Moving with Toolbox

2. The movement section, with options for Absolute movements and relative movements.
From here, we’ll move in Relative and Absolute positioning with Toolbox.

Here’s a story about my early days with Toolbox:

I was working with Afflaq, building The Sophia, which turned more into a big community effort than just the two of us as things went along.  She was buzzing right along, throwing up entire sections of the main structure, while each piece I put in was with agonizing slowness.  Why was it taking me so long?  Well, I was annotating the position of each and every block I placed, and then inputting that in the movement text blocks pictured above, then moving each new block to that position and manually shifting it over from there.

Izydoesit, who was a Toolbox pro even back then, asked me why it was taking so long, and I told him how I had to move each piece.  He stopped, turned his little dwarf in a couple of circles, then asked:  “Why aren’t you just using copy and paste?”

My response:  “What’s that?”

The point of the story is that everyone has to start somewhere.  Another point is that you can build with Toolbox by laboriously plugging everything into the move text boxes if you choose to, but it’s really not optimal.

Let’s start with moving in Absolute positioning:

I'm going use Absolute positioning to put this tile in a spot where I can work it easily in whole numbers instead of a .XXXX decimal position.
I’m going use Absolute positioning to put this tile in a spot where I can work with it easily in whole numbers instead of a .XXXX decimal position.

When you select an item and see all the numbers at the top near the description, that’s Toolbox telling you what position your item is in, on each axis, in the dimension you’re using.  If you move something in Absolute, you are moving the item to that exact position within the dimension.  Normally, I only use this when I’m trying to figure out how far to offset something in game units to minimize overlap and for other reasons.  But a far more common function is to move items in Relative positioning.  By default, however, Toolbox keeps Absolute positioning set, so you should make sure to check the Relative box if you’re only wanting to make adjustments.

What happens if you leave Absolute turned on, then press move?

Check the chat box for the error message.
Check the chat box for the error message.

As you can see, Anywhere and Toolbox did not like my selecting an Absolute Z-axis position of 1, it’s outside the dimension bounds.  So lesson learned:  don’t do that again, and try to remember to check the Relative button.  At this point, you may be asking how Absolute positioning is useful, and here’s how:  It’s really not that useful with just the one tile, but when I add a second:

If I don't know what an offset is, if I have the first tile placed at an absolute position, it's very easy at that point to figure out that 2 tiles at maximum size should be 9 game units apart for minimum overlap.
If I don’t know what an offset is, if I have the first tile placed at an absolute position, it’s very easy at that point to figure out that 2 tiles at maximum size should be 9 game units apart for minimum overlap.

I keep a spreadsheet in my home PC that lists out most offsets for building blocks, because that’s what I use the most, and it’s what I use Toolbox and DT for the most.  I like to make structures, and I want those structures to be at accurate angles, and I don’t want to have to use too many pieces to make those structures.  Using Toolbox and Absolute positioning works like a calculator, without having to use a calculator–or my fingers.  Once you have that offset figured out, it’s a simple matter from that point to use the offset in conjunction with copy and paste, but that’s a separate guide.

Moving on to Relative:

Whoa!  I messed up when I set this corner piece in, and I need to straighten it out, pronto!
Whoa! I messed up when I set this corner piece in, and I need to straighten it out!

Over the course of these guides, we’re going to put together a simple house frame, and one part of the frame is a corner.  In real life, if you looked at a house with a corner that was off like this, you wouldn’t buy it (hopefully!).  As a matter of personal taste, I like my dimension houses to line up like a real house would, so I’m going to use Relative positioning to make it even.  Yes, I could just as easily make manual adjustments, and for small things like this, I often prefer to.  However, using Toolbox, I’m going to move it with the addon.

A common question:  How do I know which direction to move it?

The answer:  I’m going to look at the blue arrow first, which correlates to the Z axis in Toolbox.  The arrow will always point in the positive direction, and anything going the other way will be a negative adjustment.  After I’m done lining it up in the first direction, I’ll make adjustments in the X axis, also a positive adjustment since it’s going the same direction as the arrow.

You can make your adjustments in any increment, but .01 and .1 are usually the best.  .001 is a very tiny adjustment that works perfectly for eliminating flicker, but not so well when you have to move pieces as far as the example shown.  The best bet is to make an incremental adjustment of .1 in Relative positioning, and drop it down to .01 for fine tuning.  You can use a .001 adjustment if you desire, but that measurement is too small to be seen with the naked eye.  You can also make adjustments in more than axis at a time without breaking anything, particularly when working on an angle.

By making incremental adjustments in X and Z, I've got my tile corner lined up where I want it.
By making incremental adjustments in X and Z, I’ve got my tile corner lined up where I want it.

A word about flicker:

Flicker is what happens when your items are so closely layered that your PC can’t distinguish one piece from the other and tries to show both.  In certain instances, this creates a visual effect that people try to achieve.  In others, we want to eliminate it.  To get rid of flicker, an incremental movement of .001 is usually enough.  One of the few exceptions to that is limestone.  As a smooth, blank material, a second .001 adjustment may be necessary to stop flickering.  For a direction to move to eliminate the flicker, simply look at which arrow is pointing at the object that’s flickering.  For the above example, it’s the Z axis, and would be the X axis for the opposing walls.

Happy Building!

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