Blender 2.8 Basics

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IMPORTANT NOTE: this information is subject to change until Blender 2.8’s final release.
Blenders appearance c. Nov 2018
Blender 2.8’s appearance c. Nov 2nd 2018, note button, menu and area display differences.

Blenders UI may change depending on the version (version c. Sept 2018 shown)
Later version of Blender, including final release, may differ to pre-release versions e.g. note Toolbar button (left) and navigation icon (upper-right) changes in the above differ from those shown below (version c. Spet 2018 shown above).

At first glance a lot has seemingly change between Blender 2.79 and Blender 2.8, most of which is not immediately visible to the User. With that said, aside from the obvious differences in appearance, Blender 2.8 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 2.8’s interface and subject to change.

Start up

Comparing Blender 2.8 with it’s predecessor 2.7, little has changed, the Splash Screen still appears, displaying a number of shortcuts to important resources and the ‘last opened’ list of files.

Blender 2.8 initial appearance on starting
Blender 2.8 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 Work Space as it is now known, presented by Blender 2.8 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 right of the 3D View, now referred to as the Toolbar, 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. The Outliner Editor (upper) and Properties panel (lower) are still on the left (by default), with their respective button ribbons.

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 tabs that change the interface to match the task represented, making this under utilised feature more accessible and prominent.

Design note: Work Space effectively replaces Choose Screen Layout for Blender 2.8.

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 2.8, many areas and editors are still in the same place.


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

3D View Navigation

The main change to Blender 2.8 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), 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, click-dragged for manual navigation, and usable generally to navigate around the scene making it easier to use Blender on touch-screen devices. Mouse/keyboard navigation still works as standard.

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’ (top-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, and keeping 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 ‘tool shelf’ area (the panel formally occupied by the Tool Shelf in Blender 2.79 et al), simply left-click the menu and make a selection from the list available.

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 three* options are currently shown Solid (default as for 2.79), LookDev (environment map/HDRI) and Rendered. Options previously available in 2.79, Material, Wireframe and BoundBox in particular may be included in future releases, or 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 2.8.

*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 Tool Shelf to the right 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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