Microsoft DirectX 9.0

3-D Coordinate Systems

Typically 3-D graphics applications use two types of Cartesian coordinate systems: left-handed and right-handed. In both coordinate systems, the positive x-axis points to the right, and the positive y-axis points up. You can remember which direction the positive z-axis points by pointing the fingers of either your left or right hand in the positive x-direction and curling them into the positive y-direction. The direction your thumb points, either toward or away from you, is the direction that the positive z-axis points for that coordinate system. The following illustration shows these two coordinate systems.

Two coordinate systems

Microsoft?Direct3D?uses a left-handed coordinate system. If you are porting an application that is based on a right-handed coordinate system, you must make two changes to the data passed to Direct3D.

To obtain what amounts to a right-handed world, use the D3DXMatrixPerspectiveRH and D3DXMatrixOrthoRH functions to define the projection transform. However, be careful to use the corresponding D3DXMatrixLookAtRH function, reverse the backface-culling order, and lay out the cube maps accordingly.

Although left-handed and right-handed coordinates are the most common systems, there is a variety of other coordinate systems used in 3-D software. For example, it is not unusual for 3-D modeling applications to use a coordinate system in which the y-axis points toward or away from the viewer, and the z-axis points up. In this case, right-handedness is defined as any positive axis (x, y, or z) pointing toward the viewer. Left-handedness is defined as any positive axis (x, y, or z) pointing away from the viewer. If you are porting a left-handed modeling application where the z-axis points up, you must do a rotation on all the vertex data in addition to the previous steps.

The essential operations performed on objects defined in a 3-D coordinate system are translation, rotation, and scaling. You can combine these basic transformations to create a transform matrix. For details, see 3-D Transformations.

When you combine these operations, the results are not commutative - the order in which you multiply matrices is important.

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