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:
Wire: Refreshes the view window using the selected real time drawing system
Ray Trace: Activates photorealistic ray trace rendering into the view window
Backup Ray Tracing: Enables/disables a backup buffer for ray trace rendering. The result of rendering is stored into a disk file, which includes all channels needed by the selected post effects. The deep image can be viewed later and post effects can be repeatedly computed using it as the source data.
Post Process: Renders only the post effects. If a backup buffer is available, the post processing system uses it instead of an image coming from the ray tracer.
Post Process File: Applies the view's post effect configuration to an image file on disk. Result is shown on the view window. The image file is not scaled: if the source image does not fit the view window, additional parts become clipped.
Save 2D Projection: Saves 2D projected wireframes of the scene into a disk file. Any of the available export formats can be used, for example dxf or postscript. The created file can be edited further in a CAD program or printed. The view window does not need to be in a wireframe mode - the projection can be saved from a shaded view as well. Wireframe outside the visible view is clipped. The output scale is always such that the view width corresponds 1 native coordinate units of the export format. For example, if a view is configured to show a 100 meter wide model (view scale = 0.01 in the parallel projection mode), the scale ratio of the outputted data is 1:100.
Define Render Box: Activates render box interactor. The user can LMB drag a rectangle whose contents will be ray traced. All later ray trace renderings will be limited to the defined are until the render box is deactivated.
Box Active: Activates/deactivate the render box
Save to File: Saves the contents of the current render box (or the whole view if render box is unused) to a given disk file.
Animation Preview: Plays the animation and saves view window contents to a given image/animation file. after each frame. The format can be selected from the view property window (.avi by default). A prerendered avi file can then be played at constant speed regardless of the scene complexity. You can stop the preview rendering using the play button of the animation window.
Cancel Rendering: Stops the current rendering operation.
Color, ...: The channels of the backup buffer are listed at the end of the Render menu. Picking a channel item from the menu displays the channel contents on the view.
Handles: The top level switches for the general object handles.
Bounding Box: Enables drawing of a bounding box handle around the selected object. You can scale the selected objects by LMB-dragging the corners of the bounding box and move them by dragging the bounding box edges. The bounding box handle works also as a useful selection indicator in shaded OpenGL, because it is drawn outside (possibly obscuring) surfaces.
Rotate: Enables drawing of the object space rotate, translate and scale handles. These handles are drawn according to the selected object. If multiple objects are selected, the handles are drawn for the first object only. The three circular handles rotate the object. The three coordinate axis lines move the object in one dimension at a time. The end knobs of axis lines scale the object in the respective directions. The origin point of the handle system is the pivot point translation handle. All these handles can be used either by LMB-dragging them, which is a quick but inaccurate way. The handles can also be activated by a LMB click and then used with 2 clicks more. This method is more accurate because drag-snapping can be used to obtain exact results.
Camera: This menu contains sub menus for controlling the view camera.
Front: Rotates the view camera about the aimpoint to the front view (-Z axis)
Back: Rotates the view camera about the aimpoint to the back view (+Z axis)
Left: Rotates the view camera about the aimpoint to the left side view (+X axis)
Right: Rotates the view camera about the aimpoint to the right side view (-X axis)
Top: Rotates the view camera about the aimpoint to the top view (-Y axis)
Bottom: Rotates the view camera about the aimpoint to the bottom view (+Y axis)
Object View: Copies the orientation (and other settings if included) from the selected object to the view camera
View to Object: Stores the orientation (and other settings if the target is a camera) to the selected objects.
Perspective: Toggles perspective and parallel camera projections
IPlane View: Rotates the view camera so that it points orthogonally against the input plane
Auto Focus: Moves, rotates and zooms the camera so that the selected objects fit into the view window suitably. If Shift key is pressed and objects are in edit mode, the focus is set to selected editing handles.
Clip Focus: Sets the near and far clipping distances to match the selected objects
Zoom In/Out: Activates an interactor that LMB drags a zoom rectangle on a view window. Left-to-right drag zooms the view window inside the defined rectangle, right to left shrinks the current view to fit into the rectangle.
Tracking: Switches camera object tracking on/off. More detailed control is available at the view property window.
Front: Rotates the input plane parallel to the XY plane about the grid origin
Side: Rotates the input plane parallel to the YZ plane about the grid origin
Top: Rotates the input plane parallel to the XZ plane about the grid origin
Set Origin: Activates an interactor that reads a LMB click (or drag-snap) from a view and moves the grid origin to the defined point.
Match Surface: Activates an interactor that reads a LMB click (or LMB-drag snap point) from a view and moves the grid origin to the surface point under the defined point. The input plane is rotated to fit the tangent plane of the underlying surface.
Match 3 Points: Reads three points from a view window. The points define the new input plane. The first point defines the new grid origin. The line between the two first points defines the new grid x axis.
Lock to Camera: Locks the input plane to view camera. The input plane is automatically kept orthogonal to the view camera direction.
Grid Snap: Turns grid snapping on/off.
Grid Draw: Turns grid drawing on/off
Reset: Initializes all view settings to the default front view (looking against z axis). The native view is reset back to the front view as well.
Goto Native: Sets the view window into the native state recorded into it.
Current to Native: Records the current view orientation and scale settings as the native state of the view.
Object to Native: Fetches orientation settings from a (camera) object and stores them as the native state.
From Object: Fetches world coordinate orientation from the selected object. All numeric values will be measured along the object space directions.
From Input Plane: Fetches the world coordinate orientation from the current input plane orientation. Prior to using this tool, the input plane can be aligned to a surface tangent, an object space etc.
Set Origin: Reads a mouse click (or snap point) and sets the origin of world coordinates there.
Reset: Removes all world coordinate transformations.
Compass Down Point: Generates a left mouse button down event, which can be recorded to a macro. At macro execution, the click event will use the current mouse coordinates (not recording time coordinates).
Compass Up Point: Generates a left mouse button up event for macro recording.
Object Properties...: Opens the property window
View Properties...: Opens the view property window. With it, you can edit view window settings.
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).
Description: Tools for changing the view orientation, the drawing mode and the projection
Activation: No compass modifiers active or 'v' key pressed
right: Rotates camera heading rightwards to the nearest 90 degree step
rightview: Rotates the camera to the right side view (direction against x axis)
parallel: Activates parallel view projection (view camera has infinitely large focal length)
perspective: Activates perspective view projection
down: Rotates the view camera pitching angle downwards to the nearest 90 degree step
bottom: Rotates the camera to the bottom view (direction along y axis)
wire frame: Selects wire frame drawing without OpenGL acceleration
front: Rotates the camera to the front view (direction against z axis)
left: Rotates the camera heading to the left, to the nearest 90 degree step
leftview: Rotates the camera to the left side view (direction along x axis)
reset: Resets the view back to its 'native' state
Description: Frequently needed object geometry creation tools.
Activation: 'q' key pressed
backdrop: Creates a camera backdrop plane. If a camera object is not selected, creates also a camera from the current view.
rotator: Creates a rotator object.
circle: A circular NURBS mesh
fonts: Activates the font tool
cone: An analytical cone
SDS cube: A 2*2*2 subdivision surface cube
cube: An analytic cube
NURBS interpolative: Cubic NURBS curve creation through curve knot points
curve: Cubic NURBS curve creation by control polygon points
sphere: An analytic sphere
cylinder: An analytic cylinder
Description: This compass controls various real time drawing options of geometric objects.
Activation: 'w' key pressed
rotatehandle on: Makes object space rotate handle of selected objects visible. Note: View popup manu/Handles/Rotate must be active, otherwise the handles are not visible.
bbox on: Makes object space bounding box handle of selected objects visible. Note: View popup manu/Handles/Bounding Box must be active, otherwise the handles are not visible.
coordsys on: Makes object space axis handle (for translation and scaling) of selected objects visible. Note: View popup manu/Handles/Rotate must be active, otherwise the handles are not visible.
rough shading: Sets Property window/Wire tab/Shaded quality of selected objects to the level 2.
hide geom: Hides surfaces of selected objecs. Possible sub objets or handles are not affected.
hide texture: Sets Property window/Wire tab/Texture quality to 'None'
rotatehandle off: Makes object space rotate handle of selected objects invisible.
bbox off: Makes object space bounding box handle of selected objects invisible.
coordsys off: Makes object space axis handle of selected objects invisible.
good shading: Sets Property window/Wire tab/Shaded quality of selected objects to the level 4.
Description: Frequently needed transformation tools.
Activation: 'e' key pressed
extend: Activates one-dimensional scaling along a given axis
scale: Activates the scale tool which allows rectangular scaling. Uniform Scaling can be obtained by pressing the Shift modifier down and moving the mouse diagonally.
bend: Activates the tool for bending along a circle arc
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.
cylinder map: Activates creation of a cylindrical material mapping object
spot light: Activates creation of a spot light
disk map: Activates creation of a disk material mapping object
camera map: Activates creation of a default material mapping object with the 'camera' coordinate option.
ambient light: Adds an ambient light source into the scene
average map: Creates a level object that computes a symmetric average of selected material mapping objects.
default map: Activates creation of a default (no geometry included) 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+Left+Right||Turn towards horizontal flight|
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.
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.
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.