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The Control Panel


The control panel is the name of the group of tools on the bottom of the screen.

It brings together the functions of view, navigation assistants and drawing. It can be broken down into four parts.


In order: organization of 3D workspace, 3D guides, centering tools, 3D navigation tools, 3D drawing styles, faces display, and display utilities.

Organization of the 3D Workspace: Split Views


You can organize your 3D Workspace with different configurations. By default, Hexagon has the perspective view occupying the whole 3D workspace.

With help of the corresponding icons, you can organize your 3D workspace in four views (perspective, above, face, side) or in three combined views, or again, in one view, like the default.

Snapping and Axis Constraints: 3D Guides


The 3D Guides are work assistants, which let you control certain tools in the 3D space (3D Primitives and lines, the stretch tool, the snap/align tool). By default, movement along these 3D guides is free, or the cursor can move without constraints in the plane defined by the 2 axes.

Using the icon, measurement gradations appear along the guide, letting you snap the movement of the cursor to the gradations in cm, in, etc.

The icon allows you to choose on which elements the snapping to be performed using the Shift key will operate: vertices, faces, segments, middles of segments, third of segments and fourth of segments.

Note: it is not possible to cumulate segment snapping and fourth/third/middle of segment snapping.

The different snapping options.

The following three icons let you activate respectively the movement on the plane defined by the guides (by default) or alternatively to constrain to the horizontal or vertical axis. The constraint options of the 3D guides are also available with the Space bar, when the guides are activated.

Centering Tools


You will find two groups of icons which deal with navigation in the 3D workspace:

  • The icon (View all) repositions your camera, without changing its orientation, so that all the elements in the scene are visible.
  • The icon (View selection) repositions your camera so that the selected object is visible.
  • The icon (View detail) shows a red rectangle selector to specify the area of the 3D Workspace to include in the new placement of the camera.
  • The icon points the camera at an element by clicking in the 3D Workspace or by inputting coordinates in the tool properties palette. You can also use the tool option place eye in the same palette, to specify interactively or by precise input, where you want to place your camera.

Once you have placed your target point, or the virtual eye, Validate the tool to continue working.

3D Navigation Tools


  • The icon turns your camera around the target point.
  • The icon pans around the scene, or displace laterally (such as camera traveling in film terminology).
  • The icon zooms in and out.

Holding down the mouse button on an icon navigates directly on the button, or clicking on a button turns your mouse cursor into that icon, letting you navigate directly in the 3D Workspace by click-dragging. Use the icon to return to your manipulators.

Keyboard shortcuts:

  • Alt+left mouse button: rotate the camera
  • Alt+right mouse button (Ctrl+Option+right mouse button on MacOS), or the mouse wheel button: pan the camera
  • Alt+mouse wheel button or the mouse wheel: zoom the camera

3D Drawing Styles

3d_drawing_styles.jpg 3d_drawing_styles2.jpg

You can control how your 3D objects are displayed on screen:

  • : Wireframe
  • : Lit wireframe
  • : Flat solid
  • : Flat solid and edges
  • : Smoothed solid
  • : Smoothed solid and edges
  • : With lightmap: none by default. Holding down and this button functions as a pop-up menu with other lightmap choices. Release the mouse button on the icon of your choice. These light maps accentuate the perception of relief by simulating multiple light sources or showing reflections.
  • advanced_lighting.jpg: Advanced lighting, two options are available: real-time shadows, or ambient occlusion. The display mode stays active until it is changed to a new mode. Please read real-time display for more detailed information.
  • : Ambient Occlusion Preview: Displays the scene using the ambient occlusion technique, which simulates the effect of a simplified global illumination. This advanced display mode is not real-time and may take several seconds, depending on your hardware configuration. So as soon you start to navigate again, use any tool or perform any selection operation, the display will turn back to default display mode (without ambient occlusion). Please read real-time display for more detailed information.
  • : Transparent display of sub-selection: when working on a selection of vertices, edges or faces, or within a level of dynamic geometry.
  • : Show/hide backfaces: displays or not the faces that may have their normal oriented away from the camera.
  • : 3D projection mode: by default, the camera is in perspective mode, but you can also choose to work in orthographic mode, or no perspective.

Real-Time Display

In addition to the default surface display, Hexagon offers several advanced display capabilities, providing a better perception of volumes and reliefs. These display capabilities are: light maps, real-time shadows, and ambient occlusion.

Light Maps

These light maps emphasize the relief perception and let you better appreciate the curvatures, by projecting a spherical image simulating a lighting environment.

A set of default light maps is available, which offers a range various effects to light your models well, according to the specific need.

Activating the light maps is performed through the control panel.

It is possible to replace existing light maps with custom ones you will create. Please note that it is not possible to add new light maps, it is only possible to replace default ones with new ones of your choice.

The lightmap files are located in the data\pic\Default folder of the application installation folder, and are named: rt_lightmap.png and rt_lightmap_h.png for the thumbnail.

Real-Time Shadows

To better visualize the relief of your objects, as well as their respective positions in the 3D space, it is possible to activate the shadows display.

The display engine will project a shadow generated by a virtual light source, located up and left to the camera. Thus, according to the navigation, the shadow projection will be updated since shadows will be projected from a light source which will follow your movement in space.

Note: objects in the scene project shadows between each other.

Activating real-time shadows is performed through the control panel.


  • It is possible to accumulate real-time shadows with light maps!

Ambient Occlusion

It is often necessary to have a quality preview of the scene in order to export the scene to an application dedicated to rendering (such as Carrara). This preview rendering step can be performed inside Hexagon with the ambient occlusion display.

This lighting technique simulates a “sky light” rendering, by approximation. The image is calculated with a lighting half-sphere which will compute the ratio of visible light on each object point.

The image is not calculated as it would usually be with a software rendering engine, but instead uses specific capabilities of your graphic board. The more powerful the graphic board, the faster the rendering will be. It could even be instantaneous on the most recent graphic boards.

Activating the ambient occlusion is performed through the control panel, either as one-pass display (further action will de-activate the ambient occlusion), or as permanent display mode (not recommended on low-level graphic boards).


  • It is possible to combine ambient occlusion and light maps.
  • For better results, press “0” on the numeric keypad to fit the whole scene to view.
  • The calculation time depends on the number of polygons in the scene. The more polygons there are in your scene, the longer the calculation with take. Ambient occlusion calculation takes 512 times longer than the default display. It is thus not recommended to use this advanced display mode on a scene with several million polygons.