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In this post, we will learn the basics of Blender navigation!
In the previous posts, we learnt a bit about how Blender is structured and what each component does. It’s pretty awesome to know that Blender is powerful and all, but it’s now time to go ahead and learn to actually use Blender. By the end of this post, you will have learnt the main essentials of Blender navigation. I won’t show you all the navigation keys because there would be too many to list so I’ll just keep it to the most important ones.

The 3D “world” in Blender is made up of 3 axes (X-axis, Y-axis and Z-axis). If you look in the bottom left-hand corner of the 3D viewport, you will see a red, green and blue thingy with XYZ letters on them. These are the axes. The blue axis represents the Z-axis, the red axis represents the X-axis and the green represents the Y-axis. Your 3D object is mapped to a coordinate (X,Y,Z) on these axes. So for example, the default cube is at (0,0,0) meaning it is at the origin (or center) of the 3D axes. An object at (3,0,0) means the object is at the center but 3 places to the left of the X-axis.

Blender navigation

Selecting Objects

To select an object (like the default cube), you just have to hover your mouse over the object and right-click.

To select a few objects at a time, you can either circle select or box select. To circle select, press C and then scroll in-out to get the circle size you want. Once you’re happy, left click and drag around to select the objects you want. This should feel like painting a little bit. Once you’re done selecting, right-click again. To box select, press B (you’ll see a grey square looking thing which follows your mouse everywhere it goes), then left-click and drag until you’ve covered all the objects you want selected. To de-select objects, use the same method with circle select or box select, but instead of left clicking, do middle-mouse click instead. (Another way of selecting is using the lasso tool. You can do this by Ctrl + left click dragging around your objects. This method isn’t that popular, though it can be useful to some. Just thought I’d put this out there.)

To select all the objects in your scene, simply press (Make sure your mouse is in the 3D viewport and not somewhere else like the Timeline for example). You can also de-select all the objects in your scene by pressing again.

Transforming Objects

There are 3 ways to transform an object. You can move an object, rotate an object, and scale an object. By the way, cameras and lights cannot be scaled in Blender.

To move an object, first make sure your object is selected (by right-clicking) and then press G and move anywhere to your hearts desire. To rotate an object, press R and then rotate the selected object anywhere. To scale an object, press S and then move the mouse in and out and see your selected object grow and shrink. Press Enter once your happy with your transformation.

You can do a bit more than that. Like in our example above, if you want to move the object 3 places to the left of the X-axis, just press G and then X. Now you can only move along the X-axis. To get exactly 3 places to the left, just press 3 and then hit Enter. NOTE: You can also click on the colored arrows (which represent each axis) that are visible on the selected object and drag to move along the axes.

Modifying the View

Cool, we know how to do some basic stuff with objects in Blender. Now let’s learn some basic stuff about navigating the 3D viewport.

To rotate around the 3D viewport, just middle-click and drag anywhere. To zoom-in and out, just scroll in and out (Ctrl + middle click dragging also does the same thing). To move your viewport, press Shift and then middle-click and drag.

Let me recap that:

Rotate viewport – Middle-click + drag.
Zoom in and out – Scroll in and out.
Move around – Shift + middle-click drag.

You can also navigate via the numpad on your keyboard. Here’s a summary:

Numpad 1 – Front view Numpad 2 – Rotates downwards
Numpad 3 – Left view. Numpad 4 – Rotates rightwards Numpad 6 – Rotates leftwards
Numpad 7 – Top view. Numpad 8 – Rotates upwards Numpad 5 – Orthogonal view

Pressing Shift + 1, 3 or 7 will give you the opposite view. In other words,

Shift+ Numpad 1 – Back view
Shift + Numpad 3 – Right view.
Shift + Numpad 7 – Bottom view.


To do some awesome modeling stuff in Blender, you can use the toolbar. Pressing N and/or T will open up toolbars on either side depending on which one you pressed. Press them again to hide them. As a short exercise, open up the right-toolbar (pressing N) and then move an object like a cube (using G). Observe the top panel called ‘Transform’. You will see these values being changed as you move your object. You can also type in here directly. Type 3 in the X box. Like in our example earlier, this should move the object 3 places to the left of the X-axis.

Don’t know the right shortcut key?

Most of these shortcut key functionality can be done by pressing the right corresponding button somewhere within Blender. For example, with the numpad view switching above, you can do the same thing by going to the View menu in the 3D viewport and changing the view there.

If there’s some other functionality you want to carry out but don’t know how and where to look, you can search it. This may be the most important shortcut key to remember. Press Ctrl+A to find any functionality you want.

Or, you can go to this link and download the infographic, print it out and stick it on your wall or something.

That’s all! I apologize if this was too much to digest in one day. Take time to learn these and try out the stuff in this post. Once you are comfortable with the basics of Blender navigation, you will begin to feel confident of mastering Blender! I hope this post has been useful to you and thanks for reading!


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