When you are first starting out with Blender it can be a bit overwhelming to learn how to work with the software. There are many ways to interact with, navigate and create using Blender. One of the most simple and straightforward ways when getting started is using the UI menus. Blender is full of different types of menus such as select menus and pie menus as shown here.
Using menus to select properties, modifiers and options are necessary in certain circumstances. There are also what are called “gizmos” that allow you to move, scale and rotate objects or parts of objects.
Working in the viewports while editing your models, hotkeys are the true power in Blender. Blender has far too many hotkeys to get into in this post. I am going to show a few of the hotkeys that I found useful for me when I was first learning.
First Blender Hotkeys to Learn
At a glance, these are the hotkeys that I will be going over
- Top Row Number Keys (when in Edit Mode)
- G key
- E Key
- I Key
- S Key
- R Key
- Numpad Numbers (1, 3, 7, 0, and period)
- Alt Key
Now, lets get into the details.
After you create your first mesh object in Blender, you will want to start editing it. For that you need to switch from Object Mode to Edit Mode. To do this the hotkey is the ‘tab’ key. The tab key will toggle between Object Mode and Edit Mode on the selected object. Once in edit mode you can start to modify the shape and mesh.
Top Row Number Keys (when in Edit Mode)
When in edit mode, the numbers 1, 2, and 3 on the top row numbers of the keyboard can be used to switch between vertex, edge, and face selection modes respectively.
The letter G is the hotkey for grab or “move”. Whether in edit mode or object mode, when you hit the G key, you can then freely move the object or part of the object that is selected. Further, once you hit the G key, you can restrict the movement to a single axis (x, y, or z) by subsequently hitting the X, Y or Z keys respectively. There are more options regarding axes but for the sake of keeping this at a beginner level I will leave it at this for now.
When in edit mode, the E key can be used to extrude new geometry, such as extruding a face. You can also extrude edges and vertices depending on what is selected when you hit the E key.
In edit mode with a face selected, the I key can be used to create an inset inside of the selected face. This is very commonly used in conjunction with extrude. It is very common to inset a new face and then extrude the inset face.
Whether in edit mode or object mode, the S key can be used to scale an object, parts of an object, or groups of objects. Just like the G key, scaling can be restricted to specific axes as well.
R is used to rotate objects or parts of objects. Like move and scale, this can be restricted to specific axes. Once you hit the R Key, you can freehand rotate or you can type in a number for the degrees to rotate.
Numpad Numbers (1, 3, 7, 0, and period)
There are many more useful hotkeys on the numpad but these tend to be some of the most useful when just getting started, in my opinion.
The number 1 key moves the viewport to the front isometric view, the number 3 key moves the viewport to the side isometric view, and the number 7 key moves to the top isometric view. These are very useful to move around your model at these different isometric angles when you are trying to line up objects or parts of the objects, or are trying to match your model to a reference image in the background.
When in one of the isometric views, you can use the center wheel button of your mouse to rotate the viewport and it will put you back into perspective mode.
0 key toggles between camera view and the normal viewport view. The period key (on the numpad) centers and zooms the viewport to whatever is currently selected (a whole object, a part of an object, or multiple objects).
The alt key can be a negative or undo for certain operations. For example, you can use alt + S to remove any scaling from the selected object. The same goes for alt + R and alt + G will remove any rotation and will move the object back to its original position (remove the movement).
There are loads more hotkeys for Blender and there are also more options for the hotkeys that I shared above. These again are just some of the hotkeys I found the most useful for me to use when I was first learning to model in Blender. I hope you also find these useful.