Drag mesh on camera while preserving scale

If you’ve ever used the Toon Boom animation software, there’s this tool called “Maintain Size” that lets you drag an object along the view direction (front and back, going in and out of the screen) without changing its visual size.
You use it to reorder objects on the camera frame without changing their relative scale.

I found a way to do the same on Blender, it’s useful to know when you’re working on a stylized scene with lots of flat elements (think “paper cutout” or pop-up book scenes, with lots of those flat elements).

  1. You create a camera and position/angle it however you want.
  2. Set the 3D cursor to the position of that camera (select camera, Shift+S > Cursor to Selected).
  3. Set the Pivot Center mode to “3D Cursor” (as opposed to “Median” or something else).

If you want to affect the object as a whole:

  1. Scale the object.

If you want to affect only part of the object:

  1. Enter Edit mode, select one or more vertices (and optionally turn on Proportional Edit), then scale those vertices.

You can delete the camera now if you want, it was just used a way to place the 3D cursor on your viewpoint.

See this GIF for an example:

Edit 1: Changed the tool from Push/Pull to Scale, after a suggestion by PyBlend.

I believe you could also use scale rather than push/pull to achieve the same effect without distorting the mesh. This has the added benefit of also working in object mode.

1 Like

@PyBlend hey, you’re right! Scaling will make all points converge to the 3D cursor in the same way.

The setup in that case would be:

  1. Create a camera and place it/orient it.
  2. Set the 3D cursor to the position of that camera.
  3. Set the Pivot Center mode to “3D Cursor”.
  4. Select and scale the object(s).

The original way with Edit mode, using Push/Pull on selected vertices, can be useful if you have a mesh where you only want to deform part of it: in this case Push/Pull accepts Proportional Editing, dragging your vertex selection while partially dragging nearby vertices.

Edit: oh, but of course Scale will also have the same effect in Edit mode. Between the two (push/pull and Scale), Scale preserves the original mesh form better, like you said, while still allowing for acting on a limited vertex selection with Proportional Edit. I’ll edit the first post.

1 Like