Easier mouse navigation control across 3D and CG apps like Blender, Substance and Clo

3Dconnexion spacemouse

One thing that got me all messed up when I started using multiple 3D apps is that the mouse button navigation was different from app to app and this can be tough to deal with. I recommend changing some settings to make it easier to navigate and to follow along with my tutorials.

Autodesk’s Maya is very widely used in the film industry and many consider it to be an industry standard, so many CG applications are set up by default to navigate like Maya; Adobe Substance and Meshmixer are two examples that I use often. Clo3d gives an option to switch navigation to Maya settings, and Blender has two ways of changing its defaults as well.

To function the best in 3D apps, you will need a mouse with a Middle Mouse Button (MMB) in the form of a scroll wheel. If you are working on a desktop, in Blender the numbers at the top of your keyboard do different things than the keys on the number pad to the right of your keyboard- if you are working on a laptop I highly recommend an inexpensive USB number pad like this. I will refer to the numbers at the top of the keypad simply as a number, such as 3, and those on the number pad as NP3. For all of these tutorials I will refer only to Windows commands. More on the Windows vs Mac debate in another post.

Numbers on the top of the keyboard can function differently than the ones on the number pad.

To change Clo3D’s default navigation, go to Settings- View Controls, and change the User Preset to Maya.

Clo3D

In Clo3D, go to Settings
Select View Controls
In the dropdown at the top right change the User Preset to Maya. You can change it back later if you prefer.

Blender

Blender gives the option to globally change all mouse and keyboard settings to Industry Compatible (meaning Maya, basically), but I don’t recommend it. You will lose all the common keyboard shortcuts that are so ubiquitous and won’t be able to follow along any of the other You Tube tutorials so a few extra steps are required. Under Edit- Preferences- Keymap- 3D View we will make a few changes.

Click on Edit
Then Preferences
Keymap- 3D View

For the next three actions, click on the highlighted block; you will then be prompted to press a key. you will press ALT and the appropriate mouse button.

Next to Rotate View, click on the highlighted box.
The box caption will change to Press a key
Hit the Alt button and then the Left Mouse Button (LMB)
Repeat for Pan View, hitting Alt and Middle Mouse Button (MMB)

And finally, for Zoom View, hitting the Alt and Right Mouse Button (RMB)

Scroll back up to the top and Export these settings as something like “Maya Navigation”. You can then import these settings whenever you want to. Otherwise, you can set them to be your default settings under File- Default- Save Startup File.

Export these settings
Or save it as your default startup file

If you want to revert back to the original settings, you can hit Restore at the top right of the window. To reset individual changes, there will be an arrow next to each of the commands that was changed; clicking on that arrow will restore just that one command.

Restore all or some of the changes you made

There will be some more changes to individual commands as we start to model mesh within Blender, so at that point we will decide whether to continue using this navigation style in Blender or revert back to the native navigation style.

And once all that’s done, contemplate buying the 3Dconnexion SpaceMouse. Combine all your two-handed keyboard and mouse movements and make navigation a breeze. If $400 for the Enterprise version makes you queasy and don’t need the extra buttons, there’s a cheaper Pro version for $280 (pictured at top). I want.

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