Customizing your Blender interface

Introduction

If you’re reading this then I’m assuming you’ve seen the Blender interface. In my opinion I think it’s not only particularly boring to look at but it also needs a bit of customizing to make it really work well. Today we’re going to take a look at a variety of ways that you can make Blender not only look as you want it to but also function in a way that fits into your workflow.

This home office scene beautiful created by the folks over at BlenderBoom

A quick intro to the interface

When you first open Blender you’ll see the default interface. The interface is made up of a variety of windows including the info bar at the top, the viewport and tools in the middle, the outliner and properties windows on the right, and the timeline on the bottom. You can drag and adjust the sizes of all these windows and turn them into other window types if you like.

The default user interface is fine to start with but you'll quickly need to be able to customize it to
suit your workflow

Windows

Each of the windows can be changed to suit your specific needs. Do this by clicking the button in the corner of a window that looks like a hierarchy icon. You’ll see a list of different editor types appear. The one you choose will then appear in that specific window. You can even have the same type in multiple different windows should you find that handy. Some of the editor types contain individual rollouts which you can minimize or maximize using the arrows. You can even drag and drop these rollouts to adjust their order.

Adjusting your windows lets you put the tools exactly where you want them to be

Viewports

In the middle of the interface you’ve got the viewport, which by default shows you just one viewport. You can change the view this port is showing by going to the bottom left, clicking on ‘View’ and then selecting the required view. You can also use the numpad for shortcuts. If you want more than one viewport visible then you can drag the top right of the viewport to the left or down to reveal a new viewport. You can keep doing this in any viewport for any number of layout options.

Customizing your viewports will speed up your workflow as you create your scenes. Knowing hotkeys for moving between the viewport types will also help massively

Screen layout options

On the top info bar there to the immediate left hand side of where it says ‘Default’ there is a drop down menu. Clicking this gives you access to all the preset layout options available to you. Selecting any one of these will change the layout. To save your current customized layout just hit the plus button to the right of that section. That will be added into your list.

Use the preset screen layout options for moving between layouts or even set up customized versions

Open user preferences

Get the user preferences dialogue box open by going to the top left and clicking ‘File’ followed by ‘user preferences’. With the dialogue box open you’ll see that it’s split up into several different tabs. We’ll focus today only on ‘Interface’ and ‘Themes’.

The user preference lets you customize the way you interact with the interface

Display preferences

Under the ‘Interface’ tab on the left hand side you get all of your display preferences. These include things like displaying tooltips and object info as well as the mini axis. Tooltips for example can be quite handy when you’re learning, but once you’re more familiar with the software you might find them a little annoying.

Adjust some of the display preferences using this dialogue box

View manipulation preferences

Right alongside the display preferences there are also the ‘View manipulation’ and ‘Menus’ preferences. The view manipulation covers settings related to zooming and pivoting and the menu preferences relate to whether they open on hover as well as how the ‘pie’ menu looks. The pie menus are not default to Blender but can be activated through add-ons.

Adjust the way you manipulate your views with these preferences

Adjust your theme

The default Blender interface can be rather grey and bland to say the least. Maybe you like that but if you’re like me I like to introduce a bit of color into the different windows of the interface. You can do this by going to the user preferences and selecting the ‘Themes’ tab. Go through the options on the left hand side and set the colors that you want accordingly. The give each specific window a different color you’ll need to adjust the ‘Window background’ settings.

Give your interface a splash of color and get away from the drab grey default!

Save user settings

Once you’ve made all the changes to your preferences that you want don’t forget to save your settings! If you don’t save them then they’ll remain for the current session, but if you start Blender up again it’ll revert back to the default. Save the settings by clicking ‘Save user settings’ in the bottom left corner of the dialogue box. You can use the button next to that to revert back to the default, or even install a whole new theme!

Save your settings to ensure they are kept each time you start Blender

Rounding things up

The way you want your interface to look and handle is a very personal thing. I’ve tried to give you some of the tools that will enable you to customize it but you now need to work out the finer details of how it’s going to serve you will with your workflow. Have fun customizing it to suit your needs!

Customize your interface and preferences to speed up your workflow and make Blender work for you

Top tips

Top tip 1: Hide viewport side panel

Each viewport has the option to have the side panel visible or not. The panel gives you access to your tools, objects and animation options. If you find it getting in the way simply hit ‘T’ on your keyboard with the viewport selected and you’ll see it toggle on and off.

Toggle the side panels visibility by hitting 'T'

Top tip 2: Merge viewports

If your viewports are getting a little out of hand and you need to merge some of them, you can do this by right clicking on the frame between the two viewports you want to merge and click ‘join area.’ You’ll need to then click on the appropriate viewport to determine which one disappears.

Merge viewports to tidy up your interface

Related links:

blender.org

blender artists

wiki.blender

blender.wikipedia