After learning bits and pieces of Maya, 3DS Max, IMAGINE and XSI I noticed that they all have Y-up worlds with Z being used for depth (naturally).

is there a way to make Blender a Y-up world? and does anyone know why isnt it Y-up in the first place?

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ would be interesting to find out from Ton himself why he went with Z up. $\endgroup$
    – zeffii
    May 30 '13 at 7:04
  • 7
    $\begingroup$ I think 3DS Max is actually Z-up as well. The reason is explained well here. $\endgroup$
    – grc
    May 30 '13 at 7:06
  • $\begingroup$ Tips for Unity Game Modeling in Blender The link above is what I keep in mind before starting any Blender project I know that will be used for Unity. $\endgroup$
    – Nate
    Jun 2 '17 at 5:04
  • $\begingroup$ Most apps let you choose which way is up. $\endgroup$ Nov 2 '19 at 2:12

This is unique to Blender and as far as I know, cannot be changed. .

Blender uses the right hand coordinate system with the Z axis pointing upwards. This is common with the coordinate systems used by most common 3D CAD packages.

enter image description here

Another reasoning for this is that a common convention for real world applications for engineering and science is that X and Y axes define a flat ground plane while the Z axis defines up and down

enter image description here

However, if you work between these software that you mention above, one way you could maintain consistency is to export the object(s) as a .obj or .fbx (or any other similar format, most if not all exporters in Blender have this option) to the other application with the 'up' axis being Z etc.

enter image description here

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    $\begingroup$ hmm. so the Z-buffer is really a Y-buffer ? :) $\endgroup$
    – user232
    May 30 '13 at 12:27
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    $\begingroup$ @user232 - No, that is camera coordinates where x and y are on the image plane and z giving the depth. $\endgroup$
    – neil
    Jun 21 '13 at 14:32
  • $\begingroup$ This is NOT unique to Blender. twitter.com/FreyaHolmer/status/1325556229410861056?s=19 $\endgroup$
    – L0Lock
    Sep 26 '21 at 20:16

It's obviously not perfect, but here are a few things that will make Blender "act" like Y is up.

You could change all the shortcut keys so that Y was sort of the top.

Change Gravity to Y direction:
gravity direction

Finally, remove the grid floor and only show the x and z axis when rotating the view. Grid floor

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You should probably rotate the camera too, while you're at it. $\endgroup$
    – Gwen
    May 30 '13 at 15:01
  • $\begingroup$ where is the Grid Floor option? $\endgroup$
    – rraallvv
    Jun 22 '13 at 0:08
  • $\begingroup$ In the properties panel (N). $\endgroup$
    – CharlesL
    Jun 22 '13 at 12:58
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    $\begingroup$ This answer should be higher up, it at least adds some workarounds that might be useful! $\endgroup$
    – Ludwik
    Jul 19 '15 at 14:16

Blender is based on Cartesian right handed system, which is Z-up. From what I've read it's not possible to change that since it's pretty much hardcoded among Blender's various features, but I may be wrong.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ you're wrong, you can have an Y-up right-handed coordinate system, or any-up for that matter. $\endgroup$ May 21 '18 at 1:33
  • $\begingroup$ Can you supply source? I haven't used blender for some time now, but I recall it wasn't possible back then (but then, I haven't supplied source either). $\endgroup$
    – dwelle
    May 21 '18 at 17:54
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    $\begingroup$ Where in math has anyone heard of Y-up (or down, for that matter)? The proper criterion for a right-handed coordinate system is the result of the cross product (z = cross(x, y), x = cross(y, z), y = cross(z, x)), it does not matter at all which of the unit vectors (x, y, z) points "up". $\endgroup$ May 21 '18 at 18:05
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    $\begingroup$ You can have right-handed with Y being up as well as left-handed with Z being up. They are not mutually exclusive. Godot uses Y-is-up and right-handed. Here's a chart: pbs.twimg.com/media/DTbWux8WkAUOZZx.jpg:large $\endgroup$ Dec 8 '18 at 7:35
  • $\begingroup$ @AaronFranke good point $\endgroup$
    – dwelle
    Dec 8 '18 at 18:41

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