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Skill Level Beginner
Moving around at CINEMA 4D is really a two-handed operation. You have to be very active when you're working with a 3D application like this. And there are some really great shortcuts that we're going to talk about and some ways of moving around inside the viewport that are going to help you with your experience. Now, the CINEMA 4D interface has this large gray area in the center. This is called the viewport, and you'll notice that the viewport has a grid and that grid has some colors associated with it. Those colors are extremely important. They're red, green, and blue, and they correspond with different axes. And the rule of thumb is X, Y, Z; RGB.
The X axis is always red, the Y axis is always green, the Z axis is always blue. And these arrows that you see down here indicate the positive direction, so the negative direction is on this opposite side of that arrow. You'll also notice that down in the bottom-left of the viewport is a little heads-up display, and this little guy tells you exactly where the axis is facing. You can see there's X, Y, Z; RGB again. Now that we're ready to navigate inside of CINEMA 4D, let's talk about this two-handed approach.
In my right-hand I've got my mouse. My left-hand is hovering over the keyboard. Now I'm going to use the 1, 2, and 3 keys underneath my left hand to do some navigation here. And if I move my cursor over the viewport and hold down the 1 key and I'll drag left and right, and I'm doing something called a pan. You could see that I'm panning around the window. Now, if I hold down the 2 key and use my left mouse button, I can dolly in or out, and I can do that whether I'm dragging up or down or left or right.
Now if I hold down the 3 key, I can do something called an orbit. And the orbit has an interesting behavior, in that it will either orbit around the center of the view or around a point on an object. So let's see what that means. I'm going to add a cube to the scene and that cube now is at the center of the world. Now if I have that cube selected and I just click anywhere in the gray area, holding the 3 key down and navigate, you can see that it navigates around the center of the viewport. But if I hold my cursor over the cube--let's say that upper-left corner and I hold down the 3 key click and drag-- you can see that the orbit has now jumped onto or latched onto the upper left-hand corner of that cube, and it's now rotating around that spot.
Now that's a behavior that can be changed in the preferences, but that's the default for CINEMA 4D. The next thing I want to talk about is the middle mouse button. The middle mouse button allows you to navigate between viewports in C4D. Now if I click anywhere in the interface with the middle mouse button, I now get a four-way split screen. I have the perspective view in the upper-left and then I have the three orthographic views-- top, front, and right--going around clockwise. Any one of these I want to make full screen I can click in with the middle mouse button.
So I just middle-mouse-click in the top and I'll middle-mouse-click to get back, and then middle-mouse-click in the front, back, and then I'll go to the right-hand side and middle- mouse-click to get back again. Let's go back to perspective by middle-mouse-clicking. So you can see, that's really important. It's very fast to get through those. There's also F keys. You can hit the F1 key on the keyboard to get to the perspective view. You can hit F5 on the keyboard to get to the four-way split. Then F1 will take you back to the perspective, and then F2 is the top, F3 is the right, and F4 is the front.
Remember, F5 is the four-way split. But I don't use those F keys too much. I mostly just use the middle-mouse-click, and I just middle-mouse-click to get back to that window. Let's talk about some very important tools and the way they look. You'll notice that on my object I have these access handles highlighted when I have the object selected in the Object Manager. These access handles show me where the object is facing and also, they allow me to move the object along the given axis. So let's select the red axis band and I can drag it. You can see that motion is constrained.
It only moves along the cube's X axis. I can also do the Z axis, or I can do the Y axis. Now, let's undo that. The undo buffer in CINEMA 4D is Command+Z or Ctrl+Z. I'll undo to get that back to the center of the world. Now if I want to redo, that it's Command+Y or Ctrl+Y. I'll Command+Z or Ctrl+Z to get back to the center of the world. So these axis handles allow you to constrain the movement along an axis. Now the little triangles that you see that are in between the axis handles are called axis bands, and they constrain the movement of the object to a plane that's defined by two axes.
So for example, if I click on this blue handle, it's going to move along the plane that's defined by the red and green handles. So if I drag that around, you can see that it's only moving along that axis. No matter what direction I drag, it is only moving along that plane. If I grab the green axis band, I can now move that along on a plane that's defined by the X and Z axis handles. Across the top of the interface is the toolbar, and the toolbar has some very important tools on the left-hand side.
We've got the Undo and Redo buttons here. If I click on Undo, you could see I can redo it again. Now there's also the Select, Move, Scale, and Rotate, and this is the most recent tool icon. So the next keyword shortcut is the spacebar. If I hit the spacebar that takes me to the Selection tool from whatever tool I had, and I can also go back the other way. If I hit the spacebar, it toggles between that most recent tool that I had and the Selection tool. Now to activate the tools individually there are some great keyboard shortcuts.
The Move tool is letter E on the keyboard, so I'll hit E and that brings me into the Move tool. The Rotate tool is R, and letter T is the Scale tool. You can see I have Move, Rotate, and Scale: E, R, and T. Let's grab the Rotate tool and take a look at how that behaves. The Rotate tool has some different-looking bands. These are called rotation bands or axis bands for the Rotate tool, and you could see there's one for each color. Now if I grab the green axis band, it's only going to rotate the cube around the cube's green axis. I can do the same thing with the red band.
It's going to rotate around the cube's red axis, or X and blue rotates it around the cube's Z axis. So let's undo that, Command+Z or Ctrl+Z, until we get back to our cube at the center of the world. Now let's do a little bit of navigation. Let's orbit around on our object. Here we go. And let's also do a little bit of a dolly move. So let's say I don't like that position I've just changed my camera to, and there's a great secondary undo buffer inside the CINEMA 4D. Command+Z or Ctrl+Z and Command+Y or Ctrl+Y control all the mouse clicks and object changes that you do in CINEMA 4D.
Shift+Command or Shift+Ctrl+Z, or Shift+Command or Shift+Ctrl+Y control the undo buffer for the viewport. So if I go Shift+Command+Z or Shift+Ctrl+Z, it will undo the viewport changes that I did. And if I hold Shift+Command or Shift+Ctrl+Y down, it will redo those viewport changes. Now, those are the most important things to remember about working inside the interface. There's a lot more to it, but this will get you started just getting around inside the space.