working with viewports


The three main views you will be spending your time in are Perspective, Camera and to a lesser extent Light (their keyboard shortcuts are numeric keypad 4, 6 and 5). The Orthographic views will be less used. It is worth noting however that the view names are based on "Looking towards...", so the Back view actually presents us with the head of the Rasper Cow pictured, and the Left view shows us the right flank of the creature.

The complete list of default views controlled by numeric keypad presses are as follows:


Although little to no difference can be seen between Wireframe and Front Face Wireframe in the above image it helps to simplify the display of more complex objects. You can actually mix display levels, discussed in the Scene / Dope Editor section.


The third menu presents some options for displaying viewports. In the examples for Types above, the Bone X-Ray option is on. They are all discussed at Viewport Options.

Changing Your Point of View

With the View Control drag buttons located on the upper-right edge of a viewport, you can interactively alter the orthogonal and perspective POVs. The buttons are dimmed to indicate that they are not available when you use the Light or Camera views, where they have no effect since those are based on their respective item’s POV in the scene


Center Continuously centers the viewport on the selected item. You may also activate the Center Current Item option on the pop-up menu next to the view selector.

For an object, the centering is based on its pivot point, which is discussed later. This is not always the center of an object. If you deactivate this mode, the existing POV position will remain until changed. As such, you can use this feature to establish a starting point if the need arises.

You can use the keyboard shortcuts A and Shift +A to Fit All and Fit Selected in any viewport. Fitting is based on pivot points rather than geometry.


  • Orthogonal view: Moves your POV horizontally when you drag left or right and vertically when you drag up or down.

Keyboard shortcut: Alt

  • Perspective view: Moves your POV horizontally when you drag left or right and farther/closer when you drag up or down with the LMB . Moves your POV vertically when you drag up or down with the RMB.

Keyboard shortcut: Shift + Alt

Since you are changing your POV, the scene items will appear to move in the opposite direction of your mouse movements.


  • Orthogonal views - not applicable.
  • Perspective view - Rotates your POV’s heading when you drag left or right and its pitch when you drag up or down with the LMB . Rotates your POV’s bank when you drag left or right with the RMB.

Keyboard shortcut: Alt


  • All views - Zooms in and out when you drag left and right. (You can also use the < and > keys.) Keyboard shortcut: Ctrl + Alt or Alt+Scrollwheel

Fullscreen Toggle

  • The last icon in this group is a toggle to switch the associated viewport between fullscreen and back. Keyboard shortcut: Numpad 0

The Grid

Viewport Options

The items on the Viewport Options menu are as follows. Not all are available at the same time.

  • Bone Weight Shade - shows the selected bone’s influence range in any shaded viewport. The influence coloring is based on each bone’s color, which can be changed in the Scene Editor. A bright yellow is used for the currently selected bone. Note that the bone must be active to see this effect. This mode will override the normal texture display.
  • Bone X-Ray - By default Bone X-Ray is on to show bones inside geometry. Note that bones may still be invisible if the object surface is similarly colored/shaded. Change the bone colors using the Scene Editor, if this becomes a problem. If you wish to switch off Bone X-Ray you can uncheck the item in the Viewport Options menu.

  • DOF/MBlur Preview - Only available in Camera view mode. Gives a preview of scene motion blur and Depth of Field. The number of passes can be set at the bottom of Display Options.
  • Headlight - Provides an OpenGL-only, nondirectional light to illuminate dark scenes for easier work.

  • Center Current Item - For an object, the centering is based on its pivot point. This is not always the center of an object. If you deactivate this mode, either through the menu or the viewport icon, the existing POV position will remain until changed. As such, you can use this feature to establish a starting point if the need arises.

  • Set View Position, Rotation, Zoom... - Opens a requester for setting the viewport numerically.
  • Reset View Position, Rotation, Zoom - Resets to the default values when opening Layout.

  • Viewport Layout - Opens a sub-menu containing the 12 different view types. If a type with multiple viewports is chosen, each individual viewport will contain a viewport options menu. Choosing a different layout changes all the Layout viewports, not just the one in which you are choosing a new viewport layout. The layouts can also be chosen from the Options panel or by stepping through them with F3 and F4.

  • Match Viewport Perspective - Only works in Camera or Light mode. Opens a sub-menu with four options:
    • Selected Camera
    • New Camera
    • Selected Light
    • New Light

  • Store View - Stores the current Layout viewport orientation. Only one viewport can be stored if in a multi-viewport display. Stores the view in the scene file so the view will be available after a reload of the scene
  • Recall View - Retrieves the stored viewport orientation. This only works with the same viewport that was stored

  • OpenGL Wireframe - This and the OpenGL Overlay item below are only available when VPR is engaged. OpenGL Wireframe presents a wireframe over the rendered object.
  • OpenGL Overlay - This and the OpenGL Wireframe item below are only available when VPR is engaged. OpenGL Overlay presents a wireframe view of your scene elements, like lights, the grid and transform widgets, laid over the rendered view.
  • Show OpenGL UI - Shows or hides non-renderable interface elements.

When the viewport is showing VPR, two additional options become available:

  • Draft Mode - disabled by default, Draft mode applies a specific set of values
  • Mouse Refinement - On by default, this centers VPR refinement on the mouse position. This option can slow rendering slightly, if your scene is complex, try switching it off.

The Grid

A grid of squares, made up of an planar axis at 0,0,0, is visible in any of the orthogonal views, as well as the Perspective view. The grid serves as a visual reference when you move items around, but it will never render in a final image. The grid lines are darker every tenth square for visual reference. The Origin is located at the center of the grid.

You can find the current size of the grid squares in the information field at the very lower-left corner of the screen. The size of each grid square is adjustable as is its overall size on the Display Options Tab of the Preferences Panel (Edit > Display Options).

The Grid and Relative Camera/Light Sizes

The size of lights and cameras (that is, how they appear in the viewport) are relative to the size of the grid squares, with the exception of Area Lights and Linear Lights, which are independent of the grid square size. If you have very large grid squares, you will also have very large lights/camera compared to objects, and vice versa.

The Grid Square Size Effect on Positioning

The Grid Square Size (Display > Options: Display Options) also determines the incremental change as you drag your mouse. Thus, a smaller size lets you edit your object’s position with greater accuracy than using a larger one. If you find that you can’t edit an object with the accuracy required, try lowering the Grid Square Size. However, this will also affect the Orthogonal and Perspective view modes.

Grid Square Size Auto-Adjustment

When you start creating a new scene, your Grid Square Size will automatically adjust itself upwards only, if necessary. This can be problematic when you use objects that differ significantly in relative size, like planets and spaceships. Objects may seem to disappear, when in reality they are just too small or too big to see in the viewport.

Once you manually set the Grid Square Size or save and reload a scene, the automatic sizing adjustment is deactivated. As such, you may want to load the smaller objects first and then manually change the Grid Square Size to the same value. Then, load the larger objects.