If you are new to Blender, you should get a good grip on how to work with the user interface before you start modelling. The concepts behind Blender's interface are specifically designed for a graphics modelling application and the vast array of features are different and differently grouped from other 3D software packages. In particular, Windows users will need to get used to the different way that Blender handles controls such as button choices and mouse movements. This difference is one of Blender's great strengths. Once you understand how to work the Blender way, you will find that you can work exceedingly quickly and productively. Some features are familiar, like the top menu bar of "File", "Add"..."Help". However, many other features are quite unheard of in most (if not all) other applications. For example: Blender windows cannot overlap and hide each other, one exception being a small number of mini-floating panels which are transparent, fold-able, small, and dock-able. Blender relies heavily on keyboard shortcuts to speed up the work. Blender's interface is entirely drawn in OpenGL and every window can be panned, zoomed in/out, and its content moved around.
Your screen can be organized exactly to your taste for each specialized task and this organization can be named and memorized.
These key differences (and many others) make Blender a unique, powerful, and very nimble application, once you take the time to understand it.
Blender's Interface Concept
The user interface is the vehicle for two-way interaction between the user and the program. The user communicates with the program via the keyboard and the mouse, and the program gives feedback via the windowing system. The interface can be broken down into several key areas: Windows, Contexts, Panels, and Buttons (controls). For example, The Button Window contains Context buttons which show different groups of Panels and the Panels each show groups of Buttons. These principal areas are discussed on the following pages.
Keyboard and mouse
This chapter gives an overview of the general mouse and keyboard usage in Blender and the conventions used in this Manual to describe them, as well as tips on how to use non-standard devices.
Conventions in this Manual
This manual uses the following conventions to describe user input: The mouse buttons are called LMB (left mouse button), MMB (middle mouse button) and RMB (right mouse button). If your mouse has a wheel, MMB refers to clicking the wheel as if it were a button, while MW means rolling the wheel.
Hotkey letters are shown in this manual like they appear on a keyboard; for example GKEY which refers to the lowercase g. When used, the modifier SHIFT is specified just as the other modifier keys, CTRL and/or ALT ; this gives, for example, CTRL-W or SHIFT-ALT-A. NUMPAD-0 to NUMPAD-9, NUMPAD-+ and so on refer to the keys on the separate numeric keypad. NUMLOCK should generally be switched on.
Other keys are referred to by their names, such as ESC, TAB, F1 to F12 .
Of special note are the arrow keys, UP, DOWN, LEFT, RIGHT and so on.
Blender's interface is designed to be best used with a three-button mouse. A mouse wheel is quite useful, but not essential. Because Blender makes such extensive use of both mouse and keyboard, a golden rule has evolved among Blender users: Keep one hand on the mouse and the other on the keyboard. If you normally use a keyboard that is significantly different from the English keyboard layout, you may want to think about changing to the English or American layout for your work with Blender. The most frequently used keys are grouped so that they can be reached by the left hand in standard position (index finger on F) on the English keyboard layout. This assumes that you use the mouse with your right hand.
Mouse Button Emulation
It is possible to use Blender with a two-button mouse or an Apple single-button Mouse. The missing buttons can be emulated with key/mouse button combos. Activate this functionality in the User Preferences, View and Controls Context, "Emulate 3 Button Mouse" button.
The following table shows the combos used:
|2 buttons Mouse||Apple Mouse|
All the Mouse/Keyboard combinations mentioned in this book can be expressed with the combos shown in the table. For Example, SHIFT-ALT-RMB becomes SHIFT-ALT-COMMAND-LMB on a single-button mouse.
The Numpad keys are used quite often in Blender and are not the same keys as the regular number keys. If you have a keyboard without a Numpad (e.g. on a laptop), you can tell Blender to treat the standard number keys as Numpad keys in the User Preferences, System & OpenGL Context, "Emulate Numpad" button.
The Window System
When you start Blender you may see a console (text) window open and, shortly after, the main user interface window will display. You may also see a splash screen announcing the Blender version, but it will disappear as soon as you move your mouse.
The default Blender scene
The default Blender scene shows the screen you should get after starting Blender for the first time. By default it is separated into three windows:
- The main menu at the top is the header part of a User Preferences window
- A large 3D window (3D Viewport window)
- The Buttons Window (at the bottom) These windows can be further broken down into separate areas. As an introduction we will cover a few of the basic elements:
- Window Type: Allows you to change what kind of window it is. For example, if you want to see the Outliner window you would click and select it.
- Main Top Menu: Is the main menu associated with the "User Preferences" window type. To actually see the information, you need to click and drag the area between the 3D window and menu header; Roll the mouse between them and when it changes to a up/down arrow you can drag and see the "User Preferences" window.
- Current Screen (default is Model): By default, Blender comes with several pre-configured Screens for you to choose from. If you need custom ones, you can create and name them.
- Current Scene: Having multiple scenes present allows for you to break up your work into organized patterns.
- Resource Information (found in the User Preferences header): Gives you information about application and system resources. It tells you how much memory is being consumed based on the number of vertices, faces and objects in the selected scene. It is a nice visual check to see if you are pushing the limits of your machine.
- 3D Transform Manipulator: Is a visual aid in transforming objects. Objects can also be transformed (grabbed/moved - rotated - scaled) using the keyboard shortcuts : (g/r/s); CTRL SPACE will display the manipulator pop-up. The manipulator visibility can also be toggled by clicking the "hand" icon on the toolbar. The translation/rotation/scale manipulators can be displayed by clicking each of the three icons to the right of the hand icon. Shift LMB -clicking an icon will add/remove each manipulator's visibility.
- 3D Cursor: Can have multiple functions. For example, it represents where new objects appear when they are first created; Or it can represent where the base of a rotation will take place.
- Cube Mesh: By default, a new installation of Blender will always start with a Cube Mesh sitting in the centre of Global 3D space. After a while, you will most likely want to change the "Default" settings; This is done by configuring Blender as you would want it on startup and then saving it as the "Default" using CTRL UKEY (Save Default Settings).
- Light (of type Lamp): By default, a new installation of Blender will always start with a Light source positioned somewhere close to the centre of Global 3D space.
- Camera: By default, a new installation of Blender will always start with a Camera positioned somewhere close to the centre of Global 3D space and facing it.
- Currently selected object: This field shows the name of the currently selected object.
- Editing Panel Group: The bottom window displays panels and those panels are grouped. This row of buttons (called Context Buttons) allows you to select which group of panels are shown. Some buttons will display additional buttons (called Sub-Context Buttons) to the right for selection of sub-groups or groups within groups.
- Current frame: Blender is a modelling and animation application; As such, you can animate things based on the concept of frames. This field shows what the current frame is.
- Viewport shading: Blender renders the 3D window using OpenGL. You can select the type of interactive shading (called Draw Type: in the Blender shading list) that takes place by clicking this button and selecting from a variety of shading styles. You can select from boxes all the way to complex Textured shading. It is recommended that you have a powerful graphics card if you are going to use the Textured style.
- Rotation/Scaling Pivot point: Allows you to select where rotation/scaling will occur. For example, rotation could occur about the object's local origin or about the 3D Cursor's position, amongst many others.
- Panels: Help group and organize related buttons and controls. Some panels are visible or invisible depending on what type of object is selected.
- Layers: Make modelling and animating easier. Blender Layers are provided to help distribute your objects into functional regions. For example, one layer many contain a water object and another layer may contain trees, or one layer may contain cameras and lights.
- 3D Window header: All windows in Blender have a header. This is the header for the 3D window.
The Window Header
Most windows have a header (the strip with a lighter grey background containing icon buttons). We will also refer to the header as the window ToolBar. If present, the header may be at the top (as with the Buttons Window) or the bottom (as with the 3D Window) of a window's area.
Blender is themeable, for this book we use the default theme which is default for a new Blender installation.
When you move the mouse over a window, its header changes to a lighter shade of grey. This means that it is "focused"; All hotkeys you press will now affect (only) the contents of this window.
The icon at the left end of a header, with a click of the LMB , allows selection of one of 16 different window types. Most Window Headers, located immediately next to this first "Window Type" Menu button, exhibit a set of menus. Menus allow you to directly access many features and commands. Menus can be hidden and shown via the triangular button next to them.
Changing Window Frames
You can maximize a window to fill the whole screen with the "View>Maximize Window" menu entry. To return to normal size, use the "View->Tile Window". A quicker way to achieve this is to use SHIFT-SPACE, CTRL-UP or CTRL-DOWN to toggle between maximized and framed windows.
You can change the size of a window frame by focusing the window you want to split (moving the mouse to its edge), clicking the vertical or horizontal border with MMB or RMB , and selecting "Split Area". You can now set the new border's position by moving your mouse to the desired position, and clicking with LMB; or you can cancel your action by pressing ESC. The new window will start as a clone of the window you split. It can then be set to a different window type, or to display the scene from a different point of view (in the case of the 3D View).
You can resize windows by dragging their borders with LMB.
You can join two windows into one by clicking a border between two windows with MMB or RMB and choosing "Join Areas". Then you'll be prompted to click on one of the two windows an arrow will be drawn to visualize which windows will be closed; the one you click will disappear, while the other will be expanded to cover the full area of both windows. If you press Esc before clicking on one of the windows, the operation will be aborted.
Console Window & Error Messages
The Console Window is an operating system text window that displays messages about Blender operations, status, and internal errors. If Blender crashes on you, it is a good idea to check the Console Window for clues.
When Blender is started on a Microsoft Windows OS; The Console Window is first created as a separate window on the desktop, then assuming the right conditions are met, the main Blender Application window should also appear.
The Blender Console Window may not be visible, some reasons for this are:
- The Blender Application window may be covering the Console Window. If this is the case just use the Windows task bar to click on the Blender Console Window icon, which should make the Blender Console Window visible.
- The Blender Console Window may be minimized/iconifed when Blender starts. If this is the case again, just use the Windows task bar to click on the Blender Console Window icon, which should make the Blender Console Window visible.
Console Window running Linux
The Blender Console Window in Linux will generally only be visible on the Desktop if Blender is started from a Linux Terminal/Console Window, as Blender uses the Console Window it is started in to display it's Blender Console output.
Most of the different Linux distributions have Blender as one of their applications you can install from their packaging systems. When Blender is installed in this way an icon is usually also installed into their menu systems; Allowing for Blender to be started by clicking an icon rather than having to open a separate Linux Console/Terminal window and start Blender from there; When Blender is started using an icon rather than being started from a Terminal window, the Blender Console Window text will most likely be hidden on the Terminal that the X Window System was started from or in the system console log.
Console Window running Mac OS X
On Mac OS X you also can start Blender from a Terminal to see the output of Blender. However if you start Blender from the finder the console window is hidden. To see the output start the "Console" application, this works for all applications which do outputs to the console.
The Blender interface, the rectangular window provided by your operating system, is divided up into many rectangular window frames. Each window frame may contain different types of information, depending upon the Window type.
Each window frame operates independently of the others, and you can have the same type of window in many frames. For example, you may have several 3D windows open but each looking at the scene from a different perspective. You can split and merge and resize window frames to suit whatever you are working on. You can also arrange some window frames to show with or without a header to save screen space.
Window types are broken up by functionality:
- Scripts window user interface for running Python scripts that extend Blender
- File Browser for storage and retrieval, especially of .blend files
- Image Browser search your computer for images, seen as thumbnails
- Node Editor - process/enhance images and materials
- Buttons Window - panels that configure objects and set/select options
- Outliner - Helps you find and organize your objects.
- User Preferences - customize Blender to your work style and computer
- Text Editor - keep notes and documentation about your project, and write Python scripts.
- Audio Window - see sound files and correlate them to frames
- Timeline - jump to different times (frames) in your animation
- Video Sequence Editor - assemble video sequences into a film strip
- UV/Image Editor - edit and paint pictures
- NLA Editor - manage non-linear animation action strips
- Action Editor - combine individual actions into action sequences
- Ipo Curve Editor - make things move or change
- 3D View - graphical view of your scene
You can select the Window type by clicking the window's header leftmost button. A pop-up menu displays showing the available Window types. The tutorials will cover the window types needed for this book.
Button Window Contexts
The Button Window shows six main Contexts, which can be chosen via the first icon row in the header (Contexts and Sub-Contexts Example). Each of these might be subdivided into a variable number of sub-contexts, which can be chosen via the second icon row in the header (Contexts and Sub-Contexts Example), or cycled through by pressing the same Context button again:
- Logic (F4) - Switches to Logic context.
- Script - No shortcut. Switches to Script context.
- Radiosity - No shortcut.
- World - Shortcut F8.
- Object (F7) - Switches to Object context.
- Scene (F10) - Switches to Scene context.
Once the Contexts is selected by the user, the sub-context is usually determined by Blender on the basis of the active Object. For example, with the Shading context, if a Lamp Object is selected then the sub-context shows Lamp Buttons. If a Mesh or other renderable Object is selected, then Material Buttons is the active sub-context, and if a Camera is selected the active sub-context is World.
The Buttons in each context are grouped into Panels.
The menu of available options, shown in a window's header, may change depending on the mode of that window. For example, in the 3D View window, the Object menu in Object mode changes to a Mesh operations menu in Edit mode, and a paint menu in Vertex Paint mode. If you are reading this manual and some menu option is referenced that does not appear on your screen, it may be that you are not in the proper mode, or context, for that option to be valid.
Blender contains many menus each of which is accessible from either the window headers or directly at the mouse's location using hotkeys.
For example, you can access the Toolbox in the 3D window using either the mouse or the keyboard. From the keyboard you would use the SPACE. To access it using the mouse just hold down the LMB or RMB buttons for a few seconds and the Toolbox will pop-up.
Some menus are context sensitive in that they are only available under certain situations. For example, the Booleans menu is only available in Object Mode using the WKEY. The same hotkey (WKEY) in Edit Mode brings up the Specials menu.
While you are using Blender be aware of what mode and types of object are selected. This helps in knowing what hotkeys work at what times.
Panels generally appear in the Buttons window and by default the Buttons window is at the bottom. The Buttons window includes the Button window header and panels.
Each button on the Buttons header groups panels together into what is called a Context. And those Contexts are grouped further into Sub-Contexts. For example, all Material panels are grouped under the Shading context and Material sub-context.
The panels are not fixed in position relative to the window. They can be moved around the window by LMB clicking and dragging on the respective panel header.
Panels can be aligned by RMB on the Buttons Window and choosing the desired layout from the Menu which appears. Using MW scrolls the Panels in their aligned direction and CTRL-MW and Ctrl-MMB zooms the Panels in and out. Single Panels can be collapsed/expanded by LMB clicking the triangle on the left side of their header.
Particularly complex Panels are organized in Tabs. Clicking LMB on a Tab in the Panel header changes the buttons shown in. Tabs can be "torn out" of a Panel to form independent panels by clicking LMB on their header and dragging them out. In a similar way separate Panels can be turned into a single Panel with Tabs by dropping one Panel's header into another.
Buttons and Controls
Buttons are mostly grouped in the Button Window. But they can appear in other Windows.
These are buttons that perform an operation when they are clicked (with LMB, as all buttons). They can be identified by their brownish color in the default Blender scheme (An operation button).
Toggle buttons come in various sizes and colors. The colors green, violet, and grey do not change functionality, they just help the eye to group the buttons and recognize the contents of the interface more quickly. Clicking this type of button does not perform any operation, but only toggles a state.
Some buttons also have a third state that is identified by the text turning yellow (the Emit button in Toggle buttons). Usually the third state means "negative," and the normal "on" state means "positive."
Radio buttons are particular groups of mutually exclusive Toggle buttons. No more than one Radio Button in a given group can be "on" at one time.
Number buttons can be identified by their captions, which contain a colon followed by a number. Number buttons are handled in several ways: To increase the value, click LMB on the right of the button, where the small triangle is shown; to decrease it, click on the left of the button, where another triangle is shown.
To change the value in a wider range, hold down LMB and drag the mouse to the left or right. If you hold CTRL while doing this, the value is changed in discrete steps; if you hold SHIFT, you'll have finer control over the values. ENTER can be used in place of LMB here.
You can enter a value directly by holding SHIFT and clicking LMB. You can also enter simple equations, like "3*2" instead of 6. Handy geometric constants to remember: pi is "3.14" and the square root of two is "1.414". Press SHIFT-BACKSPACE to clear the value; SHIFT-LEFTARROW to move the cursor to the beginning; and SHIFT-RIGHTARROW to move the cursor to the end. Press ESC to restore the original value.
Some number buttons contain a slider rather than just a number with side triangles. The same method of operation applies, except that single LMB clicks must be performed on the left or on the right of the slider, while clicking on the label or the number automatically enters keyboard input mode.
Use the Menu buttons to choose from dynamically created lists. Menu buttons are principally used to link Data Blocks to each other. (Data Blocks are structures like Meshes, Objects, Materials, Textures, and so on; by linking a Material to an Object, you assign it.)
- The first button (with the tiny up and down pointing triangles) opens a menu that lets you select the Data Block to link to by holding down LMB and releasing it over the requested item.
- The second button displays the type and name of the linked Data Block and lets you edit its name after clicking LMB.
- The "X" button clears the link.
- The "car" button generates an automatic name for the Data Block.
- And the "F" button specifies whether the Data Block should be saved in the file even if it is unused (unlinked).
Some controls pop-up a dialog panel. For example, Color controls, when clicked, will pop up a Color Selector dialog.
Blender's flexibility with windows lets you create customized working environments for different tasks, such as modelling, animating, and scripting. It is often useful to quickly switch between different environments within the same file. For each Scene, you need to set the stage by modelling the props, dressing them and painting them through materials, etc. In the example picture in Window system, we are in the modelling stage.
To do each of these major creative steps, Blender has a set of pre-defined screens, or window layouts, that show you the types of windows you need to get the job done quickly and efficiently:
- 1-Animation Making actors and other objects move about.
- 2-Model Creating actors, props, and other objects.
- 3-Material Painting and texturing surfaces.
- 4-Sequence Editing scenes into a movie.
- 5-Scripting Documenting your work, and writing custom animations.
Blender sorts these screen layouts for you automatically in alphabetical order. (A screen name typically starts with a number, which controls the alphabetical order) The list is available via the SCR Menu Buttons in the User Preferences Window header shown in (Screen and Scene selectors). To change to the next screen alphabetically press Ctrl-RIGHTARROW; to change to the previous screen alphabetically, press CTRL-LEFTARROW
By default, each screen layout 'remembers' the last scene it was used on. Selecting a different layout will switch to the layout and jump to that scene.
All changes to windows, as described in Window system and Window types, are saved within one screen. If you change your windows in one screen, other screens won't be affected, but the scene you are working on stays the same in all screens.
Adding a new Screen
As you scroll through the Screen list, you will see that one of the options is to Add New - namely, add a new window layout. Click and select ADD NEW. When you click this, a new frame layout is created based on your current layout.
Give the new screen a name that starts with a number so that you can predictably scroll to it using the arrow keys. You can rename the layout by LMB into the field and typing a new name, or clicking again to position the cursor in the field to edit. For example you could use the name "6-MyScreen".
Deleting a Screen
You can delete a screen by using the Delete Data Block button and confirm by clicking Delete current screen in the pop-up dialog box.
Use the window controls to move frame borders. split and consolidate windows. When you have a layout you like, Ctrl-U to update your User defaults. The buttons window has a special option, if you RMB on its background, to arrange its panels horizontally across or vertically up and down.
It is possible to have several scenes within the same Blender file. Scenes may use one another's objects or be completely separate from one another. You can select and create scenes with the SCE menu buttons in the User Preferences Window header (usually on top of the screen, also containing the menu bar). For games and other real time content scenes have a important meaning, with scenes you can separate menus, overlays (HUDs, scores etc.), backgrounds from the main scene by layering multiple scenes.
Adding a new Scene
You can add a new scene by clicking the scene menu and selecting ADD NEW. When you create a new scene, you can choose between four options to control its contents (Add Scene menu):
- Empty creates an empty scene.
- Link Objects creates the new scene with the same contents as the currently selected scene. Changes in one scene will also modify the other.
- Link ObData creates the new scene based on the currently selected scene, with links to the same meshes, materials, and so on. This means that you can change objects' positions and related properties, but modifications to the meshes, materials, and so on will also affect other scenes unless you manually make single-user copies.
- Full Copy creates a fully independent scene with copies of the currently selected scene's contents.
Deleting a Scene
You can delete a scene by using the Delete Data Block button "X" and confirm by clicking "Delete current scene" in the pop dialog box.
The User Preferences window is where you customize and control Blender. By default this window is located at the top and only the header is visible.
To see all of the User Preferences window and its content you need to drag it into view. You can do this by moving the mouse onto the bottom edge of the Info header, or the top of the 3D window, and click the LMB and drag downwards.
When viewing all of the Info window you can start to customize Blender to fit your personality or machine capabilities. For example, you may not like the default theme and switch to the Rounded theme. It is also important to configure the paths to enable automatically backup [save].
Blender is a 3D program, so we need to be able to navigate in 3D space. This is a problem because our screens are only 2D. The 3D Views are in fact "windows" to the 3D world created inside Blender.
Using the keyboard to change your view
Place your mouse pointer over the big window on the standard Blender screen. This is a 3D View used for showing and manipulating your 3D-worlds.
Pressing PAD1 (the number "1" key on the numeric pad) gives you a view from the front of the scene. In the default Blender scene, installed when you first start Blender, you will now be looking at the edge of a plane with the camera positioned in front of it. With holding the CTRL key (on some systems also SHIFT is possible), you can get the opposite view, which in this case is the view from the back (CTRL-PAD1).
PAD7 returns you to the view from the top. Now use the PAD+ and PAD- to zoom in and out. PAD3 gives you a side view of the scene.
PAD0 switches to a camera-view of the scene. In the standard scene you only see the edge of the plane because it is at the same height as the camera.
PAD/ only shows selected objects; all other objects are hidden. PAD. (period) zooms to the extent of the selected objects.
Switch with PAD7 back to a top view, or load the standard scene with CTRL-X. Now, press PAD4 four times, and then PAD2 four times. You are now looking from the left above and down onto the scene. The 'cross' of keys PAD8, PAD6, PAD2 and PAD4 are used to rotate the actual view. If you use these keys together with SHIFT, you can drag the view. Pressing PAD5 switches between a perspective view and an orthogonal view.
You should now try experimenting a little bit with these keys to get a feel for their operation and function.
Using the mouse to change your view
The main button for navigating with the mouse in the 3D View is the middle mouse button (MMB). Press and hold the MMB in a 3D View, and then drag the mouse. The view is rotated with the movement of your mouse. Try using a perspective view (PAD5) while experimenting -- it gives a very realistic impression of 3D.
With the SHIFT key, the above procedure translates the view. With CTRL, it zooms the view.
Also explore the View-menu, here you can also change views and control other aspects of the view.
Selecting of Objects
This operation also de-selects all other objects. To extend the selection to more than one object, hold down SHIFT while clicking. Selected objects will change the color to purple in the wireframe view or an purple outline is drawn around shaded objects. The last selected object is colored a lighter purple and it is the active object. Operations that are only useful for one object, or need one object as reference, always work with the active object.
Objects can also selected with a `border'. Press BKEY to action this, and then draw a rectangle around the objects. Drawing the rectangle with the LMB selects objects; drawing with RMB deselects them.
Only one Object can be active at any time, e.g. to allow visualization of data in buttons. The active and selected Object is displayed in a lighter color than other selected Objects. The name of the active Object is displayed in the lower left corner of the 3D View. The last Object selected (or deselected) then becomes the active Object.
Blender uses a object oriented structure to store and manipulate the objects and data. This will affect the work with Blender in many places. For example, the copying of objects or the use of Blender Materials.
In this structure an object can have its own data (in case of the Blender Game Engine Polygon-Meshes) or share this Mesh with more other objects.
So what is the advantage of that system?
- Reduced size of the scene in memory, on disk or for publishing on the web
- Changes on the ObData inherits to all Objects on the same time. Imagine you decide to change a house objects you have 100 times in your scene or changing the Material properties of one wall
- You can design the logic and gameplay with simple place-holder objects and later swap them against the finished objects with a click of the mouse
- The shape of objects (the Mesh Data) is changeable at runtime of the game without affecting the object or its position itself
The copy operation you are familiar with from other applications makes a true duplicate of the selected objects. Copying is done fastest with the key command SHIFT-D or also with the "Duplicate" entry in the Object-menu.
A linked copy is achieved by using the ALT-D key command. Unlike copying with SHIFT-D, the mesh forming the object is not duplicated, but rather linked to the new objects.
Data Browse Button
Another common method to create and change links and Blender interface element is the User Button . This Menu Button allows to change links by pressing and holding the left mouse on it and choose a link from the appearing menu. If there are more possibilities than the Menu can hold, a Data Browse Window is opened instead.
If an Object has more than one user, the User Button will be blue and a number indicates the number of users (in the above image three). Selecting this number will make a copy of the Data and makes the object "Single User".
To link Data from the active to the selected Objects can be done with the key command CTRL-L. A menu will ask what data you want to link. This way you can choose to link the objects between scenes, or link Ipos (animation curves), MeshData or Materials.
The object-structure created by copy or linking actions can be visualized in the Oops Window. Call the Outliner SHIFT-F9, then use "View->Show Oops Schematic". Here, the object "Cube" was copied two times with ALT-D, you can see that all three objects (Blender automatically generates unique names by appending numbers) are linked to the same Mesh Data "Cube". The object "Cube.002" was copied with SHIFT-D resulting in two objects with their own MeshData.
Most used actions in Blender involve moving, rotating, or changing the size of certain items. Blender offers a wide range of options for doing this. See the 3DWindow section for a fully comprehensive list. The options are summarized here.
GKEY, Grab mode. Move the mouse to translate the selected items, then press LMB or ENTER or SPACE to assign the new location. Press ESC or RMB to cancel. Translation is always corrected for the view.
Use the middle mouse button to limit translation to the X, Y or Z axis. Blender determines which axis to use, based on the already initiated movement.
RMB and hold-move. This option allows you to select an Object and immediately start Grab mode.
RKEY, Rotation mode. Move the mouse around the rotation centre, then press LMB or ENTER or SPACE to assign the rotation. Press ESC to cancel. Rotation is always perpendicular to the view. Use XKEY, YKEY or ZKEY to use the global axis for rotation or press the keys two times to rotate around the local object axis.
The centre of rotation is determined with the "Pivot"-menu in the 3D View header.
SKEY, Scaling mode. Move the mouse from the rotation centre outwards, then press LMB or ENTER or SPACE to assign the scaling. Use the MMB toggle to limit scaling to the X, Y or Z axis. Blender determines the appropriate axis based on the direction of the movement.
The centre of scaling is determined by the Pivot-menu in the 3D View header (see the explanation for the rotation).
To input exact values, you can call up the Transform Properties with NKEY. SHIFT-LMB-click to change the buttons to an input field and then enter the number.
You can work with Blender Objects in two modes: Object Mode and Edit Mode. Operations in Object Mode affect whole objects, and operations in Edit Mode affect only the geometry of an object, but not its global properties such as location or rotation. You switch between these two modes with the TAB key or the Mode-menu in the 3D View header.
Edit Mode only works on one object at a time, the active object. An object outside Edit Mode (i.e. Object Mode) is drawn in purple in the 3D Windows (in wireframe mode) when selected, black otherwise.
In Edit Mode each vertex is drawn in purple, each edge is drawn in black and each face is drawn in translucent dark-blue. Each selected vertex is highlighted in yellow. You can also see a grey shaded face, this is the active face, important for UV texturing.
If multiple objects are selected and Edit Mode is entered then the last Object selected (the Active Object) enters Edit Mode. The other Objects remain purple and in Object Mode.
If enough vertices are selected to form a face then that face is highlighted in translucent purple while the remaining faces are highlighted in translucent dark-blue. This helps give you a frame of reference when selecting vertices, edges or faces. The translucent effect indicates that you have selected enough vertices to imply one or more faces. See Edge and Face Tools for further details on implicit selections.
If the Buttons Window is visible and Editing (F9) is activated then two panels appear while in Edit Mode (Mesh Tools and Mesh Tools More):
By default the buttons (Draw Faces and Draw Edges) are pre-selected and any selected edges and faces are highlighted.
Vertices, Edges and Faces
In basic meshes, everything is built from three basic structures: Vertices, Edges and Faces. We are not talking about Curves, NURBS, and so forth here as they are currently not supported in the game engine. But there is no need to be disappointed: This simplicity still provides us with a wealth of possibilities that will be the foundation for all our models.
A vertex is primarily a single point or position in 3D space. It is usually invisible in rendering and in Object Mode. Don't mistake the centre point of an object for a vertex. It looks similar, but it's bigger and you can't select it. The image shows the centre point labeled as "A". "B" and "C" are vertices.
To create a new vertex, change to Edit mode, hold down CTRL, and click with the LMB. Of course, as a computer screen is two-dimensional, Blender can't determine all three vertex coordinates from one mouse click, so the new vertex is placed at the depth of the 3D cursor 'into' the screen. Any vertices selected previously are automatically connected to the new one with an edge. Vertex labeled "C" is a new vertex added to the cube with a new edge (B to C)
An edge always connects two vertices with a straight line. The edges are the 'wires' you see when you look at a mesh in wireframe view. They are usually invisible on the rendered image. They are used to construct faces. Create an edge by selecting two vertices and pressing F.
A Face is the highest level structure in a mesh. Faces are used to build the actual surface of the object. They are what you see when you render the mesh. A Face is defined as the area between either three (triangle) or four vertices (quad), with an Edge on every side. Triangles always work well, because they are always flat and easy to calculate.
Take care when using four-sided faces (quads), because internally they are simply divided into two triangles each. Four-sided faces only work well if the Face is pretty much flat (all points lie within one imaginary plane) and convex (the angle at no corner is greater than or equal to 180 degrees). This is the case with the faces of a cube, for example. That's why you can't see any diagonals in its wireframe model, because they would divide each square face into two triangles.
While you could build a cube with triangular faces, it would just look more confusing in Edit mode. An area between three or four vertices, outlined by Edges, doesn't have to be a face. If this area does not contain a face, it will simply be transparent or non-existent in the rendered image. To create a face, select three or four suitable vertices and press F.
Vertex, Edge and Face Modes
In Edit Mode there are three different selection modes, Vertices, Edges or Faces. The mode can be chosen with CTRL-TAB and using the "Select-Mode"-menu or with the icons in the 3D View header.
- The selected vertices are drawn in yellow and unselected vertices are drawn in a pink color.
- In this mode the vertices are not drawn. Instead the selected edges are drawn in yellow and unselected edges are drawn in a black color.
- In this mode the faces are drawn with a selection handle in the middle which is used for selecting a face. Selected faces are drawn in yellow with the selection point in orange, unselected faces are drawn in black.
Almost all modification tools are available in all three modes. So you can Rotate, Scale and Extrude etc. in all modes. Of course rotating and scaling a single vertex will not do anything useful, so some tools are more or less applicable in some modes.
Most simple operations from Object mode (like selecting, moving, rotating, and scaling) work the same way on vertices as they do on objects. Thus, you can learn how to handle basic Edit mode operations very quickly. The only notable difference is a new scaling option, Alt S which scales the selected vertices along the direction of the normals (shrinks-fattens). The truncated pyramid shown here, for example, was created with the following steps:
- Add a cube to an empty scene. If not in Edit mode then use TAB to enter Edit Mode.
- Make sure all vertices are deselected (purple). Use border select (BKEY) to select the upper four vertices.
- Check that the scaling centre is set to anything but the 3D cursor, then switch to scale mode (SKEY), reduce the size, and confirm with LMB.
- Exit Edit Mode by pressing TAB.
All operations in Edit mode are ultimately performed on the vertices; the connected edges and faces automatically adapt, as they depend on the vertices' positions. To select an edge, you must select the two endpoints or place the mouse on the edge and press ALT-RMB. To select a face, each corner must be selected.
With WKEY you can call up the Specials menu in Edit mode. With this menu you can quickly access functions which are frequently required for polygon-modelling.
- Each selected edge is split in two, new vertices are created at middle points, and faces are split too, if necessary.
- Subdivide Multi
- This is identical to Subdivide except a dialog pops up asking for the number of cuts or repeated subdivisioning. The default is "2".
- Subdivide Multi Fractal
- As above, but new vertices are randomly displaced within a user-defined range.
- Subdivide Smooth
- Same as Subdivide, but new vertices are displaced towards the barycentre (centre of mass) of the connected vertices.
- Merges selected vertices into a single one, at the barycentre position or at the 3D cursor position.
- Remove Doubles
- Merges all of the selected vertices whose relative distance is below a given threshold (0.001 by default).
- Hides selected vertices.
- Shows hidden vertices.
- Select Swap
- All selected vertices become unselected and vice-versa.
- Flip Normals
- Change the Normal directions of the selected faces.
- Smooths out a mesh by moving each vertex towards the barycentre of the linked vertices.
- Bevels the entire object regardless of the selected vertices, edges or faces.
- Set Smooth
- Changes the selected faces to smoothing shading.
- Set Solid
- Changes the selected faces to faceted or flat shading.
- Blend From Shape
- Mixes between two shape keys
- Propagate To All Shapes
- Copies the changes to all shape keys
- Select Vertex Path
- Select a path of vertices between two selected vertices