3D modeling can be a really step in the process of making an asset. But it can also be really boring and tiresome.
In order to get ahead in 3D modeling, you need to become acquainted with the best shortcuts to speed up your workflow. The top 3D modeling shortcuts for Blender 2.8 are:
- TAB – Edit Mode & Object Mode
- G, S, R – Translate, Scale & Rotate
- X, Z, Y – Along Axis
- CTRL + J, CTRL + G – Join & Group
- CTRL + A – Apply Object Transformation
- CTRL + B – Bevel Selected Edges
- NUM 0, NUM 1, NUM 3, NUM 7, NUM 9 – Number Pad Views
- SHIFT + D – Duplicate
- A – Select All
- / – Isolate
- E – Extrude
If you’re a beginner modeler, these 10 shortcuts will speed up your modeling workflow and increase the quality of your models. There’s no use in wasting minutes if not hours of your time looking for functions in your user interface when you can map them to buttons on your keyboard.
1. TAB – Edit Mode & Object Mode
In Blender, you have two essential modes – object mode and edit mode. When you start up a brand new Blender file, you will by default be in object mode. This allows you to move your objects around your scene without disrupting any of the meshes within them.
On a blank Blender 2.8 start-up, you will see a cube object in the middle of your scene. If you left-click on this object, it will highlight.
Now press TAB, and you will notice that the cube looks different. This is because you have entered edit mode, where you can now manipulate the faces, edges, and vertices of the cube instead of the entire cube itself.
TAB is the most popular shortcut used in Blender, and you will soon become used to monitoring both modes in your scene.
2. G, S, R – Translate, Scale & Rotate
Now whether you’re in edit mode or in object mode, you will have the opportunity to translate (move), scale, and rotate your objects (if you’re in object mode) or your mesh (if you’re in edit mode).
TIP: try and stay away from using these hotkeys in object mode. If you scale or rotate your object in object mode, it can get messy, and you can lose track of the proper scale and origin of your object – making edits later a bit more difficult.
3. X, Z, Y – Along Axis
These hotkeys are used in conjunction with the ones above. Z refers to the up and down axis, while the Z and X-axis refer to depth and width. The names of the axis sometimes vary from software to software, Blender uses what we call the ‘right-handed’ axis system while Unity uses the left-handed axis system.
These hotkeys come in handy when you are translating scaling or rotating your mesh along a specific axis only. For instance, if you want to move your object up and down only, then you can use the combination G and then Z.
4. CTRL + J, CTRL + G – Join & Group
If you are in object mode and have more than two objects in a scene that you would like to combine into one mesh, you can use the hotkey CTRL + L which will join the mesh together.
NOTE: this does not merge the mesh together and create new vertices if the objects were to overlap.
If you want to translate, rotate, or scale a group of objects together without having to join the meshes together, it will be a good idea to group them using CTRL + A.
5. CTRL + A – Apply Object Transformation
Remember when we said it’s not a good idea to make changes to your objects in object mode? Well, if you didn’t listen, then this one’s for you. By now you’re probably already unwrapping UVs and trying to apply textures but you notice that your tiling is way out. You can RESET your object rotation, scale, and origin point using this hotkey combination.
Do this at your own risk! If your object is way out, it might jump out of your immediate camera view. But don’t worry, you can always find it in your collection at the top right of your user interface.
6. CTRL + B – Bevel Selected Edges
Aaaah, nothing gets us like a nice beveled edge. When modeling in 3D, it’s important to give your sharp edges a good bevel. No object in real life is truly sharp, except of course if you’re modeling a knife.
You can select the edges and their loops by holding ALT + clicking on a vertex in the loop. Then you can hit CTRL + B to add a bevelled edge and use your scroll wheel to increase the number of subdivisions. The more subdivisions the better it might look, but the higher your polycount will be. (So watch out).
7. NUM 0, NUM 1, NUM 3, NUM 7, NUM 5 – Number Pad Views
Navigating the 3D view can be a real pain, so it will be important to learn your number pad views in Blender. NUM 0 will take you to the active camera view (if you have an active camera). NUM1 will take you to an orthographic front view, NUM 3 will take you to an orthographic side view and NUM 7 will take you to an orthographic top view.
You can always get out of this orthographic view (although we aren’t too sure why you would want to) by hitting NUM 5.
The number pad views are super helpful when you are modeling from a 2d reference, like when modeling floor plans or character sketches.
8. SHIFT + D – Duplicate
The more the merrier! Don’t waste time making the same object over and over again. Once you have made one, hit SHIFT + D to duplicate it.
NOTE: these will only be copies of one another. If you make changes to the one, the changes will not reflect on the other and is not recommended for procedural modeling.
9. A – Select All
Instead of dragging your left-click mouse box over an entire object, you can hit the A hotkey to select either all the objects in your scene (if you are in object mode) or all the faces, edges, and vertices in your scene (if you are in edit mode).
10. / – Isolate
If you have a number of objects in your scene and need to give some extra care to one specific object, then you will need to isolate it. First, you will need to select your object, then you will need to hit /.
This tool is especially useful when trying to add finer detail to your models without having the distraction of the other objects in the scene.
11. E – Extrude
Extrude is probably the mother of all modeling. In edit mode, select a face you wish to extrude then hit E. You can use this hotkey in combination with our axis hotkeys, ZXY, to make sure you are extruding along a specific axis.
TIP: Now try extruding the stem of a plant. Start your scene with a plane. Hit TAB to go into edit mode. Hit A to select all. Then hit E to command the extrude and Z to extrude upwards (diagonally).
If you have managed that, hit R to rotate the face you just extruded and hit G to move it around. Hit E to extrude again. Repeat this process. You can also hit S to scale the tip of your stem smaller than the base.