Blender's UI drives me crazy

Nobody will ever fix all the basic (ie unsexy) stuff in Blender so this thread is to vent a little bit. Many of the items are written in an angry tone, because I wrote them when I encountered the issues and again, needed to vent. Feel free to add yours to the list.

  • When you unhide part of the mesh in edit mode it becomes selected so if you are attempting to hide something that’s in the way in order to more easily make a selection you are screwed.
  • Show / hide menu options aren’t under view as you would expect… they’re in the mesh menu…
  • Output path in the output properties panel has no meaning. No file or passes will be saved. You must use nodes in the compositor to get your passes into separate files.
  • Object index and material index will not just render in a clown pass. You probably need to use cryptomatte for that, but again, entering advanced user territory.
  • Deselecting all render passes and selecting only, for example, a cryptomatte object pass, will still render a regular pass using the full render time.
  • Packing all external data into a file will not pack any linked collections and Blender will not ask you about it either.
  • Make local data on a linked collection will seemingly do nothing. You have to find the Apply menu and make instances “real” first. Two operations that should be one for normal users. At least there should be a warning that you can’t make local what isn’t “real” (horrible word to use in this context, btw).
  • Right clicking on a single rotation value of a bone and inserting a keyframe creates keyframes for all the rotation values instead of just the one you right clicked on. You must then go in and manually delete the others.
  • A transparent shader has a color setting, but apparently cannot show any color. You need to set it to white, use an alpha and then mix it with another shader. So why not just have an alpha slider on that shader to both eliminate user error and confusion about what it does?
  • The shading workspace has an image viewer in the bottom left but no way to easily click on an image texture nose and get that texture to display in the image viewer.
  • The only way to see where an image (texture) is located on disk is to open a data-api panel, search for the image name and then look in the list (which has two entries for File Name for some reason). And of course Blender uses some weird, non-standard relative path instead of displaying the absolute one that the user can simply copy and paste into a file explorer (ok, luckily there is a menu option to change it, but it’s not located in the data-api panel and you can’t do it for individual files).
  • There are no dynamic sliders or dynamic number ranges in any value input boxes. Even if you hold down shift, you sometimes operate between such small intervals that it doesn’t help, so you have to resort to manual typing. (I think this is why so many people don’t realize that the bump node height only works with an extremely low value so they begin to fiddle with the strength instead, which looks very bad in Eevee).
  • The Z depth pass is basically shunned by any artist you ask due to several issues (not being anti-aliased is just one) and most people recommend you to use the “most pass” instead, which isn’t logical at all and apparently it’s been this way since 2014 or earlier (so at least there are a lot of search results for when you have to look up why your Z pass didn’t work as expected). (Since I wrote this, the depth pass was dropped from the UI in the new options for 2.93…)
  • The Action in the browse drop down in the Action editor does not always correspond to the animation displayed in the 3D viewport. In fact, it changes depending on your current selection in the outliner. Extremely confusing to a beginner and I do not see a pattern yet.
  • The weight painting color overlay is almost impossible to see because it is so dark. You have to switch to wireframe mode in order to see anything, but that means extra clicks every time you switch to and from weight painting (unless you create a workspace for it).
  • The way a frame is implemented in the node editor is of course as convoluted as anything else. You cannot double click on a title to change the name. Rename pops up a dialog instead of directly typing into the frame. You can no longer resize the frame once a node is inside of it. You can’t use a modifier key to drag a node out of the frame. There is not even a right click context menu option to separate nodes from the frame.
  • Snapping is absolutely horrible in object mode to the point of feeling utterly broken and totally unusable. The only thing you can snap by is an invisible bounding box. There is not even an origin snap! To do that you must do several operations involving the 3D cursor.
  • You have the animation workspace open. You move the current frame indicator. You open the materials tab. You select insert keyframe on a material parameter. You see nothing in the timeline. You get confirmation that the Blender ui sucks for beginners.
  • Blender can’t even predict render times well. It thought a 360 frame sequence where the last few frames had took 4 minutes would take 7 hours to complete… next day, it said it was 4 hours left and the last render was still around 4 minutes. 4 hours later, still 4 more hours remaining with last rendered frame still 4 minutes…
  • Not being able to apply transforms to an instanced mesh is just failure on the most basic level.
  • In the shader editor, the fact that switching materials in the drop down doesn’t just update the viewport, like in the image viewer, but actually changes the material assignment on the object is super illogical…
  • If you create a new texture, start painting on it and then press the shield to protect it from deletion, what you painted will not be saved. There is no warning upon saving the file either, but next time you load it the texture will be blank! You must know to select pack from the menu (and only after you’ve done that does an “unpack” button appear next to the shield).
  • When you append an object it gets highlighted in the viewport but none of the properties panels update.
  • https://developer.blender.org/T64245 (typical bug reporting futility of UI design issues)
  • Linking an object freezes it in place. If you shift click the library override button on it and then adjust its transform you get an invisible copy.
  • You cannot rename a node group while inside the node group. Also, renaming the node of a node group renames it for that instance only. You need to rename it in the selection menu or open the hidden N panel, go to item, expand the collapsed properties section and then edit the name…
  • You can’t cut/copy something from within a shader node group and paste it outside the group.
  • There is no apparent way to adjust the type of input or output when you create inputs and outputs for node groups via the side panel node properties. You get the correct types if you collapse an existing set of nodes into a group or drag a new node over the input/output nodes while expanded. Does blender want me to use the side panel or no?
  • There is no standard looking drop down menu to select/create new UV maps/channels in the UV Editor. You can only do this in the object data properties.
  • The relation between the UV Map node in a material and the UV Maps in the object properties panel is unclear because you can name them anything. In other software, you have ordered material slots and ordered channels, so there is no question what happens when you put a material on a different object with a different set of UV maps because you refer to it by index, but in the Blender UI you refer to a name instead so now it seems you must check your spelling when you name UV maps? Also material slots can be re-ordered in Blender but not UV maps.
  • The circle showing the size of the proportional modification range is a crap way of displaying that information, because quite often you zoom in on an area you wish to change and then the circle is too large to even show up in the view and if you’re unsure of if you need to use mousewheel up or down to reduce its size and since you can’t see it you need to cancel out of the command and zoom the view out first.
  • Blender has a nice new built in sky node. However you must put the strength to 0.1 in order for it to look natural (ie magic numbers, sig). Oh, and the elevation setting doesn’t appear to be in meters either.
  • Blender textures default to linear interpolation. Everyone else have been using filtering for 30 years but in Blender you manually have to change this for every texture…
  • You can’t save/export objects to a new .blend file.
  • One of the most baffling fundamental issues is that if you set an object’s mesh to be that of another object, you also by default link materials. No warning, no question, no obvious (to a beginner) way of changing. Yes, you can set a preference for it, and there is a (tiny) menu, but it uses weird language that you wouldn’t immediately associate to this behavior. Also, the behavior is fine for instances that you want to change materials on, but when you don’t start out with an instance and just want to link a mesh, then it becomes confusing (doubly so because the behavior also isn’t a part of the relations or linked object menu options).
  • Features with options don’t show them by default and there’s not even a setting to have them shown. Instead, every time you want to tweak an option you must restore a minimized dialog in the corner of the screen. Every. Time.
  • Geometry Node object input as a pipers tool in the node editor, but not in the modifier stack.
  • Geometry node modifiers must reside on a mesh object, but the output isn’t a mesh (you can’t Boolean with it) unless you Attribute Fill which apparently produces “real” geometry.
  • By default, back face culling is off but you can’t select objects from their backs… users unfamiliar with this concept will be very confused by this since there is no visual feedback as to what is going on.
  • In the image editor, replacing an image through the menu option with the same image under a new name does nothing. A new user is lost here and probably closes Blender, renames the file, reopens Blender and hopes to replace all broken textures, but that does not work because Blender has now somehow. cacher that image internally despite the user never packing any external data.
  • You can’t delete modifiers from the outliner. If you use a shortcut, the entire object gets deleted.
  • The image editors in the UV workspace and the Shader workspace don’t automatically switch to the texture in the material (if you only have one texture, but it doesn’t even switch to a texture from the object’s material).
  • Why can’t object visibility be set per workspace?
  • There are no “expand hierarchy” or “collapse hierarchy” context menu options in the outliner. The only options which are there also act globally, not on the selection.
  • There are armature actions and model actions but the UI doesn’t do a good job at explaining the difference (and a beginner can easily assign an action to the wrong thing).
  • You can’t see exactly who the users are in the Data API editor. You can only see a total count.
  • You could easily get grey hairs until you discover that the only way to quickly select bones in weight painting mode is to previously have been in the pose mode for the armature.
  • There is an eye dropper for armature but never one for bones…
  • Object mode doesn’t respect hidden faces which is annoying, but when weight painting doesn’t do it either it becomes a hindrance.
  • Toggle X-ray also gets ignored by weight painting (the hit testing at least, and by default the visual too, although an advanced user can know that the overlay opacity can be reduced… still, why that default).
  • Clearing all NLA tracks from an armature does not remove them completely from the outliner until you restart Blender.
  • In the timeline, the row highlight does only extend to the sidebar, not the entire timeline.
  • You can’t drag a workspace tab to where you want it and the only reorder options are either the front or the back. There is no single step movement at all…
  • In the curve editor, there are no corresponding buttons to select curve, handles or keyframe (also with the 1, 2, 3 keys) like there is with faces edges and vertices.
  • Continuing from the above, there is no menu option for toggling between scaling keyframes and handles (you need to switch editors for that).
  • Even in the orthogonal view the move tool gizmo disappears during transforms so it is very cumbersome to line something up to the grid.

Dragging and dropping a video into Blender and having it just work is pretty much the only thing so far that has been surprisingly intuitive…

EDIT: Bonus gif of that wonderful hidden menu that every new user knows about and is so easy to discover…

blenderusability

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Yes the Blender UI and general workflow needs alot of work, but most of what you listed can be done quite easily, Google is your friend.

Any beginner will have similar issues with what ever software they are using, Example is your complaint about Blender not being able to predict render times, I have not seen any 3D software that does this with any accuracy, When I was using Lightwave it would say it has 989987 days left to render the frame, then it would be completed after a few mins (Not and exaggeration) So compared to Lightwave Blender is pretty accurate :slight_smile:

I complained before on here about when you keyframe visibility in the outliner your keyframes also disappear from the timeline. So if you keyframe the visibility of and object at frame 100 and then move the timeline to say frame 110, your keyframes for that object will disappear from the timeline, so if you decided to move the keyframes of the object to frame 110 you have to move the time line back to before frame 100 so you can see the keyframes to select them and move them to frame 110, rather than stay on frame 110 and just select the keyframes and move them. Just weird.

If I was you, I would spend a bit of time on Google, you will find the answers to most of your issues, and the ones you don’t, ask here in a shorter list.

Lack of UI coherence is what puts me off from diving full into Blender, i just drone around .
Professionally i work in 3DsMax and going Unreal
This was my post while ago: Discoverability of Blender interface, is it an objective of Developers?

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When you select verts to hide and hit H to hide them, a pop up appears at the bottom left of the screen with which you can choose to hide either the selected verts or the unselected ones.

When you hit alt H to unhide (or go to the mesh menu-show/hide-reveal hidden) a similar pop up appears at the bottom left of the screen with which you can choose maintain selected or not the vertices that have been revealed. This will respect any selection you did before unhiding.

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I apparently forgot to remove that point, as I already asked about it separately, however:

PS. I’ve been using Blender since 2.7 but I still feel like a beginner because the UI is so bloody obtuse! I constantly have to Google for things I’ve done dozens of times and I’ve even made a theme to help with one of the most convoluted things (the “active object” concept).

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I agree with many things pointed in the topic.

Before bringing lot of new features sometimes incomplete (geometry nodes for example),
Blender should really consider fixing those basic workflow issues.

3D coat for example, lot more easy for new comers because it’s designed as intuitive to use.

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Don’t wanna start a flame war but have you ever read the docs? And have you ever heard of the complaints about the UI from 3DStudioMax (or what ever it’s called now/ different name changes) or even Z-Brush ? There was a saying about costs of software: estimate 10 to 20 times for teaching the employees. And why do you think C4D wanna look like blender in it’s newest version?? Because they wanna catch new customers even if the changes doesn’t make sense (look we have a dark mode, damned thing but i can’t see anything whene there are bright white text boxes popping up… please just make also a not so bright and/or a darker look. NOT JUST BLACK.) On the other hand make a crowd founding foe paying the blender foundation a developer to make this happen.

Might wanna try BforArtsists fork of Blender, they address UI issues, though not sure if they will fix all of your mention ones.

https://www.bforartists.de/

The logic is that menu is reflecting level where operator is acting.
In edit mode, you are hiding vertices,edges,faces.
In object mode, you are hiding objects.
For both operations, H is used as a default shortcut. But if you prefer, you can assign different shortcuts for each mode.
On the contrary, operators inside View menu are relative to view, independent of modes, If you change shortcut for one of them, it is changed whatever selection and active mode is.

So, that arrangement is supposed to help you to discover that distinction.

That is not true. Output Path is still the path where you will find the render of an animation. It is the path that will be used if rendering is launched from a command line in background mode.
The need to use compositor is not the most frequent one.
So, default is one file per frame.
That is a pertinent request to ask for more options.
But if something is there, there is a reason.

Cryptomatte node was not made to complicate work but to simplify it.
It is really simple to use.
That may be a valid request to have a direct way to export a clown pass if you are doing your compositing outside of Blender.
Just, compositing workflow was developed with the idea to accomplish it inside Blender.

For most of your remarks, there are technical limitations, historical choices and manpower limitations that can explain why situation is like that.

External data is a different thing than Linked libraries.
Linking had as first target to decrease memory usage.
So, that was counter-intuitive at its creation to think about packing what was linked.
Nowadays, we have more RAM. And new collections and library overrides concepts are implying a lot more of linking.
In master, a Packed Linked Libraries operator has been added.

No, you can directly click on Insert Single Keyframe instead of Insert Keyframes in right click menu.

You may encounter a bug but, for me, a transparent shader can be colored.
Priority for developers was to add an alpha slider to principled shader to remove the need to use transparent shader for basic materials.

The texture workflow needs to be improved in lots of areas. That never was terrific in Blender. And that was neglected by 2.8 redesign.
You can drag and drop images from file browser to shader editor or image editor.
But you cannot drag and drop image from shader editor to Image Editor.

There is a distinction between Image Datablock name and Image File name.
Like there is one between a nodegroup node name and a nodegroup name.
Like there is one between a Mesh object name and a Mesh name.
For the dependency graph, that does not refer to same datablock.
Image File is the Image file ( file with a .jpg, .png, .exr, extension).
Image datablock is the image file + all properties associated to it (Source type, Color Space, Alpha mode).
To see absolute paths in a blend file, you can use File > External Data > Make Paths Absolute.
Having Paths Relative is a user preference that can be disabled under Save & Load tab.

An action is a container for keyframes sequences.
They can be mixed under the NLA editor.
So, that is expected that an action only represents a chunk of animation seen in viewport.
And animation data is stored per object. By default name of the owner of action is added to name of action.

No. You don’t. That is an overlay. Like any overlay, You can adapt its opacity under Overlays popover.
You can also define custom colors in User Preferences window.

In Node Editors, right click menu is not context sensitive to each node. There are too many nodes for that to happen in recent 2.8,2.9 series.
So, specific inclusion/exclusion can be handled like that.
You can’t use a modifier key because they are already used for other stuff. (Alt is used to detach. Ctrl is used to snap. Shift is used to extend selection.)
Frame node is shrunk by an option in its properties. If you disable the option, you can resize it.
Renaming is done like for any other node, by right click menu and pressing F2.
Pop-up to rename node is displaying a name field that can be 3 or 4 times bigger than header of node, if node editor is zoomed out at nodetree level instead of focused on renamed node.

Animation of materials can be seen in dopesheet by disabling the Only Show Selected filter.
Animation of nodes parameters are not well-handled.
That is a problem that annoys anybody, not just beginners. That is a technical limitation due to the fact that animation system is anterior to Cycles/EEVEE nodes.

Applying transforms means that you are resetting object data by modifying mesh data.
Allowing that means that all instances would be modified.
So, it is expected that you make mesh single user, first in order to avoid that yu mess up your whole scene.

Changing active material slot and changing material assignment are different things.
There are 2 drop down menus in shader editor.
One that corresponds to slots list. One that corresponds to material datablock.
Be careful to not confuse both.

What you are protecting is the Image Datablock. Saving the image file is another operation.
Nowadays, when you try to quit Blender with an unsaved image file, blender is warning you with a pop-up warning asking you if you want to save it.
It is not the case, only if you disabled the Save Prompt in Preferences window.

You can copy any selection of nodes to buffer with Ctrl C and paste it with Ctrl V anywhere (Inside/outside a nodegroup or in another material).

That has been moved to a dedicated tab of sidebar.
Properties panel is Node tab. Inputs and Outputs panels are in Group tab.

Yes. Before 2.8, UV Editor and Image Editor was a unique editor.
So, there is room for improvements for this recent new UV editor.

Asset Browser will support that.

You can press F9.
But I would prefer an opened panel on the right side of screen, too.

That is because display and tweaking of modifiers in Outliner is recent.
So, Delete operator corresponds to deletion of an object.
To delete a modifier you have to use right click menu. You can assign a shortcut to this specific modifier operation.

There is a technical limitation. Object visibility is set per View Layer.
And you can only see one View Layer per Window.
But if you create 2 main windows, you can assign different view layers to them.
So, you can have different object visibility per workspace by using a different window per workspace.
But if you prefer, you can dissociate collections visibility in 3D View from View Layer by using Local Collections option.

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Thank you very much.

Does Blender developers have a permanent UI team that fixes older issues and manages the additional functionalities from other developers teams?

UI should be one the most important things since that is anyone contact first with application. It is the welcome or not.

Concepts like drag and drop for example can be extended to many places.

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Blender development is segmented into modules.
UI is one of them.
https://wiki.blender.org/wiki/Modules#User_Interface

There is a team of developers that are in charge of UI tasks.
Like for any module, some developers are volunteers working on their spare time.
Some are employed full-time by Blender Foundation.
Among those ones, some are also taking part into a lot of other modules (Python API, Library Overrides, EEVEE, Cycles, Geometry Nodes).

Their workboard contains 83 tasks.
https://developer.blender.org/project/board/12/

And you can see by this reply from Ton on devtalk forum, that more help would be appreciated.

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Thanks. Ton says

I think it’s overshooting on practical usability and it’s a big step away from core UIX concepts we use in Blender.

Is there a memo or forum post where that is established for me to know?

There is a wiki.
https://wiki.blender.org/wiki/Human_Interface_Guidelines

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Thanks for the detailed reply! I didn’t even have time to go through it all yet, but I will.

One issue I have with some solutions though, is that they’re simply not intuitive enough to remember. For example, whenever I have made model and a skeleton and want to start animating, I always, always, always have to look up a tutorial and follow it step by step (and as mentioned, I’ve used Blender since 2014). The workflow is simply too finicky for me to ever remember, and too error prone for me to ever want to risk it on my own.

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Animation is a complex domain.
But the main principle is really simple. You have an animation when a value change over time.

Most basic animation consists in creating 2 keyframes on a setting to obtain desired interpolation.
Keying sets are just here to help to create keyframes on multiple settings as once.
Bones are here to animate a bunch of vertices or objects as a group parented to it.
Drivers and constraints are used to automate interpolation and avoid to create keyframes.

So, layers of animation tools are all there to simplify incredibly labarious animation task of adding keyframes on everything at each frame.
There is no way to escape first step of doing it the rough way. It is necessary if you want really to understand when and why you need to use a complicated rig made of several bone layers.
Before animating a character, everybody should try to animate a camera, a light or and a prop with a simple rig.

What 3d program were you using before where you didn’t have to do all that?

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To be 100% honest, I think it’s required to know the general underlying data structure if you want to actually use Blender to do any useful thing. Many of Blender’s design reminds me the days I was learning programming.

The most obvious one is the fact you need to press “Fake User” to retain a Pose Library. It almost feels like the developers assume reference counting and garbage collection are common sense among human beings.

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Yeah. The more i get into Blender the more disappointing it is regarding UI design , UI feedback and usability and keymap.
Example the lateral tabs are a mess, the logic would say you click an item in the tab and it would show that item options and if i click it again it would disappear in the tab. Not what happens, after i click the item i have to drag it out and in to make it disappear. It is absurd.

Btw how can i list a bug to developers for 3.0 version? The Industry Standard Keymap have the middle mouse button instead of pan, scrolling the timeline…

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Within Blender go to
Help → Report a bug

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