Cool things in Blender that aren't so obvious


I got inspired by a similar thread on the Wings forum. This is a place for posting things included within the program that:

A.- Are really hard to find/notice in the documentation.

B.- Are undocumented at all.

C.- New creative uses for things already present in the program.


I’ll get it started with:

You already know that Numpad 1, 7 and 3 puts you on front, top and left view, but did you know that Ctrl+1, Ctrl+7 and Ctrl+3 puts you on back, down and right view (the opposite views) ?

Also, did you know that once you have added a lamp or a world, by placing the cursor over the corresponding icon at the bar (the bar for switching what type of button you see on the buttons window) and pressing the I (i) key you can insert key frames for settings such as light intensity and horizon color?


Another one:

You already know that Blender can load plug-ins for texturing, secuence editor, etc. etc. etc… but did you know that Blender comes with a few of such plugins un-compiled?

In Linux they are located on the plug-ins sub-directory of the default Blender install, and all that you need is a Make command to compile them. I don’t know how to compile them in Windows, but there they are, just waiting for you to awake them!!!


When you’re mesh-editing, alt-S will shrink/fatten the mesh selection in the direction of the vertex normals.


COME ON GUYS!!! there must be other cool stuff hidden in our beloved Blender. Why not to share them?

Here is another one: Vertex Parenting

Ok, I can’t remember where I learnt this in the first place, but it is hidden in Blender AND IT WORKS.

You can parent object to a Mesh, in that case you are parenting to the center of the mesh… BUT if the mesh is translated somehow (lest say by an armature’s pose) the center remains in the same spot, and thus the child object doesn’t receive any transformation at all.

To solve this, you can parent the child object to a vertex (or a face) within the mesh, and any transformation that the vertex receives is passed to the child.

There are only 2 options, to parent to any 3 vertex withing the mesh or to parent to just one vertex. If you parent to 1 vertex then only location information is passed, with 3 vertex all transformations (rotation, location and size) are passed to the child.

How to do it? Starting out of edit mode select the child(s), hold Shilf and select the parent, enter edit mode, select one or tree vertex, press Ctrl-P. That’s it!


fly mode

enter camera mode and press Shift-F
move the mouse slowly
space to keep the orientation
escape to cancel fly mode



Here are some more usefull tricks, related to the view ports and the render buffers.

First. Switching among screens

So you have your screen made off the 3D window, the buttons window and the info window… but you are doing some fine tunning to the mesh in two places simultanesly, and they both need to zoom in the 3D window. You could scroll or zoom out, translate the view and zoom in again. None of them an elegant solution.

Another situation. You are working on a model and are using an image for reference. You are not tracing over the photo, just take a look at it often to make sure you don’t deviate to much from the concept. So you open the photo in a 2D program and keep swichting back and forth from Blender… or you have the photo open in an image window and keep maximizing and minimizing the window… another hastle :annoyed:

Wory no more!!! :stuck_out_tongue: Blender can handle multiple virtual screen (ala Linux) and you can come and go from them with just one key stroke.

Just press Ctrl+Left Arrow or Ctrl+Right Arrow and you are switching screens. Go ahead! By default EVERY .blend file comes with 3 screens … and of course you can add/delete as many as you see fit.

** Edit: the magic button to add or delete screens is right beside the Tools menu, up there in the info window.


Don’t know if this qualifies as a ‘not so obvious’ feature because it was clearly explained in The Tutorial Guide #1 (currently ouf of print), I just can’t find on wich page right now.

Using the render buffers

Ok, so you set your scene and press RENDER, a nice window comes up and you see your hard work comming to existence (that’s the default behavior, if your change it on the display buttons then this may not work for you).

Do you realize that the window containing your render image is also a render buffer? Actually they are 2 buffers for your to play with. Whenever the render window is open (and you can re-open it by pressing F11 without having to wait again for the render) if you press the J key you can switch from Buffer A and B. (the last active one is what you save when you press F3). You can even swith buffers in the midle of a rendering (but I advice agains that when rendering very complex scenes, you have been warnned!)

The cool thing about having two separete render buffers is that you can have instant before-and-after images for things that you change in the scene. For example you are searching the perfect position for a light source in a scene, you place it and do a render, place the ligth in another positon, switch to the second buffer and do a new render. Now, with the render window open, just press J to see how the change on the light’s position influence your scene and that makes your decision easier.

By the way, the render window can be zoomed (by the normal ways or by pressing Z ) to do a closer inspection of the image.


Ok how about this.

Work around to welding Verts:

For Edge loop (verts) position both loops together as close as possible then hit W then 4 (not on numkey pad). You can adjust how far the effect of collapse can go in the Edit window (a button on the right labeled Limit: ***, where * is a number).

As for individual verts, eg. Two vertices welded to become one, select both verts, scale until they are very close then hit W then 4.


Originally posted by RISKBREAKER
As for individual verts, eg. Two vertices welded to become one, select both verts, scale until they are very close then hit W then 4.

you can also do that with the snap combo

select the vertice you want to weld together
Shift-S, Cur -> Sel
Shift-S, Sel -> Cur
W, Remove Doubles

Also, whenever Blender pop up a menu with different options, you can just type in a number to choose one of the options (use the numbers not on the numpad).



Animation Preview in all windows at the same time

It is well known that Alt-A is for previewing an animation on the 3D window. But that’s not all of it. Divide your screen into multiple 3D Windows, each from a diferent point of view.

Press Alt-Shift-A


If you have an Action/Ipo Window and 3D windows open, and you issue the Alt-Shift-A command from the Action (or the Ipo) window, it will animate both (the action and the 3D) in sync!! Great for visualization of Ipo’s efect on your model.


Ever wondered what the RGBA (Red, Green, Blue, Alpha) values of certain image are?

When the render window is open, click and hold with the left button of your mouse. Drag the mouse around and there you go!!


“truck” the camera in camera mode:

  1. go into cam mode with NUMPAD 0
  2. move the camera with pressing Gkey
  3. press the middle mouse button
    … and tadaaa!!
    [i hope this was clear :stuck_out_tongue: ]


Originally posted by CubeFan973 at elysiun

The Monkey!!! :curious:

For those who may not know it yet (is that possible?) all Publisher versions had been shipping with a Monkey mesh called Suzanne. Just open the main tool box (Space Bar) -> Add -> Mesh -> and right below the other primitives you’ll see the Monkey.

Why/What it is for? Only NaN programmers know. It is supposed to be a private joke among the blender developping team.

By the Way, Suzanne isn’t the only joke included… but I won’t spoil the surprize. You will bump with them on your daily work, that is for sure.


I don’t know how many people know this but, if you select certain objects and press CTRL-0 it will make them the camera. I use it all the time to align spotlights.


I just checked the Monkey out… weird… Blender seems to be a comedy 3D app… :surprised
By the way, I’m not sure about that, but many of the summed up unobvious tricks in this list I know from the printed Blender manual of version 1.5 (?)… Did anyone buy this book, too?


Originally posted by Tommi
I just checked the Monkey out… weird… Blender seems to be a comedy 3D app… :surprised
By the way, I’m not sure about that, but many of the summed up unobvious tricks in this list I know from the printed Blender manual of version 1.5 (?)… Did anyone buy this book, too?

I don’t have the 1.5 manual (it whent out of print more or less at the same time that I was introduced to Blender) but I do have the 2.0 manual and that is where I’m getting most of the tricks… they are ‘documented’ but they don’t even appear on the book index :hmm: … so that makes them really hard to find.


I got the 1.5 manual, I’ll see if I can find some interesting ones …


This was mentioned on the first ever tutorial I read about the new armature system (got there trough a link on the really old community site). The tutorial went off-line short after and nobody have never mentioned it again.

When setting up the skinning of your meshe and you are ready to create the vertex groups… it is worth some beforethough on the order you use to create them, because once they are created there is no way to re-arrange them on the vertex-group list.

That means that if you are a ultra-by-the-book person and you would like the vertex group alphabetically orded on the list them you must create them alphabetically.

… Or, if you would like them to be ordered acording to theyr function (shoulders, then arms, then forearms, then palms, etc. etc. etc. you must create them on that order on the first place.

This may all sound like a stupid thing to care about, but I have a character with 39 vertex groups and finding quickly the one that need fixing is a little difficult since I created them just as they came to my mind.


Regarding UV maping and Face Gruoups Selections there seems to be the general misconception that you can’t save your face groups selections on Blender.

Must people already know that from within the Face Select Mode (Potato Mode) you can switch into Edit Mode and whatever selection you do while in Edit Mode is passed back to Face Select Mode when you exit the Edit Mode.

Well… Did you ever wonder why Material Index Groups (that are nothing more than face groups with a common material on them) have those little ‘Select’ and ´Deselect’ buttons there? Sure they come handy for later modification of the material index but that is not all about them.

Do this: Before starting the UV unwrapping job, cut your mesh by creating as many material indexes as you need, you can even assing each one a different color so you can be shure that there is no face orphan. Once you have the mesh all cut and sliced (so to speak) you enter in Face Select Mode, then switch into Edit Mode, selec the index containing the faces you want to unwrap, press ‘Select’, leave Edit Mode and VOILA!!! there you just have an entirely usefull face group waiting for you to unwrap. No more manual (and unprecise) face selection is needed.

If you later need to change the mapping of those faces don’t fear, just make shure there isn’t any face selected on Potato Mode, do as you did first (enter edit mode, select the index, exit edit mode) and there are your very same faces selected again with the UV mapping you already assigned to them.


Another benefic of have precise face selection groups is that, inicially, you don’t have to worry about UV coordinates overlapping, since you know have the way to selec ONLY the faces you whant to. For example, you unwrap all your faces by groups and when you are done you can start thinking about scale and position withing the texture map, not like before when you have to solve those things as you go.