Axis Orientation

Is there any way to change the orientation of the axes such that the X axis increases in value from right to left rather than left to right?

Ships are drawn with the bow at the right and stern at the left.


That is something that really bugged me when I switched from MaxSurf to Rhino for all my Marine Design 3d modelling. I tried renaming the windows and rotating the axis as you mention but in the end it was just easier to draw my boats and ships with the keep oriented to the x axis and the beam becomes the y axis. The bow view ends up as the Rhino RIght window and the profile becomes the Rhino Front but you will soon get used to that. By far the easiest thing to do.

So you’re saying I’m SOL?

Hello - you can always make a custom CPlane that has the orientation you like.


I guess that you just need to draw a line with the correct angle that you want your CPlane, right-click in that line and “Set CPlane… to Object”

What would the steps be to get that to work? I would need the corordinates to match the cplane rather than the world.

Jim, I mean’t show the 4 view earlier and how the profile is the front view by default and the body plan is the Right view window in Rhino. The orientation is by NA standards other than that.

Orca3D has an alternative 4 view labeling by NA standards but for some reason you have to go into their prefs and tell it to make the x axis is the positive direction. It defaults to neg X for some reason. 

Not worth messing with, just put your hull origin at world zero and the loa along the x axis and don’t sweat the front/right issue.

That is true, but I do not think you can reverse just the X-axis and keep the Y and Z the same.

With a custom CPlane, you can.
Perhaps that’s what you were agreeing with…?

I don’t see a command or icon for a custom Cplane, and all the Cplane manipulation commands seem to result in what I like to call a “right handed screw” axis combination, i.e. turn the screw from X-positive to Y-positive results in a Z-positive movement. If I interpret the topic starter’s wish correctly, he just wants to reverse the X-positive direction, and that does not seem possible. What am I missing? (btw. I am perfectly happy with the standard arrangement.)

Run the CPlane command, then the 3 Point option. Place the origin at the world origin. Then for X-axis direction, lock snapping with the Shift key and point towards the negative X-direction. For Y-axis, click somewhere along the positive Y-direction. That should do it.

No it doesn’t. I followed your instructions and it results automatically in a reversed Z-axis, as I expected.

Yep, you are right! Sorry for the confusion!

When I google on naval architecture design coordinate systems, I get these type of pictures which seem perfectly in line with the Rhino axis system, other than the front being in the X-direction, and not the Y-direction:
If it is just displaying the design you are after, you could use Layouts and swap Front and Right viewports.

It appears you are putting the stern at the origin.

Big Jim,

Yes you are right about that. I usually use the established NA convention of putting the origin at the DWL at and number aft in the negative X direction, but on a project such as this I re-orient for the sake of the builder who wants to hang the hook of a tape measure on the transom and pull out to his right (pos X) if he is right handed and mark off the sections locations ect. NA standards and what a builder wants are not the same thing. The main thing is that you can get an orientation along the X axis in the manner I describe and then put the origin at the ‘fwd extremity’ which would be the very tip of the bow, or the DWL, or the transom and all will work out and all you need to do is ignore the naming in the Rhino view windows. Believe me, I went through everything you are and it was very simple to just do what I describe. No one else really cares and the important thing is that a boat is long and narrow and this best fits a vessel to the screen aspect. Buy ORCA if you want their window naming convention and it is expensive but offers many real NA tools and is money well spent but I don’t even bother with the ORCA viewports option since I long ago got used to the Rhino standard setup and orienting my models as mentioned.

I am finding it increasingly a problem work with a 3d model where the frames increase left to right while working with plans that go from right to left.

Right Jim,

Not sure the window naming convention that I've mentioned here in ORCA would be worth the cost even if it did run on MAC. That is just the tip of the iceberg and ORCA is indespensible if you are doing serious NA work. 

Quit obsessing with the window names and just put your hull along the x axis and the breadths along the Y and ignore the left/right and front/back in the viewport names. You get used to it soon enough and never think twice about it again.