5 Common Pitfalls For Blender Beginners

Posted by Aidy Burrows on October 20th, 2014 | Comments (30)

New to Blender? Know someone who is? Seen them do these common pitfalls that I’ve highlighted here?

Please tell me of any more you think should be included on the page!

An alarming amount of people give up on Blender too early on because of a few initial stumbling blocks. I can’t say I blame them, we must have all done it with something at some point in our lives.

There’s what I think are 5 big ones here but there are others. Perhaps you could share some of your experiences (either personal or what you’ve seen from others) and I can collate them on the site, keep it updated and give newcomers the boost they need. Thanks! – Aidy :)



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  • Mozzie

    I’ve tripped up on them all. The left/ right click has been the tough one; can’t reprogram head and keep forgetting to save user prefs. Scaling isn’t something I’ve been able to identify, and have had to start from scratch! So thanks. 3d cursor is a pain, but also useful, and I’ve got good at getting it back to where I want it!

    • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

      Glad it was useful! :) – Aidy.

  • jin choung

    this is not mentioned enough in blender user tutorials and i think you’d be remiss if you did not articulate it –

    as it is now, the left click/right click switch is NOT a solution.

    right now, blender uses rt click select in SOME contexts and lt click select in others. this is REALLY BAD. but worse – if you use the preferences window to switch to lt click select, in the contexts that WERE lt click select, they will be FLIPPED NOW to RT CLICK SELECT!!! this is bad, inexcusable user UI. this needs to be unified. and until it is unified, users should be given a heads up to the fact. if more newbies become aware of the problem, they just may have to fix it.

    IMO, the best solution: lt-click select (ALL fing CONTEXTS!), rt-click (context menu), mmb-click (place 3d cursor). everyone would understand that intuitively. just get this gigantic stumbling block at the very doorway to blender out of the way please!

    as someone who’s been waiting and rooting for blender on the sidelines it’s been a frustrating several decades where it’s always just one little thing that completely precludes its presence in my workflow… whether it was vertices only mode in the 90s or the crazy mouse button implementation these days. such a SMALL thing… but SOOOOOO FUNDAMENTAL!

    come on!!! it’s sooooo close!

    • chris74656

      i don’t like the RMB select either, it’s the first thing i change once i download a new blender version. but for me that works perfectly fine. what exact feature are you talking about when you say “they will be FLIPPED NOW to RT CLICK SELECT!!!” ? never occoured to me… once i go for LMB select, everything is LMB select.

      • jin choung

        i don’t have it installed but the timeline, the outliner and the materials window should be flipped.

    • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

      Hi Jin! You’re right, here I’ve kept things quite basic but hopefully fundamental.

      Unfortunately the left click/right click swap does break a few things. I was over in Amsterdam at the Blender conference recently speaking with Jonathan Williamson from CGCookie, he’s heavily involved in the upcoming UI update. This is something that is high on the agenda. There are several things as well as addons that get broken with changes in the custom keymaps that are fundamental, especially swapping the left click right click around.

      My recommendation for new users is to try to stick to the defaults (I guess it’s this setup that gets the most bug reports and also gets the most attention/priority on the bugtracker) that way it’s easier to follow along with most tutorials too! :) – Aidy.

      • jin choung

        absolutely. that’s my take too. yes, there are inconsistencies and flip flops even in the rt click default… but everything becomes 1000x WORSE if you try to use the lt click preference switch. so i definitely concur, if you’re going to start off with blender now, just bite the bullet and learn the default.

  • Dileep

    Its absolutely mind boggling as to why the rarely used 3d cursor is assigned to left click.. when every other software out there uses left click to select. You can avoid clicking anywhere and use Shift+S menu to put the 3d cursor to its most common uses.

    • http://vile72.deviantart.com/gallery/ William Ruiz

      you will find out how important that little bugger is. Using it with shift+S to snap it to locations, can be pretty handy, because the more you progress in Blender, the more you find out accuracy is key. Happy Blending!

      • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

        Definitely William! I like the 3d cursor too, I agree the shift S snap is the best way to keep things accurate with it. Blend on! :) – Aidy.

        • iRowebot

          Agreed, the 3D cursor placement is one of the first keys i change as well, but I use (~ + LMB). Little spoken about feature in Blender I’ve never seen anywhere else is there is a space in the keybindings for you to set any key as a modifier key. This allows me to use CTRL, ALT, Shift or ~ or any other key when setting up my hotkeys. I also recommend ~ + 1,2,3 to snap the cursor to selected, world center or object to cursor. Really helps my workflow.

        • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

          Yeah modifier keys are such a good idea! Thanks for sharing your other ideas too! :) Aidy.

    • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

      I have to admit I prefer to precisely place the 3d cursor with the shift s menu too. I think the left mouse button could likely be put to better use, however, this is something that is being looked at currently with the UX overhaul. Also there are many interesting things planned for Blender’s future, several of which may help resolve some of these sorts of user experience things. :) – Aidy.

    • Xero

      I totally agree Dileep. I have no idea why someone though this was a good idea to have it that way as the default behaviour or even why it’s still that way to this date. The first thing I do whenever I have a fresh install of Blender is to switch the left click to select and right to place the cursor.

  • http://yunus.sf.net/ tarik bagriyanik
    • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

      Great article Tarik! Well done! Especially agree with the thin panel borders and jamming keys! Thanks for sharing! :) – Aidy.

  • chris74656

    why should anyone want to disable the 3d cursor? it’s one of the best features of blender and one of the reasons i’m >10 times slower when modeling in maya :( (though i have 9 years experience with blender AND maya)

    • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

      Hi Chris! Glad you’re getting some good workflow with Blender! One of the best things about Blender compared to Maya in my opinion is the non destructive options you have with Blender’s modifiers. :) – Aidy.

  • http://vile72.deviantart.com/gallery/ William Ruiz

    As far as RMB is concerned, I dont even think about it. Its awkward at first…..within a month, its second nature. It should go without saying that if you switch the functionality of something like RMB that the LMB will be affected. If its really that big of a problem, when you open Blender, in the splash screen, where it says INTERACTION, you can switch to MAYA or 3DS MAX style interface. Hope that helps.

    • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

      Hi William, unfortunately there are a few things broken even with the default maya/3ds max keymaps. These are all getting an overhaul though so eventually people might become less confused by their early interactions with Blender.

      Personally I have to agree with you, it was a little of an adjustment but I too soon got used to all the defaults in Blender. :) – Aidy.

  • Marksism

    Reminding users to check if Proportional Editing is on or off might be useful. Even after several years of using Blender I still fall over on that one every now and again. As for the 3D cursor, I can’t see how anyone can use Blender without it.

    • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

      Ah, yes! Proportional editing can be a bit puzzling too, good addition thanks! :) – Aidy.

  • blendo_kid0

    Probably the biggest mistake I made when arriving to Blender was thinking that I could become a good artist by spending some bucks on the marvelous and extensively recommended “Wow Factor”, by our dear Andrew Price. I bought it probably when I had days of Blender use, and even today I never used it for anything useful. Not only that, the last “bi-monthly” update that he says we get if we buy the book was almost 4 years ago.

    Moral of the story: Unless you really need it, don’t go buy any training products and similar stuff.

    Still, Andrew is a great guy and I have no doubts that his most recent products are really good. It’s just what I finished saying.

    • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

      Hi! I’ve not seen the Wow Factor but I do know that Andrew puts out a lot of good free stuff. I think most of these sorts of things have money back guarantees as well but I can’t be certain. I totally agree that the more recent stuff is probably the safest bet, though there are some classics from years ago out there still! Maybe i’ll do a post about that actually! – Thanks! – Aidy. :)

  • Bryan J Bryce

    Aidy, what UI add-on are you using?

    • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

      Hi Bryan, do you mean the dark theme of the UI? It’s one of the presets under the themes tab of the user preferences. It’s called ‘elysiun’, should be available by default, i just then make a couple more tweaks. But most of it is just that theme. Hope that helps! :) Aidy.

      • Bryan J Bryce

        OK, found that. How’d you get the gradient background and transparency in the panels? This should really be the default blender theme as it looks much more professional and modern.

        • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

          You’ve inspired me to most likely do a post about this at some point.

          The gradient background is found in the themes tab of the user preferences, on the left hand side choose 3dview, and then on the right hand side if you scroll down you’ll find a checkbox for ‘use gradient’. You can set the high and low colors there too.

          For the transparency in the panels, in the user preferences switch over to the system tab (the last one along) and then enable ‘region overlap’. This is something that doesn’t seem to work for me by the way on one computer without changing the window draw methods above this option so that might be worth checking out if it doesn’t work.

          Hope that helps! :) Aidy.

  • john in hillsbobo

    you ask for personal experiences, things that impede the use of Blender .
    Ok here’s my addition…..
    I started with Blender about 12 years ago I think.
    The guide book that I manged to get my hands on turned out to be the tool tips.
    I could not find any tutorials online at that time.
    Then I stumble upon another program, which was not free but which cost less than half what LightWave and Max cost.
    Then I found a guide book which was a lot better than what blenderhead and it included a trial version.
    I used a trial version for a year or two before I had a chance to buy the full Version.
    It was the 2005 edition. which is what I am basing the rest of my time line on.
    Buying that program once was one thing, but I never really got very far with it either so I didn’t feel it to be practical to buy a newer copy or a copy for my laptop and therefore I gave blender another look.
    the actual point is…..
    The other program has away of reusing models, materials ect.
    It does this by saving each thing separate from The project file and then loading it again into the new project.
    this is something that is covered pretty thoroughly and early on in the guidebooks and also in the help section.
    I figured blender most likely had some way in which to also share things, But it took me a long time before I finally stumbled across link and append.
    those who do not already know that these are the functions that are used to reuse models will not be looking for those terms.
    And searching for save model does not do any good nor does searching for reuse model.
    I have not seen any tutorials on the user interface or on basic modeling that introduces these.
    I am curious, you seem to be an expert on Blender how did you first find out how to reuse models and stuff ?

    • http://www.cgmasters.net/ Aidy Burrows

      That’s great John thanks! Yeah the tooltips are a lifesaver for the new starter!

      I was educated in 3ds max and maya first so I was initially just looking for import and export which were there so I thought that was it. I think I was just then going through all the menus taking time to understand them, googling and so on and then came across something in the wiki or an old document somewhere.

      Not for this example but i’ve even trawled through plenty of developer commit notes to get a feeling for what things are doing. Back in the day I think I was also just watching every tutorial I could find online, there was blender’s own forum and blenderartists too so it was just a matter of reading as much as possible. I also got to watch a fair few bad tutorials with incorrect info too! All part of the process! :D