Improving Blender workflow

I start this topic without any polemic intent, and also, I pray you to avoid any bad/excessive critics comments

First of all, what will make me fell better in blender are some technical improvement:

  • better viewport perfomance (enable VBO improving a lot performance in object mode, but not so much in edit mode)
  • edit two or more objects at some time (I know addon just existing, but the workflow is very bad)
  • Better outliner ala C4d

But I understood this technical part, so we must wait and giving all the time (and support) blender developers needs.

The focus of this topic is in small improvement here and there; maybe I don’t know is just ready an addon or can be done in some other way in blender. In general this is small things, but can improving a lot the flux work (IMO)

  1. Select others objects in edit mode. In modo can select others object in component mode pressing middle mouse button on another object. Also it translate automatically on edge,vertex or face component mode (depend what you clicked: if you MMB click on a edge of the other object you’ll enter directly in edge mode, the some if you click a face, you’ll enter directly in face mode). In blender, if want cage object need to exit edit mode, select another object and than enter again in edit mode. Can cage object directly in outliner, but when the scene had many objects (and maybe a rigged character) the outliner is a totally mess…

  2. I usual modelling without handles, but I think transform Handles with visual representation for two axis constraint can be a very nice addtion.
    Something like (go to 2:19) :

I perfectly know blender had two axis constraint, but the workflow is pretty bad (IMO), press shift+axis you don’t want use. Also in global mode is ok, but in normal/local/custom mode is a mess, you must press two time this combo and need to guess the right axis (not so simple when you are not in global mode)

  1. Circle/paint select. I’m not particular knee about circle select in blender. A special mode for select edge/vertex/faces don’t seems to me a good idea. I tried to map it in something more fast, like shift+left mouse tweak, but no one of the test I did work as I want.

Only this for now, add your little improvment request, doubts and, most appreciated, solution.
Thanks to all

You did fine, all of these points I would see as valid and they don’t sound anything like a rant. I do agree that the three points above would be tremendous improvements to Blender (and hopefully point one will be addressed soon with the conclusion of the Viewport FX project). That is providing they’re done in a proper way without hacks of course (as in, the multi-object edit mode is actually a full rework with code that can keep track of just what operation is being applied to which object).

To address one of the other points (selecting other objects in editmode), I believe there is a combo that involves holding a modifier key while right-clicking which does just that.

Also, I think there was once a patch that would’ve allowed viewport rotation while circle select is activated, this would at least introduce enough non-modality that it would become far more useful and fast.

Most of these things sound OK. I didn’t understand this at all:

A special mode for select edge/vertex/faces don’t seems to me a good idea

If you are suggesting that we only have vertex select methods I can’t think of a worse change to make. Some manipulations can only be done with edge select. I’m sure I have misunderstood you.

About the transform handles with two axis constraint - you do know that grabbing one of the handles with SHIFT key down will constrain the transform to the other two axes, right? There is an immediate feedback, the free directions will light up, the same as when one axis is picked. I don’t see how this is not what you are asking for, except for the little icon. IMO it’s much easier to have a larger click zone near the handle and hold the shift key than to try to grab a little square behind the arrowhead.

This is what it looks like when I shift click the Y arrow (and start to drag) with the transform orientation set to local:

You may not have seen this before because you have to actually start the drag to see the constraint axes show, but it’s the same way with the one axis constrained drag…

Switching directly to another object in edit mode would be very useful, like maybe Alt-clicking on the new object etc.

I have a problem with that, how can one intuitively (while modeling) grab one axis that you don’t want to move on, so you can isolate other two? Its terrible design in my opinion.

Good point! Obviously to move on two axes you need to grab two handles with two cursors and two mice, or maybe a mouse and a touchpad. With two cursors I could get twice as much done… I could model in two windows, and sculpt both sides of an object at the same time. It’s a Microsoft Linux Apple conspiracy to hold us all back.
The same would go for selecting and deselecting. Completely unintuitive to hold shift down and click on something to deselect it. How crazy is that? We need a deselect tool, darn it. This ‘Shift-as-opposite’ paradigm has messed us up for long enough!

Usually there is a UI element between two axis in other 3d software for isolating the TWO axis you want to move on. The Blender way of achieving that could be compared to for example switching to vertex selection mode by turn off other two. Would that be fun for you?

That’s so funny because I actually have it set up that way, (sort of, with the extend checkbox)! :evilgrin:

But on a more serious note, the shift and hold on the axis you want to not move on is consistent with the keyboard shortcut as well. I’m sure that this is not going to work for you, but it might help to think that you are ‘Locking’ the axis you are clicking on. That’s what it says in the header, right, ‘locked’…

I guess no one’s going to like every way of thinking about an action. In any case the video referenced by the original poster would not satisfy you either because it uses a similar paradigm.

I dare to bring up a bigger issue here that needs to be looked at first: all of the suggestions for improving Blender are floating around the internet with no way to sort through them in an organized fashion. Some ideas are good, some bad, some impossible, and there’s no way to know without sifting through each one.

What is needed is a feedback tool - probably a web site - for organizing Blender user feedback. The ideas could be logged in a database, given quality ratings by other users, and organized by category. This way we could save ourselves from discussing the same topics in circles, and also prevent good ideas from getting lost in the heap. Such a tool, if executed well, would probably gain attention from Blender developers and they could engage the community through it and use it to prioritize Blender improvements.

You can some of the most common and valid ideas organized in this doc -

All the ideas OP mentioned are already there:


You are thinking about something like Blenderstorm. It does not seem to work though.

Sorry for my poor english… I mean a special tool (mapped on a precious hotkey (every keys near the sacred trinity alt+shift+crtl is a precious key) for selection is a strange workflow design. I’m aware in blender click and drag is equal to grab (move) the selection, but maybe we can have a circle/paint selection clicking and drag + pressing a modifier key (I think shift is good option)

About Axis constraint, agree, we have a visual rappresentation but after we press an axis or two axis constraint, before, you must guess what is the axis you want constraint. IMO a visual representation like showed in the video I posted is the best option, without cancel at all the old behaviour I think is a good choice implementing something like this.

[email protected] thanks for your info. I hope Wievport FX will arrive asap. Edit two object at once is useful, we can live without, sure, but is useful.

About selecting other object in edit mode, I remember, maybe during 2.4x cycles (on release 2.48? Don’t remember) I can switch, in sculpt mode, to another object pressing alt or something similar.

Quantum Anomaly, you idea is very nice, agree.

Procrastination on feature ideas/requests by Blender users is really amazing:

Improved Grouping
Pretty revolutionary, could be impossible to implement.

This is what Softimage had, even more advanced than that. Is everybody so scared from Blender ‘power users’ and developers backlash on change…if so its real silly.

Softimage groups is one the feature I miss switching by softimage to blender. Again, we can live without, but is so useful…
I’m not a coder, but don’t think is so problematic to implementing blender, the backbone is just here.

@ Jholen - have you checked out the realy great circle select improvements made byEWOCprojects in his builds? Try them out, you might like the way he handles the circle select just like any other select method, sounds exactly like what you describe!

More links:
EWOC home
Info on builds of Blender from Paleajed

From the amount of jewelry on your chest (in your avatar picture) you can afford to support his work! (JK - :D)

Yes, I know the ewoc build, but my idea is different. I like the possibility to rotate around during circle selection, but I think is not so crucial.
I don’t want in any way propose to cage blender behaviour, I want improve what is just present. If we can map, and activate circle selection with simple action mouse (click and drag) plus a key (I think shift will not hurt at all and will be seamless with the actual workflow) will have an improvement in workflow (deactivate when simple leave shift). I tried to map it so, but don’t work for some conflict with other hotkey/combo. By default we can leave the usual C key, so nothing cage.

Another point is due blender structure, so I think this is difficult to improve:
in modo I can call a sculpt brush in any moment (during object, vertex, edges etc mode), using my tool and turn back to normal poly modelling, seamless. In blender I need to exit edit mode, enter sculpt mode, use my sculpt brush, enter again in edit mode to turn back my poly modelling. Nothing so dramatic, but seems blender is divided into something like watertight compartments that only partially interact with each other.
Silo modelling is called by his creator “Zen modelling experience”, because you working seamless. Also, I can give the some definition to zbrush workflow, fast, really fast and seamless. I think, for improving workflow, blender developers must try something to mitigate this issue. IMO pie menu is just a good step in right direction.

You are thinking about something like Blenderstorm. It does not seem to work though.

oh… I didn’t know Blenderstorm…

My avatar is a picture of a sample taken on beach, of this kind there were several specimens around, but this was definitely the most extraordinary :smiley:

Here is an example where the current 2-axis isolation method fails miserably. Still think its a good design?
The viewport is aligned to the orthogonal face, the X axis manipulator is impossible to SHIFT-grab, while it wouldn’t be a problem for a manipulator such like in MAX, Softimage, Maya, Modo or other.

BTW, I’m not trying to argue, but in my opinion SHIFT isolation is a failed design. It isn’t first or the last failed design in human history, but saying that its just another (usable) way to provide 2-axis isolation is just wrong.

In that example you couldn’t grab the x manipulator for a simple drag either, but it doesn’t mean that the manipulator itself is ready to be thrown out. That’s what the keyboard shortcut is for, or two-view screens etc.

Still think its a good design?

Well, yes. Just because it’s possible to hit your thumb with a hammer doesn’t mean that hammers in general are a ‘failed design’.

Obviously you know how to use these things, you just don’t like them. Since my main objective is to make people aware of what features exist in Blender and how to use them to best advantage, there’s not a lot of point in rehashing this. Whatever works for you, or doesn’t, as the case may be, is fine.

Attempt of leaving the discussion on a semi-humoristic note.

My wish is for an update of the outliner.

I am actually fine with x y z keys, I work in furniture design a lot with Blender and it is a blessing compared to my CAD system.
What I really miss however is a better way to organize and store and most important edit local custom orientations.

My biggest beef with Blender;s interface, kudos to some of the points Andrew said, is that stuff is all over the place such as dimensions value is in the property panel in the 3D view but not inside the object property under the buttons menu.

Coming from Modo these days, I initially hated the concept of the shader tree. However, after getting comfortable with it… its become clear that something along those lines is needed in Blender as well…primarily because of how Blender is set up.

Take for example, baking. If you want to bake in blender, you need to create an image for it to bake to. Thus in the UV window for example you might have to click new image, and set its properties there. Throughout the UI you have to do these things in different windows and different places.

Its technically doing the same damn thing as the Shader Tree in Modo…only the difference is that the shader tree is where you do all the texture, rendering and baking related work. It becomes centralized and easy to manage and work inside.