Blender's Unique Interface
It's no secret that the Blender interface breaks a lot of rules. Luckily Blender has good reasons for it and after time these reasons become clear. Blender's interface is built around providing you with the shortest routes to the most results. It's also particularly focused on reducing the kind of stress on wrists and hands that's often felt when using mouse-intensive graphical applications every day.
For these reasons, a lot of the work done in Blender is distributed across the keyboard and the mouse. Many operations normally done with a point-and-click action can be achieved with just a few key-presses on the keyboard. Blender also makes heavy use of 'the middle mouse button', commonly known as the 'wheel', both as a scrolling interface and as a button.
One of the most important things to know about Blender is that the interface changes to fit the kind of task you're doing at any given time. Much of this happens when you change from one mode to another. This can be confusing at first, especially when a menu that you saw there a second ago has become something else. Taking time to understand how Blender uses modes before you start trying to work with Blender is quite essential. It's my hope that the following chapters will make all this clearer.
Modes aside, Blender is not just for manipulating 3D objects. Whole scenes can be created with lights, textures and then rendered out as still images. Scenes can also be animated, sound effects added, and all of this rendered out in a variety of movie file formats. Interactive artworks can also be made, and extended greatly using the Python programming language. A good general rule for considering Blender might be "what you get is more than what you see".
For most of the tasks we're going to look at, there is a menu item. Throughout the Blender manual, I'll provide you with both options, the point-and-click-menu way and the keyboard-shortcut way, so that you can find a mix of both you're happy with.
Conventions Used in this Document
All keyboard characters, including numbers, will be followed by the word 'key', for instance A-key means the 'a' key on your keyboard just like 1-key represents the numeric key 1. There are however times when I'll refer to the numeric keypad. When I do this I'll say NUMPAD-1. Naturally laptop users don't have a numeric keypad. If you are following this manual on such a machine you'll need to make sure you setup Blender properly as described in the section Configuring Blender before using the normal number keys in the place of the numeric keypad.
CTRL = Control Key
SHFT = Shift Key
LMB = Left mouse button
RMB = Right mouse button
MMB = Middle mouse button
ENTER = Enter Key
CTRL+A-key = Control key then the A key.
NUMPAD-7 = Number 7 on the number pad on your keyboard
7-key = Key 7 on your keyboÂard.