Basic 3D navigation question (rotation center, viewer's location, zooming)

Maybe you won’t believe it but even after searching and reading and searching and reading a lot, I did not find the answer to this basic behavior question.

I’m a newbie but did a lot of modelling the last days (blender 2.42). Though, I’m always “suprised” about how rotation in the 3D window using MMB works. I’m using default trackball setting (not turntable). “User view” is active (menu view -> user) … long story short: Where is the rotation center? How many units is it ahead? It’s never where I expect it, so I am always surprised where rotating takes me. I do know [Num Enter], [Home], [Num .], Shift+F and so on. So, where is the rotation center?

Assuming a scene containing a 5x5x5 box. By rotating, I see that the rotation center is in the middle of the box. I press [Num Enter]. I am some units outside the box facing it. Sometimes I have the problem that zooming, using the mouse wheel, takes the point of view inside the box, but sometimes, even after zooming as much as possible, I am still outside the box. I do not know how to get inside. Why is this? The problem with this is, that at a maximum zoom level, panning the view is almost impossible, ie it gets so slow that it is not usable anymore, so I have to zoom out or press [Num enter] to be able to pan, but this takes me even further away from the box. Consequently I will have to do many pan/rotate/zoom operations til I get where I want.

Is there a window that displays the viewer’s location and the location of the rotation center? I can open the “view properties” but it does not show these values.

In addition, is “zoom” the right word? If my location is outside the box, zooming should magnify the outer side of the box. In my understanding, zooming sually doesn’t change the viewer’s location, but in blender this is obviously the case because after “zooming”, the viewer’s location is inside the box.

Moreover, in the “view properties” window there is the “lens” angle (20° default). I know what an angle is :wink: but zooming doesn’t change this angle (maybe because zooming is not really zooming but translation towards/aways from the rotation center?). That’s what I expect from “zooming”.

Where does [Num enter] take me? Does it mean it always takes me 10 units (for example) away from the rotation center? Or is there any other rule what it does? I do know that it “resets zoom” but I don’t know what this means.

Is Shift+F the only way to really move the viewer’s location in the viewing (or opposite) direction? I mean panning the viewer forward/backward. Wait, I will search for it on my own…

Edit:
One more in this context: I press [Num 0], [Num Enter]. Now I have camera view. Now, when I start rotating (MMB in 3D view), the view first “jumps” back before, so the view when starting the rotation is not the same anymore as when in camera view. Is there a way around? I mean, can I start rotating exactly from camera view?

TIA for clarifications.
(shortened long story got longer…)

Well, for the rotation center, you can adjust that by going into side/front/top views. The point that is in center of each of those view is ultimatly your rotation center. Also, when you press C the 3d Cursor will become your rotation center, thats pretty neat in combination with the shift+s snap to functions.
Also, if you don’t like the “zoom” being an actual movement of the camera, you should also check out what Num5 does

I do not read all your post (are you a pro writer :)?), but i can give you some tips.
1 - About the zoom, when you’re in perspective mode, sometimes you cannot zoom in more than you want. In this case you can enter ortho mode and the zoom works the way you want. Or (in perspective) enter editmode (for the object you wich to zoom) and select 2 or 3 vertices, a face, an edge, watever) zoom out some amount then press Numpad dot (.). Now you can zoom in or out enough to see the part of the object you want to.

2 - If your rotation have a strange center, if you’re object is small, select it and press Numpad dot (.) Now the object is your rotation center. If the object is big enter editmode and select 2 or 3 vertices (like above) and press the same Numpad dot. You know the rest.

Does it help?

press num 5 to go in and out of ortho/perspective mode, that will solve the “zooming in sometimes I go inside, sometimes I stay outside” problem.

To fix the rotation problem, press num1 and make sure the thing you want to rotate around is in the middle of the screen, and then press num3 and make sure it is in the middle of the screen. If its not, then the rotation will seem awfully strange.
I dont know what the problem with rotating around the camera is, I’ve never needed to do that and cant foresee any situations where that would be necessary.
To pan left and right, press shift+MMB, to Zoom In/Out scroll the wheel, to rotat press MMB and move the mouse.

Where’s the rotation center?

There is no marker for the rotation center. The only way to know is to rotate the user view. It’s not a set distance. Zooming changes it.

Shift+F and so on

You mean SHIFT+S (Snap menu)? That in addition to “C” (center on cursor) is good for centering the view’s rotation point.

but sometimes, even after zooming as much as possible, I am still outside the box

That’s the differnce between orthographic and perspective views. Press NUM5 to toggle between the two.

Is there a window that displays the viewer’s location

Sorry, don’t know, but don’t think so :frowning:

In addition, is “zoom” the right word?

Once again, you seem to be having trouble with perspective and orthographic views. Perspective view draws everything with a vanishing point and is the way you see things in real life. This is also the mode where you can “get inside objects.” Orthogrphic view has no vanishing point and is strictly a tool for comparing size of objects without having to worry about the perspective’s vanishing point. Again, NUM5 toggles this.

That’s what I expect from “zooming”.

Zooming during camera view is best explained (I think) as an orthographic zoom on a perspective image :O.

Where does [Num enter] take me?

You tell me!? I’ve never heard of it before today. It’s not in Blender’s hot key list (not in the numpad list anyway). Thanks for the info though - looks like a handy tool.

Is Shift+F the only way to really move the viewer’s location…

In camera view, yes.

Seems like you’ve got the hot-key functions down and it’s just a matter of recognising the difference between ortho and perpective.