Commonly Ignored Feature #15: Depth picker


Ok, so this isn’t actually a “commonly ignored” feature as such because it was only added yesterday, but it’s the sort of feature that may be forgotten in future so I thought I’d give it some attention :)

Committed by Campbell (3d503ea):

UI: Eyedropper for view-depth

Currently this is mainly useful for picking camera DOF depth.

  • EKey over a distance field prompts you to pick a depth from the camera.
  • WKey (Specials menu) to pick from the 3D view (when the active camera’s selected).

Since it was only added yesterday, you’ll need to get a build off, or follow Gaia’s excellent build-it-yourself guide for windows (which I did the other day, it’s so easy). Or, you know, wait until 2.74 comes out.

What is it?

Just a little tool that lets you pick the distance for the camera depth of field :)

How do I use it?

There are two ways:

  1. Hover over the ‘Distance’ property of your camera, press E (just like you normally would to pick colours and values), and then click anywhere in the viewport to select the distance from that point to the camera as the DoF distance.
  2. While looking through the camera, open up the Specials menu with W, and choose “DOF Distance (Pick)”, then click in the viewport to pick that point’s distance.

If you click and drag (like I did in that gif), it’ll sample the average of all the points you moved your mouse over (not the last one!)

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.