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Thanks to Blender Guru for providing tutorials which got me started in learning Blender!

Keyboard shortcuts:

I like to include a lot of extra detail, but if you prefer just a concise list of the keyboard shortcuts, see this page:

A: Select/De-Select All

Alt + A: play/stop animation, such as Quick Smoke or Wave. Instead of this keyboard shortcut you can click the play button in the animation bar at the bottom of the screen.

Shift + A: add new object popup menu. To add/insert a new primitive shape such as a cube, sphere, torus, cylinder: Shift + A then choose from "mesh" in popup. Or get to the same command from the Add menu that's in the header toolbar. It's preferable to be fairly low-res (a low number of faces / vertices), you can always bump the number of faces up later to smooth the shape out, but if when you create the object it's high-res, you can't undo this. Which is an issue computer-processing-wise at render time if you have hundreds of high res objects. So when you first add for example a cylinder, it will show the "Add Cylinder" window, and to reduce the vertices from the default of 32 to half that -- 16, either type a 16 to overlay the 32, or you can even do the math right there and type "/2" after the 32 and hit enter. Shift+A is also how you add a new node in the Node Editor.

B: box select, similar to Photoshop rectangular lasso. Adds cross-hairs that follow mouse around, then while pressing mouse button, drag to add a recangular selection. Press the center mouse button (scroll wheel) to remove a rectangular selection. Hit escape or right click to exit box select mode.

C: circle select. Click and drag to add a selection (feels like you're painting the selection into existence). To remove selection by painting, middle button click and drag. Use scroll wheel to change brush size. Hit escape or right click to exit circle select mode.

Shift + D: Duplicate the selected object. After doing this, the duplicate will follow your mouse around, waiting for you to click in order to tell Blender where you'd like it placed. If you want it to be placed in the exact spot that it was duplicated from, hit the Escape key, but then you'll have pairs of vertices occupying the exact same spots. This shouldn't be left this way, because it makes it difficult to select one vertice and not the other for any of the given pairs. A good way to deal with this is: while the duplicate is still selected, press the "P" key, which brings up a window "Separate by...". Choose "separate by selection". Then, give the duplicated object some thickness by adding a "Solidify" modifier. Change the offset from -1 to 1. Duplicating an object with Shift+D creates an entirely new object, such that editing the new object doesn't affect the original. This increases render time.

Alt + D: Duplicate the selected object into another instance of the object. Such that editing it affects all instances. This reduces render time, because there's only one set of data.

G: move. Instead of using G, you can click on any of the object's 3 arrows and move object along the axis. But if you do use G, then while the move command is active, you can restrict motion to an axis by typing, X, Y or Z. You can also, while G is active, hold the middle mouse button down to move it along the axes. In edit mode, to make a cube taller but not wider, got to front ortho view, you'll see in the lower left of the window that front ortho has the Z (blue) axis and X (red) axis. Hit Z to go into wireframe mode, then hit B to select the top of the cube with Box Select, then use G Z to move the selected vertices up the desired amount. You'll see the blue axis appear in the center of your object to indicate that movement is confined to the Z axis.

G G: hitting G twice in rapid succession allows you to slide the selected loop of vertices along the object, without deforming the object as would be the case had you just hit G once.

H: hide the selected object(s)

Alt + H: unhide all hidden objects

I: insert keyframe menu

J: toggles among your render slots that have something in them. For example I rendered an image using the "Blender Render" rendering engine, which by default was place into slot 1, then I chose slot 2 from the button in the header toolbar at which point I rendered the same scene using the Cycles rendering engine. At that point I had something in slot 1 and slot 2 and could toggle between the completed renders using the "J" key. Earlier, hitting "J" wasn't working correctly, I think because I had accidentally rendered to animation frame 197, when it should have been on frame 1, given that there's no animation.

L: Make local (whatever that means)

M: Move to layer window appears

CTRL+M: mirror selection As mentioned at 43:40 of podcast Blender Guru Episode 79, December 6, 2015, you can get a fresh perspective on an image that you're "too used to looking at", by flipping the camera view horizontally, which gives you a mirror image. If you want to see how CTRL+M X X changes the X scale of the camera from 1 to -1, and X changes it back to 1, open the Viewport Settings window (a.k.a. "the right panel") by pressing "N" key.

  • Select the camera.
  • Num pad 0 to switch to camera view.
  • CTRL+M to go into "mirror" mode. In the lower left you'll see the messge "Select a mirror axis (X, Y, Z). Press "X" to select the X asis.
  • The message will now say "Mirror along global X". Press "X" to flip the view horizontally to create a mirror image. In the Viewport Settings window, you'll see that this changes the X scale of the camera from 1 to -1.
  • The message will now say "Mirror along local X". Press "X" to flip the view horizontally back to normal. In the Viewport Settings window, you'll see that this changes the X scale of the camera from -1 to 1.
  • Press Escape to exit mirror mode.

N: toggle show/hide of viewport settings window Another way to display the viewpoint settings window is to click on the little plus sign that's near the upper right corner of the viewport.

O: toggles proportional editing. This is like "freeze" in the liquefy filter of Photoshop, where it confines the editing to within the area that you select. There's a button that appears when you toggle proportional editing on, that affect how it works: "falloff type" -- "smooth" is the default, but you can choose "sharp", "linear", etc. When proportional editing is active, scrolling the mouse wheel increases/decreases the affected area, just like the square brackets in Photoshop affect brush size.

R: rotate

Ctrl+R: add a "loop" -- a new enclosed path of vertices within an existing object in edit mode.

S: Scale (resize). To scale in increments, then press the Control key. To then scale subtly, press the Shift key.

T: toggle hide/show of left side toolbar

U: Make single user (whatever that means)

W: restrict render unselected (whatever that means)

X: delete (or you can use the delete key on your keyboard)

Z: wireframe/shading toggle

Shift+Z: toggle between solid view (or whatever mode you're in) and render mode -- same thing as if you chose Render in the "method to display/shade objects in the 3D view" button in the header

Cmd+Z: undo

Cmd+Shift+Z: redo

space bar: brings up a search window

tab: Object mode / Edit mode toggle. You can also select mode in the toolbar that's above the animation bar at the bottom of the screen.

Function Keys:

F12 Render image. "Blender Render" is the default, it's the rendering engine that has been with Blender since the start. But unfortunately, shadows are pitch black, it doesn't calculate light bouncing off of stuff. Therefore, you should use the Cycles rendering engine! Almost everyone uses the Cycles rendering engine. Of course, the downside of the higher quality image that the Cycles engine creates is that rendering time is WAY slower -- it took about two whole minutes for a silly image of a donut to render. To exit the rendered image so that you can edit it some more, hit the Esc key.

Num Pad:

For each of these views, num pad 5 toggles between ortho/perspective. Also, you can access these view commands in the view menu that's in the "header" which by default is on the lower left of your screen, right above the animation bar.

1: front view
Ctrl+1: back view

3: right view
Ctrl+3: left view

5: toggle between perspective and orthographic views

7: top view
Ctrl+7: bottom view

0: camera view

. (num pad decimal point): move view so that the selected object is centered

/ (forward slash): show only the selected object(s). If you do this, and then forget that you did so, you might later on wonder "Hey! Where did the camera and light go? Well, you hid them when you entered "local view" mode with the forward slash. To exit local view, hit the forward slash again. The camera and light should now be visible once again.

If your computer keyboard has no num pad (such as is the case on a laptop), configure keyboard shortcuts in File...User Preferences...Input tab If your mouse has no middle button or clickable scroll wheel, configure keyboard shortcuts in File...User Preferences...Input tab

To select an object, right click on it. If you'd rather just click on it instead of right clicking, configure this in File...User Preferences...Input tab. NOTE: for the tips on this Blender tutorial page, I'm assuming this preference is in effect and I therefore say "click on" the object or camera instead of "right click on" it.

Ctrl + spacebar: toggle 3D manipulator on and off. You can also toggle it by clicking on the button that has an X-Y-Z axes image (used to be an image of a hand in old versions of Blender) that's in the header toolbar. When the 3D manipulator is toggled on, 3 buttons appear to the right of the toggle button, which let you choose which type of 3D manipulator that you want. The "main" type is the Translate (arrow) button, it looks like X-Y-Z axes with arrow heads at the end. The next button has a curved line and is to choose the Rotate 3D Manipulator. The 3rd button (line with knob at the end) is the Scale 3D manipulator. If you click a 3D manipulator button and you still don't see a 3D manipulator, make sure that an object is selected. The 3D manipulator only appears when an object is selected.

Esc exit rendered image to return to object/edit mode. That worked yesterday, but I'm hitting escape now and Blender isn't doing anything, it's still showing the rendered image. WHY???

Middle mouse button click: To orbit (rotate) the scene, push down middle mouse button (scroll wheel on my mouse) and move the mouse.

Shift + middle mouse click: To move the scene left-right, up-down, shift-click the middle mouse button. This works better if you press shift FIRST, then press the middle mouse button.

Scroll wheel: zoom. To zoom in and out, use your scroll wheel.

  • A
  • Animation:
    Q: Is there a way to disable animation? I rendered an image, and it was on frame 197, I guess I had hit the "play" button at some point. I don't want any frames or animation.
    A: You can close the animation panel by the rather quirky technique that Blender has of dragging one panel into another, which has the effect of closing the panel that you're dragging towards. For this technique to work, there can only be one panel in the destination area. When you mouseover the lower left corner of a panel, where there's several diagonal lines, the cursor changes to a plus sign, which if it works correctly you can start dragging the mouse and a large arrow will appear in the direction you're allowed to drag to close the destination panel -- in this case the animation panel.

  • B
  • Background image: To add a background image to help you draw something such as a coffee mug, save the image to whatever folder you want, then in Blender, open the Viewport Settings window by pressing "N". The in Backgrounground Images > Add Image > Open, select the image. To see the image, go to Front View Ortho (1 then 5 on your Num pad). To see it only from the front, under "Axis" dropdown menu, select "Front".

  • C
    in list of supported products are various nvidia graphics cards including mine:
    GeForce 9M series: 9400M

  • D
  • Dynamic range:
    Improve the dynamic range of your images (7-29-2017): Downloaded filmic-blender zip file from because the Blender Guru tutorial "The Secret Ingredient to Photorealism" at said that using it greatly increases dynamic range (the number of f-stops of range within which highlights don't get blown out to white and shadows don't get blown out to black). After unzipping it, found where to install it by right clicking on the file and select "show package contents". I should probably delete Blender and reinstall it, because it's partially on my external drive's Dropbox folder and partially on the C drive's Applications folder. Anyway, after unzipping it, you copy it to the correct folder of /Applications/blender-2.78c-OSX_10.6-x86_64/ and after renaming Blender's colormanagement folder to colormanagement-old, rename the filmic-blender-master folder to be the new colormanagement folder. The I reopened Blender, and in Scene > Color Management > Render, chose "Filmic Log Encoding Base".

  • E
  • Edit mode (hit Tab to enter edit mode):

    You can click each dot ("vertice") to select it. The line between any two vertices is an "edge". Four selected vertices make up a "face" (finite little plane). Hold shift while clicking on vertices to select multiple vertices.
    Alt+click between two vertices to select an entire row of edge vertices.
    Alt+shift+click between successive pairs of vertices to select multiple rows of edge vertices.
    When you first enter edit mode, the default is to be in "Vertex select", which allowed me to click on the dots (vertices) to select them. You'll see that the toolbar right above the animation toolbar at the bottom of the screen has the Vertex select button pressed (dark gray).

    Immediately to the right of this button is the button for "Edge select". Clicking this to make it dark gray will hide the vertices, and you can (must) now click on edges, not vertices, to select parts of the object. When I mouse over the button, it says Ctrl-Click expands/contracts the selection, but this isn't working so far for me.

    The next button is for "Face select". As with the other select modes, use shift to select multiple and alt+shift to select entire rows.

    The next button is "Limit Selection to Visible". On by default, it only select vertices/faces that aren't obstructed by other parts of the object or other objects. If you click this button to disable, you can use box select and circle select to select all vertices, even if they're behind other faces. Another way to get at all vertices is to hit "Z" to go into wireframe mode.

    In edit mode, the move, rotate and scale tools work, with the same keyboard shortcuts for them as in object mode.

  • F

  • G

  • H
  • Header: A lot of the buttons are in what's supposedly called the "header" toolbar, which is near the bottom of the screen, just above the animation play bar. So when I say to click on the whatever button in the header, look at the BOTTOM of the Blender window, NOT the top.

  • I
  • Interface reset: If the interface windows gets "past the point of no return" (I didn't even see "File" in the menu bar at the top anymore), you can exit Blender by clicking "Blender" then "Quit Blender" at the very top of your computer monitor, just to the right of the apple in the upper left (Mac). And if you do still see the file menu, you can reset settings, by selecting File...New. This is because settings are associated with each individual project/file.

  • J

  • K

  • L
  • Layers: Blender (at least the 2.78 version I'm using that's the latest version at the moment — August 6, 2017) has an area of the "header" that has a grid of tiny squares, 1 per layer. If a square has a dot in it, this means the layer has content. You can click on a square to display the layer. Shift+click square to display more than one layer.

  • M
  • Material node editor: To open the node editor, click the Editor Type button in the lower left of your screen, and change it from the one you're used to (3D View) to Node Editor. Most surfaces that you define will be some combination of Diffuse BSDF and Glossy BSDF (Glossy used by itself is used only when giving something a metallic surface). To add a new node, hit Shift+A.

    Q. I don't see the 'Materials" button in the property bar that's supposed to be on the right sidebar. Why?
    A. Select an object first, you'll see the button appeaar.

    To see materials and color applied to an object while in the viewport 3D view, click the Viewport Shading button in the header and change it from Solid to Rendered. Also, click Smooth under Shading in the left toolbar so that it doesn't look all blocky.


    Add a modifier: In the right side toolbar, click the wrench icon, then click on "Add Modifier". A very common modifier to add is the "Subdivision Surface" modifier. This is like an adjustment layer or a smart object in Photoshop in that it's non-destructive -- you can use the Subdivision Surface modifier to smooth the object out, but if you overdo it, you can adjust it again. For the Subdivision Surface modifier, you can increase the "View" subdivisions, which only affects how it looks as you're working on it, and you can increase the "Render" subdivisions -- this of course is the one that counts, which affects how the finished product looks. In the Add Modifier window that appears in the right toolbar when you add this modifier, the "Subdivisions" section has, as just mentioned, "View" and "Render" buttons to increment (right side of button) or decrement (left side of button). At the top of the Add Modifier window is a row of buttons: if you click the button with the camera on it, to turn it light gray, this disables the use of this modifier during render. If you click the next button, the one with the picture of the eyeball, to make the button light gray, this disables use of the modifier in View mode, and you'll see that the smoothing of the object suddenly goes away. So in other words, if the buttons are DARK gray, this means they are enabled, and the modifier is in effect.

    Mofifier order: If you have more than one modifier, order matters -- the modifiers are processed starting at the top of the modifier layer stack, working downward. It's best to put the subsurf modifier last, because you typically want everything smoothed AFTER the other modifiers such as the solidify modifier to work. So to change the order of modifiers, click the up or down arrow in the row (layer) for the given modifier.

    Array modifier: The "array" modifier clones the selected object. "Count" specifies how many total objects you want -- so for example a count of 4 gives you 1 orignal plus 3 clones = 4 total. To stack the clones vertically on top of the original, give the modifier a Z axis offset of 1, and give the X and Y axes offsets a value of 0. If you make a lot of clones, disable the view mode subsurf modifier, so that the clones don't drag your computer down as it tries to smooth a whole bunch of clones.

    Move: To move an object within the scene along the X (red) axis, click on the red arrow and drag.
    To move an object within the scene along the Y (blue) axis, click on the blue arrow and drag.
    To move an object within the scene along the Z (green) axis, click on the green arrow and drag.
    It seems like you can also right click and move the object around, but once I let go of the mouse it requires me to click again to get out of this mode, at which point the object jumps to another location, so I'm not sure what this is.

  • N

  • O
  • Objects: The default cube that you see when you open Blender, the lamp (light source) which is shown as a dotted circle, and the camera, shown as an elongated wireframe pyramid -- these are all Blender "objects". To select an object, right click on it, or you can configure your user preferences to click on it instead of right clicking.

  • P

  • Q

  • R
  • Rendering:


    Render > Light Paths > Bounces:
    Q. The "Cycles" render processor is slow, so I looked at a video on how to speed it up, and the first thing mentioned is to reduce the number of light path bounces by going to the Properties window (right sidebar) and within that viewing the Render settings (click the camera icon in the properties window toolbar), then within that, look at the "Bounces" section of the Light Paths" window. Problem is, I don't see the Light Paths window within the Properties / Render window. What's wrong?
    A. You hadn't changed the render processor from the default of Blender Render. If you select Cycles Render from the render dropdown at the top of your screen, the Light Paths settings window will appear.

    Render > Light Paths > Reflective Caustics:
    unchecking this box eliminates calculations for light bouncing off something and making patterns on the wall or floor, thus reducing render time

    Render > Light Paths > Refractive Caustics:
    Unchecking this box eliminates calculations for light transmitting through something transparent like a glass of water and making patterns on the wall or floor, thus reducing render time. Fortunately, changing these settings is remembered when you save the file (my current file is donut6.blend), exit Blender, then re-open the file.

    Render > Performance > Tiles:
    Q. To speed up rendering using a CPU, I heard that tile size of 16x16 is good, but I don't see a place to set tile size in the Render window. Where is it?
    A. In the Performance window

    Render > Sampling > Samples:
    Q. As you've noticed when you render, the image has "noise" -- dots. The greater the "samples" setting is set to, the less noise the image will have, but the longer it takes to render. This setting can be found in the sampling window. A good practice is to reduce the number of samples (both for preview and for render -- it's two different numbers) while you're working, then when you want to output the finished product, increase the render samples.

    To reduce render time, use object instancing: When you duplicate an object by selecting it and doing Shift+D

    Render > Render > Feature Set: change "Supported" to "Experimental", which will then make the following available:
    Modifiers > "Adaptive" checkbox, if checked, will make farther away parts of an image lower-res (less polygons) which reduces render time

    reduce the number of "strands" to reduce render time (a strand could be a hair on a character's head, a blade of grass, etc)

    "Volumetrics" (fog effects) adds a lot to the render time.

    Using "sub surface scattering" (which creates an effect of light shining through someone's ear, or a drink etc) adds a lot to render time.

    De-noise filter coming:
    July 28, 2017: The De-noise filter will hopefully be in the next Blender version, because it improves quality and reduces noise, without adding too much rendering time. The current Blender version is 2.78, so hopefully the filter will be available in 2.79.

    Don't bother using "alpha transparency" to add detailed edges to leaves on a tree, because by time you render the entire tree, the alpha transparency adds a lot to the render time but you can't really tell the difference.

    I don't see GPU rendering offered when I go into Blender user settings. The Macbook is from 2008, here's what graphics card I have:
    NVIDIA GeForce 9400M:
    Chipset Model: NVIDIA GeForce 9400M
    Type: GPU
    Bus: PCI
    VRAM (Total): 256 MB
    Vendor: NVIDIA (0x10de)
    Device ID: 0x0863
    Revision ID: 0x00b1
    ROM Revision: 3385

    I installed CUDA software, I see the CUDA icon in my Macbook's system preferences window. When I click the icon it says CUDA Driver Version 5.0.45, and that no newer CUDA Driver is available.

    Here's a page regarding my video card: The page says "the chip can be programmed using CUDA and can accellerate some operations in Photoshop CS4." Maybe I have to program it myself? I saw some web pages that made it sound like if you're a developer and know what you're doing, that you can get CUDA working.

    Make sure that World > Settings > "Multiple Importance" is turned on.

  • S

  • T

  • U

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  • W

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