Welcome to your introduction to navigating the Tinkercad workplane! As a beginner, getting familiar with the interface can seem daunting. This guide will walk you through the basics of views, object movement, and utilizing snap grids on the workplane so you can start designing models with confidence.
An overview of the key topics we’ll cover:
- What is the Tinkercad workplane
- Changing views of the workplane and objects
- Moving objects around the workplane
- Using keyboard shortcuts
- Using your mouse
- Understanding snap grids
- Setting up the optimal grid size
By the end, you’ll have the fundamental know-how you need to start manipulating objects on the Tinkercad workplane. Let’s get started!
What is the Tinkercad Workplane?
When you first open Tinkercad, you’ll see the default workplane – think of this as your three-dimensional design space. It functions as a flat surface onto which you’ll add and manipulate shapes and objects to create 3D models.
The workplane extends seemingly endlessly along the X and Y axes (width and depth), while the Z axis (height) goes from -1000 to 1000 millimeters. Along the edges of the workplane is a grid of boxes separated by 10 millimeters each. This assists with visualizing distances as you design.
Now let’s go over how you can view and navigate this workplane.
Changing Views on the Tinkercad Workplane
As you add and manipulate objects on your workplane, you’ll need to view it from different angles. There are a few ways to adjust your perspective:
Use the View Buttons
On the right toolbar, you’ll see buttons for common views like Top, Front, Right, and 3D. Click these to orient the angle of the workplane:
- Top – Looking down at the workplane from above
- Bottom – Up at the workplane from below
- Left – Viewing from the left side
- Right – Viewing from the right side
- Front – Facing the front edge of the workplane
- Back – Facing the back edge of the workplane
- Home – Restores the default angle
- 3D – Allows full 360 degree rotation
Alternatively, right click and drag your mouse across the workplane to rotate the view manually. Use the scroll wheel to zoom in and out. This gives you more granular control compared to just using the buttons.
Switch Between 3D and Orthographic View
By default, Tinkercad shows a 3D perspective view that gives depth to objects on the workplane. Click the cube icon in the top right to change to Orthographic view – this displays objects two-dimensionally without any depth or vanishing points.
Orthographic view can be especially helpful when initially laying out objects and designs from a top-down perspective. Feel free to toggle between the two views as needed in your workflow.
Moving Objects Around the Tinkercad Workplane
Now that you know how to manipulate the workplane view itself, let’s go over how to move individual objects. Being able to precisely place shapes and components where you want forms the backbone of designing 3D models.
You’ll primarily rely on your mouse, keyboard shortcuts, or a mix of both:
Use Your Mouse
To move an object, click and drag it to the desired location on the workplane. This is the most straightforward method.
You can drag objects across both the X and Y axes. To move something vertically between heights, click and drag the curved arrow icon to position along the Z axis up and down.
Use Keyboard Shortcuts
For precise movements, use the arrow keys on your keyboard to nudge objects by small increments. This takes advantage of the workplane’s snap grid which we’ll explore more in the next section.
Additionally, hold CTRL (or CMD on Mac) while pressing the up/down arrow keys to move objects along the vertical Z axis. This keyboard shortcut is invaluable for stacking and aligning shapes accurately.
Find What Works Best
In summary, newer Tinkercad users should get in the habit of:
- Left click + drag to make large general movements
- Arrow keys for precise nudging
- CTRL/CMD + arrow keys for exact vertical placement
Mastering object movement flows directly into efficiently utilizing snap grids.
Understanding Tinkercad Snap Grids
The snap grid is an incredibly useful feature on the Tinkercad workplane, especially for beginners. Enabled by default, it has a fundamental impact on object placement and movement.
Here’s how it works:
The snap grid divides the workplane into even spaces based on a defined size – by default it’s set to 1 millimeter. This means when you drag an object or nudge it with the arrow keys, it will only move in exact 1mm increments along the grid.
Visually, you’ll see the object snap to each line on the grid. This enables precise alignment and consistent gaps between shapes.
Without the snap grid enabled, objects could be placed and moved to random decimal measurements, making accuracy difficult, especially for initial learners.
Adjust the Grid Size
In the bottom right corner of Tinkercad, you can edit the grid size as needed anywhere from 0.1mm up to 1000mm. Common sizes for different types of projects include:
- 0.1mm – highly detailed miniatures and jewelry pieces
- 1mm or 5mm – most general 3D printing projects
- 10mm+ – large basic structures and terrain
Setting the Optimal Grid for Your Models
Finding the sweet spot grid measurement for your specific 3D model takes experimentation based on the level of detail needed.
As we learned above, the smaller the grid size, the more granular control you have. But an extremely tiny 0.1mm grid isn’t necessary for printing basic shapes. On the flip side, a large 50mm grid won’t allow for dialing in precise measurements.
Test different snap grid sizes early on in your design process to choose what works best. This will lend invaluable consistency and accuracy as you layout and assemble objects.
Here are some additional benefits of properly utilizing Tinkercad’s snap grid:
- Creates aligned and symmetrical designs
- Ensures equal spaces between objects
- Allows matching heights and widths
- Improves overall precision
While it may seem restrictive initially, mastering movement integrated with the snap grid prepares you for efficiently constructing complex 3D models.
And that wraps up this beginner’s guide to getting oriented with the key elements of the Tinkercad workplane! Here’s a quick summary of what we learned:
- The workplane is the 3D design space where you create models
- You can view the workplane from different angles using the view buttons or manual rotation
- Move objects around precisely with your mouse, keyboard shortcuts, or both
- The snap grid enables accurate placement in set increments
- Choose the optimal grid size based on your project needs
Equipped with these fundamentals, you now have the knowledge to start effectively manipulating objects on the Tinkercad workplane. The rest comes down to practice and applying these skills to start constructing incredible 3D designs.