Rotating in Toolbox

The rotation section, one of the most commonly used areas of Toolbox.
The rotation section, one of the most commonly used areas of Toolbox.

Welcome to the quick and easy guide to using Toolbox to make rotations.  This is where you’ll get walls that stand straight up, bay windows that are precisely angled (and much easier to work with, since they won’t be crooked), and can make your arches and circles.  Figuring out rotations is also one of the most intimidating features about Toolbox, to many a Dimensionerd.  However, you don’t need to be a genius at trigonometry for any but the most advanced rotations, basic math will take care of everything.  This is still one of the longer guides, simply because there are so many variations on a rotation, and I want to make very sure the directions on how to rotate using Toolbox are easily understood.

All rotations are nothing more than pieces of this circle, so 360 is the biggest number we'll ever have to deal with.
All rotations are nothing more than pieces of a circle, so 360 is the biggest number we’ll ever have to deal with.

I like to think of rotations and circles as being a pie and the pieces of it.  If you cut the pie into four pieces, all the rotations are 90 degrees (90 x 4 = 360).  The 90 degree angle is the most common one that anyone will use.  90 degrees is generally the rotation for walls, for when you want to make any other flat piece stand up straight, or make something like a Wood Corner Post lie flat either side to side or front to back.

Right after 90 degrees in commonality is 180.  You know the joke about the Xbox 360?  Well, technically, that joke is wrong, because if you did a 360 you’d be doing a full circle and still facing the Xbox.  180 degrees is the opposite.  180 degree rotations are how you turn things upside down, or you match Doors and want the handles butting up against each other, or you’re making a door knob from end to end Earthscape Amphorae.

After the 90 degree and the 180 degree comes the 45 degree angle.  45 degrees is the standard rotation for making roofing.  If you’re making an octagon, the sides are usually angled at 45 degrees, most bay windows also come out from a house on 45 degree angles.  The triangles that RIFT gives us as building blocks are all on a 45 degree angle, so that kind of makes us stuck using 45 degrees unless we want to piece together planks.

You will use other angles here and there during your building, but what those angles are and how many pieces you’ll need will depend on a number of factors, like where the center point of the item you’re rotating is.  This guide and most of the others that I write are geared toward using building blocks, simply because it’s easier to use them for the sake of explaining theory.  With the vast majority of standard building blocks (cubes, planks, tiles and rectangles, not the modular pieces), the arrows are usually located in the center of the block.  The exceptions to this are cubes and poles, where the arrows are at one end, by default what looks to be the bottom when you’ve placed it.

Looking at the screenshots above, one of the walls is rotated at 90 degrees in the Pitch.  The second is rotated at 90 degrees in both the Pitch and the Roll.  Why?

Well, there’s a couple of reasons for that, and the first is that I picked rectangles for this guide instead of tiles.  If I rotated the rectangle 90 degrees in only the Roll, it would be considerably taller than the other wall, instead of the same height, as shown above  A second reason, the pattern in the block itself.  Most building blocks have some kind of pattern ingrained, even if you can’t run your video settings high enough to see it.  Even plain crafted wood has grain lines that run a specific direction.  Plain Stone and Limestone are some exceptions, and Greenstone and Greystone are special cases because they have a tiled pattern built in.  Since I want the grain lines of the Greywood running the same direction, I would rotate the second wall in two axes instead of just the one, even if I were using tiles instead of rectangles.

The Yaw, Pitch and Roll in Toolbox correspond exactly with the circles in the default editor, so that’s a very easy way to tell which direction you want to rotate a particular item.  Whether your rotation will be a positive or negative will depend on which way your movement arrows are facing, as shown below:

The cube here is turning away from the directional arrow, so the rotation for each cube is -15 degrees.  On the other leg of the arch, the rotation is 15 degrees.
The cube here is turning away from the directional arrow, so the rotation for each cube is -15 degrees. On the other leg of the arch, the rotation is 15 degrees.

Making arcs, curves and open circles using Toolbox and the rotation function is something that makes many a Dimensionerd break out into a cold sweat, when there’s no need for it.  It is, however, much easier to do arches, circles and curves using the copy and paste feature, the guide for which is coming up.  However, it is better to understand the math behind the circles and curves before going into copying and pasting, so here goes:

To make an arch like the one pictured above, imagine half of our circular pie, so the pieces of our arch need to start at 0 and end at 180 (or back at 0, in the case of a cube, even though Toolbox will still register a cube as being upside down).  You can make your arch either fully curved, or with a sharper point like that shown.  For the one pictured, I did this:

1.  I set the first cube in place, scaled to size.  I press COPY.

2.  Drop a second cube.  (If you’re using Dimension Tools, this isn’t necessary)

3.  Since I can see from the arrows I’m arcing away from the point, I want to enter -15 in the text box for Roll positioning.  I know I want the Roll because that matches the blue circle when I click the rotation button of the default editor.

4. Press Paste.  You can, of course, offset the 15 degrees in the Roll in the copy and paste section of Toolbox, but we haven’t touched on offsets so I’m keeping it simple.

5. Press ROTATE.  This will rotate the cube -15 degrees in the Roll, then I can manually move my cube into the correct position along the X and Y axes.  If you want to do advanced math to figure out the remainder of the offsets to raise and shift the cube into alignment, feel free.

Repeat these steps until you have reached the point where you either want to cut off your arch to make a point (this particular example cuts off at -60, with the directly opposite cube being +60), or you’ve come back to 0 and made a nice, fully rounded arch.

NOTE:  Errors within Toolbox and Dimension Tools both will often flip the Roll rotation when you start working past the 90 degree point, i.e:  I’m making a fully rounded arch, and I’ve just placed a cube that Toolbox says is at 90 degrees in the Roll from the first cube.  When I place the next one after that and still use the -15 degree offset, when it pastes, it may reverse the direction of the rotation.  Simple fix:  manually tell Toolbox I want to rotate 75 degrees in Roll, then rotate it that way.  After that, I can continue to copy and paste as normal.

This is actually a cylinder made from planks, with each plank on a 15 degree rotation.
This is actually a cylinder made from planks, with each plank on a 15 degree rotation.

You’ll notice that I use 15 degree rotations a lot when I make circles and curves.  Why is that?  Well, I want a curve, but I don’t want to use 100 pieces (or 36, when making circles).  15 degrees allows for a decent looking rounded edge, whereas 20 starts being blocky and angular.  10 degrees, however works best for smaller circles, or 12.5 in some instances.  Plus, the math is easy, when using a 15 degree rotation.  To make something like the cylinder, or the big circle above, 360 degrees divided by 15 degree increments means I need 24 building blocks to make the circle.  These examples are both open circles, meaning exterior circles.

An open circle, and we'll talk more about these later on, with offsets and spinning.
A closed circle, and we’ll talk more about these later on, with offsets and spinning.

To recap, because this was a long guide:

1.  Rotations are easy!  (They might not seem it now, but they will, very soon)

2.  The rotation field (Yaw, Pitch or Roll) will always correspond with the color of the circle when you click on the rotation field of the default editor.

3.  An angle is always positive if it is going in the same direction as a movement arrow, and negative if it is curving away from it.

4.  Textured items and rectangles vs. tiles may need to be rotated in two axes as opposed to just one, to allow for texture alignment and differences in height.

Some common computations for full circles and other geometrical shapes:

10 degrees = 36 blocks

12 degrees = 30 blocks

15 degrees = 24 blocks

30 degrees = 12 blocks (a circle made at this angle will not really resemble much of a circle, it’s technically called a dodecagon)

45 degrees = 8 blocks (this will make an octagon, not a circle)

60 degrees = 6 blocks (this also will not make a circle, but a hexagon)

90 degrees = 4 blocks

180 degrees = 2 blocks

Happy Building!

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