Opinion of Object Manipulators -- Power Tools or Newbie Crutch?

I’m not putting up a poll, because I want to know people’s reasoning behind their opinions…

So, if you’ve been using Blender for more than a month or two and feel reasonably confident with your modeling skills, then tell me what you think. Do you use the object manipulators, or G/R/S? If you use both, under what circumstances do you switch? Do you find you work more quickly or more intuitively with one or the other?


I use the widget only for translation in some situations. For local axes it’s quicker than G-X-X, and it’s the only way to get movement in normal-space coordinates (isn’t it?). Otherwise I think it’s annoying and I turn it off.

as cd38 said its the only way to move on the normal coordinate and its very usefull for cameras and lights setup, also very usefull when you are a bit lazy only tweaking the model and dont think a need to touch the geometry, i think that it should be more hotkeyable only, like defining orientations and such, i dont know if there is a hotkey but if there is one plz tell me cause i didnt found.

Power tools. their in there for a reason. If it makes it easy to model, I’m gonna use it.

The same as CD38… Also i never use it for rotation

Annoying thing that takes up screen real estate -> Off.

For moving along normals change local axis mode to normal and do g-z-z/g-y-y (depends on verts/edges/faces).

One time it can be nice is during posing or scene setup.

I use GSR with alt-space and double <axis>'s etc. and shift-<axis>. Working with these shortcuts is fast and intuitive.

I have tried manipulator but it’s not my thing. I tend to model the manipulator turned off. I suppose it is a nice feature for new users who do not handle the shortcuts yet.

I turned it off, it gets in the way when im trying to select things, pressing shortcuts is for me much quicker. (I do wonder what I would have done had it been there when i first started using blender though).

All modeling packages have them, so it’s good blender does also. But almost always turn them off because they get in the way of selecting things. The main time I use them is when i’m in perpective mode and want to move an object around on the global axis. For example, Im looking through the camara at a room and I want to slide the table over a bit. This thread is not going to change anything. from here on into the future, the widgets will be on by default and you can turn them off if you want (and save your preference)

I use GSR with alt-space

Well that’s it then, I may never use the widget again. I didn’t know this hotkey- thanks Bebraw.

Should be left in and turned off by default.

Gets in the way visually. Shortcuts are more efficient. Would be more useful it you could specify the size of manipulator to be constant relative to the object and not constant with respect to the screen size - as soon as you zoom out, the manipulator becomes a big problem and must be switched off.


I always disable them when modeling , but i find them useful sometime for animating character armature .

Peace :slight_smile: .

GSR? Pfft. I use mouse gestures most of the time, though do occasionally use gsr. I never really thought about using the manipulators, I turned them off becaue my workflow is really quite fast. Move in one axis? Takes less than half a second.


i just turn it off and go for gold on the G/S/R and the MMB for locking to axis. even GG SS or RR i use (if they exist :stuck_out_tongue: )

and Alt+S and Ctrl+S i use on keyboards too.


I use a combination of everything except mouse gestures (hate them!) - hotkeys, MMB constraints, manipulators, depending on what feels right at the time. They’re different tools for different jobs. I find manipulators great for things that I want to be precise with and move things in specific local/normal axes (especially things like posing bones with rotation). Trying to do that without having the axes visualised in front of me on the manipulator is an exercise in frustration for me. I generally only use the hotkeys for axis constraints when I’m constraining to global axes that I can already see on the grid - I find it much too hard (and too much mental overhead when I want to concentrate on other things) to try and remember in my mind the layout of the local axes on each object, bone, etc.

I presume this is for the book, in which case I’d say be careful being quick to judge things as ‘newbie crutches’. People have different ways of working, and different tools can help people in different ways depending on the task at hand and the personal preferences/thought processes of each user.

Apart from when I want to rotate bones on specific axes (for quickly testing someone’s rig), I keep manipulators turned off. Otherwise, I turn them off and use the GSR keys instead. The translation manipulator for me is the most annoying one, especially when trying to reposition the 3d-cursor.


Very true. Maya for example use these widget things by default and people who came from there complained Blender didn’t have them.

I hate the things though. I never use them except as people mentioned for moving along the normal but only 'cos Blender hotkeys are crippled. As I’ve said before:

G,x = global x
G,x,x = local x (I’d prefer G,x,l logically but G,x,x is faster)
G,x,n = normal x

What I don’t like about the hotkeys is that x deletes objects and if you miss the ‘g’ by accident you can delete an object. Sure there is an undo but undo also closes all the open Python scripts. I don’t know why backspace doesn’t delete objects - I know delete does but laptops have backspace so why not use it?

I also didn’t know about that alt-space thing. It didn’t seem to work for me but I’ll definitely check it out more.

One thing I will say that it’s harder to do is use multiple axes at once with hotkeys. With the widgets, you can scale in x and y at the same time. Of course this can be fixed with the hotkeys too.

When modeling, I tend to stick with the G/S/R hotkeys and avoid the manipulator most of the time. The only time I’ve actually found good use for the manipulator is when animating. For that, using the manipulator (especially for rotation) is quite a help to me.

ah yes, posing bones… only time i use the graphical manipulators (very nice for that)


As alltaken says, they can be very useful, especially when working on certain axes, in tight spaces.

alltaken is always right!