Using the 3D Window
This page is in fact a sort of introduction to the modeling chapter…
Your 3D window pane is just like a window looking in on a 3D world. To help keep you oriented as to which way is up (Z), an XYZ axis orientation indicator is in the bottom left hand corner, along with the number of the frame you’re working on and the name of the active object. The rest of the view, if in one of the normal orthogonal views (top, front, or side), shows a grid. The interval between each line in the grid is one Blender Unit (BU) by default, an arbitrary unit of measurement. If you are modeling something from the real world, you can decide (in your mind) that a BU equals to whatever unit of measure your country and culture favor at the moment. If you are a Swiss CERN physicist, then perhaps Angstroms are your thing. If you are a German Engineer, then Millimeters might be in order. If you are an Amsterdam Space Cadet, then Astronomical Units might light up your fancy.
In this 3D space, the active object is highlighted in pink. The active object is always the last object of a number of selected objects and is displayed in a slightly brighter shade than the objects selected with it. The 3D cursor is a red-white circle with a scope crosshair. LMB clicking moves the 3D cursor to the selected location in 3-dimensional space. Use the snap key (⇧ ShiftS) to align the 3D cursor with the grid, the selected elements or the active element.
Clicking with the RMB selects the indicated object unless it is already selected, in which case RMB clicking does nothing. ⇧ ShiftRMB button selects another object and keeps the first one(s) still selected, allowing you to select multiple objects. If you ⇧ ShiftRMB -re-click on an already selected object, you will de-select it (like a toggle).
Enter Edit mode by the Mode selector, or by pressing ⇆ Tab in the window. In Edit mode, you select the components of the object, and do things to them. Strange, horrible things. Unless you’re good at this stuff and are willing to put in a lot of practice, in which case you’ll get better. Some objects, like cameras, cannot be edited. Press ⇆ Tab again to return to the mode from whence you came.
3D Window Toolbox (Popup Menu)
Use this option to add objects to your scene. You can get to this option by:
- Clicking the Add menu item in the User Preferences header at the top of your screen, or…
- Pressing Space when your mouse cursor is hovering over any 3D View window.
The object, when it is added, is placed wherever your 3D cursor is. It is no longer automatically placed in Edit mode (as it used to be), but you can enable this behavior with the Switch to Edit Mode button, within the Edit Methods panel of the User Preferences window. To set the location of your 3D cursor, you can:
- LMB click in a 3D View window, and the cursor jumps to that spot. To place the cursor in 3D space, you will have to click in two windows that have different points of view (once for example in the top view to establish the XY location, and then again in a front view to establish the Z location), or…
- Use the View » View Properties... panel and enter an exact XYZ location in the 3D Cursor fields, or…
- Select an object whose center is where you want the 3D cursor to be, and ⇧ ShiftSnap the Cursor -> Selection, and the cursor will jump to the selected object’s location. Note that an object added there will be put inside or will have its surface mushed with the other object (the two objects will attempt to occupy the same space).
Blender supports many different primitives which can be added to your scene:
- Mesh – This submenu allows you to add polygonal meshes to your scene. The complex Monkey (called Suzanne) is quite useful for testing purposes (trying out new materials, fur, etc.).
- Curve – This submenu allows you to add curves or paths to your scene. These are useful for modeling curved objects (roller coasters, legs of fancy furniture, etc.) or for making curves for animated objects to follow.
- Surface – This submenu allows you to add NURBS objects to your scene.
- Meta – This submenu allows you to add meta objects to your scene. These are algorithmically-generated objects, and are quite useful for special effects (using two metaballs to animate a cell splitting in half, for example).
- Text – This command allows you to add text objects to your scene.
- Empty – This command allows you to add empties to your scene. Empties aren’t rendered; rather, they are often used to control aspects of other objects. For example, you could use an Empty to control the rotation of an Array modifier. Since they don’t render, you can use them for all sorts of things such as hooks, etc., that require an object to get a location, rotation and/or size from.
- Group – This submenu allows you to add copies of any groups you have in your scene. This is quite useful if you have entire objects grouped together, as you can easily add copies of them.
- Camera – This command adds a camera to your scene.
- Lamp – This submenu contains various types of lamps you can add to your scene. For more information on the different types of lamps, see the lamp documentation in the manual.
- Armature – This command adds an armature (skeleton) to your scene. These are primarily used for animating arms, legs, etc., though if you are in a Pixar-y mood, you can always rig up a lamp!
- Lattice – This command adds a lattice to your scene. These objects do not do anything by themselves; however, you can use them to deform objects. In order to have a Lattice deform an object, you have to add a Lattice modifier to the object you want to deform. You can then place the lattice around the object (like a cage), and any changes to the lattice will deform the object. The more detailed the object you are deforming is, the better it will look, so a Subsurf modifier may be helpful here.
- Enter Editmode – This command will enter Edit mode, which allows you to edit the vertices, edges, and faces of a specific object, rather than manipulating the entire object.
- Duplicate – This command makes a separate duplicate of the selected object(s).
- Duplicate Linked – This command makes a duplicate of the selected object; however, the ObData datablocks are shared, so the objects share the same mesh (or curve, …), Ipo curve, material, etc.
- Delete – This command deletes the selected object(s).
- Object Keys – This submenu contains commands related to keyframes.
- Show/Hide – This command toggles showing wireframe (ghost) version of the keyframes for the selected object. This is quite useful, as it allows you to visualize the path of the selected object.
- Select Next – This command selects the next keyframe for the selected object.
- Select Prev – This command selects the previous keyframe for the selected object.
This sub-menu contains exactly the same options as the Select menu in the header, see the selection pages of the modeling chapter.
- Grab/Move – This command allows you to freely grab (move/translate) the selected object(s).
- Grab/Move on Axis – This submenu contains commands that allow you to move an object along a specific axis: X Global, Y Global, etc.
- Rotate – This command allows you to rotate an object around the view Z axis (i.e. it turns clockwise/counterclockwise around the screen; the rotation axis goes straight into the display).
- Rotate on Axis – This submenu allows you to rotate an object around a specific axis: X Global, Y Global, etc.
- Scale – This command scales the selected object(s).
- Scale on Axis – This submenu allows you to scale an object on a specific axis: X Global, etc.
- ObData to Center – This command moves the object data (mesh vertices/curve control-points/etc.) so that their center (median point) is at the same place as the object center.
- Center New – This command moves the center of the object to the center of the object data.
- Center Cursor – This command moves the center of the object to the current location of the 3D cursor.
- Properties – This command toggles the Transform Properties floating panel, which allows you to input exact locations for vertices, as well as location, rotation, and size for entire objects.
- Mirror – This command allows you to mirror (flip) the selection along the appropriate axis. As with all axis-related stuff, “Global” refers to the scene in general, while “Local” refers to the axis specific to that object (depending on its rotations).
- Snap – This submenu contains commands that allow you to snap the 3D cursor and the selection to the grid and each other.
- Selection -> Grid – This command snaps the selection to the nearest point on the grid.
- Selection -> Cursor – This command snaps the selection to the location of the 3D cursor.
- Selection -> Center – This command snaps the selected element(s) to the center of the selected object(s). This is most useful in Edit mode, as it allows you to snap vertices, edges, or faces to the center of the object you’re working on.
- Cursor -> Selection – This command snaps the 3D cursor to the center of the selected element(s).
- Cursor -> Grid – This command snaps the 3D cursor to the nearest point on the grid. This is quite useful if you manually clicked to position the 3D cursor, and it didn’t land exactly where you wanted.
- Cursor -> Active – This command snaps the 3D cursor to the center of the active element.
- Clear/Apply – This submenu contains commands that allow you to clear (reset) or apply (make permanent) the location, rotation, scale, deformation, or duplicates of the selected objects.
- Clear Location – This command clears (resets) the location of the selected object(s) to (0,0,0).
- Clear Rotation – This command clears (resets) the rotation of the selected object(s).
- Clear Scale – This command clears (resets) the scale of the selected object(s).
- Apply Scale/Rotation – This command applies the scale and rotation. The object data (mesh vertices/curve points/etc.) is modified so that, without modifying its look, the scale is back to 1.0 without any rotation.
- Apply Visual Transform – ???
- Apply Deformation – This command applies the deformations to the object. Note: This is now only available through the Apply buttons in the Modifiers panel (Editing context).
- Make Duplicates Real – This command makes the duplicates (from using DupliVerts or DupliFrames) real objects (so you can edit them individually).
These sub-menus contain a sub-part their counterpart in the header, see the editing pages of the modeling chapter.
This sub-menu contains a sub-part of the options of the View menu in the header.
- Passepartout – This option toggles the Passepartout option of the selected camera. When turned on, in Camera view, it darkens the area around the camera, allowing you to focus on the area that’s actually going to be rendered (is in the camera’s field of view).
- Set Border – This option allows you to drag to select a specific area of the camera view to render. This is useful if you’re tweaking a specific detail of an object and don’t want to render the entire scene (if you’re tweaking an entire object, local view may be more of what you’re looking for). If you want to remove this clipping region from your future rendering, uncheck the Border button (checked by default when you use the Set Border option) in the bottom of the Render panel, Render sub-context, Scene (F10) context.
- Render – This option renders the current scene. It’s the same as the big RENDER button in the Scene context, and can also be activated with F12.
- Anim – This option renders an animation using the current animation settings. It’s the same as the ANIM button in the Scene context, and can be activated by CtrlF12.
- Preview – This toggles the Preview floating panel, which displays a preview (non-antialiased) version of whatever portion of the 3D view is currently underneath it.