Join Christian Bradley for an in-depth discussion in this video Basic interface options and shortcuts in Blender, part of Blender: Creating a Game Character.
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- In this video we're going to be taking a look at the basic Blender interface and a few of the menus, just so you can know your way around Blender and get comfortable for this series. In the basic startup file that you'll see when you begin with Blender, you're going to see an object, a camera, and a lamp. Now, I'm clicking on these objects by using my mouse buttons, and they're going to turn orange when that object is selected. Eventually we're going to have a lot more things on the screen here than just these, but this is a good enough place to start.
When we click on an object, we'll see an orange outline around that object, or the entire object will turn orange. That means that is the active object. We can also transform, or manipulate, any object on the screen by using the transform buttons down here. One looks like an arrow, a curved line, and a little square with a line coming out of it. Those are our transform, rotate, and scale keys. We can activate these keys by hitting the G for grab or transform, and moving our mouse around, you can alt click and it will put it back to where it began.
You can hit the R button to rotate, and you can hit the S button to scale. Now, the transforms are rather random when you use just those buttons because in the case of, say, rotate, we're just going to tumble our object around in space when we move the object. We can follow up those buttons with an axis key, so for instance, if I want to transform or grab an object, then hit the Y axis, you'll see a green line that goes off into space, and now, no matter where I move my mouse, the box is locked to the Y axis.
I could hit the X axis, and the same thing will happen. We can do that with anything. So if I was to hit the R key and follow that up with the Y axis, and then follow that up with numbers on my number pad, say 45, it's going to rotate that object 45 degrees. So if you want a little bit more control over those transforms, just hit the key to choose your transform, either G, R, or S, follow it up with your axis key, X, Y, or Z, and then follow that up with numbers on your keyboard to precisely either position or rotate your object.
If we were to move or rotate an object off our screen, so for instance, it's very possible we could just move an object too far off a screen, we can always hit shift + c, and that will bring our screen to a position where we'll see that object again, and that's going to happen quite a bit. To position the screen, we can use a couple different commands on our mouse. We can roll with the middle mouse wheel to zoom, I can hold down shift and then click down with the mouse wheel to pan, and just holding down the mouse wheel will rotate around the screen.
I'm going to center this box again and zoom back in. And we're going to take a look real quickly at some user preferences that you may or may not want to change in Blender so that it more closely resembles another program you might be used to. I'm going to hit ctrl + alt + u. In the user preferences, we have lots of choices of how to set up our keyboard and our view space. I'm going to click on "interface," and I choose to click on "rotate around selection." By default it's usually off. I'm going to have that on through this series of videos, and what that's going to do is make my selection the center of the universe, so when I orbit or rotate around the screen, I'll see the selection in the center.
Otherwise I find objects tend to get flung around a little too much, and you have to constantly center your viewport. I'm also going to look over here at the manipulator button, and the manipulator button are those handles we talked about right here. And we can change the size of those handles at this point. By default they're pretty small, I tend to make them kind of large so that we can see them better here in the videos. Under input we have a couple choices right here with how we want to select with our mouse buttons.
The default in Blender is the right mouse button. I change it to left, which more closely resembles other programs like Max or Maya. If this is the first time you're using a 3D program, you might want to just leave it on right as you probably aren't really used to anything else anyway. If you are coming in from Maya or you are used to using Max, you might want to change it to left so it more matches what you are used to. In any case, it just switches how the left and mouse button behave in regards to selections.
At this point that's all we're going to take a look at in the user preferences. I'm going to go ahead and close this. Over here is our outliner, and we can barely see it here in the default view. If we mouse over any interface elements, we'll get this little two-handed arrow, and if I mouse click and pull down or up, we can reveal more of any interface that we have here in Blender. So you're probably going to be constantly moving some interfaces around just so that you can read the commands a little bit better.
It also depends on the screen size you're using, how you want to position these interface elements. The outliner shows everything in our scene. So, for instance, we said there was an object. This is a lamp, and this is a camera. You can also see as I click on those objects, they're being highlighted over here in the outliner. Well we can also click on them in the outliner to select them, so if we get confused what object we need to find or click on or work on, we can just click on it here in the outliner.
Also through this series, I'm going to be highlighting the lamp and hiding it, and the same with the camera, and hiding it by clicking on these little eyeball icons, and that's just to clean the scene up a little bit. They're still in the scene, they're just turned off for the moment so we can't see them. As we move down here onto the right side of our menu choices, this is the properties menu. And the properties menu contains numerous tabs, and if I was to scoot this out, you'll see there's quite a few there. Those tabs all control specific parts of Blender.
So, for instance, this little cube is our object properties. We have textures, we have shaders in here, linkage menus. Most of these we will be touching on in this series, but you can feel free to click around in those tabs to see what other options they control. Down below here is our 3D view, and all of these controls down below, we're going to constantly see throughout the video series.
All these options control our view, so they're very important. This is our object mode or our mode selection, so for instance, if I click on anything like an object, then I have many modes to choose from for that object. And we're going to be constantly changing modes as Blender has various modes for things like sculpting, painting, editing, and object controls. This button here, which looks like a solid circle, controls how we view our objects, so we will be switching to wire frame quite often, and then back to solid, and eventually we're going to be using the material button, which is going to show us any material.
Solid is the default. Again, here are our transforms that we talked about. If you find that that transform icon gets in the way, you can turn it off using this little button; it looks like a multi-colored jack. We can turn that on and off, and we can control the transforms in different directions by matching up the colors to the axis control over here.
So you can see Y is the green axis. So if you get confused, you can always match up the colors with this little guide. These are our layers and other controls that we're going to be taking a look at in this series. On the side are our transforms. We will be looking at these buttons as well, but you'll find useful items over here like duplicate, join, and our different shading options. One last thing: in Blender, if you find that you aren't looking at the same viewport that you thought you should be looking at, so for instance if I change the viewport to sculpt mode, well everything changes.
And when I was learning Blender, I found that I was constantly changing the viewports by accident. We can also split the view by accident, and now our interface looks totally different. If you find that your Blender viewports get mixed up, or you're looking at something that doesn't make sense, first check this little arrow icon down here in the bottom, and mouse click on it to close any viewports that you might have open.
And all you do is click on it and then move in the direction you want to close it. Also, you can always check this little icon, and you'll see it showing up all over Blender here. It's in every one of the menus, and that is the icon that is controlling that particular menu. So for instance, if I accidentally hit on my 3D view and changed it to say outliner, I can always come down to this button and change it back to 3D view, and I only mentioned that because I found that that happened to me quite a bit when I was learning Blender.
Lastly, we can always hit the space bar if we need to find a menu element, and all we need to do is type in any word, say "edit," and everything that begins with the word "edit" or has "edit" in it that is a command in Blender will show up here, and all we would need to do is click on that for that option to happen. So it's an easy way to not have to remember every key in Blender. So I hope that explains the Blender interface a little bit better. We're obviously going to be exploring it quite a bit in this series, but that should get you enough to get started.
- Creating a base mesh
- Building an armature
- Branding armature elements like ears and horns
- Sculpting the head and hands
- Creating accessories
- Creating a low-poly variation
- UV unwrapping the character
- Baking and applying normal maps
- Texture painting