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Introduction to the Blender Interface

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Quick links: IntroductionInterfacePropertiesNavigationModeling | Shading | Lighting | Sculpting | Animation | Particles | Physics | Rendering | Compositing

In this post, you will be given an introduction to the Blender Interface!

Before we go and make any 3D related stuff like movies, we need to first take some time to understand the Blender interface. At first glance, the interface doesn’t look like those Windows applications. Nor does it look like any application from Apple, Android, or any other OS for that matter. It’s sort of unique in a way. Once you get a hang of the almighty Blender interface, you’ll feel like you’re in full control as an artist/animator/game designer/etc. By the end of this post, you will have a better understanding of and be able to customize your own Blender interface.

So let’s go into it! First things first, Blender is made up of pretty much windows. For example, you might have Google Chrome open in one window and Microsoft Word open in another. Maybe you’ll have Media Player running in another window. Blender functions in a similar way! You might have the 3D view open in one window, a video editor open in another and an image editor open in another. In Blender, these so-called ‘apps’ are called Editors. You can create as much windows as you want in Blender and change the Editor within each window. Make sense?

Blender Interface Editors

All the available editors in Blender!

 

If not, let me start right at the beginning and show you the first thing that shows when you open Blender. You’ll probably see the Blender splash logo. You can click out of that. The below image is what you should see when you open Blender. This is the default Blender interface.

Blender Interface

If you don’t see this screen, you’ve probably downloaded some other software by mistake. This should be the legitimate website! That, or I might have missed Blender’s latest release which includes a brand new interface.

See where I’ve highlighted boxes everywhere. Yes, these are examples of windows in Blender. Within each window are Editors (3D Viewport, Timeline, Properties,…). Before I go further, let me give you a very brief description of the Editors you see in the above Blender interface.

Green Box – This is the 3D viewport. Here is where you will make your 3D animated movie. You create 3D models here, you animate them here, you see them come to life here. This is one of the most important editors in Blender. It would be pretty difficult (and dead silly) to animate or model something without the 3D viewport open. See the buttons you see on the right? This is the toolbar and contains a lot of the functionality that you would previously had to remember some shortcut key for. Pretty handy!

Blue Box – This the Outliner. Every 3D object you have in your 3D viewport (including objects, lights, cameras) will be visible as a list here. This is useful if you have so many 3D objects in your scene and want to find the exact object by just searching. Say you’re working on a massive epic scene involving thousands of soldiers for example. You might struggle to find the soldier named “Bob” in the 3D viewport alone. In the Outliner, you can search by typing “Bob” and the list will filter to show that soldier. On a side note, I cannot picture a soldier with a name of Bob. It just doesn’t sound powerful for some reason.

Maroon Box – The Properties editor. This is pretty much the jam in the toast (Sorry, that’s the best I could come up with). This editor pretty much sets up the properties for most of Blender. If you want to render, you will need to come here. If you need to add materials to your models, you need to come here. If you want to add hair, fluids or other physics, you would come here as well. If you want to add some advanced camera effects like depth-of-field or motion blur, you will need to come here. If you want to make changes to your 3D world such as dimensions, you will still need to come here. It’s one of the most important editors in Blender just like the 3D viewport. In some cases it’s more important than the 3D viewport. Take video editing for example, you don’t even need the 3D viewport open at all but you still need Properties when you do your final render!

Yellow Box – The Timeline. You can playback your animation here, set start and end times of your animations and other timeline related stuff like adding markers. Not much else to say, it’s pretty straightforward.

Red Box – This is Info editor. You have a File menu where you can do stuff like Save, Open, New, Preferences, etc. Then there’s the Render menu which contains options to render images or animations. The Window menu allows you to select whether you want to work full screen or create a screenshot of your scene. The Help menu gives you options for help (I guess that would be obvious, lol). Next, you have the screen-layout popdown menu thing (A bit of detail on this below). Next to this, is the Scene selection popdown. This allows you to create several scenes in Blender file. For example, you could animate 2 friends having a phone conversation. One friend could be at home and the other friend could be in a different country or just hopping off the train or something. You could create 2 different Scenes in Blender and then join them together in the video editor.  Next to the Scene selection popdown, is your current Blender version (yours is likely to be higher than mine) and information about your scene such as the total amount of vertices/faces, how much memory your scene is consuming and your currently selected object.

Now back to the screen-layout popdown that I mentioned a few sentences ago. When you click the popdown, you see this:

blender interface layouts

Screen layouts in Blender

In this popdown, you see a bunch of different options such as Animation, Compositing, Game Logic. Clicking them will take you to a different looking layout of Blender. This doesn’t mean Blender has switched to some different state. It’s still the same Blender but with different windows containing different Editors. For example, clicking Animation will take you to a layout containing the most optimal editors you would need for animation. Clicking Video Editing will get rid of the 3D viewport (that’s not necessary as you only work with already made video, images and music). Instead, it shows editors that are related to video editing.

If you don’t like the layouts shown here or want more different layouts, you can create your own layout! You have the ability to create your own Blender interface! You just have to press the plus ‘+’ button next that you see there. This will duplicate the current layout. So if I’m already in Default layout. Pressing the ‘+’ button will create a Default.001 which is a clone. You can then modify this layout to suit your needs.

Blender interface size modify

Another thing! You can change the size of your windows by dragging any edge of a window up or down (shown in black arrows). You can create more windows by dragging the 3 diagonal line thingies (shown in red) away. This makes the Blender interface oh-so customizable!

That’s it for now I guess! Spend some time playing around with the Blender interface! You will see for yourself just how flexible and customizable it is! I hope this post has been of use to you and I didn’t confuse or bore you. Thank you for reading!

Quick links: Introduction | Interface | PropertiesNavigationModeling | Shading | Lighting | Sculpting | Animation | Particles | Physics | Rendering | Compositing