UI Discussion

Hey all,

I just posted this new video on Blender’s Interface, and what’s wrong with it:

I know there are several other UI threads already, but I thought I’d create a new thread so people can discuss their ideas in relation to it, as well as mockups and proposals.

Ton has contacted me about this idea and told me the process for UI proposals. Hopefully I’ll get a chance to sit down with him at the conference in a few weeks :slight_smile:

Anyways, thoughts, ideas or proposals?

Moderation - I merged Andrew’s thread with this one. The last thing we need is another UI discussion thread.

EDIT: In retrospect, this was a bad idea… re-split. Please report any posts I may have missed.

How about instead of discussing it, we start by making a doc and proposing like… say 10 commandments of blender UI design, and discuss those?

We can throw in the behaviour of the scale/rotate/move in as the first commandment.

Then, instead of reffering to rightclick and leftclick, we refer to ‘primary button’ and ‘secondary button’, and then describe somewhere else that it’s up to the user to pick which one is which.

Also, last thing, pie menu before toolbar, or a ton of widgets. The reason the current toolbar doesn’t work(and confuses the shit out of everyone I’ve seen using blender) is because the dragging of the mouse is vital to the tool’s effect. The toolbar being all the way to the left, it often has no effect. (To quote my sister, who is computer literate enough to actually program ‘hey, it seems as if Blender’s scale function can only scale down’)

Preferably, the pie menu should be on the rightclick(secondary hutton), with select to the leftclick(primary button). The 3d cursor, beautiful little thing it is, should go to hotkey+click.

Good one @andrewprice, I used to learn UI/UX (even got test for it) in Uni days.
What you presented in the first part of the video really bring back memories.

I have heavy interest in this topic (as most of you have seen on GSoC 2013 toolbar thread and Blender theme Energy [color helps, but most importantly is the value of color]). If there is a new mailing list or task-force to solve (“fix”) UI/UX in Blender, I’m all in.

Edit: @Therahedwig +1 for the doc, I have used that on Freestyle User Improvement, Freestyle wiki documentation, BEER. That thing works.

Regarding Andrew’s video, I think there are many good points being brought up and a decent amount should prompt quick and unanimous changes. One other, though, the LMB/RMB issue, should be treated with more caution than a simple “which one do you think should be default” poll, in my opinion.

For all the reasons Andrew exposed I cannot disagree that a new user’s first experience with Blender can be far from ideal because of the way selection works. However, I find the separation between Action and Selection to be a very smart and helpful thing, and simply changing the default would make new users miss out on this feature. Considering that I don’t believe anyone has any issues switching between applications after getting used to it, I believe we should try to focus our efforts in trying to educate new users in this new/different mode of interaction. If they still prefer the conventional way, by all means, go ahead and change the preset.

How do we do this though? Especially in a way that annoys experienced users as little as possible. I think one possibility is simply a better splash screen - not only with a different arrangement of the information it already contains (“Manual” should be the first on that list in my opinion), but perhaps a well visible “First time using Blender?” link that opens a (offline) short document or video that documents this major difference (and any others… are there any others?). I say short document because, lets face it, software with this kind of complexity requires that you put in the effort to be able to operate it past a certain point of adding primitives and pushing them around - so read the manual or go watch tutorials on modeling, animation etc. This short document should link to those, but before that just go ahead and explain why we believe in RMB (and any other major differences, again, if they exist), encourage the user to realize how much better it is, and explain how they can go around and change it to a more familiar setting if they prefer it. If there was a way to make this interactive it would be obviously better, but that’s some next level stuff :stuck_out_tongue:

Experienced users can just do what they already do: skip the splash screen or disable it altogether. This avoids the annoyance of those sort of Help dialogs that many applications have that open by default on new installations (and with Blender there’s a big range of different things that a “new installation” can be).

Still not ideal, I know. But my main idea is really to try to encourage you guys to try to come up with some mechanism that tries to educate users on a better way of doing things, instead of practically forcing them to miss out on them by changing the defaults.

The simple fact that some UI areas are controversial proves the perfectibility. So go ahead all of you (meaning that I can’t give my voice to the debate, not mastering english… I switched long ago to LMB-select, because my body was unable to un-learn then re-learn methods from one package to another. I even found an addon that mimicks 3dsMax with a RMB-context menus. Unfortunately the guy went a little too far in translating the terminlologies between B3D and Max.
Why I post though, is a request : I need a polygonal lasso select. I use quite a lot the lasso but it’s hard to use on large sets when some parts are rectilinear. Please.

Otherwise my voice would be silent.
Thank you for reading


Totally agree with the need to advocate for separation of action and selection. Too much of the discussion centers around “RMB select is weird, they should move it to LMB”

A lot of thought and consideration went into how blender uses the mouse. It’s not just some random funky decision that was made to be wierd or different. The function of separating the two main interactions into the two main buttons is to make mouse interactions more efficient. Can it be improved? Definitely. Is the best way to improve it to scrap the entire system and replace it with a more “standard” system? I don’t think so.

In my opinion Andrews post is actually one of the only posts worth having a UI thread. It should not get burried in this one.
He clearly put much effort in making this and did a fantastic job!
Unlike hundreds of personal UI rants it looks like andys post could change something!

Nevertheless, thank you very much for your hard work moderating this forum Fweeb, maybe you can rethink the merge and give him more attention :wink:

Andrew states that the interface is broken which makes it sound in my opinion a little to radical.
I rather would say the interface needs some love in form of making things consistent.

For example by default left click should be selected for the mouse - agreed.

Lights having different energy inputs? Bad? Does it matter because we work not in Watts and thus
judge the number input anyway by how the value fits into the rendering. So it is subjective anyway.

Interface inconsistencies, missing short cuts, missing commands in the command bar, yep that makes sense.

Save on quite sure makes sense as well.

Those are partially some good points however no software is perfect and those mentioned flaws never
prevented me from being productive either.

Maya has a very strict mesh system and I was not able to find explanation in the docs either.

So if after all I think what Blender really lacks is a thorough manual.


As an old user (since 2006), I think that merging to left click selection will not be such a big problem for peoples who knew the migration from the 2.4x to 2.5x. It will not take more than one week to enter the customs.

I’m preparing a conference for the 7th of October, and for that I’m writing a series of tutorials in french to invite students of my university to use Blender. And I realized how Blender interface is disconcerting for a new user. The first video took me 4 hours of recording just to learn how to split view, navigate in the viewport, and the basic operations (Grab - Rotate - Scale). And after that I realize (thanks to Andrew’s video) that it was the wrong way to teach Blender for new users.

Effectively Blender is the better solution for veterans. But new user have no possibilities to progress quietly : they have to learn in the same time, how to navigate in a 3D software (that is already a big effort) and all the shortcut for action which are however pretty simple.

To start, it could be a good idea to fix it (left click selection) with an addon > it allows users to choose if they want to keep the right click selection or migrate to left click selection when they’ll feel ready. After that it could be a parameter in the user preferences.

Maybe it is me, I know more 3D software programs than I have fingers, and I also teach software, but I feel that Blender is not harder to learn than Alias Rhino Maya 3D Max etc.

The inconsistent parts are a problem for sure but there are also ways to work well and I stress that in my demonstrations.

In Alias you need to hit the move tool icon and the hold the mouse button to move along x y or z. And it is straining.
In Blender you press g to get into move mode, and then you can hit x y or z to switch into a directional mode. This is much less straining on the hands. Seeing that you have to hit and hold D for grease pencil seems to me to be odd to be a major complaint. It is a different tool.
Sure we could press D go into grease mode paint then hit a key to leave grease mode. I rather only hit and hold D.

Are these really deal breakers? Aren’t things a little over dramatized here?

As a professor I could make the most detailed 3D video or introduction and yet will never be able to reach all students the same way.
3D is a complex subject matter. Learning a software is less important then understanding how it things or works.

There is so much to 3D will one even be able to fully be able to give somebody a solid introduction into the subject matter and Blender by having a perfect manual?

I am not trying to be critical here - I just honestly really feel there is too much negativity about the interface created than there actually really is. And if this prevents somebody from really learning the software then well sorry for you.

That does not mean improvements should not be made.

The tool bar is overfilled.
The space bar menu does not show all commands.

But all this never really prevented me from learning it and being productive with it.
abc123 will agree here I assume :wink: (wow we agree on something …)

Yet there is something like youtube forum and just time to practice it.

As always Andrew exaggerates… I’ll give him the credit about the presentation, it was good. But the idea what blender drives from is missing…

Do we really need another max or maya or photoshop ? The work flow and usability makes sense when you dive into the blender pipeline, but i keep seeing people complaining about the GUI even though they use blender as a side tool.

Does butting buttons everywhere make you feel smart or capable ? or does it make the screen space clustered with too much information ?

too much information is also overbearing !!!

i think blender has a steep learning curve and i think it is good, because it is a different approach , a unique approach. If we are trying to make logical assumptions on consumer psychology ; let andrew explain Q W E R (select, translate,rotate,scale) ???

you cant really…

if blender had followed the guidelines of other proprietary software it wouldn’t be blender. Because it has a unique style which works and works fast…

It’s because the hand lies in that area, so you can use shortcuts there that you use without picking up the hand from the keyboard.

Well, tbh, I agree with cekuhnen here. I know that there are room for improvements on Blender, and we’re right on trying to improve it. But I think people are showing this ‘room’ (for improvement) a lot larger than it really is.

Is standardizing always an improvement?

Blender has improved a lot since 2.47 (when I started using it), and I know it can still be improved, but I don’t think we’re on a situation as critical as 2.4x was. Note that I’m not saying that Andrew should stop doing his videos, or that people should stop suggesting things - I even suggested making a ‘Tip of the Day’ function a few posts earlier - what I’m saying is that people should calm down and not desperate. People should not expect Blender 3.0 to be something like 2.5 was. No software at all is perfect, with absolutely no design flaws.

Maybe people stick to 3Ds Max (or Maya, etc) not because it is easier than Blender, but because they know people that were able to learn it, so they think that they have to be able as well. We need people to show them that they were able to learn Blender (and by that I mean big, quality renders on the new Blender website and studios showing they can work with Blender).


Interface improvement are planned for 2.7x. That means a revision of UI layouts, naming of options, themes, and shortcut defaults, as well as a refresh of the UI. So now is the time to help the developers do these improvements.

quoted to add a hearty +1

yah looking forward to it!


And you can see that I like your changes proposal:

So, again, I’m not saying people should stop suggesting things. It’s just that sometimes people exaggerates the issue (this seems true especially after the recent andrew’s price videos. Please note that I’m not saying andrew should stop making his videos

And yea, I’m looking foward for 2.7 too :stuck_out_tongue:

repost from BlenderGuru’s comment section:

                                                                                                                                                                     To clarify Andrew's term, "Slider" in Blender can be 2 things:
  1. Number field (often no range)
  2. Value slider (has range limit)

and they are many other boxes, more chances to get confuse.

a. Text (normally for link/directory address)
b. Regular (lock buttons and the rest)
c. Tools << at least this is clear
d. Option (tick buttons, also a toggle but not a toggle, confusion #zero)
e. Radio Button (2 or more options, only 1 active at anytime)
f. Toggle (2 or more options, 1 or more can be active in one time)
g. Box (a list, material, texture, particle, UV)
h. Menu (1st confusion, drop down menu)
i. Pull down (2nd confusion, pull down menu button, just the button, often on header)
j. Menu Item (3rd confusion, back color of menu item individually)
k. Menu Back (4th confusion, back color of menu overall)

And as a person who do theme for every Blender release, even after 2 years (FYI: theme breaks every release), I’m still confuse with which is which, and which does what and still doing trial/error while fixing theme.

Not just that they are similar names of the same for each window type which don’t do anything. UI wise they look nice. But most of them should be combined into 1 (ie: h, i, j, k), or renamed (ie: option > tick, regular > something sensible) or totally removed (ie: title, text, text highlight, header text).

If you look at the proposed UI thread in BA (this thread btw), to do those nice looking UI’s often you only need few colors to uniformly change the whole theme. But our current theme editor, /laugh can create all sort of colorful and not so eye comforting themes. And themes (the good ones) are hard to make.

So by looking at theme editor alone, you see that Blender UI has some dire problem. So time consuming and not fun.

This is just the theme editor. That part of Blender I touch few days a month. Still it is a struggle to understand and handle. Don’t want to make you think that I’m all negative, just that it is how things are in that part of Blender.

I, like others, don’t always agree with what Andrew has to say, however this time I think he’s making a very good point. He’s not whining that it doesn’t look like Maya or Max which is the usual U.I. debate. He’s spent a lot of time researching the topic and applying what he’s learned… great :slight_smile:

Having new-user friendly defaults that can be undone should be a no-brainer. For an experienced user it’s very minimal effort to change. I love the idea of quick tips suggested earlier, maybe even youtube links or getting started videos like the series on Blendercookie.

Most of all I think Blender could use some time to put on the brakes and refine… likely not a very popular idea :slight_smile: This could give Developers and users some time to pay attention to the small things that they didn’t notice before… sort of like a spring cleaning.

I think something that would be very helpful as well is teaming up experienced artists with developers (during the development process, not after). This turned out incredibly well when Sergey and Sebastian (likely more) got together on the Motion Tracker… in my opinion it’s one of Blender’s greatest success stories.