Navigate Viewport

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  • This page introduces you to navigation basics for handling your creations in the Blender 3D Viewport.
  • Neal Hirsig's short videos for specific functions allow you cover specific functions
  • The excerpts and images help you memorize the info and if you come back, to refresh your memory quickly.
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Maneuvering in 3D Space (Shortcutintro)

  • Tip: Familiarize with mouse and keyboard commands (worth doing):
  • The images help you to memorize; Have patience, your muscle memory helps you over time, and you can find desired commands via menu ( header lines, buttons in Main Panels) for the start.

flickr:5059677454 flickr:5059032295
flickr:5059065175 flickr:5059065399
  • Excerpt list along video

Memorize Shortcuts:
A - select / deselect everything
CTRL+up - FullScreen (CTRL+down to go back)
NumPad 5 toggles between User Ortho / Perspective View

  • See default Views under Menu (bottom header of 3DViewport Window) View - dropdown - but this is the time to start memorizing Shortcuts
  • User Ortho View is default view, Numpad 5 toggles between User Ortho (parallels remain parallel) and User Perspective ( parallels would meet in vanishing points if extendet into infinite) (see introduction)

Memorize Shortcuts:

  • NumPad7 Top
  • NumPad1 Front
  • NumPad3 Side

CTRL+7, CTRL+1, CTRL+3 for "Bottom", "Backside", "Other Side View" flipped view

Memorize Mouse handling + key controls

  • Rotate View, hold down Scroll Wheel ("middle mouse button" MMB) and drag
  • Zoom in and out by *srolling wheel (MMB) up and down
  • or zoom via NumPad + / - keys**

Memorize Shortcuts:

  • Zoom in on selected only: NumPad "," (period) (or via View Menu -> View Selected))
  • Show single selected object only, hide others: NumPad "/" , centers and hides others, click again to return
  • Move View: SHIFT+MMB press SHIFT and Middle Mouse Button and drag: pan/move whole scene display freely
  • See complete scene: Home Key (Pos1), or FN + left arrow on Mac)
  • Switch to Camera View : NumPad 0(shows where actual position of camera looks at, through camera)
  • PAN and ORBIT via NumPad:
  • Orbit by clicking 4 arrows on #NumPad (as they show)
  • Pan by clicking CTRL+arrows

Modeling Modes and Viewport Shading

  • Excerpt list along video

Memorize Shortcuts
TABkey - Switch between Object Mode and Edit mode
Z key to toggle between Solid and Wireframe shading

  • Blender is primarily a Mesh Object Modeling Application - most operations are performed on poygonal mesh objects.
  • Appearance / display is determined by Modeling Mode and Viewport Shading

2 main first Modeling Modes:

  • Object Mode: see in header (bottom) dropdown "Mode Notation", default: Object Mode: action on selected object affects compelte object
  • Edit Mode: edit Object "subcomponents", see structure that forms Mesh;
  • Switch between modes by TAB key (or via
  • A Mesh is formed by Vertices(Points) that are connected by lines (Edges), which form Faces
  • Appearance in viewport either Wireframe, or Solid Shading Mode - toggle by Z-key (dropdown in header (bottom 3DViewport Window) besides (Object, Edit…Modeling Mode dropdown)

*You will find yourself toggle between these Modes constantly in your workflow.

Blender Grid - Units - Scale

  • Excerpt list along video

Blender is designed as visualisation tool, not architectural or technical modeling tool: An Object must look right, not be built by precise measure.
Hence Blender uses "Blender Units" - which have no specific measure.

  • Blender Units are virtually relative: 1 unit can equal any measure you like, cm, m, ft..
  • The dimension of Blender Units corresponds to the default grid dimension - one grid square is what you make it: It can carry a complete house, or just one cube of a dice - welcome to virtual reality. :)
  • The numeric display in N Panel counts with accuracy 1/1000 of a part: displays three decimal places "between complete " units/parts for precision. 1,999, then 2 Units
  • 4 Units can be 4 cm, 4 feet, or 4 miles - your choice
  • Change Grid Display settings in right N-panel of 3D Viewport Editor Window: scroll down to Display: under checkbox Grid Floor, you can increase or decrease displayed Grid lines (will not affect unit measure, just display of grid size in Viewport
  • Display Metric or Imperial Scale:
  • Check "Scene" Editor tab: ( second "Button/Tab" in Properties EditorWindow (right lower besides 3DViewportWindow); Second Panel in Scene Tab shows Units: "None" is selected, switch to Metric, or Imperial
  • Choose Metric, and see in N-panel (right in 3D Vieweport) that dimensions are displayed as meters
  • Change scale in SceneTab Unit Panel to 0.1, and see that Dimensions in N-Panel show cm now.
  • With Imperial Scale this works less well - closest to make Imperial useful is by setting scale to 0.35 (Scene Tab, Properties Editor Window, Units Panel) and checkmark "Separate Units", but stays impractical.

x, y- and z-axis

  • Excerpt list along video
  • Open default Blender Scene
  • Select File -> User Preferences (Information Window header (above 3D Viewport Editor Window)
  • Under "Interface Tab" - increase "display Mini Axis" to size 25
  • See video to get more comfortable with axes, handling transform widget and orthographic views in 3D Viewport Editor Window

(Axes also explained [on introduction ] page)

  • to lock one axis - or move along the two other axes only in your 3D view

SHIFT + click the axis you want to lock

Cursor to Origin

SHIFT + S opens snap menu -> select "Cursor to Center" or:

SHIFT + C key sets the cursor to the scene origin (x=0, y=0, z=0)
(See video "Certer Point -Object Origin" on Modifying Meshes page

Global and Local Orientation

  • Excerpt list along video

Local Orientation is relevant for working on objects that have been rotated from the original global orientation into a new position.
The numeric rotation angles from Global Orientation are shown in N-panel (3D ViewportEditor Window)
Choose Local from the Orientation dropdown menu, and the transform widget of the selected rotated object will show the selected objects' local coordinates and allow you to manipulate it properly.
SHIFT + 7, 3 and 1 allows you to work on the local orthoraphic views to edit your object.

Blender Layers

  • Excerpt list along video
  • When your scene grows more complex, you will want to store different groups of objects on different layers, to work "less crowded":
  • Only the objects on layer(s) you have selected ( press SHIFT and click layer icons to select multiple) will then be displayed in your Viewport
  • Blender offers 20 layers, situated in bottom header of 3D Viewport (and only visinle in Object Mode, as you can only edit an object's mesh on one layer, they are not necessary in Edit Mode)
  • Layer 1 - 10 in first row, with a distance between 5 and 6
  • Layer 11 - 20 in second row underneath. The distance is handy as you do not work by numbers, but by visual and content-relation.
  • When opening the default scene, only layer one is selected and contains all objects of the scene
  • selected layers' icons are darker
  • Layers that contain objects have a little nib or dot
  • A yellow dot on a lyer icon symbolizes that this layer contains selected objects
  • To move objects to another layer, right click, or SHIFT+right click to select multiple.
  • Press M key, which opens the "Layer Menu Box"
  • Choose to which layer you want to move the selected object(s)
  • You can add selections via M to several layers, by selecting multiple (SHIFT) layer icons - the object will be displaedf in several layers then
  • If you add objects to the scene while several layers are active, they will be displayed on all layers
  • Blender will only render selected layers
  • Be sure that the lamp object is on a selected layer
  • The camera can be on a deselected layer. (But to adjust the render view before you render via camera, you have to select the layer, to be able to selecet the camera)

Pivot Points

  • Excerpt list along video
  • Pivot Point is a point in space around which an object is rotated or scaled
  • Blender offers various Pivot Point options, accessible via dropdown menu in bottom header of 3D Viewport Editor Window
  • Default: Bounding Box Center (Name fine for rotating or scaling group of objects, a bit misleading when rotating or scaling single object) - for single object: Object Center Point, Origin.
  • (Object Origin is not always located in center of object: See tutorial "Center Point - Object Origin" to see how to enure that the Origin is located at the objects geometry center)
  • Bounding Box Center: when multiple objects are selected, their center point is the center of an imaginary bounding box around them: rotation and scale will be done around that point.
  • Object Center Only Button: this button, located besides the Pivot Point dropdown, limits scale and rotation to the origin points of selected objects only, the selected objects thmeselves are not rotated or scaled. In case of Bounding Box, this means the objects move in space, when scaled towards or away from, aor rotated around Bounding Box Center, but they are not rotated, or scaled - see the video - it also limits possible confusion to showing this
  • Other Pivot Point options:
  • 3D Cursor as Pivot Point: selsection scaled or rotated around 3D Cursor
  • Individual Origins: Multiple Objects will be rotated or scaled around their individual origin
  • Median Pivot Point: Same as Bounding box Pivot Point
  • Active Element: Allows to set Pivot point at last selected object (active: brighter selection colour)

Undo / Redo

  • Excerpt list along video

Undo action: CTRL+Z, default setting is 32 steps back
Redo action: SHIFT+CTRL+Z
To change default setting: In Information header menu -> File -> User Preferences ->Editing tab ->left lower area: increase number - needs more memory, if you change, be sure to save in default scene (new empty project), to save this as new default setting.
Undo does not undo view changes, only actions to/on object.
Functions continue to work even when saving, but not when reopening after closing.

Repeat Functions

  • SHIFT + R repeats your last action
  • F3 reveals the history menu displaying your action backwards, Blender will go back to the action you click from the dropdiown that appears.

* You can display a menu for previous actions performed (History) by pressing F3. Selecting an item in the popup menu will repeat the action. You can then use Shift-R to continue repeating the item selected from the menu.
* Note: Currenetly, pressing Ctrl-Z to undo causes the History stack to be cleared! This is a documented bug.

Repeat buttons can be found in the Toolbar panel of the 3D View. ( Quoted from blendernewbies Thank you Kernon Dillon for those great Quicktips you started !)

Background Image

Update (27.01.20100) The easiest way to import a background image:

  • drag and drop the image from your desktop into the 3D viewport editor window. (!)

(And do not forget to switch to Top View (NumPad 7, to see it displayed.)
You can adjust it in the N panel, see below.

(Thank you Kernon Dillon, on blendernewbies)

Update: There is an easier way to improt your background image than the video embeded underneath:

  • Be sure to be in orthographic view (Numpad 5 toggles)
  • click N key to open the 3D viewport panel
  • scroll down to "Background Image" and checkmark it
  • click the small arrow "Not Set"
  • Click Open and load via file browser
  • The image should be displayed in your viewport now, you can set the views via dropdown

  • Excerpt list along video
  • You can display non-renderable image as modeling guide and display in any orthographic view.
  • Open into UV image editor:
  • Change 3D Viewport Editor Window into UV image Editor Window: dropdown icon in left lower corner of header (here on bottom) - change to UV Image Editor
  • Click "Image" -> select "Open" - this opens File Browser - locate file on your harddrive and open .png., .jpg or .gif. image
  • leftclickselect and pres "Open" button
  • this displays image in UV Editor Window
  • return to 3D View
  • checkmark Background Image checkbox in N-Panel (Properties Panel in 3D Viewport Editor Window, scroll down to Background Image Panel.
  • expand Panel and press "Add Image" Button
  • click small arrow at "Not Set" to expland:
  • Click image icon instead of Open and select from dropdown menu that appears
  • File path now listed along with other setting options
  • click dropdown (set at "All Views) above image icon to select in which view you want to display the image, will only show up in that view.
  • By default placed in axis zero point
  • Adjust: Change size and transparency and move by offset controls in setting boxes in Properties Panel
  • To add additional image: open in UV Editor again, then press Add Image button in Properties Panel again and another Box for settings of second Image appears.
  • Turn display on and off by checkmark in Background Properties Panel

(Rendering With a Background Image)

See this video on blendercookie - it is a good way to loose your fear of the node editor too*

*not at the right spot here, but fits in some ways and is repeated e.g. as introductory video for handling rendering basics.

Snap and Align Tools

  • Excerpt list along video
flickr:5062876671 flickr:5062895215
Snap and Align Tools allow you a certain amount of precision in modeling, see better in Wireframe Mode ( toggle with Z-key)

Icon Based Snap Tool

  • Accessible in Object and Edit Mode. (Works for complete object or sub-components of object.)
  • Snap During Transform Tool: Dropdown Icon located at right of 3D Viewport Editor header (bottom of Window);
  • Activate by click on Magnet Icon (or CTRL+TAB), icon gets coloured, now all transfroms can make use of it.
  • Choose from dropdown, what the selection should snap to (Increment, Edge, Vertex, Face or Volume)
  • Closer target definition is selectable via second dropdown that appears when other than Increment are selected: Closest, Center, Median or Active;
  • (For some additional icons to the right, which appear depending to spcific settings: hover over icon for tool-tips, necessity for and logic of use appears through modeling demands, not explained in beginner video)
  • Increment: snaps to Unit (grid), (same as holding CTRL key while transform action) - holding SHIFT snaps at 1/10 of a Unit
  • Vertex, target closest: G -grab and move selected to snap target,
  • position mouse close to element you want to snap to for better handling, automatic snap to closest ( white circele appears), left click confirms
  • Edge grab close to edge, aligns with edge, move along edge, left click places/confirms
  • Face: aligns seleted face to other face -
  • align rotation snap, small icon to the right: rotates selected object to fit to target.
  • Volume allows to snap to either Vertex, or Edge or Face
  • Target "Closest" snaps to closest - Vertex, Edge, Face..
  • Target "Center" - Origins /Center of selected snaps
  • Target "Median" same as center for single selected, for multiple selected, median point between them becomes snap target
  • Target "Active", Center of last selected of multiple selected becomes target

Keyboard Based Snap Tool Menu (SHIFT+S)

  • SHIFT + S opens Secection Menu

Snap Selection to:

  • Snap Selection to Grid
  • Or Selection to Cursor
  • ! 2.54 does not provide third option: "Selection to Origin" - instead: press "Origin" button in T -panel (3dViewp. left, and choose "Geometry to Origin")

Snap Cursor to :

  • Selected
  • Center
  • Grid
  • Active

Modeling cases should be added here, video gives brief introduction to Object and Edit Mode


It can be very useful to hide single objects, parts of an objcet or a complete area of your scene interim for better modeling (view).

Hide Single Objects

  • Press H-key to hide single objects, you can add other objects by hide during the process
  • Press ALT+H to make them visible again
  • be careful not to forget what you have hidden - best to use it only while operating on the relevant area, if you forget a hidden object it stays hidden when you save and reopen the project

Hide Area (or parts of an object) for better modeling (view)

  • Press ALT+B and Box Select (cursor changes to cross line: click and drag a Box) over the area you want to keep visible (mostly best in orthohraphic view)
  • Press ALT+B again to unhide / make visible again

Be careful not to forget what you have hidden - use it only while acting on the relevant area, if you forget a hidden object it stays hidden when you save and reopen the project.

How To Organize Your Scene

Oliver Villar Diz gives a lot of great workflow tips for organizing your scene in this video. (See it on blendtuts)

Oliver's description: "You'll learn:
- How to use blender layers
- How to use blender groups
- How to use blender scenes
- How to link objects and obdata between different scenes."

(Like mentioned on the network link, it might get too complicated for beginners at the end of the video, but still important things covered)

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