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Blender Tips and Shortcuts to speed up your 3D Workflow

Nik Nik Oct 14, 2020 · 5 mins read
Blender Tips and Shortcuts to speed up your 3D Workflow

I am a passionate Blender user and love to bring ideas from my imagination to reality with this amazing open source software. The creative possibilities in Blender are endless, and diving into new projects is just so much fun.

Unfortunately there are also those annoying technical issues and tasks which take so much time to manage, when you’d rather be focusing your attention on the piece you are creating.

That’s why I want to share some useful techniques with you, to speed up those tedious tasks and smooth out your Blender workflow as quickly as possible.

1. Repeat the Last Action

Sometimes you need to repeat the same task over and over. This might not be a problem if you have to do it three or four times, but it can cost you a lot of time if you repeat it dozens of times without knowing the proper shortcut.

Press Shift + R and Blender automatically repeats your last action. This shortcut works not only in the 3D viewport but in almost every editor and can be very helpful for modeling, shading, compositing, and animating.

Use the shortcut Shift + R to repeat the last action.

2. Get to the Current Directory

Navigating in Blender’s file browser can be really laborious, especially if your file system is as messy as mine used to be!

Quickly getting to the current directory (folder where your .blend file is stored) shouldn’t be a problem however. Just type // in the file path and Blender brings you there immediately!

Enter // in the file path to directly get to the current directory.

3. Open Data Path in the File Browser

There’s another helpful shortcut for quicker file navigation.

Hold down Alt while pressing on any data path in Blender, to quickly open it up with your default file manager.

Alt click on the file path to open it with your file browser.

4. Add Motion Blur in the Compositor

I am a big fan of motion blur. It gives a lot of realism to your renders, especially if you are using cycles.

Unfortunately enabling this feature adds a lot of render time. There is a solution, however: Adding the motion blur in compositing instead of rendering it out. Yes, this is possible!

Before you start rendering, make sure the vector render pass is turned on. In the compositor add a vector blur node, connect the depth to the Z and plug the vector into speed.

Now you can play around with the samples and blur sliders, until you are happy with the result. This motion blur is faster than rendering it directly, but keep in mind that you also won’t get the same amount of quality.

The vector pass is currently only available in cycles, but eevee’s motion blur is pretty fast anyways.

Compositor node setup and vector pass which has to be enabled.

5. Lights as Active Cameras

You probably know that you can make a camera active, by using the shortcut Ctrl + 0. But did you know that this works with any kind object, not only with cameras?

This is especially useful for positioning and aligning lights. Make a light the active camera by pressing Ctrl + 0.

Now you can place the light out of first person perspective.

Use the shortcut RR to rotate in any direction or just lock the camera to view (N-Panel > View > View Lock > Camera to View) to place it exactly where you want. And yes, it is possible to make the default cube the active camera, I just haven’t found any practical use for that yet!

Aligning the light from first person perspective with the light/camera locked to the view.

6. Transform the Origin

That little orange point you can see when selecting any object is the origin. This point determines the location, rotation, and scale of the corresponding object in 3D space. Sometimes you need to move this origin point to a specific location.

In most tutorials I’ve watched, they do it the hard way, by first placing the 3d cursor at the desired location and then going to Object > Set Origin > Origin to 3D Cursor to place it.

A quicker variation to complete this task is to just press Ctrl and . to enter origin edit mode. Now all transformations (move, rotate and scale) you make, affect only the origin.

You can additionally enable the snapping mode to make the placement even easier. Just press Ctrl and . again to return to the normal object mode.

Transforming the origin with the snapping tool enabled.

7. Improve Render Times

The most boring and time consuming part of the 3D workflow is rendering. Fortunately there are some things you can implement to speed up this process. Begüm wrote a great article about the top 4 tips to reduce render time in Blender, which is definitely worth reading.

I hope I could teach you something new with these tips. If you want to learn more, check out my Instagram account Blender Daily, which is dedicated to improving your Blender skills every single day! You can also contact me there if you have any questions regarding this article or anything else you want to know. :)

Nik
Written by Nik
Blender, Martial Arts and Food is all I need