Blender Overview : Hotkey Customising…


….To make Blender behave a little bit more like Maya. (I thought i’d make the note here that although I personally started off using these adjustments to help acclimate myself to the world of Blender, I did eventually make the leap to just simply using Blender default controls. I felt that Blender holds quite a lot of useful, convenient methods of working that are easy to grasp given time for a bit of reorientation. Plus I find it’s useful in the tutorial world to be easily understood by using the standard hotkeys as a sort of universal language).


Let’s get started! What follows is a quick breakdown on customising Blender to work a little more like Maya. There are also a few helpful tweaks for anyone who hasn’t yet found the time to poke around in the user preferences.



Part 1 – Maya Camera Controls and Selection


a) Select with the Left mouse button (for a more complete video explanation and exploration of the topic click here)

b) Marquee selection as primary selection method (for a more complete video explanation and exploration of the topic click here)

c) Camera Controls (for a more complete video explanation and exploration of blender’s default controls click here)


Part 2 – Other Useful Settings


a) General Customisation (a video detailing some of this information can be found here)

b) Saving changes


All changes are made in the user preferences window. File > User Preferences. Or use the shortcut ‘Ctrl Alt U’


A note for curious Splash Screen explorers....

On startup there is a splash screen that will give you the option to change from the default blender key configuration to a ‘maya’ alternative. This is an adequate solution to get up and running a bit faster in Blender if you are familiar with Maya. However, there are certain input styles and control methods that Blender has that I feel are an improvement and so try to preserve these in the changes made below.



It is also worth noting that there are many more changes that can be made than what is laid out here. Blender is highly customisable – from the windows layout to the interface theme colours and beyond. Feel free to further bridge the gap between Maya (or any other application) and Blender or experiment with more methods unique to your style of working. There is no real ‘right’ or ‘wrong’.


Official Blender documentation can be found here…



Part 1 – Camera Controls and Selection

 (for a more complete video explanation and exploration of the topic click here)

a) By default Blender is setup to select with the right mouse button. This can be changed to the left mouse button in the input tab of the user preferences..


(for a more complete video explanation and exploration of the topic click here)

b) To be able to make a marquee selection (the rectangular box selection method) by default you first need to press the shortcut ‘B’ for border select. We can change it so that the marquee selection is the default selection method in the input tab.


Find Border Select (below you can see i’ve typed this into the filter – the magnifying glass icon in the top right) under ‘3D View’. Change the settings to those shown – Tweak, Select, Any and turn off ‘extend selection’.


To be able to add to the selection using ‘Shift’ we will need to add a new shortcut item. Click on ‘add new’,  this will create an item at the bottom of all the 3D View – 3D View (Global) shortcuts called ‘none’. Scroll down to it (or simply type ‘none’ in the filter).

add the text ‘view3d.select_border’ to replace the text ‘none’. Then make the following changes seen highlighted below.

Note : To create a deselection method is a little trickier, for this I would recommend to use the Shift Ctrl Right Mouse for a lasso deselection.

There has been a discussion about this here….

c) In order to emulate the Maya camera controls we need to search for 3 shortcut options…
Rotate View, Move View and Zoom View.
Search for these individually in the Filter bar (highlighted below) or scroll down under 3D View > 3D View (Global)

Below you can see the changes made to emulate Maya’s camera controls

This will create a problem however. When in edit mode rotating the view won’t work as the alt and mouse press is already used for selecting edge loops. So we will need to make one final adjustment.

3DView > Mesh > LoopSelect (the first instance that uses only Alt) needs to be disabled so as not to lock the rotation. We don’t need to remap this shortcut to anything else as there is already a second instance of LoopSelect that uses Shift Alt and in addition ‘extends’ the selection. I haven’t yet found any need for both.

Part 2 – Other Useful Settings

a) Maya and 3ds Max use a camera orbit style called ‘turntable’ this is also the most intuitive camera style to use. However it isn’t always the most useful when doing certain types of modelling like up close sculpting for example, the trackball orbit style can be handy in these cases.

By default if you click and drag something you’ll be stopped as the cursor reaches the edge of the screen. ‘Continuous Grab’ will allow us to drag beyond the confines of the screen any amount you like.

While in an orthographic viewport like Top, Side or Front view by default rotating the viewing camera will create an angled view that doesn’t show any depth from perspective foreshortening.

You may like the camera to automatically switch from orthographic to a perspective viewing mode when this happens. This setting is called ‘AutoPerspective’. This can be found in the Interface tab of the User Preferences.

Other useful settings include ‘Zoom to Mouse Position’ and ‘Rotate Around Selection’. These camera navigation styles speak for themselves but if unsure what these are they are best understood by trying them out. It is worth noting that the ‘Rotate Around Selection’ can sometimes be quite cumbersome in certain conditions. I have included it here to draw attention to what some might consider a common and handy feature.

In most applications if you have made changes to the current scene you will be prompted to save or verify the action. In Blender this is not on by default, the setting can be seen below called ‘Prompt Quit’.

In order to speed up the viewport performance, in the System Tab of the user preferences turn ‘VBOs’ on. Some older computers don’t support this which is why it is disabled by default.

Many aesthethic aspects of the user interface can be customised. This can be done in the ‘Themes’ tab of the User Preferences. A pleasant darker theme is the ‘Zbrush’ option. However there are many other presets to choose from.

b) Finally to make this a permanent change you can select ‘Save as default’. It is worth noting that this will save everything – current objects in the scene, windows layout, shortcut keys, render settings etc etc. It is always possible to revert to the factory settings by going File > Load Factory Settings.

You can also export the key configuration (seen below). This allows you to be able to import the changes to the key configuration you have made into other versions of Blender.



Here’s a link to the next section – First Interactions….

first interactions with blender

Here’s a link back to the list of all videos in this Blender Overview series….

blender overview

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  • Darksider

    I want to zoom in with scroll while I am holding Alt key like in Maya. If I am releasing Alt, I can zoom with scroll.

    What to set up?

  • Hi!

    I think you might find what you’re looking for about halfway down, look for this image….

    at the end of part 1.

    You’ll probably need to read to the end of part 1 just to make sure you don’t lose your loop select as it’s hotkey will get overwritten by the maya camera control thing.

    Hope that helps!


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