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Blender 3D Views: Changing & Navigating

When you begin working with Blender, one of the first things you will want to do is create some different types of views. Hopefully by now you know how to split views. Before we start changing our views, for space reasons, hide the left Tool Shelf with "T." Then split off two more views (Figure 1).

Split views
Figure 1: Hide Tools Shelf and split views

Before we go forward, I will suggest if you're working on a laptop, that you have a numeric keypad either on the laptop or as a USB device. The reason for this is that the numbers on the keypad function differently than the numbers on the keyboard when it comes to changing views.

Changing Views

Alright... let's begin. With your mouse hovering in the top-right view, hit "7" on the keypad (also referrred to as "NUM7"). That view should now be a top view (Figure 2). If you instead hit the "7" on the keyboard, you probably saw your cube disappear. This is because the keyboard numbers are hotkeys for your layers. Hitting "7" on the keyboard tells Blender to take you to layer 7. To get back, hit "1" to go to layer 1 again.

Top view
Figure 2: Creating a Top View

Now you can't tell with the cube in solid mode, but there are two ways to display your view: perspective and orthographic. Even in a top view, Blender gives you the option to have it be in perspective. Hit "Z" to go into wireframe mode so you can more clearly see this (Figure 3).

top view perspective
Figure 3: Perspective Top View

It will even say in the upper-left corner of each view which type of view it is and whether it is "Persp" or "Ortho." To toggle Perspective/Orthographic display, hit NUM5. This will square the wireframe up, and you will be in a true 2D view (Figure 4). This will often be more desirable when editing vertices, edges and faces.

Top view ortho
Figure 4: Orthographic Top View

Next, let's make a Front view. Hover over the bottom-right view and press NUM1. Your view "swivels" into a Front view. I then toggled this Front view into an orthographic view with NUM5 (Figure 5).

Front view
Figure 5: Orthographic Front View

Keep your mouse cursor hovering over the bottom-right view and press NUM3 to change it into a Right view. So how do you get a view opposite to any of these? Use CTRL + NUM# of the view you want opposite. For example, if you want a Bottom view, press CTRL + NUM7.

Also, you can rotate your views in increments using NUM2 & NUM8 and NUM4 & NUM6. Try this out, then return to a squared-up ortho view.

To turn your view into a perspective view, simple hover over that view and MMB-drag. Try this with the Top Ortho view. You'll notice that it's in a Perspective view, but all the lines are parallel. This is the orthographic perspective view (Figure 6). Toggle the normal perspective view with NUM5.

Perspective view
Figure 6: Orthographic Perspective


Using MMB-drag is also the method for rotating your view around. You may also use Alt+LMB-drag to rotate your view. If you want to track your view side-to-side or up-and-down, use Shift + MMB-drag or Alt + Shift + LMB-drag. If you want to zoom your view, use CTRL + MMB-drag or CTRL + Alt + LMB-drag. You can also zoom in increments by using NUM+/- or the MMB scroll wheel. A further zooming option involves marquee zooming, or what Blender referes to as a "Zoom Border." Hit Shift + B and you will see cross-hairs. Then, LMB-drag a box to zoom the view to that spot.

Maximize View

There are some other handy view features aside from the perspective and orthographic options. Hover over a view and press CTRL + <up arrow> or <down arrow>. This maximizes your view, and you can use either the up or down arrows (in conjunction with CTRL) to toggle it (Figure 7).

maximize view
Figure 7: Maximize View

Quad View

There is a "Quad view" option also available. In the view you want to change, go to the menu option: View, Toggle Quad View (CTRL + Alt + Q). This will display three ortho views and a Camera Perspective view, which is a view of the shot that will render. However, you cannot resize the windows within the quad view; these four views are essentially one view. If you try to split it, you'll see another quad view. This view would be more useful if you could at least resize the four views within this Quad view (Figure 8). Toggle this view off with CTRL + Alt + Q.

Quad view
Figure 8: Quad View

Camera Perspective View

Now that you've seen the Camera Perspective as part of the Quad view, let's create one in a normal view. Hover over one of your views and hit NUM0 (Figure 9). In this image, I've maximized the view prior to creating the Camera Perspective. Toggle back to a normal perspective view with NUM0 again.

camera persp
Figure 9: Camera Perspective

Frame Views

To frame the selected object up in a view, hit NUM "." (period). This is also helpful if you've ever been zooming into a view and the zoom slows to a crawl, leaving your object out of reach. To frame all objects in a view, hit <Home>.

Isolate Views

You may also isolate your objects in view a couple different ways. With the cube selected, hit NUM "/" to go into "Local" view. You'll have to zoom out to see, but the Cube should now be the only object in your scene that is visible. This comes in handy in Edit Mode. Hit it again to toggle back. Another way to isolate your object is to hit Alt + B and LMB-drag in your view. Try this in a Perspective view for the maximum effect. Blender referes to this as a "Clipping Border." Toggle it off with Alt + B as well.

That should be enough info on views to get you started. Remember to get a keypad if you don't have one, as it will be vital for your workflow.

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