Mathematically there are various ways to calculate a spacial center point. (2d or 3d).

  • Barycenter (sum of all positions divided by the total number of points)
  • Bounding box center (typically the middle of the bounds on each axis).
  • Center of mass (exact calculation depends how mathematically accurate you want to be, weighting by edge-length can be used for example, for 3d volumes face area can be used).

In graphical applications I've seen centroid, median-center... and other terms used which don't correspond to their mathematical definitions (on Wikipedia at least).

For the purpose of a graphical application rotation or scale pivot point (for non-technical users),
what are acceptable terms for different kinds of 2d / 3d center?

The application uses all these kinds of center, and the target audience is artists / animators (possibly architects, engineers too, though thats less of a focus).

  • Does your application support more than one kind of center? If yes, which ones? What do the users need them for? Who are these users, what is their background, and what do they know about centers?
    – Rumi P.
    May 31, 2016 at 11:22
  • Updated question to address your points.
    – ideasman42
    May 31, 2016 at 11:51
  • 1
    If that's your whole knowledge about the situation, the question is unanswerable. It doesn't tell us what the different centers are needed for, by whom, and under which circumstances. Also, the label "artists" is not sufficient to tell us what the users know about their own work or about the theory of centers or about the application.
    – Rumi P.
    May 31, 2016 at 12:06
  • You might get better answers on english.stackexchange.com. May 31, 2016 at 14:08

1 Answer 1


I've also used "Visual Center" or "Balance Line" to describe the perceptual center line running through an icon, graphic element, or photograph of a person. (Similar to the design principle of balance, but more specific to measuring a center.)

Imagine an icon of a 2D notebook lying flat with a pencil half on/off the side of the notebook. The measured left to right center of this entire icon could be two thirds of the way across the notebook. If you lay that down centered within a circle, it will look off balance. Using the visual center makes it appear balanced.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.