Setting up a "Tilted Environment"

I use Rhino mostly for designing model airplanes. Now, airplanes have wings, and these have a habit of not being orthogonal to the world axis. However, the parts like ribs, spars etc. are orthogonal to the wing’s main axis, so I usually set the construction up such that the wing’s main axis is parallel to the world-Y-axis. When complete, I copy the assembly to the correct position, then rotate it to the desired dihedral angle, followed by the incidence angle, and sometimes again followed by the sweep angle. This is a cumbersome process, especially when you have to do it multiple times to incorporate developments, and you have to remember the sequence of rotations to move it to the construction area and back in position again.

So I have been looking for a better way, and I have experimented with setting up a different design file to design my wing, with views and construction planes arranged in such a way that they appear in the normal Top/Right/Front/Perspective fashion, but in fact all are re-oriented to give the correct position and angles in world coordinates. All I have to do now is cut the wing from my main design file and paste it to this auxiliary design file, make modifications as required, and cut&paste back to the main file (or do the same with a selection of objects).
I have also experimented with setting up all this as saved views and saved CPlanes in the main design file, but that is less efficient (and foolproof) since you have to set all views to their saved counterparts and separately set up the saved CPlanes to each view. If anybody knows a way to save such an alternative “environment” which can be called by one or two clicks, I would like to know how.

The way I set up the views is as follows:

  • place an element, say a spar, in the right position and at the correct angles.
  • cut and paste that element to the aux file. Stay with the aux file.
  • select a view, i.e. the Front view
  • open the View Properties panel and change from parallel to perspective. This makes re-orienting your CPlane easier.
  • using the CPlane tools like 3-point, rotate, orient to surface etc, to set up your aux CPlane for your aux-Front view
  • in the View tools menu, set the camera to look at the CPlane. This will result in a parallel view, with the camera rotated such that the CPlane axis’ appear horizontal/vertical on your screen.
  • repeat the same for the other parallel views.
  • in the Perspective view, move the CPlane as above, but do not reset your camera. That will result in an odd camera rotation angle, which varies with the camera postion, and does not help to view your design.

Which leads me to my question to @Marlin : is it possible to move the camera in a perspective view in such a way that the CPlane z-axis is the view-vertical used as reference, rather than the world z-axis?
This would allow you to view your design in a more “natural” way, when you choose to re-orient your CPlane. I.e., when I tilt an object and re-orient the CPlane to one of its (previously) horizontal surfaces, it would appear to be horizontal still when viewed in a perspective viewport.


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Hi Max,

Have you used TiltView and also NamedView to save it? If I’m misunderstanding what you’re trying to do more quickly, please post some screenshots.

Hello Brian,

Edit: I am not sure which part of my post you are addressing. If you refer to the environment thing, I was looking for an alternative for having to use two files, since I did not find an option to have two sets of top/front/right/perspective views, one normal and one tilted, with CPlanes to match. I can tilt a view and save it, re-orient the CPlane and save it too, but once I switch back to the normal view and want to switch to the alternative view again, I have to select that view and separately select the matching CPlane. And the same for the other views, hence my question.

If you are referring to the last part of my post, the question addressed to Marlin, here goes:

For the parallel views, TiltView achieves the same as setting your view to “Plan”, after you have re-oriented the CPlane, so no gain there.

For perspective views:

Object rotated:

CPlane set to bottom surface:

TiltView to “horizontal” object:

Camera rotated 180 deg around object, looking at it from rear. Object and Cplane no longer appear horizontal:

Thanks for explaining more and for the screenshots.

For rotating in respect to the active view after tilting the camera, check out Preferences>View and try the ‘rotate relative to view’ option.

In regards to saved sets of views and cplanes, I don’t know of a way to switch between multiple Cplanes and views simultaneously. There is a named Cplanes panel though which allows for importing cplanes from other files which might be useful. So I think you’re doing your changes of viewports and Cplanes as fast as possible now.

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That seem to do the trick, thank you Brian!