[Warning: Frustrated rambling. Skip to the pink heading to find the helpful info below]
It’s love hate with Blender for me. I really want max but it’s literally impossible. With how much it costs AUD, it’s never going to happen. I’ve been doing 3D solo with no schooling on and off for a couple of years, seriously in the last 2yrs. If I had to sum up all the time I’ve spent and read, I have about a year of work under my belt and that makes me sad because well imagine if I had the opportunity to go to school right. But I learned a lot. Most of it the hard way.
However before the last version came out, I was using a version of Blender that was before tabs were introduced. I personally hate the tabs and I wish there was a revert to old UI (if there is please tell me), but what annoys me most is some subtle changes in hotkeys that I use frequently and no real warning about these changes until about a week later, however some people close with development have been releasing detailed info on the changes but sometimes it would be nice if there was a constantly updated newsletter to subscribe to about such changes in stead of blog after blog that usually gives up on posting (sorry for the random rant).
To anyone knew to Blender, a new version pops up literally every year sometimes 2-3 times a year. The development team are always working hard so if you find a version you like, don’t worry because that version is always available to download despite it’s age if you upgrade and change your mind and want to go back. That’s one of the real beauties of blender. Also, I highly recommend going on youtube and searching “What’s new in Blender “whatever version you’re using” to find out the latest changes and new features. Main reason I recommend it is because not only are the videos short and sweet but they usually mention in them any major features that were dropped or added.
This is what I mean by love hate. It’s powerful, fast and relatively easy to learn, especially in comparison to certain Autodesk products. As far as performance, Max use to lag for me even on min specs doing low poly but Blender rarely lags even for some pretty high poly and intense work, and I can push my work to levels I can’t in other professional apps. But at the same time, trying to find the updated hotkeys list and other such info on the latest version can sometimes be like trying to find a needle in a hay stack. But what really kills it is the high and mighty attitude of the community towards newcomers. I do not recommend going to forums for Blender help if you are new, they can be quite rude and all things opposite of helpful. I do however recommend going to youtube before anywhere else. Don’t even bother with a Google search, just go to youtube first and you’ll likely find your answers there.
I highly, highly recommend anything by Johnathan Williamson. And I also recommend joining Blender Cookie. There’s some incredible tutorials on there.
It’s like I said though, sometimes I love Blender and everything about it and other times it just frustrated the heck out of me. But that’s enough complaining. I decided for my own personal use and to help out others that I’d list some Blender Hotkeys that I know for certain work. A lot of these I found by mistake.
So below are some of the hotkeys and tools I frequently use in Blender and how to use them:
All of these are in Edit Mode with the exception on Spacebar and alt+C
ctrl + R and hover the area. A pink line will appear looping the area. This is good to if you screw up your edge loops and you want to check it. Left click to OK it, then move and position it and left click again. If you want it in the centre instead of positioning it, right click and it will insert in the centre.
ctrl + E to bring up a pop up menu for other various things to do with edges
Hold SHIFT while selecting which mode to select multiple modes. Example: Face select mode and vertex mode are both enabled in the lower picture after holding select and clicking both icons. I can now edit my model by each vertex or face instead of changing modes one at a time. (Love this feature)
E to Extrude (no picture for this one)
Shift + E to make an edge crease. This one took me forever to find because I could only find the hotkey for old blender not new and I found this one by mistake while I was using ctrl + R.
Spacebar for quick search. You can find almost all the commands you need if you can’t find them in the menus.
A select all and A again to deselect all. C for brush select, right click to get out of selection brush mode and keep selection or enter. B for Marquee select.
W for some of the most used and important features. Most people only use it for sub D and Smooth (also known as Relax in other programs).
crtl + B + drag I’m not sure what it’s called but it’s useful especially when making eyes.
S to scale, R to rotate, G to grab/move. It’s sometimes ideal to turn on proportional editing when using grab while SubD is on. If you enable proportional editing, use the mouse wheel to expand the area of effect. Below is where to find proportional editing and when it’s turned on. Also, when using any of these if you follow straight after with X, Y or Z before you move your mouse you can snap it to the specified axis. For example press G then Z to move along on the Z axis only.
H too hide and Alt+ H to unhide. The number of times I have hidden something and didn’t know as a newbie, is astonishing. Finding out about alt H was a life saver. (No image for this one. No point because it would be invisible.)
K to cut and Enter when you are satisfied with your cuts otherwise, right click to cancel. Now this one is tricky as well to describe. The knife tool goes in an un-breaking line much like the slice tool in Max, except you can break the knife path by pressing E. Below are to examples of using knife and then using knife after pressing E.
P to separate by selection. I use this one a lot. Usually I make the head whole then I select the scalp area and separate it. It turns it into a separate object which I usually use for a base for hair and then later delete it to keep it low poly. It’s really useful to use.
If you’re constantly setting the pivot in weird places press Shift+ C to recenter the pivot. For anything else such as placing the cursor yourself and snapping the object to it, the easiest way is just to hit Spacebar and type the word “cursor” and navigate from there. But if you’re new to Blender you will be constantly misplacing the 3D cursor or pivot. (no image for this one)
Alt+C to convert too. Very useful if you use grease pencil a lot or nurbs. (no image for this shortcut)
Alt + M to merge selection.
F to fill face. If you’re super new, you need to have at least 2 verts selected. You can make an edge, a tri or a quad with this shortcut. (No image for this one.)
Click middle mouse button to rotate object view. (No image for this one.)
Shift+ clicking middle mouse button to pan view. (No image for this one.)
Middle mouse button scroll to zoom. (No image for this one.)
ctrl+ G to assign Vertex groups.
USEFUL ADDONS! MUST have for saving time:
LoopTools: Go to file>> User Preferences>> Addons and type in the word “Loop” in the quick search bar. As shown below. Make sure to hit Save user settings then close and enjoy this amazing addon.
Now press W in edit mode and there will be the new LoopTools at the top of the menu. This is excellent for neatening up topology among many other uses. Below shows the new menu and the use of make circle in use. Great tools, I highly recommend using them. Of course it’s not perfect but it can be an incredible time saver.
I also recommend, but only if you have the specs to run them becuase having too many addons can slow down Blender’s performance, IvyGen, Sapling, Simplify Curves, Bsurfaces (if you can figure out how to use it), F2, Import image as plane, Mesh Relax and Freestyle SVG exporter.
But that’s all I know so far as far as hotkeys that work in current Blender. Which, as of writing this is 2.73
If you have any hotkeys that you think I’ve missed and would like added please do leave them in a comment below for others to find and use.