter allows you to make your object smaller or larger. For example, a value of 2 on the X, Y, and Z axes will double the size of your object. A value of 0.5 will reduce the object to half its current size. However, keep in mind that inputting different values in the three axes will distort the object.
Interactive Transformation (Level Viewport)
It’s extremely useful to be able to input precise values to change the position, rotation, and size of objects in the level. However, there will be times when you wish for more creative freedom. That’s when the Gizmo comes in handy.
What is a Gizmo?
In 3D graphics, a “gizmo” is like a special tool that helps you move, rotate, or change the size of objects more easily. It’s like a set of handles or buttons that you can click on and move with your mouse. These handles show up on the screen and let you change things in a simple and visual way, without having to type in numbers. So, instead of saying “move this object 10 units to the right,” you can just click on the gizmo and drag it to where you want it to go. It’s a handy tool that makes working with 3D stuff easier!
How to transform objects in the level viewport?
Now that you understand what a gizmo is, let’s use it!
How to simultaneously move, rotate and scale a Static Mesh?
Constantly manually changing an object’s rotation, scale, and location can be exhausting.
Instead, head over to the Modeling Mode (SHIFT+5) and choose XForm in the Transform section.
With this option selected, a new gizmo will show up on the selected mesh, letting you move, rotate, and scale all at once. It’s a super useful tool!
How to use it:
- A: Cycles through Transform modes.
- Middle-mouse-drag on gizmo to reposition it. Or enable “Set Pivot Mode”.
- S: Toggles Set Pivot Mode.
- Hold CTRL while dragging to snap/align.
- D: Toggles Snap Drag Mode.
- W/E: Cycle through Snap Drag Source and Rotation types.
Don’t forget to click “Complete” when you’re finished.
Relative and local location types
When you’re transforming actors, you can decide how they move.
Here you have two choices (Figure 4):
- World space: This is like moving things along the world’s directions. If you move something up, it goes straight up like the whole world is your guide.
- Local space: This is like things have their own special rules for moving. If you move something up, it might go at an angle, not just straight up.
By default, the Unreal engine makes objects to move in the world location. You can, however, change this. Click on the Globe icon (Figure 4) to move things at the angle of the object. To go back, simply click the same icon again.
Snapping (Figure 5) is a tool that allows you to easily position an Actor by making it fit with a grid or another object. When you activate snapping, the Actor will quickly move to specific locations when you move it around.
This ensures that the actors blend in with the ground or other surfaces. Surface snapping may be enabled from the Level Viewport toolbar by selecting the Surface Snapping button and ticking the Surface Snapping option.
- Rotate to Surface Normal: When this option is enabled, actors will automatically rotate to match the alignment of the surface they’re connected to.
- Surface Offset: You can adjust the distance between the Actor and the surface it snaps to using the Surface Offset setting.
Finally, in the Figure 6, you’ll see the grid snapping choices.
- The first icon lets you change the grid size from 1 to 10,000.
- The second icon helps you align things with the grid when rotating.
- The third one lets you pick a scale snap value.
If you want to turn off the grid snap, click on the icon instead of the numeric value, and it will turn gray. A gray background means it’s off, while a blue background means it’s on.