Tutorial – Discovering Blender Part 1: Introduction to Blender’s Interface



Discovering Blender



Since Blender 2.49a has been released recently, I think it is time for me to make a short and I hope clear introduction to it.

Trying to use a new program is most of the time a painful process, moreover if you are already used to software that does most things you need, and Blender is no exception to that I can even say that at first it can even look really opaque and odd, but all that is just an illusion (remember? there is no spoon). So I’ll focus on the main thing in order to get you started quickly, and once accustomed to it the rest will come at an exponential rate :D

The first thing I think you must know is that EVERY subdivision of the screen has a window type, and can be changed by clicking its type icon.

Window Types


In example: the main menu is a User Preference type, but you can change it to anything like a 3D View if you want.

UI type switched to 3D view


To resize an area, simply move the cursor on the separation line between two areas that you want to resize until it takes the shape of a twin arrow, then right click and move the border to the desired dimension.
To add a subdivision, do the same thing as above except that you left click instead and select for instance Split Area from the menu.

Split Area

View commands

To change the POV in the 3D viewport, be sure that the cursor is on the viewport you want to affect:
Top : numpad 7
Left : numpad 3
Front: numpad 1
Hold Ctrl while pressing one of the above keys to get the opposite POV.

Numpad 5: toggles between orthographic and perspective views.
Numpad 0: sets the view to the active camera.
To set the active camera from a view press Ctrl + Alt + numpad 0.

Data commands

To save your work, go to the File label of an UI type window and select save (ctrl + W) or save as (F2)
To Import/Export a file go to the File label of an UI type window and choose the desired function in the lower part of the menu.

Import/Export


Now that the UI has been roughly explained, here are some vital commands that you should know.

Modeling commands

B(Box): let you drag a selection rectangle over the scene objects.
A(All): Toggle selects all/deselects all.
X(well..a cross) or delete: deletes selected objects.
S (Scale): let you scale the selected object. Press x or y or z if you want to constrain the effect on one of those axis, and shift + x or y or z if you want to exclude the selected axis.
G (grab): let you translate the selected object. Press x or y or z if you want to constrain the effect on one of those axis, and shift + x or y or z if you want to exclude the selected axis.
R(Rotate): let you rotate the selected object. Press x or y or z if you want to constrain the effect on one of those axis, and shift + x or y or z if you want to exclude the selected axis.
Use the middle mouse button to move the view around the view pivot. You can vary the effect by pressing Ctrl to Zoom, Shift to Pan.
To focus the view on the selected object and set the view pivot to its center press “numpad .(dot)”
To create a new object, either press spacebar or keep the right button pressed for awhile and then select add/mesh and select the shape you want. New object will be created at the location of the 3D cursor (left click to set it somewhere).

Contextual Menu


Short right click (without moving the mouse): selects an object, hold shift to build a selection
Left Click: sets the 3D cursor/Move an object if clicked on the tripod
F12: Render Current frame from active camera.

That is all for the very basics, it was mostly based on the interface’s discovery than on actual “blending”, next time we will see how to assign a material and textures to an object.

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