The view window is probably the most important element of the user interface. It shows you the geometric structure of the scene and projects mouse coordinates into the 3d space. The default user interface contains one large, docked view window, but you can open as many view windows as you like. An additional floating view window opens from the 'Windows/View Window' pull down menu; alternative user interfaces such as the quadview contain multiple view windows which show the scene simultaneously from several directions.

The popup menu of the view window is partly context sensitive. The topmost menu items are related to the program tools and therefore the menu set depends on the current stage of the possibly ongoing tool interaction.

The menu structure is:

  • Accept: Finishes the current interaction

  • Go Back: Undoes the last step of current interaction

  • Cancel: Cancels the current interaction

  • Again: Restarts previous interaction

The Compass Menus

The idea of the compass menu is to provide a quick way to activate tools using the mouse. Use of normal pull-down and popup menus always requires careful aiming when an item should be picked. Compass menus are based on eight directions and two selection distances. These can be learned so that the hand remembers the motion, making the selection very quick.

The compass menu opens if you drag on a view window with the mouse, the right mouse button held down. The compass does not activate if a key modifier which selects another operation is held down - for example Shift-RMB-dragging just rotates the view.

The compass menu is context sensitive. The contents of it depends on key modifiers, object selection, object's edit state etc. The default view compass, shown above, opens if none of the selected objects specifies another kind of compass. You can also force the view compass by pressing the 'v' (=view) modifier key down before RMB-dragging.

Below, some general purpose compasses are described. Many object types and tools activate their own compass. Please check the object specific documentation for details.

Note: Modifier keys 'x' and 'z' are unused. They can be used in activation of user defined compasses. Most other keys are already configured as hotkeys that activate a tool, and their use as a compass modifier may lead to conflicting operations (compass activation performs another operation as a side effect).

Navigation Compass

Description: Tools for changing the view orientation, the drawing mode and the projection

Activation: No compass modifiers active or 'v' key pressed


  • up: Rotates view camera pitching angle upwards to the nearest 90 degree step

  • top: Rotates the camera to the top view (direction against y axis)

  • shaded OGL: Tuns OpenGL accelerated drawing on

  • back: Rotates the camera to the back view (direction along z axis)

Creation Compass

Description: Frequently needed object geometry creation tools.

Activation: 'q' key pressed


  • rectangle: A rectangular 4*4 cubic NURBS mesh

  • arectangle: An analytic rectangle

  • numesh: An 8*8 cubic NURBS mesh

  • axis: A vertical line of 2 points (suitable as a rotation axis etc.)

  • skeleton: Creates a skeleton object

Wireframe Compass

Description: This compass controls various real time drawing options of geometric objects.

Activation: 'w' key pressed


  • show geom: Makes hidden geometry visible

  • show texture: Sets Property window/Wire tab/Texture quality of selected objects to 64*64 pixels.

Transformation Compass

Description: Frequently needed transformation tools.

Activation: 'e' key pressed


  • move: Activates the usual object translation tool.

  • noise: Activates a transformation that moves points of selected objects randomly.

  • mirror: Activates the tool which reflects the selected objects w.r.t. a given axis

  • shear: Activates the shear (skew) tool

  • rotate: Activates the rotate tool

Light Source and Material Mapping Compass

Description: Tools for creating light sources and material mapping objects.

Activation: 'y' key pressed

Items: Light sources at the near distance, mapping objects at the far distance.

  • point light: Activates creation of the usual point light source

  • parallel map: Activates creation of a parallel material mapping object

  • cube map: Activates creation of a cube material mapping object

  • distant light: Activates creation of a distant light source

  • sphere map: Activates creation of a spherical material mapping object


You can navigate (move the view's camera in space) in several ways:

View navigation by the right mouse button:

Shift Zoom (change view angle/zoom scale)
Ctrl Pan (move camera)
Alt Rotate camera about aimpoint
Shift Ctrl Move camera forward/backward
Shift Alt Rotate in 45 degree steps
Ctrl Alt Adjust camera banking
Shift Ctrl Alt Adjust camera banking in 45 degree steps

View navigation by the middle mouse button:

Shift Move camera forward/backward
Ctrl Pan (move camera)
Alt Rotate camera about viewpoint
Shift Alt Rotate camera about viewpoint in 45 degree steps

View cruising with cursor keys:

Tab View camera cruising on
Tab+Shift Turbo boosted cruising
Tab+Up Accelerate
Tab+Down Decelerate
Tab+Left Turn left
Tab+Right Turn right
Tab+Alt+Up Turn up
Tab+Alt+Down Turn down
Tab+Alt+Left Bank counterclockwise
Tab+Alt+Right Bank clockwise
Tab+Ctrl+Up Move up
Tab+Ctrl+Down Move down
Tab+Ctrl+Left Move left
Tab+Ctrl+Right Move right
Tab+Left+Right Turn towards horizontal flight

View Camera

Every view window owns a private 'camera'. A view camera stores attributes which are familiar from real world camera: position, aiming direction, focal length etc. Thanks to this view camera concept, you can 'take pictures' i.e. render images on a view window without creating an actual camera object into the scene hierarchy. A view camera is identical with the camera objects in the scene hierarchy. You can easily assign all settings from a view camera to a camera object and back.

Input Plane

The input plane is a flat, infinite 2D plane in the 3D modeling space which you see through the view windows. The mouse pointer position is projected to the underlying input plane. This way 2D coordinates from the mouse become translated into 3D coordinates.

the input plane is, by default, connected to the view camera so that it always remains orthogonal to the camera. You can also unlock the input plane and model in a perspective manner. For example, you may want to view a room scene using a final camera view, place the input plane on the floor and move people inside the room along the floor to obtain an optimal composition.

The input plane becomes visible when you activate grid drawing. The input plane always matches the space division into grid snapping intervals. You can move and rotate the input plane using the view controls, numerically from the view property window or using the popup menu.

Perspective modeling on a vertical input plane

Most geometry creation and modify tools read their coordinate input from the input plane position. Certain tools (those using object handles) do not rely on the input plane, but project the mouse input to circular handles, axis systems etc. directly. For example, when you edit SDS object faces, input plane may be irrelevant.