Tag Archives: keyboard-shortcuts

Blender 2.8 for Absolute Beginners [1]

There are a lot of excellent video tutorials out there, but…none of them allow you watch in slow motion. That means you have to stop, rewind, play, rinse and repeat, until you see that one, teeny thing that a beginner doesn’t know and the presenter takes for granted.

As an absolute beginner myself, I’m writing this series of posts to save other absolute beginners from the hours of frustration and research that went into learning the teeny things everyone else takes for granted. Each post will be step-by-step with screenshots, and I welcome comments that point out things I’ve missed or taken for granted. So, let’s begin!

What is Blender 2.8?

Blender 2.8 is open source, 3D graphics software.

Translation: Blender 2.8 is a free app that produces models of ‘things’ that can be viewed from all angles – i.e. in 3D.

Where can you download Blender 2.8?

You can download the app from here:

https://www.blender.org/download/releases/2-80/

As with all software downloaded from the internet, you should save the file to your computer and scan it with your anti-virus software before installing it.

Getting Started

Once Blender 2.8 is installed, this is what you will see:

The colourful bit in the middle is like a temporary shortcut menu. Common functions are on the left, and recently used files are on the right. Left click on the dark grey grid in the background to make it disappear.

You will now be looking at the Layout workspace. It contains all the tools and options you will need to create and edit a 3D model. As a beginner, this is where you will spend most of your time.

Before starting to explore the workspace, however, I need to address the elephant in the room – Blender keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Most software programs allow the use of keyboard shortcuts – e.g. Ctrl C for Copy and Ctrl V for Paste [in Microsoft Office programs] – but these shortcuts are an added extra for those who already know the software and want to work faster. In Blender, this process is reversed – i.e. shortcuts first and menus second.

Even as recently as Blender version 2.79, the menus were all over the place, and learning how to find functions in them required as much memory as learning how to use the shortcuts themselves. I started with 2.79. It was hard, very hard.

Enter Blender 2.8. The core functions remain the same, but the interface and the menu system have been rationalized from the ground up, making the learning process much easier. Navigation functions are grouped together as are the creating and editing functions you will use the most. Better still, when you can’t find/remember a less used function, there is a fairly logical and consistent way of finding it. And finally, if all else fails, you can press F3 on the keyboard and search for the function by name.

I had to smile as I wrote about F3. Search is a core function in any software, yet even in 2.8, it’s accessed by a keyboard shortcut and requires you to remember which key it is hidden behind! Blender 2.8 may have emancipated the menu, but shortcuts are still more…equal. 🙂

Irony aside, there is a compelling reason why the experts use the Blender shortcuts; they’d go insane selecting millions of small, repetitive functions from the menus! And you will too.

To give you a simple example, you can use this navigation key to zoom in and out of your model:

Left click the zoom icon [circled in red] and hold the mouse button down as you move the mouse towards you or away from you. Moving the mouse towards you zooms the scene out – i.e. it gets further away. Moving the mouse away from you zooms the scene in – i.e. it gets closer to you.

Or you could simply use the scroll wheel on the mouse to zoom in and out.

So which keyboard shortcuts should you learn off by heart?

Opinions will differ, but I found the navigation ones a must:

Zoom in and out

Move the scroll wheel on the mouse to zoom in or out.

Free move around the scene

This allows you to view the scene from all angles. Hold down the scroll wheel on the mouse as you move the mouse around. [The pundits talk about holding down the 3rd mouse button, but if you’re like me and don’t have one, holding down the scroll wheel works just as well.]

Move the object in the scene
  1. Click the object to select it.
  2. Press ‘G’ on the keyboard [‘G’ for ‘grab’].
  3. Do NOT click the object again [this is not like the click-and-drag you are used to]. Simply move the mouse and the object will follow like a dog on a leash.
  4. When the object reaches its new location, left click the mouse to lock it in place. [If you want to move the object again, you will have to press the G key again.]
Move the object in just one direction

To understand this shortcut, imagine that you have positioned an object in just the right place and you don’t want to accidentally mess it up. But…it could do with being just a tiny bit higher [or lower or left or right or backwards or forwards]. How do you make that small adjustment without messing it all up?

The answer is by constraining [locking] movement to either the X, Y or Z axis:

Unlike the graphs you probably learnt as a child, in 3D, up and down is known as the ‘Z’ axis. In Blender, the Z axis is shown in blue, the X in red and the Y in green. The orientation of ‘X’ and ‘Y’ will depend upon how you are viewing the object. In the example shown below, I want to move the object to the right:

As you can see from the screenshot, left and right are on the X axis [the red line on the grid]. To move the object precisely to the right:

  1. Click the object to select it.
  2. Press ‘G’ [for ‘grab’] followed by ‘X’ [for the X axis]
  3. Move the mouse to the right.
  4. Left click the mouse button to lock the object in place.

If you want to move the object up or down, the shortcut is ‘G’ and ‘Z’. In the screenshot above, moving the object backwards and forwards would be ‘G’ and ‘Y’.

If you want to use the menus you will have to start by opening the toolbar on the left. To do this, point the mouse at the right edge of the toolbar. When the mouse pointer changes to a double headed white arrow, click-hold-and-drag to the right:

Keep dragging until the toolbar is open and shows the label for each icon. Click the ‘Move’ option as shown:

You should now see a kind of 3D compass in the middle of the object. Click-hold-and-drag the blue arrow to move the object up or down on the Z axis. Click-hold-and-drag the red and green arrows to move the object in the direction of the lines on the grid [red for X, green for Y].

I admit I found the whole  X,Y and Z spatial awareness thing a bit hard at first but, as with most things, the more I had to move objects around, the easier it all became. And as I learned more advanced processes, I realised that X, Y and Z are absolutely fundamental to using Blender. I suspect they’re fundamental to learning any 3D software.

Ultimately, you will learn the shortcuts that make your life and work easier. For me, one shortcut I simply couldn’t live without is Ctrl Z. It’s standard for ‘Undo’ and will save you millions of clicks as you work in Blender.

Undo

Hold the Ctrl key down while you press the letter Z. This will undo the last thing you did. You can repeat Ctrl Z up to about 30 times, or until you run out of steps to undo.

Alternately, you can click ‘Undo’ on the Edit menu [top left of the screen]:

I’ll finish this first post off with a beginners tutorial that was quite good. It takes you through the basics of navigating the viewport using both the navigation icons and the keyboard shortcuts that go with them. The ‘viewport’ is just the name given to the dark grey grid.

Whether you use the menus or the shortcut keys, I hope you have fun and enjoy the learning process.

cheers

Meeks


Self-publishing via Word and Createspace – page setup

This is the second post in this series and this time, I’ll be showing you how to setup your Word document to match the Createspace template for your chosen trim size. If you’ve forgotten about templates and trim sizes, you can find the post explaining what they are, why you need them and where to find them…here.

Right. So in this post I will assume that:

  1. you have typed up your manuscript in Word or in a Word compatible format – e.g. Rich Text Format or .rtf for short.
  2. you want to change that manuscript to make it compatible with Createspace so the printing process goes smoothly
  3. you have decided on a trim size
  4. you have downloaded the appropriate template [from Createspace] specifically for that trim size
  5. you have looked at the template but did not change any of the settings

If any of these assumptions are incorrect, please go back to the overview article linked above and make sure you have everything that you need.

How to easily change the font and font size to match the Createspace template [of your choice]

The first step is to open Word. Then, open both your manuscript and the template document. The template document will look something like this:

I chose a trim size of 5.5 x 8.5 so this is the template for that trim size. Garamond is a common font, and 12 is an average font size. Your template may be different. One thing, however, is most most certain to be true – the font in the template will not match the font you used in your manuscript. Assuming you want to change the font in your manuscript, the following is the simplest, easiest way to do it. But…be warned before you begin – this method will change your title and chapter headings as well.

First, we have to select the entire document. There are two ways of doing this.

The first way is to hit the Ctrl key and the ‘a‘ key at the same time. Ctrl-a is a keyboard shortcut and will ‘select all’ on most apps.

The second way is to use the ribbon:

Microsoft Word 10 uses tabs so the ‘Select’ options are on the Home tab, at the top right of the ribbon as shown. Click ‘Select’ and then click ‘Select All’ from the dropdown options.

Your manuscript should now look like this:

WARNING: hitting the ‘Delete’ key or the spacebar when everything is selected can lead to the loss of your entire document. If you make a mistake and everything disappears, DO NOT PANIC. Simply click the ‘Undo’ button to cancel whatever you last did. The ‘Undo’ button can be found here:

You can also undo your last action by hitting Ctrl Z [Ctrl and ‘z’] on your keyboard.

Moving on. With the entire document highlighted as above, click the small arrow next to the font box as shown:

Select the appropriate font for your template. For mine it was ‘Garamond’.

With the document still highlighted in blue [i.e. selected] click the small arrow next to the font size box as shown:

Click on the appropriate font size and then click inside your document to de-select it. The blue highlighting should disappear.

The next change we will make is to adjust the alignment and first-line indent of each paragraph. To do this, click the small button in the Paragraph category on the Home tab of the Ribbon:

You should now be looking at the Paragraph dialog box as shown below. Here, you can specify how all the text in the document is aligned. As most books are justified, that is the option I’ve chosen under ‘General’. I’ve also chosen a first-line indent of 1 cm so that everyone can easily see where a new paragraph begins. This is important, imho, as I’ve also chosen ‘Single’ line spacing.

Finally, I’ve clicked on the option ‘Set as Default’ down at the bottom. Word then wants to know what I mean by default. Choosing ‘All documents…’ would change the Normal style for every Word document I create from here on in. I don’t want to do that so I selected ‘This document only’.

 

Click on ‘OK’ and you will notice that…nothing has changed!

Don’t panic. In reality, the Normal style has changed, we simply have to tell Word to reflect those changes in the document. To do this, Select All again, and when the whole document is highlighted in blue, click the Normal style as shown:

Ta dah…the first big change is complete. The headings still need to be fixed up but that can wait. The next thing we need to do is change the size of the ‘paper’ so that we can start to see roughly how many pages this document really contains.

Changing the paper size to reflect the trim size of our ‘book’

To find out what is the correct paper size for our book, open the template document. Then open the ‘Page Layout’ tab of the Ribbon. With the Page Layout tab open, click the small button under the Page Setup group of functions:

You should now be looking at the Page Setup dialog box for your template. Under ‘Paper size’ you should have a number in cm for width and height. Write those 2 numbers down. Then click on the Margins tab. Again, you should write the margin numbers down and note whether ‘Mirror margins’ are specified. The following screenshots are from my template:

Now, go back to your own document, open the Page Layout tab and click on the small button to open the Page Setup dialog box. You should be looking at the tab for Paper. Click inside the ‘Paper size’ boxes and type in the dimensions that were shown in the template document. Mine looks like this:

Next, click the Margins tab and again, type in the numbers you found in your template. Mine looks like this:

Congratulations! You’ve changed some of the most important aspects of your manuscript to reflect the Createspace template.

But there is still a great deal to do. The Title and Headings will have to be fixed and to do that we will change the default styles to make the changes quick and easy. The book will also need page numbering, but some parts should not have page numbers – e.g. the Title page – so first we will have to insert section breaks. As well as making sure the page numbering is correct, section breaks are necessary to ensure that the first page of every new chapter always starts on an odd page. Nothing shrieks ‘amateur’ in a print book like wonky formatting.

And finally, there’s the cover. Front page + back page + THE SPINE! Plus ISBNs, pricing, royalty calculations….

I hope you guys are in for the long haul as this could take a while. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


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