The transforms are identified as move ("grab" in Blender), rotate and scale. By default, these transforms occur at the object center (Figure 1).
Notice the color-coding: red = x-axis, green = y-axis, blue = z-axis. An easy way to remember this is: "RGB", "XYZ" with the letter positions corresponding to each other. The arrows on the move gizmo will point in the positive direction for that axis.
The default cube has the move gizmo activated. If you wish to activate another transform, you may do so with the icons on the bottom of the window (Figure 2).
The "axes" icon will toggle visibility of the gizmo itself. Push the axes icon to disable the transform gizmo and hide the transform icons (Figure 3). Push the axes icon again to unhide the gizmo, then try the hotkey to toggle the transform gizmo: CTRL + <Spacebar>, Enable/Disable (you must have your mouse hovering in a 3D view).
Grab the different axis arrows and move the cube around your scene. Notice the white circle in the middle of the gizmo; if you grab this circle, you can move the cube on all axes at once. If you hold Shift and grab an axis, it will move only in the other two axes.
For example: if you wanted to only move your object in the X-Y plane, Shift + drag the Z-axis.
When you're done playing with the move gizmo, hit Alt + G to reset its location.
Next, activate the rotate gizmo by clicking on the arcing arrow icon at the bottom. As with other 3D programs, the gizmo rings surround the axes they will rotate. Rotate the cube by grabbing and dragging the different axis rings until the cube is no longer aligned with the grid.
After playing with the rotate gizmo, hit Alt + R to reset its rotations.
Then switch to the scale gizmo with the squared arrow icon. Again, experiment with the scale handles along the different axes. If you grab the white circle in the middle, you can scale the cube on all axes at once. If you hold Shift and grab an axis, it will scale only in the other two axes.
When you're done with the scale gizmo, hit Alt + S to reset its scale.
You can also have more than one transform gizmo activated at a time. Simply hold Shift and click on another icon. Shift will add/subtract more transform gizmos (Figure 4).
Everything discussed so far was in relation to the Global coordinate system, as notated by the word "Global" in the Transform Orientation menu next to the transforms icons. If you click this menu, you may select a different orientation. The hotkeys for this menu are: Alt + <Spacebar>.
First, rotate the cube some, then choose Local from this menu (Figure 5). Switch the gizmo to move, rotate or scale and notice that the handle axes are now aligned to the cube. Switch back to Global and notice that the handles are aligned to the Global (world) system.
While hovering in a 3D view, hit N to bring up the Properties panel (Figure 6). This panel is context-sensitive and, in Object Mode, will show you the transform values for X, Y and Z. These values are global, in relation to the origin. Location X, Y and Z values indicate the location of the cube, in relation to the global origin at (0,0,0). Rotation X, Y and Z values indicate the rotation of the cube, also in relation to the global origin. Scale X, Y and Z indicate the scale of the cube, in relation to 1, its original size. Dimensions X, Y and Z values indicate the original dimensions of the cube, in Blender units.
The Item section field at the top indicates the object that these values represent. If only one object is selected, that is the object whose name will be in this field; if multiple objects are selected, it will be the active object.
You may manually enter values in the Properties box by clicking with LMB on the values. You may also change values by LMB-dragging on the property name.
When you reset any transforms with the <Alt> key, you'll notice values zero out (location and rotation) for X, Y and Z or go back to 1 for scale values.
Use CTRL to snap values during any transform. Use CTRL + Shift to snap values to a lesser degree.
Example: Activate the move gizmo, grab an axis and move it while holding CTRL. The cube will be moved in increments of 1 grid unit. If you now hold Shift with CTRL, it will move in increments of .1. You can see this by looking at the lower-left corner of your 3D view; values will change relative to the object's last position.
Switch to the rotate gizmo and do the same with one axis ring. CTRL will snap to 5 degrees at a time; CTRL + Shift will snap to 1 degree at a time.
Finally, switch to the scale gizmo and do the same. CTRL will snap to .1 units, while CTRL + Shift will snap to .01 units.
If you accidentally only hold Shift down, this will not snap values, but rather transform the object at very small values.
The shortcuts for the transforms are: G = Move (Blender refers to moving as "grabbing"), R = Rotate, S = Scale. Notice from above, that to reset any of these transforms, you simply add the <Alt> key.
The shortcuts for the transform gizmos are: CTRL + Alt + G = Move gizmo, CTRL + Alt + R = Rotate gizmo, CTRL + Alt + S = Scale gizmo.
After you hit G, R or S, you will be in the mode to transform the object along all axes at once. To constrain the transform along one axis, follow G, R or S with X, Y or Z. You will see a line appear in your view indicating that you've constrained the transform in that direction.
If you want to constrain along two axes, Shift + enter the letter corresponding to the axis you don't want to transform along, then use the mouse for the transformation.
You can be additionally precise by entering a number, followed by <Enter> to finalize the transform.
Example: If you hit G, Y, -4, <Enter>, your object would be moved 4 units in the -Y direction.
Example: If you hit S, Shift + Z, 10, <Enter>, your object would be scaled 10 times in the X-Y plane.
You may constrain the object along two axes with hotkeys with the same method (using the Tab key for switching values), but it can get confusing, so I would recommend avoiding it.
You can also use hotkeys to transform locally. It works just like transforming globally, except that you hit the axis twice quickly to constrain locally.
For example: If you hit G, ZZ, 3, <Enter>, your object would be moved 3 units in the local +Z direction. You will notice that when you hit the first Z, the global Z-axis constraint line appears, then after you hit the second Z, the local Z-axis constraint line appears. This holds true for all of the transforms.
If the cube isn't already rotated, do so in one or more axes. Then hit S, YY, 4, <Enter> to scale it 4 times in the local Y direction.
The transform hotkeys can prove to save time.