Commonly Ignored Feature #12: #drivers


Here’s an interesting one. Drivers can be created quickly by typing the python expression directly in the slider of some value, preceded by a hash.

You’ve probably seen many folk typing #frame into the Seed property for cycles renders, but it’s capable of a whole lot more than that. The simple example above uses the same ‘frame’ property, but multiplied by 0.2 to make a slow rotation* of an Empty that the camera is parented to. Instant turntable!

Since it uses python, almost anything is possible. Using[‘objectname’] would give you access to any properties an object or its data has.

One slight disadvantage is that these expressions are only evaluated during animation, not in realtime like your usual transformation drivers.

* If you’re observant, you might be confused as to why the the rotation value is so high. If 0.2 * 5 frames is just 1 degree, how come on frame 5 it’s already nearly 60 degrees and growing fast? This is simply because Blender stores and sets rotations in radians, and only displays the values in the more intuitive degree unit.

Commonly Ignored Feature #11: Hover Copy/Paste



Ok, so everyone probably already knows this one. Still, it’s almost as invaluable as Continuous Grab to me. When hovering the mouse over any value, colour or text field, just hit Ctrl+C to copy the value and then Ctrl+V when hovering over another field to paste it there.

One could argue about how Blender is missing all sorts of industry standard features like particle meshing and alembic cache support, but honestly these tiny usability features are what I love most about Blender (apart from the great community of course ;) ). Though that’s not to say I wouldn’t like to have particle meshing and alembic cache support ;)

Commonly Ignored Feature #10: Continuous Grab


While I’m sure almost everyone knows about Continuous Grab, I have every now and then come across someone who doesn’t.

It’s simple really, when doing any kind of transform in the 3d view, or even sliding some values around, when the mouse reaches the edge of the region it will jump to the other side allowing you to continue moving the mouse without hitting the edge of the screen. This is something I sorely miss when using Maya at work.

It is enabled by default now, so the only folk who won’t know about it are those who saved their own preferences with it turned off before the defaults changed.

Commonly Ignored Feature #9: Alt+Scroll


Here’s a little hidden gem for you, holding Alt and scrolling the mouse wheel will increase and decrease any value, including the brightness of colours. Not exactly life changing, I haven’t even used it myself ever, but someone is sure to use this :)

Perhaps if there were some way to get more precision, like holding down shift to use smaller increments, it would be a better feature.


Commonly Ignored Feature #8: Quick Simulations

I really like these CIFs, I really wanted to do these more often – the plan was twice a week. But the problem is, I’ve run out of things that people usually don’t know about :)

Anywho, here’s a little hidden gem I remembered recently:
Quick Fur/Fluid/Smoke/Explode



As far as I know, there is no shortcut to these operators, nor do they appear anywhere in the interface (nor can I think of a good place to put them). The only way to find them is to search for them in the Spacebar menu.

These four functions are simply a quick way to set up a basic simulation. Each of them have some options you can adjust in the lower part of the toolbar, or in the F6 popup.


Honestly though, I’ve never actually used these. Old habits die hard perhaps? :P



Commonly Ignored Feature #7: Multiple Snapping Targets

It’s not an ignored feature, because it has to be the most well-hidden feature I’ve ever found. Seriously, whoever coded the snapping system must have completely forgotten to document this.

Yesterday afternoon in one of blender’s IRC channels hjaarnio mentioned this feature. It seemed that no one else knew of it’s existence – it wasn’t in the wiki and I couldn’t find any mention of it anywhere. This one is truly the Schrodinger’s cat of blender.


While in snapping mode, when you have your mouse over a point to snap to, hit ‘A’ to mark that point. Then mark any other points you like and the selection will snap to the average of the marked points. It you want to give a certain point more weighting in that averaged location, just mark it more than once (as you can see in the end of that gif I mark the top right point a few times)

I’ve since updated the snapping page on the wiki.

This makes me think – what other strange and useful quirks lie out there beyond our exploration? What features have been painstakingly coded, only to have been forgotten forever? Probably quite a bit.