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So using the mirror modifier, I understand I manipulate the components of my object in edit mode. This gets reflected to the mirrored object.

What I want to know is if there is an option to use the mirrored side to edit if I need to, say in another view for example I may only have a background ref image that suits that side.

mirror

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You can have the mirror modifier allow editing of both sides in edit mode by clicking the triangle icon in the modifier:

enter image description here

However, moving the mirrored side may be confusing, as it will always behave as if you are editing the corresponding selection on the non-mirrored side.

Flipping the model manually

There a few was to do this, but the fastest way I know of is pressing CtrlMX (or Y or Z, depending on your mirror axis) in object mode, making sure the pivot point is at the same spot as the mirror point.

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