Over the past few years, our draggers have been living a double life. There’s always been the standard, geometric way to transform parts: you select a part, move it around, align it with other parts, and so forth. But in 2017, we added an Inverse Kinematic mode, triggered by the “Constraint” button. This was more of a physical mode akin to “reaching and moving things around” as if they were real, connected objects. Enabling constraints would run the physics engine and solve IK systems to manipulate objects in a more simulated, physical way.
We’ve learned that while some of you know about and love that physical mode… many of you didn’t know about it, were accidentally triggering it, and were frustrated when an anchored part unexpectedly didn’t move.
Today, we’re happy to introduce a user interface improvement that makes these two modes more explicit and simplifies the UI. The “Constraint” button is no more. Instead, there’s a Mode pop-up to toggle between Geometric and Physical dragging. We think that will both help avoid unintentional toggles and make the value of this mode more clear as you build!
To try this feature, go to File > Beta Features and enable New Physical Draggers.
But we didn’t stop there—we’ve improved Physical mode to make it even better to use in two key ways:
Physical Freeform Dragging
Previously, even if you had Constraints enabled, if you used freeform dragging on an object, it would revert to Geometric movement. Now, we’ve added a new physical freeform drag that really is akin to reaching in and grabbing the object. This should help you quickly and easily test your constraints using natural movement. Here are a couple examples of how that looks:
Move a sea creature and watch the legs follow:
Move part of a complex physics rig:
Scope Selection Default Change
In the old UI, when you click on a part within a Model, Studio would always select the Model. If you Alt/Option-clicked on the Model, you’d select the specific sub-scope your mouse was hovering over. That works well in Geometric mode, but we found when we tested Physical mode, 99% of the time we wanted to select the end-effector sub-scope, not the entire Model.
For your convenience, we’ve swapped the default selection behavior in Physical mode. By default, when you click on an object, Studio selects that specific sub-scope, not the Model. Alt/Option-click on the sub-scope to select the Model. Please let us know if you like this change.
This video shows the difference in the default click behavior between modes:
Currently, when you use the draggers in Play mode, the Physical draggers are disabled and you are always in geometric mode. We’d like feedback as to how you’d like to use the Physical draggers in Play mode. Please let us know if you have a specific use case where they would be useful.
Let us know what you think, if you have any questions, or if you have any issues.