If you haven't used 3-D software before, the GUI may look complex and difficult at first, but you'll get used to it. When you first start up Blender, you'll see a large grid in the center of the screen—that's the 3-D window. Down on the bottom is the buttons area. Finally, at the top is the options area, where you choose which scene to edit, font paths, etc. If you are running on a small display (800x600 or less), you may not be able to see most of the top window. In this case, click on the edge of the top window and drag it down until you can see it. For now, you need only be concerned with the 3-D window and the buttons window.
All of the Blender widgets and menus are rendered through Mesa; this means you can zoom in and pan around almost anything. For example, in the buttons window (down at the bottom), you can hold Ctrl-MiddleMouseButton and drag around to zoom in or out. Notice that when you zoom, the buttons, including the fonts, are scaled. To pan, use the middle mouse button and drag around. This works everywhere—even in the button bars on each window.
The black cross with a red and white striped circle around the center is called the 3-D cursor. Whenever you add an object, it will be placed at the location of the 3-D cursor. To move the 3-D cursor, just left-click on the spot where you want it.
The black triangle with the little yellow ball (a few units down from the center) is the camera. Right-click on it to select, then press g to move it around. When you decide on a location for the camera, click the left mouse button.
The Blender windowing system is somewhat similar to HTML frames. Each window can be infinitely split (though a practical limit does exist—if you can't see the windows any more, you've gone too far) by moving the mouse into the window to be split, then clicking with the middle mouse button on the window pane perpendicular to the direction of split. If you want to split a window horizontally, click on either the left or right vertical pane. Then when “Split?” comes up, click on it. To join two split windows, right-click on the pane you want to remove, then click on “Join?” when it comes up.
Two main editing modes are included: normal and edit. You can toggle between the two using the tab key. When you add an object, Blender automatically switches to edit mode (for most objects, anyway). For example, let's say we add a Mesh cube. When the cube appears on the screen, it is in edit mode. If you right-click on one of its vertices (the purple dot means it is not selected, the yellow dot means it is), you can then press g to move the vertex around. If you press b, which stands for “Border Select”, you can draw a rectangle over the selected vertices.
The Toolbox is brought up using the space bar and enables you to add objects. Note that you can also use the Add primitive function (shift-A), which brings up the Toolbox and the Add submenu. Most of the hot keys are placed here. If you need to get out of the Toolbox window, either press esc (the standard for Blender windows) or move the mouse away from the window.
To build your first scene, follow these steps:
Switch over to top view, if you aren't already there (number pad 7).
Move the 3-D cursor to the center of the grid.
Bring up the Toolbox (space bar).
Left-click on Add, then on Mesh, and finally on Cube. Another way of saying that is Add->Mesh->Cube.
Press tab to leave edit mode.
Click on the red sphere in the button area (Materials).
On the right side of the screen, click on the icon with a white horizontal bar.
In the left side of the buttons area are some sliders labeled R, G and B (Red, Green and Blue). Slide the Blue all the way to the right, and slide Red and Green all the way to the left. The “material preview” rectangle should turn blue.
Move your mouse cursor back into the 3-D window.
Change to side view (number pad 3). Move the 3-D cursor to somewhere above the cube, though it should be somewhat close (no further than 20 units away).
Click on Add then Light.
Press f12 and watch the scene render.
Press f11 to get rid of the render window.
Press f2 to save the created scene. Once the file window comes up, click in the second input box from the top (under the directory name) and enter a name for your scene. Then press enter twice to save the file.
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