10 time saving Blender hotkeys

Introduction

If you’re anything like me then picking up the interface of a piece of software is usually fairly simple. Most software is designed in such a way as to make it intuitive to learn and use, and even if it’s not there is always plenty of help out there in the online community to provide the direction required. Getting up to speed on how to physically use a piece of software and navigate around the interface is therefore not too difficult. Unfortunately, this is often where a lot of users take their foot off the gas and accept their current level of speed and productivity. If you want to take things to the next level in Blender; creating models, texturing them, and lighting them in a more time efficient way, then hopefully this list of 10 hotkeys will help you out.

Delete selected objects

I do a lot of work on a MacBook which doesn’t have a delete key. I was therefore grateful to find out that you can delete an object not just by hitting “Delete” but also by hitting the “X” key. Blender will then ask you if you want to delete it before it proceeds with the operation.

three grey cubes on grid
Delete objects using either the “Delete” or “X” keys © Paul Hatton

Object manipulation

When manipulating objects in Blender you will often want to move between tools quickly to ensure efficient use of your time. The first thing you’ll need to do is grab an object which you can by doing using “G”. Having grabbed an object, you can then use “R” to go into rotation mode. Simply press “R” again to go into free rotate mode. Another hotkey is “S” which puts you into scale mode. The handy thing you can do after each of these is to press “X”, “Y” or “Z” to lock your manipulation to a specific axis.

modeling in Blender
Manipulating objects with hotkeys will speed up your modeling process © Paul Hatton

Switching between views

While you’re modeling it is particularly helpful to be able to switch between the different types of views. This is where the numpad is your friend. Personally I think the number keys should have been ordered with 1, 2, 3 and 4 for front, back, left, and right, but they’ve opted for a different setup introducing the Ctrl key too. Here are the six main views:

1          Front view

Ctrl+1  Back view

3          Left side view

Ctrl+3  Right side view

7          Top view

Ctrl+7  Bottom view

modeling in Blender
Ditch using slow drop-down menus to move between your views and use these hotkeys © Paul Hatton

Hotkeys for your camera

Once you’ve used the perspective view to navigate to your chosen view, you can hit Ctrl+Alt+0 to set the camera to your selected viewport. This is a quick way of getting cameras set up. You can adjust the cameras afterwards by moving them and fine tuning, but creating from the viewport is a good first step. You can switch to your camera view at any time by hitting “0”.

camera perspective modeling in Blender
Create your cameras quickly by creating the camera from the viewport © Paul Hatton

Switching between view modes

When you’re modeling you’ll find it useful to switch between different view modes. The two key options are wireframe and solid. Switching between these will help you get clarity as your model takes shape. The “Z” key enables you to toggle between these. You can also use “Shift+Z” to switch to the rendered view.

viewmodes in Blender
View your model from a variety of different angles quickly with these hotkeys © Paul Hatton

Object creation menu

Adding new objects to your scene is an essential part of any project. To bring up the in-view object creation menu simply hover your cursor over the view you’re in and hit “Shift+A”. The resulting menu will let you specify the type of object that you want to create. Getting used to this hotkey will save you a stack of time during the creation process.

menu shortcut in Blender
Create your objects quickly and efficiently with this menu shortcut © Paul Hatton

Show search menu

Following on from the previous hotkey for object creation you’ll be glad that it’s as simple as hitting the spacebar to be able to access all of the Blender tools. Having hit the spacebar simply start typing the name of the tool that you want to use and you’ll see the list of options appearing. When you see the tool you want you can either left-mouse click on it or use the up and down keys before activating it with the “Return” key.

searching move in Blender
Access any Blender tool quickly with the search menu © Paul Hatton

Duplicate and mirror objects

These are a couple of the regular operations that I make use of so I thought it would be helpful to let you know that you can duplicate a selected object by using “Shift+D” and that you can mirror a selected object by using “Ctrl+M”. After entering into either mode you can select “X”, “Y” or “Z” to specify the axis for duplicating/mirroring.

duplicating objects in Blender
Speed up your scene creation by duplicating and mirroring objects quickly © Paul Hatton

Repeating the last action

If you’re carrying out a lot of repetitive tasks then you’ll be glad to know that “Shift+R” will simply repeat the last action. Discovering this hotkey made me very happy as I had previously just been manually repeating these types of actions. Once you start using it you’ll find a multitude of different applications for this operation.

duplicating objects in Blender
Repeat your last action as many times as you want with this easy hotkey © Paul Hatton

Hotkeys if you make mistakes

We all make mistakes right. Course you do! You’ll probably have picked this up already as the undo hotkey is so similar in pretty much all applications but for sake of clarity, in Blender if you want to undo simply hit Ctrl+Z. If you want to redo instead, then you can do that with Ctrl+Shift+Z.

undo an error in Blender
Navigate through the history of your actions with these hotkeys © Paul Hatton

Get using them

Hopefully you’ve found these ten hotkeys helpful and have started integrating them into your workflow. That’s the key really. Excuse the pun. Start using them on your projects. Force yourself to get used to them. If you do a task and then remember that you could have achieved it using a hotkey make sure you reinforce that mistake in your head. Remind yourself of the hotkey and resolve to use it next time. Much of the time it’s just a case of getting the hotkeys into your muscle memory so that they become second nature to use. There are tons of other hotkeys to make use of but I trust you’ll enjoy this as a starter for ten.