Item Placement Tutorial

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In this tutorial, you are going to be shown how to properly rotate an item, so that it rests flat on an uneven (non-horizontal) surface. See also our other Interior Guidelines.

For showcases, we require aspiring Interior Developers to use Morrowind’s de_p furniture, in order to gauge your proficiency at item placement.

Note: The Construction Set Extender's auto-align functionality very conveniently can do most of this rotation automatically. However, there are many corner cases where it does not quite cut it; hence, we still want you to understand how to do fine item rotations manually.

Before we start with the item placement, you should check the preferences of the Construction Set under the menu item File > Preferences.

The Preferences Window of the Construction Set.

When rotating items, it’s best to use small values for Camera Rotation, Camera Zoom and Camera Pan. As shown in the above picture, we’ll be using values of 0.5 for Rotation, 1.0 for Zoom and 2.0 for Pan. These are just possible values to use; you should play around with these values until you find what is comfortable for you.

Now we can start with the actual tutorial: we are going to place a pitcher (misc_de_pitcher_01) on top of a common Dunmer table (furn_de_p_table_04).

The surface of furn_de_p furniture is notoriously uneven.

When working on your showcase interior, it’s important to be sure the table is properly positioned first, or else, you’ll have to redo everything that has already been placed on it. In this tutorial, we won’t worry about the table’s positioning, but you should for your showcase.

Placing an item on an uneven surface correctly requires rotating the item.

The first step is to chose a proper location for the item. Now this may sound trivial, but where you place the object on the table is very important. Picking the wrong position may prevent you from actually getting the item properly positioned.

Top view of the pitcher, the surface triangle is marked green.

The surface of furn_de_p furniture, in fact every model, consists of many triangles. The easiest way to place an item on that surface is to place it, and its Selection Box (the red, green and blue lines that form a box around the object), exactly on one single triangle.

To identify the triangles you can press the W key to switch between wireframe (below image) and regular (above image) views.

Top view of the pitcher, but this time in wireframe view.
The Selection Box of the item indicates if the item needs rotation or not.

Grab your item from the object window, in this case its the misc_de_pitcher_01, and position it just above the table. Press the T key to see the object from above, if needed. Press the W key to switch to wireframe mode, position the object with your mouse so that it, and it’s selection box, are directly above one triangle. Then press W again to return to the normal view.

Now, press the F key to drop the item onto the table. Look at the Selection Box, and in this case, as shown in the above picture, look at the red and green lines around the bottom of the pitcher. You can see that the Box intersects the table on the right side, and doesn’t touch the table on the left side.

You can tell this because the Selection Box disappears on the right side, which means it is bleeding into the table. Meanwhile if the lines of the Box are solid, as they are on the left side, this means that the Box is floating freely. If all four lines, in this case, the two green and two red lines, become dashed or dotted, then the pitcher is perfectly aligned with the surface of the table. This is what we are working towards.

The pitcher needs to be tilted like this to rest properly.

To align the bottom of pitcher to the top surface of the table, we now need to lower the floating side and raise the bleeding side. This can be done with the Right Mouse Button and the use of the X, Y and Z keys. But this approach can be tricky. An easier method is to manipulate the rotation values directly. This is done in the item’s Properties Window which is opened by double-clicking the pitcher.

The rotation of the item can be manipulated directly in its Properties Window.

Note 1: Care must be taken when double-clicking an item, because you may inadvertently move the item while attempting to double-click. If the item does move, simply hit the undo button or press Ctrl + Z, and it will return to it’s original position. Then you can try double-clicking again. Unfortunately, there is no hot-key to open the pitcher’s Properties Window.

Note 2: Try not to close the window by pressing the “Save” button, or the Enter/Return key. The CS will think that you edited the item (you didn’t, you only edited a reference of the item) and will save this item to the .esp. Instead, press “Cancel” or the close window button “X”, in the top right hand corner of the window. Don’t worry if you do accidentally press “Save”, you should use TESAME to remove anything that shouldn’t be in your file later (a.k.a. cleaning the file).

Remember: pressing “Save” is a bad habit.

In the lower left corner, of the Misc Item window (aka Properties window), as seen in the above picture, are the Rotation values for this pitcher; you can change them by pressing the up/down arrows to the right of the value. The other number, just to the right of the arrows, specifies by how much one arrow press changes the rotation value (aka the delta angle value). You can also directly enter a number in the field, but remember that the change is only applied after you move the cursor into a new field. This can be accomplished by pressing the TAB key, clicking on any other field or pressing an arrow button.

This is how it looks when the pitcher is tilted by 1◦ on the x- and y-axes.

There are two great advantages of using the arrow buttons in the item’s Properties Window. First is the automatic update of the items position and rotation within the Render Window. The other advantage is the ability to quickly undo a change. If you press the down button one to many times – just press the up arrow button.

The pitcher needs to be tilted slightly in the opposite direction again.

As you can see in the above picture, the pitcher has been rotated to 359.0◦(−1.0◦) on the x-axis and 1.0◦ on the y-axis. As a result, the far left side corner is now bleeding into the table and the right side, which was bleeding before, is now floating.

This is how it looks when the pitcher is tilted by 0.5◦ on the x- and y-axes.

The perfect rotation must be somewhere between those values. After changing the rotation on the y-axis to 0.5◦ and on the x-axis to 359.5◦, all the lines appear solid (see the above picture). This, as you should know by now, indicates that the item is floating above the table’s surface. Whenever this happens, raise the item a bit (you can change the position on the z-axis from inside this window) and F it again.

A small adjustment on the x-axis (red) and the rotation should be fine.

After raising the pitcher and letting it fall down again, it now seems that the rotation around the y-axis is already pretty close (hint: the y-axis is parallel to the green edges). On the x-axis however, we’re back to where we started and the Box is floating again on the left side (see the above picture).

So the correct value needs to be somewhere between 359.0◦ and 359.5◦ on the x-axis. Therefore, lower the X value in increments of 0.1◦to 359.3◦. While doing this, you should notice that the value for the y-axis needs to be changed as well. After changing it to 0.4◦, raise the pitcher again, and F it once more.

Note: You can also set all the angle deltas to 0.1 to start with and do the same kinds of rotations about the x- and y-axes. By setting the delta z position to 0.01, you can stay within the Properties Window making all the necessary adjustments until all four lines on the Selection Box are dashed.

The final rotation values, the Selection Box is continuously dashed.

Looking at the above picture, the rotation seems pretty good, right? If you take a close look at the green line closest to the camera, you’ll see that all the dashes are of roughly equal length. This is a good indicator that the item is properly positioned.

A view from the opposite side shows that the Selection Box rests properly now.

A few looks from other angles show the same result (see the above picture). Normally, you’ll have to change the angle very often when rotating an item, to see the red and green lines clearly, but in this case it worked out very fine without doing that.

A close-up view reveals if the item is indeed resting properly.

But, we’re not done yet. You need to make sure that not only the Selection Box is placed properly, but that the pitcher itself is properly positioned. How can we do this? Well, simply by zooming in very close (like in the above picture). You may need to decrease the Camera Zoom to a value around 0.1 or lower.

As you zoom-in on an object, the Construction Set stops rendering parts which are too close to the camera. We can use this to test the item rotation. Just compare the above picture with the same situation but this time with the pitcher slightly raised and lowered respectively, as shown in the below picture.

This is how floating or bleeding would look like in the close-up view.

When an item rests properly on a surface, then the point where the bottom edge of the item stops being rendered lies exactly on the line at which the surface stops being rendered. Or in other words the visible bottom edge of the item meets the top edge of the underlying surface (see the below picture).

The edges of the item need to meet the edge of the surface in these points.
A view from a different angle shows that the pitcher is rotated properly.

Now, check the pitcher from all sides with this technique, and you’ll see that the pitcher rests perfectly on all sides (see the above picture).

All that’s left to do is to rotate the pitcher on the z-axis. Fortunately, rotation around the z-axis is independent from the x-axis and the y-axis. You can simply rotate the pitcher with the Right Mouse button to any angle that looks good.

The misc_de_pitcher_01 rests perfectly on the furn_de_p_table_04.

And that’s it, the pitcher is now properly rotated and rests perfectly on the de_p table (check the Selection Box in the above picture). The pitcher is of course a very simple item because its bottom is parallel and in-line with the Selection Box. However, even for irregular items, the process is very similar. The biggest difference is that you’ll probably have to apply rotation around the z-axis first which means you’ll have to deal with three axes instead of just two.

In the end, it comes down to practice. Start out with simply shaped – round or rectangular – items, and when you’ve got the knack with them, move on to irregular ones (i. e. skulls or bones). I hope this tutorial helps with your showcase.

Happy Modding.

[See this same guide in a PDF version here.]