Pro Align Tools

by Yain Vieyra in Scripts and Addons


Go to the Official On-Line Manual here (easier to read): https://pro-align-tools-documentation.readthedocs.io/en/latest/


Installation in Blender 2.9x (for newer versions of Pro Align Tools)

  • Go to Edit > Preferences
  • Go to the Add-ons section
  • Press the Install... button from the top right
  • Navigate through your filesystem until you find the Pro Align Tools addon and select it: pro_align_tools_2_91.zip
  • Press the Install Add-on from File... button. You should now be able to see it listed in the addons list
  • Press the little empty checkbox next to the addon name in order to enable it
  • In the bottom left corner of the Preferences window, look for the Save & Load button with a collapsed menu icon (the one with three horizontal lines) and click it to open the Save & Load Menu
  • If you have the Auto-Save Preferences checkbox enabled, you can just close the Preferences window, and once you reopen Blender, Pro Align Tools will continue to be available in future executions. On the other hand, if you have the Auto-Save Preferences checkbox disabled, you will have to click the Save Preferences button from the Save & Load Menu to ensure that Pro Align Tools remain available in future executions of Blender
  • Enjoy!


Installation in Blender 2.79 (for version 1.0 of Align Tool)

  • Go to File > User Preferences (Ctrl + Alt + U)
  • Click the Add-ons button
  • In the section below look for the Install Add-on from File... button
  • Navigate through your filesystem until you find the Align Tool addon and select it: align_tool_2_79.zip
  • Press the Install Add-on from File... button. You should now be able to see it listed in the addons list
  • Press the little empty checkbox next to the addon name in order to enable it
  • In the section below press the Save User Settings button to make the addon stay available in future executions of Blender
  • Enjoy!



Pro Align Tools Documentation for Blender 2.9x


Accessing the Tool

You can easily access the Tool both in Object and Edit Modes, from the 3D View, by clicking over the Align icon in the Toolbar (T).


The main panel of Pro Align Tools can be found at the Sidebar (N), within the Tool tab. You have different options in this Sidebar whether you are in Object or Edit Modes. Pro Align Tools is mainly conceived to work in Object Mode, therefore alignments are performed in this mode only.

Pro Align Tools panel in Object Mode.


Pro Align Tools panel in Edit Mode.


You can also access the Tool by using its shortcut: Ctrl + Alt + A

When you have selected the Tool, you can align objects by just clicking the Align Objects button at the Sidebar, or by pressing the Enter/Return key. Pressing the button again applies the same operation repeatedly, which is useful to offset an object a bunch of times, when the alignment is relative to the current selection.

Note: If you cannot see the gizmos being drawn in the 3D View, make sure that the Show Gizmos button is not disabled in that view. You can easily turn this button on/off by pressing the shortcut D.


Running the first time

The basis of Pro Align Tools is to define a projection Plane where the objects will perform their alignment. Objects then can align in different ways in relation that projection Plane, opening a whole set of possibilities to align within 3D space.

The predetermined alignment of Pro Align Tools is just to align all selected objects to their minimum X in Global Coordinates. The default behaviour uses the geometry of objects, whose origin of displacement is picked up from a generated bound box that is perpendicular to the current plane.

This alignment is the equivalent of just clicking the positive X arrow of the leftmost gizmo from your current Selected objects (leftmost gizmo in the X axis as seen from the top view).

So, as a first exercise, just select some randomly placed objects. You should see a preview of the alignment showing you how will the objects move to align at the minimum X of the selected objects' bound box. If you press Enter/Return, your objects will align.

You can move, rotate and scale the objects all you want while the preview runs in realtime.

The default behaviour of Pro Align Tools.

To better see what's going on, enable the little bounding box button next to the Origin point panel at the Sidebar (N). This allows you to see the considered bound box that is being used while your alignment is taking place.

Enabling the drawing of bounding boxes for objects.

Now you can see that your objects have a bound box from where the origin of the translation is being picked up.

The bound box helps to understand how is the alignment being performed.

To switch fast between the levels of alignment relative to the plane, use the Alignment depth buttons on top. This is just a predefined configuration of alignment that automatically takes the origin point on your object to make it go to one side or its opposite in relation to the projection Plane.

Align your object to the 'left' (negative direction of the current plane)

The alignment has changed.

As you can see, your objects get aligned to the other side of the projection Plane, and the origin points from where the translations were being taken, had moved from one side of the bound box to the other.

Try the centered alignment.

The preset for a centered alignment.

The objects are centered on the plane.

Now the origin points have moved to the center of the bounding boxes.

Confirm the alignment by pressing the Align Objects button at the top of the Sidebar (N), or by just pressing the Enter/Return key.

The objects have been aligned to the Plane.

Your objects move to their final position, and the alignment preview is updated, showing a new alignment possible, relative to the selected objects.

When the next alignment allow objects to move, you will see the projection Plane moving to a different position of alignment, otherwise you will only see the projection Plane in the same place and no arrows, as the objects have reached to a static no-move point.

As you may have noticed, your last settings are remembered per session, that means that you can easily apply the same alignment to different selections of objects until you close Blender.


Auto-Alignment mode

The predetermined mode of operation of Pro Align Tools is Auto-Alignment. This mode is a combination of settings, allowing to choose very fast an Origin Point, a projection Plane, a Direction of alignment, and the use of local/global space.

Auto-Alignment mode make use of some special gizmos which are a combination of 3 axes (X, Y, Z), each one providing up to 3 depths of alignment. In total, a single gizmo offers 9 unique alignments. When combined with a bound box, you are allowed to use up to 27 different alignments within the box.

The Auto-Alignment gizmos are also available for some special points like the origin of the world and the cursor.

All the alignments provided by a single gizmo


Note: To actually see the gizmos in the 3D View, the Show gizmo button must be enabled for your current view. You can easily toggle this by pressing the shortcut D.


Using Auto-Alignment mode

Using an auto-alignment is easy as selecting the Align tool and left clicking over some arrow of a gizmo.

To do this now, just select some objects with volume in your scene, you may now notice that there are some white dots around the Active object. Those are the face centers of the bound box that surrounds the object, and they provide a base point where the alignment will occur.

The initial alignment. With 2 objects selected, white and black dots appear


The dots are white when they refer to the Active object, and black when they refer to your current Selection of objects. The black dots will not appear when you have only one object selected.

When the mouse cursor is close to some of the dots, the gizmo with the axes appear, along with the bound box representing the considered objects, also in white for the Active object and black for your current Selection of objects.

Now you will be able to point an arrow in the gizmo and do left click to select its predetermined alignment. This action replaces your current selection of origin point, projection plane, direction and local/global space.

Confirm the selected alignment with Enter/Return or by pressing the Align Objects button in the Sidebar (N).

Clicking over one of the white dot gizmos. Hovering the cursor shows the associated bound box

Pressing Enter/Return aligns the objects according to the Active object

Clicking over one of the black dot gizmos. Hovering the cursor shows the associated bound box

Pressing Enter/Return aligns the objects according to the Selected objects


Using Auto-Alignment mode in local space

To use the local space, hold the Alt key. This shows the gizmos oriented according to the local bound box of the Active object, and passing the cursor near the dots highlights the box with a pink/magenta color.

When multiple objects are selected while holding Alt, the black dots and their gizmos appear oriented according to the local space of the active object, but considering a new generated bound box that surrounds all objects. If you select another object with a different orientation making it the active one, you are able to use the local space of that object instead, relating to the same selection of objects, but with a different generated bound box, and therefore with its own set of alignment planes.

Selecting the local bound box from the active object at the top, and from the selected objects at the bottom.

Selecting the local bound box from the active object at the top, and from the selected objects at the bottom. Notice how the bound box of selected objects is different than previous image. Your current active object determines the orientation of that box.

When you hold the Alt key, a legend appears with the text ‘Auto-Align’. Below, the current plane orientation appears, colored in pink/magenta, which you can change by scrolling your mouse wheel up/down when holding Alt.

Use the cursor rotation by selecting the LOCAL orientation.

The plane orientations for Auto-Align only apply to the origin of the world and cursor points, as objects on the other hand, can only use the global and local bounding boxes.


Dragging an axis from a gizmo

You can easily drag an axis from a gizmo by double clicking on it, which enters a magnetic state that follows your mouse cursor until you click again. You can also drag by holding the left mouse button, moving the mouse and then releasing.

When dragging you can directly enter a value to offset the plane or just type = to do so. The units used are those specified in your scene settings. You can type and mix any units supported by Blender and write calculations. Those will be automatically calculated and produce a result value.

Dragging an axis. You can see where has the displacement started with the grey arrow.

Once you have dragged an axis to the offset you want, you can still change the side of alignment, making left click over the appropriate arrows of the axis gizmo. You can also do this from the Sidebar (N), using the Alignment depth buttons.

Changing to a centered alignment while the plane is displaced.


Picking a custom plane

You can pick any mesh surface for alignment in your scene, which creates a draggable plane oriented to the mesh face normal. This is very useful to set a fast plane from Object Mode and to align in realtime, with the advantage of using up to 3 depths in relation to the plane; also with the option of applying an offset to it at any time.

To pick a custom plane, select the Align Tool and press Shift + P with the cursor in the 3D View. An eyedropper with a small text legend appears.

If you point to an object and a mesh face is detected, the legend reports the object’s name colored in green and the face index of the mesh face that will be used. If the eyedropper is not pointing to any object, the legend reports the next action colored in red: Clear.

The custom plane can be picked from an arbitrary mesh face.

The custom plane being cleared.

If you do left click with a valid mesh face, a custom plane is created, with an axis gizmo oriented to the face normal, showing two blue dots at both sides of the plane. The axis of the plane is blue, indicating that the normal is actually the Z axis of the mesh’s face.

When passing with the mouse over the dots, an arrow appears, allowing you to select one of the three depths of alignment. You can also change the depth from the Sidebar (N), using the Alignment depth buttons.

Drag the custom plane at any time as explained above in Dragging an axis from a gizmo.

Dragging the custom plane

On the other hand, if no mesh face is detected (including non mesh objects like metaballs, curves, etc.), the Clear action clears any custom plane that you may be using at the time.

When a custom plane is defined, the Plane subpanel in the Sidebar (N) updates to reflect this change. The Plane target appears deselected, and below, the text ‘Custom Plane’ followed by an X button appears, replacing all other options in that section.

If you click the X button, the custom plane is cleared. You can select any other Plane target that you may want from this panel, recovering the settings and ignoring the custom plane.


Plane selection mode

When holding the Shift key pressed in the 3D View, you access the Plane selection mode. This mode allows you to select a plane from common places like the bounding boxes of objects, the location of objects, the origin of the world, the cursor or any other object that you may have defined as Plane target.

To select the plane interactively, hold the Shift key while you move the mouse cursor. Below it, a small rounded box with a legend appears, to let you know what selection mode you are in. In this case, it shows the word ‘Plane’.

While you hold the key, you can see all the available rounded points from where you can select the Plane.


There are three different key points that you may select in this mode:

  • White rounded points in the corners of the active object will set a plane that follows the Active object’s bound box.
  • Black rounded points in the corners of all selected objects will set a plane that follows the bound box of your current Selection of objects.
  • Red, green and blue colored points belong to a key point such as the location of the Active object (its origin pivot point), the origin of the world or the cursor. The three colored points form a triad of crossed axes that relate to the same location.


When you pass close to a selectable point, it highlights in yellow, indicating that you can select it. Along with the point, a colored line will be drawn, this is the normal of the Plane, indicating the axis that will be taken.

The bound box also highlights when you are close to one of its points, to help you understand what kind of plane are you selecting. The bound box is drawn white when referring to the Active object, and black when referring to your current Selection of objects.

The colors of the normal lines are codified, meaning, light red as the X axis Plane, light green as the Y axis Plane, and light blue as the Z axis Plane.

If you are over a clickable point and do left click while you still hold the Shift key, the Plane is selected. If you check the Plane subpanel in the Sidebar (N), you can see that your actions get reflected there, from where you can change the settings at any time and select another Plane, Axis and Depth.

Selecting the global Y axis Plane from the Active object.

Selecting the global Y axis Plane from the current Selection of objects.

Selecting the global Z axis Plane from the cursor location. You can see the other key points that can be selected: the origin of the world at the left and the location of the Active object at the right.

To show the bound box used to obtain the Plane, enable the little bounding box button next to the Plane panel.

The bounding box button enabled.

The Plane’s bound box gets drawn only when referred to the box of the Active object or the current Selection of objects. When you use the origin of the world, the cursor or the location of an object, there is no bound box to draw. The Plane’s bound box is colored with the current axis Plane in use.

The Plane bound box being drawn.


Plane selection in local space

To select the Plane in local space, hold both the Shift and Alt keys simultaneously.

If you have objects selected, you can see the rounded points in the corners of the local bounding boxes. They are colored in pink/magenta when referring to the Active object and black when referring to your current Selection of objects.

The bound box surrounding your Selection of objects is generated according to the local space of your Active object. If you select another object as Active you get a different bound box surrounding all objects.

You can select any of the axes in the bound box with left click while in this mode.

This action will also enable the use of the Local bounds button in the Sidebar (N), from where you can also switch between global/local space.

If the bound box is being drawn in the 3D view, it is shown colored with the current axis Plane in use.

Selecting a Plane from local bounds.


Scrolling the current orientation in Plane selection mode

When you are in Plane selection mode, holding the Shift and Alt keys, you can also see the legend with the word ‘Plane’, and below, the current plane orientation in use, colored in pink/magenta, which you can change by scrolling your mouse wheel up/down. The plane orientation can also be set from the Plane panel in the Sidebar (N), below the Plane Target.

The plane orientations are only used for some key points such as the origin of the world, the cursor and the location of the Active object.

You may use any of the predetermined orientations such as: Global, Local and View. Select the Custom orientation option to use your own orientations.


Selecting a Plane from the basic bound box

You can use a more basic approximation to the object's geometry by using a global bound box that surrounds the local bounds of the object. This bound box ignores the object's geometry, which usually means that the projection Plane will not always exactly touch the object’s surface.

To use this bound box, use the shortcut Shift + G or by disabling the Use geometry button in the Plane panel from the Sidebar (N), when the plane Target is set to use the Object Bounds.

Both global and local bound boxes are drawn simultaneously in this mode.

Selecting a Plane from the global bound box, while local bounds are also drawn.


Selecting a Plane from an object outside of selection

If you need to select a Plane from an object outside your current selection, you can do this by selecting it in the Plane Object dropdown list of the Plane panel or by using the eyedropper in the name field to select the object directly from the 3D View.

Selecting a target object from the dropdown list.

To clear the selected Plane Object, just click the X button next to the Object name.

Setting the Plane Object allows you to use its location and bound box as Plane targets, so when you are in Plane selection mode pressing Shift and/or Alt, their elements are drawn and you can set an alignment Plane from them.

This way you have freedom to manipulate your selected objects while the Plane Object remains untouched.


Selecting a Custom Plane from Edit mode

If you have a mesh object and enter Edit mode, selecting the Align tool from the Toolbar, displays different options in the Sidebar (N). From here you can Set and Remove a custom plane.

The Set Custom Plane button shown in Edit mode.

Setting this is the equivalent to the custom plane that you can pick from the 3D view when pressing Shift + P, except that this way you use the mesh elements instead, which may use the vertices, edges or faces that you select. Any selection of elements is allowed.

After selecting your elements, pressing the button Set Custom Plane, creates a draggable custom plane that is drawn in the 3D view colored with the Z axis Plane. Once you have set the custom plane, the Remove button becomes available. Unlike the custom origin, the custom plane is independent of any object, and therefore you can drag it at any time, select and move all the objects you want, while the custom plane keeps the same position and orientation.

If you can’t see the custom plane in Edit mode when you have already set it, it may be that you need to enable the Show Gizmo button in the 3D view. You can easily toggle that option with the shortcut D.

A custom plane set in Edit mode.

To make use of the custom plane just go back to Object mode.

When you have set the custom plane, you can find a new text line ‘Custom Plane’ in the Plane panel found in the Sidebar (N), replacing the plane target options. From here you can also remove the custom plane at any time by pressing the little X button.

The custom plane is also lost when you get out of the Align tool both in Object and Edit modes. This is by design.


Origin selection mode

When holding the Ctrl key pressed in the 3D View, you access the Origin selection mode. This mode allows you to select an origin point used to displace the object during alignment. You can select an origin point from common places like the bounding boxes of objects, the location of objects, the origin of the world, the cursor and any individual mesh vertex that you may have defined.

To select the origin interactively, hold the Ctrl key while you move the mouse cursor. Below it, a small rounded box with a legend appears, to let you know what selection mode you are in. In this case, it shows the word ‘Origin’.


While you hold the key, you can see all the available points from where you can select the Origin point. In this selection mode, the points in the corners of bounding boxes are rounded, while any midpoint of the bound box is a square point. All other points are also rounded, like the one from the origin of the world, the cursor, the location of objects and vertex origins.

There are two kind of points that you may select for bound boxes:

  • White points appear in the bounds of the Active object and are related to the individual alignment of objects, projecting all selected objects, one by one against the alignment Plane. The origin point is unique for every object. This is the equivalent of having disabled the option All selected in the Origin point panel from the Sidebar (N).
  • Black points appear in a generated bound box that surrounds your current Selection of objects and are related to a grouped alignment of objects, projecting all objects against the alignment Plane like if they were just one single object. The origin point is common for every object. This is the equivalent of having enabled the option All selected in the Origin point panel from the Sidebar.


Selecting the Origin point from the Active object.

Selecting the Origin point from the current Selection of objects.

Selecting the Origin point from the cursor.

When you pass close to a selectable point, it highlights in yellow, indicating that you can select it.

The bound box also highlights when you are close to one of its points, to help you understand what kind of origin point are you selecting. The bound box is drawn white when referring to project objects individually, and black when referring to project them grouped as a whole.

If you are over a clickable point and do left click while you still hold the Ctrl key, the Origin point is selected. If you check the Origin point subpanel in the Sidebar (N), you can see that your actions get reflected there, from where you can change the settings at any time and select another Origin point.

To show the bound box of all the selected objects and appreciate what Origin point is being used for every one of them, enable the little bounding box button next to the Origin point panel.

The bounding box button enabled.

The bounding boxes get drawn only when they are being used to take an Origin point. When you use the origin of the world, the cursor or the location of objects, there is no bound box to draw.

The bound boxes being drawn.


Origin selection in local space

To select the Origin point in local space, hold both the Ctrl and Alt keys simultaneously.

If you have objects selected, you can see the rounded points in the corners of the Active object’s local bound box, and also the square ones in the midpoints of the box. They are colored in pink/magenta.

You can select any of the points in the bound box with left click while in this mode.

This action will also enable the use of the Local bounds button in the Sidebar (N), from where you can also switch between global/local space.

Selecting the Origin point from local bounds.


Selecting the Origin point from the basic bound box

You can use a more basic approximation to the object's geometry by using a global bound box that surrounds the local bounds of the object. This bound box ignores the object's geometry, which usually means that it doesn’t always touch the object’s surface.

To use this bound box, use the shortcut Ctrl + G or by disabling the Use geometry button in the Origin point panel from the Sidebar (N), when the origin Target is set to use the Objects Bounds’.

Both global and local bound boxes are drawn simultaneously in this mode.

Selecting the Origin point from the global bound box, while local bounds are also drawn.


Selecting a Custom Origin from Edit mode

If you have a mesh object and enter Edit mode, selecting the Align tool from the Toolbar, displays different options in the Sidebar (N). From here you can Set and Remove a custom origin point.

The Set Custom Origin button shown in Edit mode.


You can use this as a singular origin for all your selected objects. All of them will start moving from this point. The origin is linked to the object, so moving or transforming it will make the origin follow the mesh.

When pressing the button Set Custom Origin, the vertex used is the active one, no matter if you have selected several of them. Once you have set the origin, the Remove button becomes available. Now the selected origin is drawn in the 3D view as a green colored point.

If you can’t see the green point in Edit mode when you have already set the origin, it may be that you need to enable the Show Gizmo button in the 3D view. You can easily toggle that option with the shortcut D.

At the top: Selecting a Custom Origin point in Edit mode.

At the middle: The alignment preview from the Custom Origin point in Object mode.

At the bottom: Alignment is performed.


Using a custom origin for all your selected objects is different than using the option All selected, since if you use a Local Direction for displacement, you could project objects individually, moving them on their own axes, every one starting from the same point, but reaching to a different location.

You can reselect your custom origin point at any time from Object mode while you are in Origin select mode holding Ctrl.

Reselecting the custom origin point in Object mode.


When you have set a custom origin, you can find a new text line ‘Vertex in:’ with the name of the origin Object in the Origin point panel found in the Sidebar (N), replacing the origin options for Objects. From here you can also remove the custom origin at any time by pressing the little X button.

The custom origin is also lost when you get out of the Align tool both in Object and Edit modes. This is by design.


Selecting the Direction of projection

The Direction of projection is related to the translation of objects.

You can change the current axis for Direction interactively in the 3D view by using the shortcuts X, Y, Z.

The built-in orientations of Pro Align Tools for direction includes:

  • Global: Translate objects in the axes of the world coordinates
  • Local: Translate objects in the axes of the selected objects
  • View: Translate objects in the axes of the current viewport space
  • Perpendicular: Always translate objects perpendicularly towards the projection Plane (no axis used)
  • Custom: Translate objects in the axes of any Custom transform     orientation defined by the user

The built-in Direction orientations of Pro Align Tools.


Some orientations for Direction can also be changed directly in the 3D view by using the appropriate shortcuts:

  • L:    Switch between Local and Global orientations
  • V:    Switch between the current View and Global orientations
  • P:    Switch between the Perpendicular and Global orientations


When you use the Local direction, you can choose between 2 different behaviours:

  • Use the local direction of the active object for all selected objects: All directions are the same.
  • Use the local direction of every object individually: The directions are independent for every object.


Adding a Custom Orientation

To manually add a Custom orientation to use with Pro Align Tools, you can select the elements from where you want to take an orientation, both in Object or Edit modes and then click the Transform Orientations dropdown menu found in the 3D view, from where you can create a new Custom orientation by clicking the + icon. Optionally, you can call the Create Orientation operator from the operators Search menu with the shortcut F3.

The Transform Orientations dropdown menu in the 3D view.


The operator is sensitive to current selection, so it will take your selected elements and will create an orientation based on that.

Once you have your custom orientation defined, you can make use of it whenever you have one of the custom orientations selected in the Transform Orientations menu. This means that though you may have many orientations defined, you can only make use of one at a time by selecting it in the Transform Orientations menu. Pro Align Tools displays only one entry to use a custom orientation.

You cannot use any of the built-in orientations that come with Blender as a custom orientation. If you select one of these, the Custom orientation in Pro Align Tools will display (None) and behave as if it was just a global orientation.

The current Custom orientation displayed in Pro Align Tools.


Status bar

The Status bar provides information about the current state of Pro Align Tools. It is updated whenever you change something relevant, whether by clicking some button in the Sidebar or by using the shortcuts.

The Status bar informs about the three main concepts of an alignment: Direction, Plane and Origin.

The Status bar replaces the default shortcuts bar of Blender 2.8x. It is always visible until you get out of the Align tool in both Object and Edit modes.

The Status bar at the bottom of Blender 2.8x interface, replacing the shortcuts space.



Old Align Tool Documentation for Blender 2.79 (for version 1.0 of Align Tool)



Accessing the tool

You can start the interactive mode of Align Tool by pressing Ctrl + Alt + A in the 3D View.

The main panel is located at the Toolbar (T) in the Relations tab > Align Tool panel.

From this panel you can access the interactive mode by clicking on the eyeball icon next to the Align button.

The default state of the interactive preview.

You can align objects by just clicking the Align button without the need to access the interactive mode. This is useful to apply the same last operation repeatedly, no confirmation needed. Though it is recommended to use the interactive view to better see what's going on when changing the panel buttons.

Click the eyeball icon to start the interactive preview, or just press the Align button to immediately align your current selection.

Running the first time

The default alignment of Align Tool is to just align objects to the +X plane of the world coordinates, by using the geometry of objects, whose origin is picked up from the generated bounding box that follows the current plane.

So, as a first exercise, just select some object and press the Align button. Your object will move to one side of the X plane of the world. If you want to move your object and see how it gets projected into the plane, press the eyeball icon next to the Align button and select your object. Move, scale and rotate it while you preview the resulting alignment.

The default behaviour of Align Tool.

To better see what's going on, enable the little bounding box button next to the Origin point panel. This allows you to see the considered bounding box that is being used while your alignment is taking place.

Enabling the drawing of bounding boxes for objects.

Now you can see that your object has a bounding box from where the origin of the translation is being picked up.

The bounding box helps to understand how is the alignment being done.

To switch fast between the levels of alignment relative to the plane, use the Preset Alignment buttons on top. This is just a predefined configuration of alignment that automatically takes some origin point on your object to make it go to one side or the other of the projection Plane.

Align you object to the 'left' (negative direction of the current plane)

The alignment changes and the Status bar informs of the change.

As you can see, your object gets aligned to one side of the projection Plane, and the origin point from where the translation is being taken, has moved from one corner of the bounding box to the midpoint "behind" the object.

Try the centered alignment.

The preset for a centered alignment.

The object is centered on the plane, and the ghost helps to preview its final position.

You can see how the alignment changed, and the origin point moved to the center of the bounding box.

Now confirm the alignment by pressing the Align button on top, or by just pressing the Enter/Return key.

The object has been aligned to the Plane.

Your object moves to its final position and the interactive mode is leaved automatically. As you can note, your last settings are remembered per session, so this way you can easily apply the same kind of alignment to different groups of objects.


Picking the Origin directly from the 3D view

You can always pick the Origin point from the 3D view if you are in interactive mode and you have some object selected.

To pick interactively, hold the Ctrl key while you move the mouse cursor. A small rounded box with a legend, will appear below the mouse cursor, to let you know what kind of element you are selecting. In this case, it shows the word "Origin".

While you hold the key, you can see all the available points from where you can pick the Origin. They appear as white rounded dots for corners and squared dots for midpoints, including the location of the selected objects (their origin pivot point), the origin of the world coordinates and the location of the cursor.

When you pass near a pickable point, a yellow dot will appear, indicating that you can select it. If you click with the Left mouse button while you still hold the Ctrl key, the point will be selected as the Origin point.

If you check the Origin point panel, you will see that your actions get updated in the User Interface, from where you can also pick the Origin and change settings.

You can also note that your object highlights while you are near some of its points. This helps to understand what are you picking up, as you can also select a group of objects instead.

Pick any of the available points interactively.

Picking the Origin point from the local bounds

To select some Origin point using instead the local box of the object: while you hold the Ctrl key, hold also the Alt key, you will then see some purple colored points aligned with the local bounding box of the selected object. Following the same convention as above, corners are rounded, midpoints are squared, and you can select a point with the Left mouse button.

In this case, this action will also enable the use of the Local bounds button in the User Interface, from where you can also switch between both coordinate systems.

The drawn bounding box in the 3D view updates to reflect this change, showing a purple colored box this time.

Picking the origin point from local bounds.

Picking from the basic bounding box

You can use a more basic approximation for alignment by using a global bounding box surrounding the local bounds of the object. This bounding box ignores the object's geometry, which usually means that it will not exactly touch the projection Plane when aligned.

To use this bounding box, you can disable the button Use geometry in the Origin point panel, or by using the shortcut Ctrl + G.

The local bounding box will also be drawn in this mode, so that you can see the relationship between the two boxes.

Picking an origin point from the global bounding box, while local bounds are drawn.

Picking the Origin point from the current selection

When you have more than one object selected at a time, pressing Ctrl will also show the selectable points of an additional bounding box surrounding the objects.

This points appear dark colored, and are different than the white points surrounding individual objects, as they will treat the selection as a group, moving all objects the same amount and in the same direction.

You can notice that all selected objects highlight when you pass near some of the dark points. If you click with the Left mouse button on some of this points, the button All selected is enabled in the Origin point panel, meaning that all the selected objects will move as a whole.

If you combine this mode with the Preset Alignment buttons, you can easily align all objects to the projection Plane without losing the distances between them.

Picking an origin point from the current selection of objects.

Picking a custom Origin point in Edit mode

If you enter Edit mode while you have a mesh, curve, surface, lattice or armature object, the Align Tool panel will change, showing new buttons to Set and Remove a custom origin point.

Set a custom origin point in Edit mode.

You can use this as a singular origin for all your selected objects. All of them will start moving from this point. Just note that this is different than the option All selected, since if you use a Local Direction, you could project objects individually, every one of them starting from the same point, but reaching a different location.

If you press the Set origin button, the vertex picked will be the active one, no matter if you have several of them selected. Once you have set the origin, the Remove button will become available. The picked origin will be drawn with a green dot, and you will be able to pick it up again in Object mode in case you select another Origin point.

The custom origin is automatically removed when you confirm or exit the interactive mode.

A custom origin point selected in Edit mode.

The custom origin will appear in the Origin point panel, from where you can also remove it at any time.

The alignment taking place from the custom origin point.

When multiple objects are selected, any one of them can move in their local axes.

You can always pick another origin point with the Ctrl shortcut, and when you have selected another, your custom origin point will appear as a green dot, from where you can reselect it.

Reselecting the custom origin point.


Picking the projection Plane directly from the 3D view

You can pick the projection Plane from the 3D view if you are in interactive mode.

To pick interactively, hold the Shift key while you move the mouse cursor. A small rounded box with a legend, will appear below the mouse cursor, to let you know what kind of element you are selecting. In this case, it shows the word "Plane".

While you hold the key, you can see all the available points from where you can pick a projection Plane. They appear as white rounded dots in the corners only. The midpoints are only shown when you are near them.

You can pick a projection Plane from the origin of the world, the cursor, some plane of the bounding box of the selected objects and from their location (their origin pivot point).

When you pass near a pickable point, a yellow dot will appear, indicating that you can select it. Along with the point, a colored line will be drawn, this is the normal of the plane, indicating the axis that will be taken as projection Plane.

The colors of the normal lines are codified, meaning, light red as the X axis Plane, light green as the Y axis Plane, and light blue as the Z axis Plane.

Picking the projection Plane interactively.

If you click with the Left mouse button while you still hold the Shift key, the point and normal will be selected as the projection Plane.

If you check the Plane panel, you will see that your actions get updated in the User Interface, from where you can change settings and pick the Plane, its Axis and its Depth.

You can also note that your object highlights while you are near some of the points. This helps to understand what are you picking up, since you can also select the projection Plane of a group of objects instead.

To show the bounding box used by the projection Plane, enable the little bounding box button next to the Plane panel.

Enabling the drawing of the bound box for the current Plane.

The bounding box for the projection Plane will only appear when you use the bounds of an object or group of objects. When you use the origin of the world, cursor or location of an object, there will be no bounding box drawn. The bounding box will be colored with the current axis Plane in use.

Picking a projection Plane while the bounding box is drawn.

Picking the projection Plane from the local bounds

You can select the projection Plane based on the local bounds of the object. To do this, hold the Shift key, and hold also the Alt key, you will then see some purple colored points aligned with the local bounding box of the selected object. You can select any of the points and axes with the Left mouse button.

This action will also enable the use of the Local bounds button in the User Interface, from where you can also switch between both coordinate systems.

The drawn bounding box in the 3D view updates to reflect this change, always taking the color of the current axis Plane in use.

Picking the projection Plane from local bounds.

Picking from the basic bounding box

You can use a more basic approximation to the object's geometry by using a global bounding box surrounding the local bounds of the object. This bounding box ignores the object's geometry, which usually means that the projection Plane will not exactly touch the object.

To use this bounding box, you can disable the button Use geometry in the Plane panel, or by using the shortcut Shift + G.

The local bounding box will also be drawn in this mode, so that you can see the relationship between the two boxes.

Picking the projection Plane from the global bounding box, while local bounds are drawn.

Picking the projection Plane from the current selection

When you have more than one object selected at a time, pressing Shift will also show the selectable projection Planes of an additional bounding box surrounding the objects.

The points of this bounding box will appear dark colored, to differentiate from points of individual objects.

You can notice that all selected objects highlight when you pass near some of the dark points. If you click with the Left mouse button on some of this points, the User Interface in the Plane panel will reflect this change enabling the use of bounds for the Selected objects.

Picking the projection Plane from the current selection of objects.

Picking the projection Plane from another object

If you need to pick a projection Plane from an object outside the selection, you can do it from the dropdown list of objects of the Plane panel.

Select a target object from the dropdown.

You can also do this easily in the 3D view when you are in interactive mode, by using the shortcut Shift + Left mouse click over an object. You will have to ensure that you are not pointing to a pickable Plane, otherwise, you will be selecting a new projection Plane instead of an object as target.

First, point to an object while you hold the Shift key.

Then, click with the left mouse button. The object is set as the projection Plane. As you can notice, it's still outside the selection. This allows to move all other objects except this one.

If you want to clear the current object set as target for projection Plane, just do Shift + Left mouse click in an empty space, far from any object or pickable Plane. Or just click in the X button next to the Object name in the Plane panel.

Picking the projection Plane from other points

Along with the ability to select projection Planes from the bounds of objects, you can also select a Plane from the location of objects, the cursor and the origin of the world.

While you hold the Shift key, the available planes will appear as 3 crossed axes, color coded and aligned with the global coordinates, from which you can select the axis you need.

Pick projection Planes from the object's location, the cursor, or the origin of the world.


If you hold the Alt key along with Shift, you will see the additional orientation that you can use for the projection Plane. The rounded box following the cursor, will show an additional word purple colored with the name of the currently selected orientation.

You can set the orientation directly from the Plane panel, while in the 3D view you can change it in realtime with the Mousewheel by using the shortcut Shift + Alt + Mousewheel Up/Down. You can scroll through the default orientations, in addition to the Custom Orientations stored in the Transform Orientations of the Scene.

To add a new Custom Orientation, refer to the Adding a Custom Orientation section below.

Scrolling through the available orientations to pick a different projection Plane.



Setting the Direction of projection

Similarly to how the projection Plane makes use of the axes of orientations, the Direction of projection can take an axis for the translation of objects.

You can change the current axis for Direction interactively in the 3D view by using the shortcuts X, Y, Z.

The built-in orientations of Align Tool includes:

  • Global: Axes of the world coordinates
  • Local: Axes of the selected object
  • View: Axes of the current viewport space
  • Perpendicular: Always perpendicular to the projection Plane (no axes)
  • Custom: Axes of any Custom orientation defined for the Scene

The built-in orientations of Align Tool.

The Direction of projection can also be changed directly in the 3D view by using the appropriate shortcuts.

  • L: Switch between Local and Global directions
  • V: Switch between the current View and Global directions
  • P: Switch between the Perpendicular to Plane and Global directions


When you use the Local direction, you can choose between 2 different criteria:

  • Use the local direction of the active object for all selected objects: All directions are the same.
  • Use the local direction of every object individually: The directions can be different for every object.


Adding a Custom Orientation

To manually add a Custom Orientation for you current selection, you can use the default Blender's shortcut to add a new Transform Orientation: Ctrl + Alt + Space

Optionally, you can add a new Custom Orientation from the appropriate panel found in the Properties Tab of the 3D View (N key) > Transform Orientations subpanel.

The Transform Orientations panel in the Properties Sidebar (N).


Then by pressing the plus (+) button, you will add a new Transform Orientation that will be taken from the current selection context and will become available throughout Blender. If you are in Object Mode, the Transform Orientation will be taken from the active object. If you are in Edit Mode, it will be taken from the selected vertices/edges/faces. It's not mandatory to select just one element, and you can have more selected.

The Transform Orientations of the current scene. All of these will be used by Align Tool except for Gimbal and Normal.


After adding the new Transform Orientation, it will be listed as a new Custom Orientation in the main panel of Align Tool.

The Orientations available in Align Tool.



Status bar

The Status bar provides information about the current state of Align Tool. It will appear while you are in interactive mode, and will update its information whenever you change something relevant, whether by clicking in the User Interface or by using the shortcuts.

The Status bar informs about the three main concepts of an alignment: Direction, Plane and Origin.

The Status bar replaces the default header of tools in the 3D view until you confirm the alignment or exit the interactive mode. To toggle its visibility, just use the shortcut (H).

The Status bar on the header area as seen in the 3D view.


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Sales 1200+
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Published over 2 years ago
Software Version 2.79, 2.8, 2.81, 2.82, 2.83, 2.9, 2.91, 2.92, 2.93, 3.0
License GPL
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