For those who worked with Maya, Blender UI presents a nightmare. Even simple tasks of navigating the views or adjusting the camera poses a big challenge, with the Blender’s native misuse of ‘right mouse button’.
However, you can survive past those initial hurdles with few adjustments in the preferences. In the below I list few common challenges that Maya users face with Blender and how to circumvent them, if not eliminate them completely.
- Right Mouse Button Selection:This one is the source of all evil. This is what happens if you do not follow the well-established usage conventions and software UI behavioral patterns.
Luckily the adamantium got depleted at Blender camp and now, as of version 2.68, they ship Maya Preset bundled by default that works flawlessly in mimicking the native Maya selection behavior. Select it from the File|User Preferences menu option, then the Input tab and Presets dropdown box.
- Scale, Rotate, Move: You can use your E, R, T usual shortcuts for these, using the Maya Presetconfiguration.
- Viewport Shading mode: Again, the Maya preset takes care of this one nicely. Press 4, 5 and 6 keys as you would have in Maya and now your viewport makes the meshes appropriately.
- Perspective / Ortho views:Well, for this one, the Blender native shortcuts are, NumPad-0 through Numpad-7. Not an ergonomic choice, given that NumPad keys are half way across the globe in the eastern side of keyboard (which is not your keyboard hand’s natural resting position), and also most laptops do not have NumPad keys (know your customers: open-source 3D modeling software customers more likely to be trying Blender on laptops for a quick peek rather than a dedicated professional setup in their initial stages).
But luckily, you can now use Ctrl+0 through Ctrl+7 shortcuts for the same effect. No need for NumPad keys. Agreed, Ctrl+0 is not same as NumPad-0 (two keys vs one key) but atleast you have a way out. (There are some scripts also in the Blender Add-ons that might be able to help you with this one.)
- Camera Navigation: Perhaps, the most irritating feature (or, shall I say bug) that you encounter in Blender (coming from Maya) is, once you are in Camera perspective (Ctrl+0 short-cut, same as ‘look through camera’ feature of Maya) if you try to adjust its positioning by transformation or rotation, the view goes out of camera perspective. There is just no way you could adjust your camera while looking through it. You would have to use two views, one to look through the camera, and the other to adjust the camera like a normal 3D-object. Yuck.
Luckily, at least in latest build 2.68 of Blender, you have a way out of this. Actually not one, but two ways. First is, press Shift+F within camera perspective (with the camera border selected), you enter a Fly mode. Then you can position the camera by using mouse-wheel and buttons.
But I have a more better option. With the camera selected, go to its View properties, and select Lock Camera to View check box. Once ticked, then you can just use your regular Pan, Zoom etc. keys to adjust the scene and your Camera indeed gets adjusted. Once you are done, you can uncheck it and get along with your model as usual.
By the way, it is not for nothing that companies like Apple or Microsoft spends millions of dollors in conducting detailed UI behavioral profiling studies, time and again proving: “Being creative is pefectly possible without voilating conventions”. Though who or what defines convention is upto each individual to decide for oneself.