View, Navigate & Select
A tutorial on using Blender for new users, focused on creating well made, low-poly mesh objects, rigged clothes, avatar animations, & more for virtual worlds.
There are different ways to view your objects, navigate around in the 3D Viewport, & select your objects & their geometry in Blender. Play around & practice with these methods until you become more familiar with them. Just like in your virtual world, you will soon be zooming & orbiting around without a single thought about it.
You can view objects in the 3D Viewport from different perspectives. The top left corner of the viewport tells you which perspective you are in. Number 5 on the number pad toggles between the two perspective types.
- Toggle Perspectives: Number-pad-5
Perspective view (Persp) is more realistic. It has a vanishing point so, things that are farther from you appear smaller. Despite being more realistic, it’s more difficult to work in.
Orthographic view (Ortho) is easier to work in although not as realistic. There’s no vanishing point so things farther from you do not grow smaller. In this view, if you look at a cube straight on, the parts on the backside will appear the same size as those on the front face.
Mesh is made up of geometry, various parts used to create the shapes of your objects. Understanding these geometry parts is crucial. Each axis has color coded tools like the 3D navigator, the grid axis lines, & the 3D widget, to help you keep track of where you are in 3D space.
Axis: The three dimensions that make up 3D space.
X Axis: In Blender & in virtual worlds the X axis is the depth or the front to back dimension or, inworld, North to South. The X axis is represented by red.
Y Axis: The Y axis is the width or the side to side dimension or, inworld, East to West. The Y axis is represented by green.
Z Axis: The Z axis is the height or top to bottom dimension. The Z axis is represented by blue.
Vertice: A point in space whose location is noted on the X, Y, & Z axis.
Edge: A line, stretching between two vertices.
Face: A plane, stretching between edges & vertices.
Normal: The front or visible side of a face. The backside of faces in Blender are invisible.
Tri: A triangular face with three edges.
Quad: A face with four edges.
Polygon: A face with 3 or more edges.
Ngon: A face with more than four edges.
Origin Point: The point representing the center or median point of your mesh object’s geometry. It’s represented by an orange dot in the Blender 3D Viewport.
It’s used for many actions including rotating & orbiting objects & various processes used by Blender. Don’t worry about it too much. When it’s important, I’ll let you know.
Inworld, the origin point is the center of primitives. It’s the point on which objects rotate & is important when using scripts to rotate objects.
On upload, all mesh origin points are reset to the center of your object’s geometry, regardless of where it was when you exported your objects from Blender.
Here’s a good video by BlenderForNoobs on YouTube. Go ahead and watch it to get a good overview before we go on farther.
BlenderForNoobs Geometry Understanding 3D Geometry
Blender uses an unusual selection method. Instead of left clicking objects & geometry to select them, you right click to select. This is confusing & takes some getting used to at first but, it’s purpose is to prevent accidentally selecting &, thus, potentially borking things. If you just can’t handle right click selection, you can change the behavior in the User Preferences (Control-Alt-U) Input tab.
Selection in Object mode selects whole objects.
Selection in Edit mode selects faces, edges, &/or vertices depending on your current selection in the Geometry Selection Widget in the header. Hold Shift to add to the selection in the Geometry Selection Widget.
Unseen geometry hidden on the backside of objects will only be selected if selection visibility is enabled in the Visibility Widget. This widget is only in Edit Mode, not in Object Mode.
In the default theme, the Visibility Widget will be dark gray if geometry in back cannot be selected. It will be light gray if geometry in back can be selected.
- Un/Select All Toggle: A
- Select: Right-mouse-click objects in Object Mode, geometry in Edit Mode
- Deselect: Shift-Right-mouse-click objects in Object Mode, Geometry in Edit Mode
- Add to Selection: Shift-Right-mouse-click objects in Object Mode, geometry in Edit Mode
- Lasso Select: Control-Left-mouse-drag to draw freely over selected geometry in Edit Mode or object origins in Object Mode to select
- Lasso Deselect: Control-Shift-Left-mouse-drag to draw freely over selected geometry in Edit Mode or object origins in Object Mode to deselect
- Surround Select: B, Left-mouse-drag square outline over geometry in Edit Mode or objects in Object Mode to select
- Surround Deselect: B, Shift-Left-mouse-drag square outline over geometry in Edit Mode or objects in Object Mode to deselect
- Brush Select: C, Left-mouse-drag over geometry in Edit Mode or objects in Object Mode to select, MouseScrollWheel to resize circular brush, Right-mouse-click or Esc to finalize/end selecting
- Brush Deselect: C, Shift-Left-mouse-drag over geometry in Edit Mode or objects in Object Mode to select, MouseScrollWheel to resize circular brush, Right-mouse-click or Esc to finalize/end selecting
- Brush Deselect: C, Middle-mouse-drag or Click geometry in Edit Mode or objects in Object Mode to deselect, Mouse-scroll-wheel to resize circular brush, Right-mouse-click or Esc to finalize command (end selecting)
More Selection Options
- Invert Selection: Control-I to reverse selection (deselect selected & select unselected)
- Menu Select From Multiple Objects Under Mouse: Alt-Right-mouse-click, Select Object in Menu
- Menu Deselect From Multiple Selected Objects Under Mouse: Alt-Shift-Right-mouse-click, Select Object in Menu
Perfect views are centering your view directly from the selected angle: front, back, top, bottom, or either side. You can also use the camera to position a custom angle & center your view from the camera’s angle.
View From Top: Number-Pad-7
View From Bottom: Control-Number-Pad-7
View From Front: Number-Pad-1
View From Back: Control-Number-Pad-1
View From Right: Number-Pad-3
View From Left: Control-Number-Pad-3
Toggle View From Camera: Number-Pad-0
Zoom Freely: Control-Middle-mouse-drag
Zoom In: Number-Pad-+ (plus)
Zoom Out: Number-Pad– (dash)
Zoom Border: Shift-B
Zoom In/Out: Mouse-scroll-wheel
Zoom in on a Custom Area: Shift-B, Left-mouse-drag over area to center on
Orbit Freely: Middle-mouse-drag
Orbit Up & Over: Number-Pad-8
Orbit Down & Under: Number-Pad-2
Orbit Left on Z axis: Number-Pad-4
Orbit Right on Z axis: Number-Pad-6
Pan Freely: Shft-MMD or Shft-Alt-LMD
Pan Up & Over: Control-Number-Pad-8
Pan Down & Under: Control-Number-Pad-2
Pan Left on Z axis: Control-Number-Pad-4
Pan Right on Z axis: Control-Number-Pad-6
Pan Left & Right: Control-Middle-mouse-scroll
Center on selected object(s): Number-Pad-. (period)
Center on all Objects: Home
Center on Cursor Position: Alt-Home
Center Cursor & View All: Shift-C
Center View to Cursor: Alt-Home
View Lock to Active: Shift-. (period)
View Lock Clear: Alt-. (period)
Align View to Active Top: Shift-Number-Pad-7
Align View to Active Bottom: Shift-Control-Number-Pad-7
Align View to Active Front: Shift-Number-Pad-1
Align View to Active Back: Shift-Control-Number-Pad-1
Align View to Active Right: Shift-Number-Pad-3
Align View to Active Left: Shift-Control-Number-Pad-3
|TIP: The ‘Active’ object is the last object selected. It will be highlighted in a slightly lighter color yellow-orange in the default theme.|
Layers help you work with multiple objects. They are particularly useful on big projects. You can move objects to other layers & work on just the one(s) you want at any time. The objects remain in the same location on the X, Y, & Z axis. It’s sort of like parallel worlds…..
They allow you to minimize the clutter around the object(s) you are working on, or to move things such as cameras & lights out of your way as you work. By default all objects are assigned to the first layer.
Blender allows you to move objects to any of up to 20 layers, similarly to layers in 2D graphics programs. The layer selector is where you select what layer(s) you want visible. More on that soon… The Layers Selector is found in the 3D Viewport in Object Mode. Left click any of the the 20 boxes to make a layer visible. Hold the Shift key to make additional layers visible.
Any layer containing at least 1 object will have a dot in the box for that layer. The layer containing the most recently selected object will be orange, all others will be gray.
- Select Layer: Left-click layer square in Layer Selector Widget
- Add to layer selection: Shift-left-click additional layer square(s) in Layer Selector Widget
- Show all Layers toggle: ~/` (approximate/accent mark)
Layers Shortcut Keys
Quickly move from layer to layer with the number keys at the top of the alphabet keys (not the number pad numbers). The top 10 layer boxes, across the Layer Selection Widget are selected with 1 thru 0 & the lower 10 boxes are selected with Alt-1 thru 0 (see pic above).
To add or unselect layers from currently selected layers, press Shift & the shortcut key for the layer you want to add or deselect.
The ~/` key toggles between select all layers & the previously selected layers.
|TIP: The layer selection shortcut keys don’t work if you have set the preferences to emulate the number pad.|
For keyboards other than US Qwerty keyboards, use these shortcut keys instead of ~/`:
- UK keyboards: ¬’
- German, Swedish, Finnish & Hungarian keyboards: ö
- Danish keyboards: æ
- AZERTY keyboards: ù
- Norwegian keyboards: ø
- Spanish keyboards: Ñ
- Brazilian Portuguese keyboards: “
- Italian keyboards: ò
- Russian keyboards: ?
Hide & Unhide
Temporarily hiding selected objects in Object Mode or geometry in Edit Mode can help you work on specific parts of your creation without visual blocking by other objects or geometry.
- Hide selected: H
- Hide all except selected: Shift-H
- Unhide all: Alt-H
- Hide unselected & focus on selected: Number-Pad-/ (slash)
Selection With the Outliner
In Object Mode, you can select objects with the Outliner editor. This is particularly useful when you are working on a complex creation with a lot of objects.
Left click an object name in the Outliner to select it in the 3D Viewport (blue). Selected objects will have a yellow glow around the triangular item icon. Hold shift to add to the selection.
You can also hide objects in the Outliner by ticking the eye icon in the first column after the item name (red). In subdirectories of each item you will see listed any materials or textures applied to an object (green).
Double click item names to rename them (yellow). I highly recommend that you give your objects names that help you keep track of what they are.
Use the search box at the top of the Outliner to locate objects.
Narrow your search or locate specific types of objects with the drop down filter at the top of the Outliner.
Post your questions in the comment section below & I’ll answer it as soon as possible. Please try to be as specific as possible so I can figure out what it is you are asking.