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General keys and UI

Top left is shading quality, the line art mirrored sphere is full quality

Default mode is eevee, change to cycles by going to scene properties (right properties pane, back of a DSLR icon), change render engine to 'cycles'

To quickly bring up the node search in the material view, shift-a, then s

g to transform things (grab)

  • mmb will rotate the view
  • mmb+shift to pan
  • scrolwheel to zoom, or ctrl+mmb
  • numpad . to focus

until you get used to blender, use the magnifying glass, hand icon on the right of the viewport to pan and zoom.

Duplicate object

  • shift-d will duplicate, or in the menus object->duplicate. ctrl-c/ctrl-v alsp work, but i've found it can paste to odd locations in the outliner, vs just next to te current shape with duplicate. duplicate also assumes you want to immediately move the copy.

Wireframe on shaded

  • search the property panel for 'wire', or find it in the 'object' property set (the orange square), turn on 'wire'

xray mode

  • alt-z, or the two overlapping squares in the top right mini toolbar where you choose between wire/solid/eevee/cycles

sculpt mode

It's pretty good!

  • f - set radius (i guess f is for falloff). don't be confused by the UI, its radius. Tap f, old radius shown, move cursor, new radius is realtime, tap to confirm
  • shift-f set falloff

3d cursor

  • Select cursor from toolbar on left
  • can snap to surfaces by holding down shift while dragging
  • then can snap the camera to cursor in the view/camera menu
  • when done, hide the cursor in the view options

show shape keys in edit mode

Jump over to the shape keys lister, click the 'edit' button, the square with the filled in corner. Make sure to select the actual shape you want to see/edit.

Video Editing

Use top icon immediately after help menu, change mode to 'video editing'

G to grab and move Hold ctrl to snap K to razor at current time

Can setup static file browser, drag drop single clips to current time

Can drag multiple clips to timeline, but from modal (ie shift-a) only

Issue with maya UI mode, change prefs -> input -> animation -> change frame to left mouse (the default of 'action mouse' won't scrub)

Set overall timeline length in properties

Text edit strip quick, but no font styles, hmm


It defaults to a separate animation track for each object. If you don't want this, expect the animation options in the exporter, animation under that, and uncheck 'Group by NLA track'.


Blender 2.8x, I assume its different in later builds.

TLDR: Render settings Cycles experimental, subdivision viewport to 1px. Subdivision modifier with 'adaptive' enabled. Material displacement mode 'displacement'.

'True' per pixel displacement is a combo of cycles experimental features, material settings, geometry subdivision modifier. Use the 'Shading' panel layout at the top to see a render view, material editor, settings all at once.

Render settings (the back-of-camera icon):

  • Render Engine : Cycles
  • Feature set : Experimental. Among other things, this enables pixel-level subdivision.

Jump to the final render view mode (top right of viewport, final 'mirrored' sphere).

Select your object, then:

Modifer settings (the spanner icon)

  • Add modifer, subdivision surface (2/3 down the second column)
  • Turn on 'adaptive'

The object should now be a perfectly subdivided surface in the render view.

In the material editor:

  • Add menu, search for 'checker'
  • Connect the colour output of the checker to the purple 'displacement' input of the material output
  • You'll see the checker in the viewport, but very shallow; its just a bumpmap.

Material settings (Sphere with checkerboard icon)

  • Settings -> Surface -> Displacement: Displacement only

Now its displacing, and most likely awful; all in the one direction, and lumpy. Lets fix.

In the material editor:

  • Add, search, 'geometry'
  • Add, search, 'vector math'
  • Connect geometry normal and checker color to the vector math inputs
  • Set vector math mode from 'add' to 'multiply'
  • Connect this to displacement in on the material output

Cool, displacement is now normal based, how to refine the dicing?

In the settings tab (the back-of-camera icon again):

  • Subdivision, set viewport to 1px. This is roughly equivalent to shading rate in renderman, it controls the rate of subdivision dicing. Go to 0.5px if feeling crazy, but generally a harsh checkerboard is a worst case scenario for displacement, you usually won't need to go this hard.

Material assign and export via python

Blender treats materials as 'something else' in the way that Houdini shop or vop materials are 'something else' that can't be exported via bgeo, for example.

Unfortunately Blender's export tools, its USD exporter in my specific case, think the same way. This means that you can export an object, and you'll get the object+material, or all objects, and you'll get all the objects and their materials, but you can't export all materials; any material that isn't assigned isn't visible to the exporter, so its skipped.

This means you need to get a list of all the materials, create an object for each, and assign each material. Here's some python code to do that:

import bpy

mats = [x for x in]
for i, mat in enumerate(mats):
    bpy.ops.mesh.primitive_cube_add(size=0.3, location=(i*0.5,0,0))
    sel = bpy.context.active_object = 'cube_'
import bpy

mats = [x for x in]
for i, mat in enumerate(mats):
    bpy.ops.mesh.primitive_cube_add(size=0.3, location=(i*0.5,0,0))
    sel = bpy.context.active_object = 'cube_'

This will create a little line of cubes, nicely named, each assigned each material in the blend file. Now you can export and be happy.