Blender 2.8 User Interface/Usability

Hello, Everyone,

Introduction/Disclaimer: I have created this new Topic because I am interested in discussing and sharing ideas for the Blender interface for 2.8 and beyond. I would like to briefly disclaim that I recognize and respect the fact that this is a controversial topic and I do not intend to force or demand that my ideas are implemented. Rather, I am looking to provide input for developers and collectively work with others on this forum to address a key section of Blender’s usability. I am not a developer myself but am instead an artist with experience in both Blender and other tools including substance software, Houdini, and some Autodesk software.

My Goal for this Topic: My goal with this topic is to present my opinions on the current User Interface and general features within Blender. I would then like to provide suggestions and ideas on how to improve the UI and general usability throughout all areas of Blender. Furthermore, I would like to get feedback on my suggestions and promote other peoples’ suggestions to collectively address as many portions of the user interface as possible. Lastly, if possible, I would like to finalize and compile a list of key suggestions, ideas, or mockups for improving the User Interface.

My Goal for Blender: I cannot speak for everyone when I describe my vision for the future of Blender but I can explain my own hopes for milestones that Blender may achieve with 2.8 and beyond. My main interest is to improve Blender to excel it into a production ready piece of software. While it is a VERY VERY powerful 3D application and can absolutely hold up to larger software packages (Maya, 3DS Max, to name a few) I believe it still lacks in some key areas that withhold it from directly competing with these big brand tools. My goal is to identify the major areas where blender excels and surpasses other software and the areas that are falling short. While the Blender GUI is well designed and sufficient, large million dollar software packages are generally designed, from the ground up, to provide for user friendly experiences for all end users, regardless of their experience.

Where Blender Excels in usability (In my arrogant opinion): From my perspective (as an artist) I find Blender to be a powerful tool when it comes to production speed and efficiency. Once a user learns and implements hotkeys into their workflow, without a doubt, Blender becomes lightning fast and probably faster than many big budget software. (Maya, Max, etc.) I would also argue that some of Blender’s hotkeys are VERY user friendly especially for beginners. For example, using G, R and S as the Grab, Rotate, and Scale hotkeys is very powerful in my opinion.

Where Blender can Improve: (In my arrogant opinion) While Blender is a powerful tool and does have a strong and powerful interface, there are definitely areas for improvement across all areas of usability. To address the elephant in the room, the overall GUI is not designed for ease of use. There are some key problems that I want to briefly mention:
1. Scrolling through a ton of different settings.
2. Workflow structure (i.e. key settings for specific tasks are not grouped in an efficient or screen space saving manner.)
3. Lack of tabs (Obviously being somewhat addressed in 2.8)
4. Icon based tabs (I get that this is a controversial one but I think new users don’t exactly like the properties panel and the many different icons which they are then forced to remember.)
5. Forced to resize windows.
6. Inefficient use of keyboard shortcuts or mouse functionality. (I’ll address this later)

Mouse Functionality: In my opinion while Blender utilizes the mouse in a very productive way in terms of navigation, I believe there is a problem with the left and right mouse buttons. When a new user enters a program for the first time, their instinct is to LEFT click on different things to understand what that does. When a new user sees the 3D cursor jumping around the screen instead of being able to select an object, they get frustrated. I know this from personal experience and having watched many people I know use blender for the first time. I want to mention that I recently changed my settings to using left click as the select and have found my workflow improve. I also had very little difficult transitioning to left click as select even with having used the right mouse button for years. If we free up the right mouse by making the left mouse the default select and by making the cursor placement Ctrl+left mouse then we have an entire button free for right click menus which I believe would increase workflow productivity an extensive amount.

Hotkeys: I won’t address too many hotkeys but I believe that there are a select few shortcuts that could be altered to provide a more streamline and efficient workflow. For example, instead of using TAB to enter edit mode, I would suggest the number 2 be used for edit mode. 1 could be to access object move, 3 for sculpt mode, 4 for vertex paint, etc. I don’t believe this would conflict with the layer system as it is being redone in 2.8. I believe that this shortcut model would greatly increase Blender’s uniformity when it comes to a new user understanding and getting to know the program.

Conclusion: While I hope to have addressed a controversial but wide range of topics, I cannot cover all areas of Blender usability in one post. For this reason, I would like to ask for suggestions, comments, ideas, mockups, proposals, or why and how much you hate my ideas so that we can collectively compile different ideas for improving this amazing software. I am considering creating a concept for the GUI that I picture and I would love to hear other peoples’ ideas. Again, I realize this is a controversial topic and I don’t intend to force my ideas.

Thank you for your time and have a nice day!


You did not write something controversial.
Most of people are agreeing.

There is an aspect that community is currently not talking about : Workspaces.

Original proposal for 2.8 UI is to be able to change UI according to workflow and show pertinent properties in a dedicated workspace.
Currently, work is done only for a general workspace that will restore all basics from 2.7x releases.
But user should be able to create a 2D animation workspace, a 3D Printing workspace etc…
And each thing not pertinent to a specific workflow could be hidden, invisible, neglected.
So, actually, General tab is what we see. But probably, no one will really use it on a daily basis.

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I am sure they will succeed in making every one happy :smiley: This is the new proposal for the top bar, tool properties and toolbar. (don’t really know where to put this post haha)


Interesting. Whats missing of course is how are add-ons supposed to work with all this?

Having a custom area to add commands to doesn’t seem very good if only accessed via a pull down in the tools region.

I preferred the older "n " panel idea that you could add tools on a tab there and that would be your w menu also.

I guess they dont want The n panel with tabs to be like the t panel with tabs used to be.

If the snaps and mode changer return to the 3d view header i hope there is still enough space to keep the edges, faces, vertices menus… exposing those was a great move

Yes don’t know either about the addons, but it could be good to have a N panel entirely dedicated to the addons maybe ? With a pull down instead of the tabs ?

The custom area in the toolbar is not really a problem I think, it was planned to have a shortcut to make a custom menu appears right ?

Yes the custom area was supposed to be accessed by w key pop up too. (in an earlier design)

I know some don’t like the vertical text in the tabs but tabs beat a pulldown everytime! even then I just thought the older plan of having tools in the toolbar and commands in an n panel tab was a neat separation. they are both used equally as much so if they are going to be exposed in palettes (i mean T and N panels) for quick access without using key shortcuts they have equal weight when modelling: Tools on the left, commands on the right.

Addons like loop tools or YAVNE mostly add commands and have a narrow focus that make sense to group together. It would be a nightmare to have to customise your interface when enabling addons like these.

It would be forward thinking if there could be some guidelines for addon devs

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The changes look good and logical.
The only thing I miss is some way to work fullscreen (3dview mainly) and quickly access objects properties. Quickly means no need to change layout.

Maybe they will add the tool settings in the Npanel too



I agree with that, even if I don’t bother switching between fullscreen and non-fullscreen, I can understand that.

There is something in Houdini that is really useful (for example when the default parameter panel does not work), you can click on the P key, and the same parameter panel shows up, on top of the view, in the corner, and P again to hide it, could be good to have something similar, just something to bring properties editor (you are talking about the properties editor right ?) at any time.

Yes, I mean the property panels relevant to the objects I’m working on in the 3dviewport: transforms, relations, cycles settings(visibility), groups, modifiers, constraints, meshdata stuff, and so on

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I once said in the old thread:

And now:

It’s inevitable, the logical things always becomes clear to everyone, sooner or later…

Kudos to the devs, this is a big step in the right direction to make blender more organized. :+1:

The only missing part now is the full contextual workflow, proper floating windows, and dockable, detachable and customizable menus/panels/windows/buttons…

Yes, the code quest excitement is back!


I am a little confused with the proposal and full screen work.

So the tool options will go into a new tap inside the properties menu.
But when you go fullscreen all you can see is toolbar left and n properties panel right.

Why squeeze that into a different area and disconnect it from the toolbar / properties panel which are inside the 3D view are you are modeling in ?!

Or do I miss something here?


Also the new Overlay menu becomes better and better - now all the properties N panel stuff is in the overlay

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the top bar is the compact version for 3d view work and a lot of the F6 panel style input will be available in the 3d view as widgets and pop up sliders etc

overlay pop over could do with collapsable sub panels… motion tracking options, normals, edge info, mesh analysis as collapsable regions would be nicew! it’s great that it’s not scattered through the interface like before though. A shame most of those options aren’t hooked up but it’s coming in hot!

but it’s a redundat tool. also I don’t understand why the snapping tools are inside the viewport.

Addon UI Design Task.


I just made a suggestion about 4th type of selection in edit mode on riight click - element selection. For me, how it works now (with L) is quiet confusing and hidden for new users.


Custom Editors! YESS!

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It’s not as logical as you may think:
In Blender’s design we always try to separate UI from data. The Properties Editor (which in fact is called Data Properties now) has always been about data, the tool settings however are UI settings. This also affects users, e.g. while most properties in the Properties Editor can be undone (as in, with Ctrl+Z), tool settings and other UI settings can not.
You see there is a difference that may not be trivial, and thus it’s wise to display the separation of UI and data to the user. Things can get complicated if they get mixed up, e.g. we had multiple bug reports on background images behaving weirdly with undo/redo.
Sometimes you have to accept some trade-offs though.


That looks good!

  1. bring back User Preferences into editor options (opening as an extra window takes extra resources, becomes distracting, also making Blender less responsive… it is counter productive)

  2. bring back Info editor in full glory, combining Top/Bottom bar, making it customizable and better controlled

  3. still, this new 3D Editor separation is bad as it breaks the flow on so many levels
    in short: change ‘3D Editor’ to any other & the Top/Bottom bar linger useless & distracting!!!

  4. and please, disable snapping for T-tab, as is now, it makes certain usable area alike twilight zone & instead, add an option to use text/icons or both (experience from using it with surface pro 3 is really bad - as it collapses to Icon mode, those icons don’t fit anymore)

Icons don’t fit

Clipboard02 Icons still don’t fit

whole T-tab becomes too large

  1. if menu animations are a must (don’t know for who, but anyways), add an option to disable all this quasi-luxurious crap (some prefer faster response instead of rainbows going on/off)

  2. if Camera deserved to be part of 3D navigator, why is not Frame Selected also available? It’s more used in working session

well… all in all, Blender dev. are almost making it possible to use it w/o keyboard on surface pro and alike, but then again, in haste, shooting way over the goal