The 3D View is where you perform most of the object modeling and scene creation. Blender has a wide array of tools and options to support you in efficiently working with your mouse, keyboard and keypad. Your flat (two-dimensional) monitor is your viewport into the 3D space.
It is also the oldest, and therefore most feature- and option-rich area of Blender. Don’t be intimidated! Most of us humans never use all the features here, just like we don’t use all of our diction on a daily basis either. So, take it slow, a few at a time, experimenting to see what they do.
3D Window Header
The 3D View window is comprised of a workspace and a header. The header is shown at the top or bottom of the workspace, and can be hidden if desired. The header shows you a menu and the current mode, as explained below.
This menu provides options to control the way the workspace is viewed:
- Space Handler Scripts – This submenu shows space handler scripts – by default, there aren’t any.
- Play Back Animation (AltA) – Plays back the animation from the current frame.
- Maximize Window (Ctrl↑) – Maximizes the 3D View window, as detailed in this window system page.
- View All (↖ Home) – Zooms the 3D view to encompass all the objects in the current scene.
- View Selected (. NumPad) – Zooms the 3D view to encompass all the selected objects.
- Zoom Within Border... (⇧ ShiftB) – Allows you to define the area you want to zoom into.
- Set Clipping Border (AltB) – Allows you to define a clipping border to limit the 3D view display to a portion of 3D space, as detailed in this previous page.
- Align View – This submenu allows you to shift your view to be centered on the cursor (Center View to Cursor, C). Center Cursor and View All (⇧ ShiftC) moves the cursor back to the origin and zooms in/out so that you can see everything in your scene. You can also give to your active camera the current viewpoint (Align Active Camera to View, CtrlAlt0 NumPad). Instead of the cursor, you can center your view on the selected object (Align View to Selected, * NumPad) – this will also align your view with its local Z axis or, in Edit mode, with the normal of the selected face.
- View Navigation – This submenu contains commands for rotating and panning the view. Using these commands through the menu is not that efficient. However, like all Blender menus, the much-more-convenient keyboard shortcuts are listed next to the commands. See this page for more about navigating in 3D views.
- Global View/Local View (/ NumPad) – Global view shows all of the 3D objects in the scene. Local view only displays the selected objects. Accidentally pressing / NumPad can happen rather often if you’re new to Blender, so if a bunch of the objects in your scene seem to have mysteriously vanished, try turning off local view.
- Orthographic/Perspective (5 NumPad) – These commands change the projection of the 3D view. For more information, see Perspective and Orthographic Projection.
- Show All Layers (~) – This enables all of the twenty layers in the 3D view, allowing you to see all objects that are in your scene (especially if you combine it with a View All action). When enabled, this item turns to Show Previous Layers, to go back to previous layers selection.
- Cameras – This submenu lists all the cameras in the scene. Selecting one will make it the active camera. There is also a command (Set Active Object as Active Camera, Ctrl0 NumPad) that sets the current object (which doesn’t have to be a camera) as the camera, so you can see what the scene looks like from its point of view.
- Side/Front/Top (3 NumPad/1 NumPad/7 NumPad) – These commands change the view to the default side, front, or top views. Pressing the Ctrl key changes to the “complementary” view: Ctrl3 NumPad for right side, Ctrl1 NumPad for back, or Ctrl7 NumPad for bottom-looking-up views.
- Camera (0 NumPad) – Switches the view to the current camera view.
- User – Switches to your “user” view, i.e. the last view you “created” with MMB dragging.
- Grease Pencil... – Toggles the Grease Pencil floating panel, see the sketching pages.
- Background Image... – Toggles the Background Image floating panel, which allows you to load and pick an image to display in the background of the orthographic 3D view, see this page for details.
- View Properties... – Toggles the View Properties floating panel, which allows you to tweak many 3D view settings, see below.
- Render Preview... (⇧ ShiftP) – Toggles the Preview panel, which shows a (relatively) live preview render of whatever it is over.
- Transform Orientation... – Toggles the Transform Orientations floating panel, which allows you to select the coordinate system you want to use for your transformations. You can do the same with Orientation drop-down menu in the header, but this panel has an extra option, which might be very useful in some situations: you can define other coordinate systems, based on the local systems of selected objects. See also this page.
The other menus (Select, Object/Mesh/etc.) are closely related to editing topics, and hence are tackled in the relevant pages of the Modeling chapter…
Blender has several modes of operation. Working on Objects as a whole, or in Edit mode by allowing you to modify the shape of the object. In Sculpt mode, your cursor becomes a tool to shape the object, while it becomes a brush in Vertex Paint, Weight Paint, or Texture Paint modes.
ViewPort Shading List
See the previous page.
Pivot Point Selector
When rotating or scaling an object or bunch of vertices/edges/faces, you may want to shift the pivot point (the transformation center) in 3D space. Using this selector, you can change the pivot point to the location of the cursor (3D Cursor), the average center spot of the selected items (Median Point), etc. Pivot point is fully described here.
Transform (Manipulator) Selectors
These handy selectors, also featured in other not-to-be-named CG packages, allow you to rotate or move objects by grabbing (clicking with your mouse) their controls and moving your mouse in the axis. They are fully detailed in the manipulator page.
Layers are pretty well documented in the Layers page. In particular, selecting layers to see in is covered in that section on Viewing layers, and moving objects between layers is also discussed in this page.
Lock to Scene
By default, the “lock” button to the right of the layers ones is enabled. This means that in this view, the active layers and camera are those of the whole scene (and those used at render time). Hence, all 3D views locked this way will share the same active layers and camera – when you change them in one view, all locked others will immediately reflect these changes.
But if you disable this “lock” button, you then can specify different active layers and camera, specific to this view. This might be useful e.g. if you don’t want to have your working areas (views) cluttered with the whole scene, and still have an ancillary complete view (which is unlocked with e.g. all layers shown…). Or to have several views with different active cameras (Ctrl0 NumPad to make the active object the active camera, remember?)…
Snap to Mesh
This “magnet” button controls the snap to mesh tool.
The “render” button renders an OpenGL version of the 3D view. It’s pretty much exactly what you see minus the grid, axes, etc., it just shows the objects. It uses the same Draw mode as the 3D view, so it’s rather useful if someone asks to see the wireframe of an object you’re working on.
CtrlLMB or ⇧ ShiftLMB clicking the button will render an animation of the 3D View, making it useful for making preview renders of animations. The animation will be saved in the rendered pics folder (Scene context, F10, Output panel, top filespec) in the format of an avi file or image sequence, depending on the format you have chosen (Scene context, Format panel), for the number of frames specified in the Start and End fields (Scene context, Anim panel).
View Properties Panel
Mode: All modes
Panel: View Properties
Menu: View » View Properties...
In addition to the header controls described above, the View Properties floating panel lets you set other, less important settings regarding the 3D view. You show it with the View » View Properties... menu entry.
- Here you can edit the background grid:
- Spacing controls the gap between each line of the grid (in Blender units). Note that orthographic top/front/side views have an infinite, zoom-agnostic grid, i.e. whatever is your zoom level, the grid remains globally the same (sub-lines appear when you zoom in, and disappear when you zoom out…) – in these views, this setting is more like a scale factor…
- Lines controls the number of lines that make the grid in non-top/front/side orthographic views, in both directions. In other words, together with Spacing, it controls the size of the grid in these views.
- Divisions controls the number of sub-lines that appear in each cell of the grid when you zoom in, so it is a setting specific to top/front/side orthographic views.
- These are the settings of the virtual camera used for perspective views – you can adjust its Lens (in millimeters only, unlike a rendering camera), and its clipping distances (Clip Sta and Clip End).
- This group gathers miscellaneous settings:
- If Outline Selected is disabled, you won’t have any more the pink outline around your selected objects in Solid/Shaded/Textured draw types.
- If All Object Centers is enabled, the center dot of objects will always be visible, even for non-selected ones (by default, unselected centers might be hidden by geometry in solid/shaded/textured shadings…).
- Relationship Lines controls whether the dashed parenting, constraining, hooking, etc., lines are drawn or not.
- Solid Tex controls whether the objects are textured in Solid draw type.
- 3D Display
- When Grid Floor is disabled, you have no grid in other views than the orthographic top/front/side ones.
- X Axis, Y Axis, Z Axis control which axis are shown in other views than the orthographic top/front/side ones.
- 3D Cursor
- Here you can precisely specify the position of the 3D cursor!
- View Locking
- By entering the name of an object in the Object field, you lock your view to this object, i.e. it will always be at the center of the view (the only exception is the active camera view, 0 NumPad).
- If the locked object is an armature, you can further center the view on one of its bones by entering its name in the Bone field.
- Keyframe Display
- This seems to control the display of keyframes in the 3D view…
- To be completed !