Basic keyboard & mouse control
(for Blender 2.49 and/or below)

Make a simple chain in Blender

In the first part of the Blender basics tutorial we looked at how the application is essentially broken down into three sections with a number of key areas used when creating content. In this subsequent section of this tutorial series we'll learn how to navigate and move around Blenders various view ports and areas using different keyboard and mouse click combinations; these form the core functionality of how objects are manipulated in Blender 3D when working.

moving around the 3D view ports ^

Blender is slightly unusual in that a lot of the activities done with it are based around the use of both keyboard key and mouse combinations at the same time. This may seen odd at first, and is often contrary to how navigation is done in other 3D applications, but once the system has been learnt it becomes astonishingly quick to work with when manipulating and moving objects and scenes as you work.

3D View: MMB ^

Middle-Mouse-Button (MMB), click-hold drag will rotate the 3D view around a centralised pivot point (approximately centre of screen). Rotation is 'universal' in that the view will rotate in all directions around that point depending on the mouse movement after the MMB has been pressed.

Design note: Using MMB in other view ports may just drag the view up-down, left-right depending on which one is being used.

Middle-mouse control in Blender 3D

Using middle-mouse button (MMB) to rotate the 3D Blender view port

3D View: Shift + MMB ^

Shift-Hold + Middle-Mouse-Button (Shift+MMB), click-hold drag will do something called 'strafing', that is, using that combination will move the 3D view from left-right or up-down depending on the direction and distance the mouse is moved inside the view.

Design note: Using Shift+MMB in other view ports may not do anything other than dragging the view left-right, up-down, as described above.

Using Shift + MMB to drag the 3D view left-right, up-down

Using Shift + MMB to drag the 3D view left-right, up-down

3D View: Ctrl + MMB ^

Ctrl-Hold + Middle-Mouse-Button (Ctrl+MMB), click-hold drag will zoom the view in or out depending on mouse movement. The speed at which zoom happens is also dependant on the speed at which the mouse is moved. Zooming can also be done by scrolling the MMB up or down to zoom in or out. Note that doing this tends to zoom by 'steps' (the view judders as the zoom happens), where-as using Ctrl+MMB will 'free scroll' (scrolling is smoothing but less controlled).

Design note: Using Ctrl+MMB in other views will also zoom the contents, so using this combination in the tool bar will increase the size of the tool buttons and panels.

Using Ctrl + MMB to 'zoom' the view in or out

Using Ctrl + MMB to 'zoom' the view in or out

So, MMB used in combination with Shift and Ctrl gives us the basic movement control of a scene and/or objects with in it. There are many more keyboard and mouse combinations available in Blender, but they are all best mentioned within the content of actually making something. That's what we'll be looking at next; making a simple 3D chair model.