10 useful tips and tricks for Blender (with videos)

Introduction

Before I start with use­ful tips and tricks for Blender I will briefly share with you my his­to­ry with Blender.

A few years ago I had a seri­ous addic­tion with Blender which is used to cre­ate 3D mod­els and ani­ma­tions, I used it a min­i­mum of 4 hours a day try­ing to recre­ate all kinds of things that crossed my mind, par­tic­u­lar­ly noth­ing artis­tic but I was able to cre­ate struc­tures, fur­ni­ture and oth­er types of objects based on ref­er­ence images.
3D mod­el­ing was some­thing that made me sur­prise myself of my own capa­bil­i­ties, every time a ren­der­ing was com­plet­ed I felt very proud of my cre­ation. In ret­ro­spect I wasn't doing very amaz­ing things but they were things I had made myself from scratch and that was amaz­ing.
So much time and effort spent 3D mod­el­ing with Blender and tex­tur­ing with Sub­stance Painter paid off and today I can include those capa­bil­i­ties as part of my work as a free­lance developer.

Below we are going to review 10 use­ful tips and tricks for using Blender that have helped me to speed up and improve the mod­el­ing process, allow­ing me to accom­plish tasks faster or achieve bet­ter results.

Dear read­er

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#1 ‚ÄĒ Focusing the camera on the selected object in Blender

We start with a short¬≠cut to cen¬≠ter the view or even the ren¬≠der¬≠ing cam¬≠era on the select¬≠ed object. An extreme¬≠ly impor¬≠tant trick because it is some¬≠thing that great¬≠ly improves the agili¬≠ty when using Blender. With this short¬≠cut you can say good¬≠bye to all that time try¬≠ing to cor¬≠rect¬≠ly place the cam¬≠era on a 3D mod¬≠el or even on a ver¬≠tex, the cen¬≠ter of an edge or a face.

To use it sim­ply select an object or an ele­ment of the mesh and press the dot on the numer­ic key­pad, you will see how the cam­era is cen­tered on the select­ed ele­ment and also, when rotat­ing the cam­era, the select­ed ele­ment is the cen­ter of rotation.

#2 ‚ÄĒ Hide all objects or geometry except what is selected in Blender

If you are work­ing on a Blender project that has many objects or an object that has a par­tic­u­lar­ly com­plex mesh, it can be very use­ful to tem­porar­i­ly hide cer­tain objects and leave vis­i­ble only what you need to work with. With this sim­ple short­cut you can eas­i­ly hide select­ed objects in Blender and when you need to reveal all the hid­den objects again.

To iso­late ele­ments in Blender sim­ply select the object or mesh ele­ment you want to iso­late and press SHIFT+H, this will hide all oth­er ele­ments that are not select­ed. To make all hid­den ele­ments vis­i­ble again press ALT+H.

#3 ‚ÄĒ Tip to quickly parent and un-parent objects in Blender

When par­ent­ing objects one of them becomes the par­ent object and the oth­er object or objects we choose become the chil­dren, this caus­es the child objects to be auto­mat­i­cal­ly affect­ed by the trans­for­ma­tions received by the par­ent object, for exam­ple a move­ment applied to the par­ent will cause all the chil­dren to move togeth­er, the same hap­pens for rota­tions and scale changes.

To quick­ly par­ent one object or set of objects to anoth­er in Blender you have to go to the Out­lin­er win­dow where all the objects are locat­ed, select the ones you want to par­ent and then drag them to the object you want to par­ent them to while hold­ing down the SHIFT key, option­al­ly you can press ALT to keep the trans­for­ma­tion of the par­ent objects.

I haven't trans­lat­ed this video yet but you can see the process

#4 ‚ÄĒ Render image with transparency in Blender (applies to Cycles and Eevee)

In many occa­sions it is very use­ful to ren­der only the vis­i­ble parts of a 3D mod­el and make the rest of the ren­der­ing trans­par­ent, for exam­ple when you want to cre­ate a GIF of your­self danc­ing and place it in an arti­cle about Blender tips.

In the prop¬≠er¬≠ties win¬≠dow go to the ren¬≠der prop¬≠er¬≠ties tab and there go to the "Film" sec¬≠tion, you will find a check¬≠box called "Trans¬≠par¬≠ent", check¬≠ing this will make the parts of the ren¬≠der where there is no 3D mod¬≠el trans¬≠par¬≠ent. Make sure you use an appro¬≠pri¬≠ate image for¬≠mat that sup¬≠ports trans¬≠paren¬≠cy, such as PNG.

I haven't trans­lat­ed this video yet but you can see where the check­box is located

#5 ‚ÄĒ Display the normals of 3D models in Blender

The nor­mals of a 3D mod­el are a math­e­mat­i­cal ele­ment that allows to know in which direc­tion is point­ing a par­tic­u­lar face of a 3D mod­el, some­times in the mod­el­ing process cer­tain nor­mals can be invert­ed, that is point­ing towards the inside of the 3D mod­el and this can bring prob­lems with shad­ing, which means prob­lems in the visu­al­iza­tion of a mate­r­i­al applied to the 3D mod­el and also errat­ic behav­ior with light sources. Anoth­er impor­tant prob­lem aris­es if we are cre­at­ing these 3D mod­els to use in a game engine like Uni­ty, in this engine 3D mod­els are ren­dered with "back­face culling", this means that if we have an invert­ed face in the graph­ics engine will be invis­i­ble and we will see through it, to solve this just cor­rect the nor­mals of the 3D mod­el, but first we need to be able to see these normals.

To acti­vate the nor­mals of a 3D mod­el it is nec­es­sary to be in EDIT MODE. Then in the upper right cor­ner of the View­port win­dow click on the arrow that dis­plays the "View­port Over­lays" win­dow, almost at the end of it we will find the "Nor­mals" sec­tion where we have 3 icons to dis­play the nor­mals, usu­al­ly I choose to dis­play them in the cen­ter of the faces. We can also adjust the length of the normals.

#6 ‚ÄĒ Know the number of vertices, edges and faces in our scene in Blender.

When we are cre­at­ing 3D mod­els we may be inter­est­ed in know­ing infor­ma­tion about the geom­e­try of the objects we are cre­at­ing, for exam­ple how many ver­tices, edges, tri­an­gles or faces our mod­el has, this can help us to deter­mine if there is any prob­lem with dupli­cate ver­tices and also keep track of how many poly­gons our 3D mod­el has, if we are cre­at­ing 3D mod­els to use in a graph­ic engine like Uni­ty it can be impor­tant to keep the amount of poly­gons with­in a rea­son­able num­ber accord­ing to the mod­el we are cre­at­ing, espe­cial­ly if the appli­ca­tion is for a mobile or vir­tu­al real­i­ty device, where there are cer­tain lim­i­ta­tions with the hardware.

To dis­play infor­ma­tion about the num­ber of ver­tices, edges, faces and objects in Blender we go to the upper right cor­ner of the View­port win­dow, click on the arrow that dis­plays the "View­port Over­lays" win­dow and check the "Sta­tis­tics" box at the top of the window.

#7 ‚ÄĒ Applying the same material to other objects in Blender

When we select an object and we want to apply a col­or or give it a metal­lic appear­ance for exam­ple what we do is cre­ate a new mate­r­i­al, which by default starts with the "Prin­ci­pled BSDF" Shad­er and we have dif­fer­ent val­ues to con­fig­ure the mate­r­i­al as we wish. But what hap­pens if we have a sec­ond object and we want it to have the same mate­r­i­al? We might be tempt­ed to cre­ate a new mate­r­i­al and con­fig­ure it with the same para­me­ters, it is even pos­si­ble to copy the para­me­ters of one mate­r­i­al and apply them to another.

But there is a bet¬≠ter alter¬≠na¬≠tive, in Blender we can make that two objects have the exact same mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al applied, that is to say that one or sev¬≠er¬≠al mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al slots are point¬≠ing to the ref¬≠er¬≠ence of the same mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al, in this way we can cre¬≠ate a par¬≠tic¬≠u¬≠lar instance of a mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al that we could call "Pine Wood" for exam¬≠ple and reuse that same mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al in all the objects that need the pine wood tex¬≠ture, this not only avoids that we have many unnec¬≠es¬≠sary copies of a mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al but also allows us to mod¬≠i¬≠fy the mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al and that the changes are applied auto¬≠mat¬≠i¬≠cal¬≠ly in all the objects where that mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al is used.

In this case the video is more illus¬≠tra¬≠tive but let's try to sum¬≠ma¬≠rize the pro¬≠ce¬≠dure. With an object select¬≠ed we go to the Mate¬≠ri¬≠als tab (sphere icon with check¬≠ered tex¬≠ture), then if we click the + sign what we will do is cre¬≠ate a new "Slot" for a mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al with¬≠in our object, here there are two options, one is to click on "New" which cre¬≠ates a new instance of a mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al, com¬≠plete¬≠ly inde¬≠pen¬≠dent of the oth¬≠ers, the oth¬≠er option is to select an exist¬≠ing mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al (which inter¬≠ests us in this case), for this we click the icon to the left of the "New" but¬≠ton and select from the list the mate¬≠r¬≠i¬≠al we want to assign to the slot.

#8 ‚ÄĒ Show animation bones always in front of other objects in Blender

When cre­at­ing ani­ma­tions with Blender using ani­ma­tion bones it is very use­ful to be able to see these bones at any moment even if they are hid­den inside anoth­er object or obstruct­ed by an object.

With the "Arma­ture" object select­ed, go to the "Object Data prop­er­ties" tab (which has a humanoid icon and is locat­ed above the tab with the bone icon), then go to the "View­port Dis­play" sec­tion and check the "In Front" checkbox.

#9 ‚ÄĒ Quickly create Edge Loops in Blender

When we gain some expe¬≠ri¬≠ence with Blender we come across the con¬≠cept of "Edge Loop", basi¬≠cal¬≠ly it is a set of ver¬≠tices on a sur¬≠face that are con¬≠nect¬≠ed togeth¬≠er and the last ver¬≠tex of the set is con¬≠nect¬≠ed back to the first one, the key is that of all the pos¬≠si¬≠ble con¬≠nec¬≠tions that can be drawn and that meet these con¬≠di¬≠tions, the Edge Loop is like the loop that is con¬≠nect¬≠ed in the most coher¬≠ent way in rela¬≠tion to the oth¬≠er sur¬≠round¬≠ing sets of ver¬≠tices, it is a con¬≠cept some¬≠what dif¬≠fi¬≠cult to explain but it is easy to under¬≠stand once we start work¬≠ing with them. An exam¬≠ple of edge loop can be one of the rings that forms a sphere or a donut in Blender (the cor¬≠rect name is torus but it looks like a donut), each ring is a set of ver¬≠tices con¬≠nect¬≠ed form¬≠ing a loop and this is an edge loop.

To quick­ly cre­ate an Edge Loop in Blender, select an object, go into EDIT MODE and press CTRL+R, then move the cur­sor to the part of the geom­e­try where you want to add the edge loop, at this point you can scroll the mouse wheel to increase the num­ber of loops to add or man­u­al­ly enter a num­ber by keyboard.

#10 ‚ÄĒ Easily select Edge Loops and remove them in Blender

There is a quick way to select Edge Loops which allows us to apply trans­for­ma­tions on the mod­el, for exam­ple increase the size of a par­tic­u­lar Edge Loop or move that Edge Loop in one direc­tion and we can also get rid of that Edge Loop in a way that we keep the rest of the mod­el intact, the lat­ter is espe­cial­ly use­ful when we want to dras­ti­cal­ly decrease the amount of poly­gons of a 3D mod­el to use it in a graph­ics engine like Uni­ty for example.

To quick¬≠ly select an Edge Loop in Blender we have to be in edit mode of an object, then hold Left ALT and left click on one of the edges that belongs to the Edge Loop that you want to select, if you click on a ver¬≠tex of the Edge Loop you may select anoth¬≠er Edge Loop that goes through the same ver¬≠tex, so to be sure to select the cor¬≠rect one it is bet¬≠ter to click on the edges.

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