Maneuvering in 3-D - Best Practices? Cheat Sheets?

While I’m getting better at it, I’m finding general navigation in the Blender environment unusually difficult. I haven’t done a lot with other 3-D programs, but what little experience I do have doesn’t translate well to Blender.

I know there’s a blog series about being lost in Blender, which made me feel better but didn’t really help. Is there a cheat sheet or hint sheet on the basics of maneuvering in the Blender environment? I found a lot of good stuff skimming through the book, but nothing centralized.

Thanks in advance (again). :slight_smile:

Try these links: “Cheat Sheet”

Have fun!

What do you mean by “general navigation” ?

Just moving objects and the view around?

  • RMB is select object (unlike 99.999999% of other programs) :slight_smile:

  • MMB to rotate the view (hint after you select an object, press NUMPAD-"." (period) to zoom into an center the view on that object, then rotating the view will rotate around that object)

  • MouseWheel or MMB+CTRL (or NUMPAD-PLUS/MINUS to zoom)

  • MMB+SHIFT to pan

I have my screen split up into 6 windows:
(with the mouse in the active window, pressing SHIFT-SPACEBAR will maximize/restore the window)

  • center and biggest window is 3d window
  • along the bottom a “Buttons window”
  • left-top side split into two windows - top an Outliner for picking from a text list
  • left-bottom - a Text window for making notes / running python scripts
  • right top - an Action window for overall view of animations
  • right bottom - an IPO window for working with animation curves.

The entire 6 window set … and any other’s you want to setup are accessible under the “Screens” dropdown on the top window bar (beside the help window). The right hand window is for creating seperate Scenes, which are really “seperate Data content” as opposed to the Screens which are just collections of different U.I window arrangements.

For the buttons window, the most common hotkeys you’ll probaly use are F5-> through F10

F5 actually has 5 “sub” sets of buttons (Lights / Material / Texture / Radiosity / and World. Pressing F5 repeatedly will toggle through the different sets and you’ll see the icon changing in the header

F7 has two subsets - Object and Physics

F10 has three subsets Render / AnimPlayback and / SoundBlock with Render probably being the one you’ll use the most

TIP You can use the NUMPAD-PLUS/MINUS buttons to zoom up the size of the buttons and the Numeric dialogs from the default micro-miniature zoom level :slight_smile:

Any other questions … search the forums … then ask :slight_smile:

Take a look at the “Summer of Documentation” link in my signature, if you go through the Animation, Materials, Lighting and then the rest you’ll have a very good basis to work from.

If you’re interested in Character animation, check out the “Best of Blender” thread in my signature which in turn has links to some of the best character rigs that users here have made available, including a fantastisically realistic rigged horse.



Point to note: When I started using Blender I had a mouse with a really annoying MMB and sometimes, just had to use my laptop without a mouse. In the options pane, you can set a MMB emulation by using ALT+LBM. Since I turned this on, I just never use the middle mouse button at all!

Thank you for the links and feedback - they’re much appreciated.

I should have been more descriptive about “general navigation.” Here are a few examples of what I mean (by the way, I use a mouse that has a central wheel that can function as MMB):

  • When I want to zoom-in or zoom-out I scroll the mouse wheel, but the amount of zooming doesn’t seem consistent. I have to make several rotations of the wheel to “get going,” and then once the zooming has begun, even tiny movements to the wheel can result in huge changes to my view of whatever I am looking at.

  • I haven’t figured out what context cues there are for where I am in a 3-D workspace relative to what I am working on while in edit mode. Example: when trying to create Gus the gingerbread man, I wanted to add his head immediately after I created his body. From my vantage point, I hadn’t done anything that should have changed my position relative to his body’s, but when I drew his head it was actually quite a considerable ways behind him. I had the same problem when I created bones for him, etc.

  • I can’t figure out how to pan around a stationary object at all.


Click on the view button at botom of viewport and clcik the view navigation

it’l show you the panning hot keys !

I’ve noticed that too, and I’m not sure what causes it, I’ve found that pressing NUMPAD-"." period to zoom in and center on the selected object or pressing “C” to center on the 3d cursor seems to “reset” the view

New objects are added at the “3d cursor” … the 3d cursor is moved whenever you LMB in the viewport. You can either work with multiple orthographic views, or switch between a top/left/side and position the 3d cursor or use the cursor snap tools (SH-S) to position the cursor.

Pan is SH-MMB. “Pan around” sounds more like rotate to me which is just MMB. Press NUMPAD-"." {period} to zoom/center to the object then use MMB to rotate around it. You have two options under View & Controls/ View Rotation - “TrackBall” and “Turntable”. Experiment with them and see which you prefer.

Btw, while the “Gus” tutorial is still useful, the “Summer of Documentation Tutorials” (see links in my signature) are brand new and cover the newer features in Blender (Hopefully you’re using 2.42a the latest release)


Thank you very much for your help! :slight_smile: