Blender 2.8+ Basics

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At first glance a lot has seemingly change between Blender 2.79 and Blender 2.80, most of which is not immediately visible to the User. With that said, aside from the obvious differences in appearance, Blender 2.80 actually presents a familiar and perhaps more refined version of the application, suitable for the next generation of content creation and development. Discover the best way to learn Blender with the basics below.

Important: the following is a BASIC OVERVIEW of Blender 2.80’s interface.

Start up

Comparing Blender 2.80 with it’s predecessor 2.79 little has changed when first opened/started, the Splash Screen still appears (with a different design), displaying a number of shortcuts to important resources and the ‘last opened’ (Recent Files) list.

Design note: when starting Blender for the very first time (clean install, no previous versions present) the Splash Screen initially displays options to set the dominant mouse button for selections/actions, left or right, to accommodate traditionalist Blender users (right-click) or those wanting functionality more consistent with other applications (left-click).

Setting left/right selection on Blenders first use
When Blender 2.80 opens for the first time it displays a set of options to define the selection default, either left or right click.

Blender 2.8 initial appearance on starting
Blender 2.80 on starting showing the Splash Screen and options.

Blender 2.79 initial appearance on starting up
Blender 2.79 on start up showing the Splash Screen and options.

Initial Layout

The initial Layout, or Workspace as it is now known, presented by Blender 2.80 is not that much different from Blender 2.79’s at face value. What is different is its design or appearance; the Tool Shelf to the left of the 3D View, now referred to as the Toolbar (T), is still present but functions in a slightly different way – it appears as a series of button/icons. So too is (View) Properties (not shown below), itself now called the Sidebar (N). The Outliner Editor (upper half) and Properties panel (lower half) are still on the right (by default), with their respective buttons, settings and options.

Design note: the Properties panel icons are displayed vertically and colour-coded based on their general purpose or function – broadly speaking, white (light-grey) for Scene, Rendering etc., fuchsia for materials, blue for modifications.

The Info Editor header still runs along the top of the application but has undergone a facelift; Layout (formerly Choose Screen layout) options are now fully featured as a series of clickable (customisable) Workspace tabs that change the interface to match the task represented, making this under utilised feature more accessible and prominent.

Design note: Workspace effectively replaces Choose Screen Layout for Blender 2.80+.

The initial layout presented in Blender 2.79 when ready to be used
The initial layout presented by Blender 2.79.

Initial layout presented on Blender 2.8 first use
The initial layout presented by Blender 2.80, many areas and editors are still in the same place but shown as a set of vertical icons instead of a button strip and sidebar.

Layout options are now presented as tabs for more immediate access.

3D View Navigation

The main change to Blender 2.80+ is the predominance of the 3D View or work area which now occupies much of the interface. Here too the button strip has been broken up and distributed within the area – largely to the top of the view. One significant change is the Viewpoint Navigator (or view navigator) upper-right, an interactive version of the axis orientation widget that appeared bottom-left corner in Blender 2.79 (which was always begging to be used this way, Ed.). This is can be clicked to use fixed presets, (left) click-dragged for manual manipulation of the view, and usable generally to rotate around/re-orientate the scene making it easier to use Blender on touch-screen devices. Mouse/keyboard navigation still works as standard – middle-mouse, + Shift or Ctrl for Rotate, Strafe or Zoom.

Design note: the 3D View rotates and orientates itself as per previously versions of Blender.

Using the new Viewpoint Navigation widget top-right corner of the 3D View.

Using the 3D View navigation icons – although invisible when used, strafe and zoom do affect the mouse cursors position, which is moving in relation to the 3D View, so may end up on the other side of the screen rather than where an action may have been initialised/activated (upper-right).

Interaction Mode selection

Breaking up and dispersing the 3D View Header buttons and options from Blender 2.79 means a change to the Sets the object interaction mode selections, moved to the top-left corner of the view, retaining the same options i.e., Object Mode, Edit Mode, Sculpt Mode, Vertex Paint, Weight Paint and Texture Paint. As with previous versions of Blender each mode change swaps the array of buttons, settings and options in the Toolbar area (the panel formally occupied by the Tool Shelf in Blender 2.79 et al), simply left-click an option from the drop-down menu to switch between modes.

Design note: Ctrl + Tab displays the Mode wheel (pie) menu replacing the selection pop-up.

Changing the ‘interaction mode’ using the same options, now in the top-left corner of the view.

Viewport Display/Shading

The Method to display/shade objects in the the 3D View (Viewport or 3D View Shading) Header button options of Blender 2.79 i.e., Solid, Texture, Rendered and so on, are now top-right corner of the 3D View. Here four* options are currently shown; Wireframe, Solid (default as for 2.79), Look Dev (environment map/HDRI) and Rendered (real-time, full effects). Options previously available in 2.79, Material and BoundBox in particular have been de-prioritised or combined with the Shading and Overlays selection options where more variables can be chosen to fit the general rendering overhaul of Blender 2.80+.

*Important: the full list of display options previously available in Blender 2.79 or below – Bounding Box, Wireframe, Solid, Texture, Material and Rendered – are subject to inclusion or change, options used may differ during development and/or final release.

The ‘viewport shading’ buttons are now in the top-right accompanied with a more detailed Shading options pop-up.

3D Widget & Transform Orientation

As with other elements of the 3D View Header buttons, Transform Orientation, Pivot Point, Proportional Editing and Snap have been moved and are located top-centre of the main area. The 3D Widget and Transform Manipulators buttons previously grouped alongside the Transform Orientation buttons have been rearranged to accommodate a new Cursor transform mode that allows the 3D Cursor to be positioned without interfering with other modes, functions or objects on-screen, and a global Transform manipulator mode that combines the Move, Rotate and Scale widgets, each now being separate buttons in the Toolbar to the left when Object Mode or Edit Mode is active.

Design note: the 3D View rotates and orientates itself as per previously versions of Blender.

Behaviour and usage of the 3D Widget and Transform settings now include dedicated Cursor and Transform modes.

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