Sunday, October 23, 2011

Cleaning up the Blender UI

The story of Blender is quite amazing. Over the years, Blender has become incredibly powerful. And this is reflected in the user interface. With Blender 2.5, the goal was to introduce more consistency, more structure and logic into the UI. This has helped set Blender up for the future: It's more expandable, it's more flexible and it's easier to use.

However, all these additions haven't really tackled a core issue with the Blender UI, which is visual complexity. Look at this screenshot from Blender:

It has:

  • 103 strings of text
  • Many visual boxes
  • Many lines and dividers
  • Many irregular lumps of items
  • Many small gradients

All these boxes, items, text strings adds enormous visual strain for the user. Here is a visualization of the main hard lines in the UI:

This shows how heavy the UI is. My hope for Blender is that it can become lighter, calmer and easier on the eyes. For Blender to embrace KISS - Keep It Simple Stupid - and to follow Dieter Rams design philosophy of 'Less, but better'.

So, why is simplicity in interfaces good?

  • Reduced clutter
  • Fewer disturbing points of focus
  • Takes up less space
  • Fewer strings of text
  • Let users focus on content
  • Is calm and relaxing to look at
  • Lets you concentrate on a few things and present them well.

How are we going to simplify the Blender UI?

  • Reduce amount of unneeded lines, gradients and boxes
  • Use hierarchy to move rarely used items into menus
  • Remove unnecessary items entirely
  • Rethink some features to need less buttons
  • Add more whitespace
  • Promote the content itself

So, I've done a little exercise to try and clean up Blender a bit:

Phew! This looks like an application that is inviting. I want to use it! It looks fun and light instead of heavy and daunting.

You'll notice that I've done a few things. Firstly, I'm starting from the improvements that Brech van Lommel introduced in his Cycles branch. On top of that I've made these additional changes:

  • Removed a bunch of dividers and gradients.
  • Removed boxes around some items, such as Window Selectors
  • Shortened some strings of text (Object Mode -> Object)
  • Removed Blender icon in header (not useful information)
  • Removed all the gibberish data text in the top right header. This could optionally be presented in n overlay.
  • Simplified Window and Scene selection widgets (Put Add and Remove buttons inside the popup menu)
  • Simplified Material list widget. There was much redundancy here.
  • Simplified Toolbar
  • Hid arrows in number widgets. This could appear on mouse roll-over

Below are a few focused examples of the changes:

Here you can see that I've moved buttons into the sub-menu. The Add/Remove buttons don't need to be visible in the top level UI.

The Material list is another example. The previous version had many unnecessary and duplicated items. Renaming, moving, selecting, adding, deleting, linking and unlinking could all be done with this simple UI. 

The properties list itself is also much simpler here. This is an image from the Cycles branch by Brecht van Lommel, which demonstrates how calm and simple properties can look when you arrange them in a cleaner way. This also makes items easier to eye-scan items vertically.

Here I've added an example of how to do cleanup work. This is the 3D View header in edit mode:

This shows the header could go from the current jumbled mess to a cleaner version.

Another thing that goes with this simplification of the UI is screen space. Let's examine the original screenshot, this time with an overlay that shows how much of the screen area is used for displaying content:

Based on area, slightly less than half of the screen is dedicated to the 3D content (green) while approx 52% of the screen is dedicated to UI controls.

Compare that to this:

Here, approx 20% of the screen is comprised of UI controls, and the vast majority is used to display content.

I'm excited about Blender's future, and with a few changes the UI could become calmer, cleaner and simpler.


  1. I agree completely. The eye is constantly traveling back and forth when reading the panels and there's also a lot of wasted space.

    I have talked with Campbell briefly and I would love to contribute polishing the user interface. I'm writing a proposal right now and then I'll start gathering feedback. Yours would be very welcome.

    I know it's not and easy task mainly because I'm not familiar with the blender C code but I'll find help along the way. Python side shouldn't be a problem.


  2. Being a visual person I actually prefer having things sprawled out. I find that hierarchical menus are really annoying compared to just having the buttons all on screen easily accessible. However, I do see the benefits of cleaning up the interface. Better organization, elimination of redundancy of buttons and making them all easily scannable is definitely smart.
    I think there's pros and cons to your approach. Ideally I think it would be nice if this could be implemented as an option as I'm sure there are people like me who prefer to work with lots of buttons visible all at once, and there are definitely people who would prefer something more like this. Flexibility to let the user really make their own personal interface choices should be the key thing.

    The only thing I definitely don't like with your design is the "Removed all the gibberish data text in the top right header." Having that info on display at all times is really helpful and I glance up there frequently. Besides, I'm of the opinion that white space should be optimized in the 3D view or content edit area but as far as the panels and headers go I feel like the space should be filled with as much controls or info as possible -but should definitely be organized, simplified, and easy to visually navigate. There's really no point having unused space in panel areas in my opinion.

    1. I know this is an old thread, but I have my two cents to put in.

      The trick to any user interface is finding the sweet spot between power and simplicity. While nothing is completely idiot proof, the current UI is terrifying to new users. I've been trying to get the hang of Blender for a few years, and it just doesn't come to me, but when I pick up a program like Daz3d's Hexagon, or Maya, a few hours of playing around has me making great strides in progress. This, sadly isn't the case in Blender. I believe that grouping like tools into drawers like Hexagon and Maya does would be of great benefit. There's no reason to put UV and Texture tools next to vertex editing tools, because those are completely different jobs. Grouping tools in areas where they would be accessible for specific jobs, and having plain language tooltips or descriptions for each tool or group would help new users to better grasp what is happening in the work area. And also giving users the ability to group their favorite tools together would be very useful also. And all widgets should be self explanatory, or at the very least add a tooltip or hint.

      Making the ui newbie friendly, as well as customizable for the power user should really be the way to go.

    2. personally i think there should be customizability?
      by default its super simple with only core features on show and everything advanced hideen in big dropdown menus!

      but within a few clicks, you should be able to switch to 'expert view' which is what we see today!

  3. this is the right way...
    i hope one day Blender interface will be nice an clean but most importantly i'll be CONSISTENT and "EASY" for use.

  4. william, 3 things that bug me in ui in order of importance:
    1- jumping interface: currently in e.g. the N key panel, things jump a lot depending on selection.... very bad for muscle memory.
    2- multiple item editing. You can't select multiple things and change a property on all of them via buttons.
    3- drag and drop. We have it. We don't use it that much where it could be nice.

  5. Great analysis, I'm convinced that Blender's UI still needs major overhaul (though 2.5 was a great leap forward).

    On the side of simplifying things, Blender is a complex system, and hiding it all doesn't really solve the problem of complexity. There are lots of unused buttons, but I suspect those are not the same among all users. Perhaps an easy way of collapsing/expanding various interface parts is the way to go? And most of it can be hidden by default to avoid scaring off the newbies (a true concern, mind you!)

  6. Gianmichele:
    Thanks for the feedback! Most of these things are not that hard to change. The hard part is 1) getting people to agree on change (any change is hard to get people to agree on) and 2) for someone to be interested and to go ahead and do it.

    Bassam: Agree with all your points. These are weak areas.

    N-key area is a mess. It's become like one of those drawers in your den where you just throw in random stuff to keep it out of sight.

    Multiple item editing is still something I hope we can revisit. There are challenges to make this work, but I'm sure they can be overcome.

    Drag and drop was implemented in the low-level event system, but isn't really fully utilized on the top-level UI. You could make some things way easier using DnD - many rigging tasks involve setting up relationships between items, and you shouldn't have to manually type in stuff or select things in huge lists. It's not direct enough, and it slows you down.

    Mikhail P. Schalk:

    Thanks for the response. I actually think you have a point about screen-area. I agree that the Ui could take up even less space. In fact, the properties editor doesn't need to be so wide. If most things are presented in a single column list as shown in the screenshot you could win an awful large amount of content-space back.

    Ideally speaking though, I don't think there has to be a contradiction between speed and clarity in UIs (If the screen is completely full of very tiny buttons, would a UI be truly faster? You'd spend a lot of time locating and remembering what you were looking for)

    I'd argue that if a UI is simple, it'd be easier to use muscle memory to quickly locate items.

    Yes, complexity is more than just the veneer of the app. Most of the complexity in Blender stems from the underlying model being too convoluted. Take for example the existing Blender Internal shading system with MaterialNodes, Texture Slots, Material Groups, and the vast array of options and systems hereunder. No top-level UI makeover can really solve this. But Cycles can, because the system is just inherently simpler to use, and so the UI is much simpler here too.

    That's really the model the rest of Blender could take. Also I think (and this is just my personal view) that some features should be removed from Blender entirely. There are some features in Blender that attempt to solve really simple problems with a very complicated solutions, such as:

    -Preview Range in Timeline (could just use Markers)
    -Keying Sets (Way too complicated to set up and really use to be actually useful)
    -Everything in the Animation Hacks panel
    -Fake Users (Really hard to get your head around - the whole 'users' concept within datablocks is unnecessarily difficult to understand and hard to manage)
    -NLA (This is still mind-bogglingly hard to use in practical scenarios. It always seems to be easier to blend animations the 'hard way' rather than using the NLA - again, it solves a simple problem with a convoluted and complicated solution)

  7. Ah! I love that new 3D View Header. It bugs me how it is now. I'm always pressing the wrong buttons. Those new select mode icons look a lot better too. I'm not sure I agree with some of the choices you made on things to remove, but partly that's just I've gotten used to having buttons for certain things readily available in the header... obviously it's not convenient if the header is too jumbled to make sense of it though.
    I'm not sure sending more things to the Tools panel really helps much in the bigger picture either. Having some of these things readily available without having to go find them in panels or menues has helped me realize they exist too... for instance the 3d manipulator widget buttons, I found out about them by wondering what the buttons did that were there and learning. If everything gets hidden all of a sudden it could make it harder for new users to serendipitously figure things out.

    Making the properties panel all 1 column seems like a good idea. Where it might present a problem is when the list is very long and there's no way to quickly glance over at a button to find the right one without reading them. Having the buttons be identifiable by shape, size, color or some visual arrangement is way way better than through text alone.
    -A couple things that would be really great are for the property editor type buttons at the top of the properties panel to dynamically loop around to the next line to fit the width of the panel... otherwise it's necessary to expand the panel to access the righetermost buttons.
    The Pin button and the little summary of where you are in the properties panel just below those buttons too is a real nuisance, especially trying to use the properties panel horizontally, it takes up a whole chunk of space. That limitation converted me to a vertical properties panel user, but it should really be more of a fair choice.

  8. I understand your desire to change default screen of blender to something more welcoming.

    But with this target, you seems to forget usability.

    People sometimes save User Preferences when they want to acces to User Preferences because it is just the item below in File menu.
    Do you really think it is easier or faster to delete a screen or enable snap by clicking in the menu ?

    How can we rename scenes and screens in your proposal ?
    Must we use outliner ?
    Actually, it is quite intuitive and allows drag and drop.
    When you create new windows, number of screens increases. Why do you suppressed the search in list template ?

    Even if Cycles will replace Blender Internal, it will take years. How your proposal for materials is supposed to work with material nodes of Internal renderer ?

    There is no universal screen that suits to every use of blender.
    Lots of users want to create their screen according to what they need.
    For previz, a screen with all camera views in different 3D views can be helpful.
    If OpenGL render is not in the 3Dview header, what is your suggestion to precise what 3Dview to render ?
    Do you think a "?" cursor is a faster solution ?

    What do you think of these old suggestions ?
    _Addition of an horizontal region for 3DView that could be used as horizontal toolbar.
    _Floating panels that could be placed anywhere in 3d view and drag'n drop in N column.

    I agree a column makes items easier to eye-scan vertically.
    When you are dealing with particles; context, cache, emission, physics, render, display panels are all essential panels.
    You can't open them all in 1 column without dramastically zoom out.
    Particles properties could become more friendly if we could split properties tab in several columns.
    Because it will allow a complete eye-scan of essential features.
    Particles is a part of blender that stay unclear to people's mind because eye-scan is incomplete, stopped by limits of Properties Editor.

    Cycles UI show the whole nodetree. If it is very complex; only one Surface Panel could be displayed in Properties Editor.
    I really think that "panels in 2 columns" is not so much distracting if columns are clearly separated.

  9. I think, some smoothing is planned for 2.61. Which is good.

  10. Bah! More and more empty space and hidden away settings...
    Seriously I wish you would leave it alone for a while.
    We just had a major revamp of the UI to alleviate the mess.
    Lets get all the waiting code in and get it stable before fretting about this all over again.

  11. Are the changes in the screenshots (the 3rd screenshot, mainly) just mock-ups, or are they actually coded changes? If they are coded, is there any chance that this build will be released on GraphicAll or elsewhere, just for testing, regardless of completeness?

  12. Great work, always good to keep revisiting the UI, and KISS rulez :)

    Coming from Maya I definitely could use drag'n drop in the outliner to rearrange hierarchies. At least to me this is the fastest way of doing many rigging tasks.

  13. When 2.5 came out t made one major move , it moved all the UI organisation to python. Blender now even come with the option to right click on a gui area and open up the python module responsible for its design. The its up to the user to move code around , which is something very easy even for someone who has zero knowledge of coding, providing of course he has spend a few days learning python and bpy. And since python in blender is pure magic you can do whatever you want UI wise with it. So the tool is right the , anyone can customize the UI however he wants.

    I dont think the UI should be simplified, because even though minimal ui interfaces are ideal for beginners they are not ideal for advanced users. Also each person has different needs so he need a different GUI. For me the only solution is an Addon that modifies the UI by editing the python modules and stores presets that can be used to change the UI on the fly. Its not a hard to do addon since blender python already does all the hard work for designing the UI.

  14. Make it so.


  15. Nice (and sleek) interface but STOP!
    It is perfect for use blender surface but not for advanced use.

    Blender is a powerful software, which leaves room for creativity of the user. Simplify the interface would be:
    - Curb inventiveness
    - Extend the time to do its job.
    Look at the interfaces of Maya or 3DS max, they are at least as complex as that of blender (or more).

    For me, this is done only for the purpose of attracting new users who may be afraid of "many buttons".
    But this simplification lengthen the working time goes against the will of blender to make room in the professional world. A new user MUST be willing to learn to use blender.

    Each software interface that corresponds to it. More complex software is more complex is its inteface.
    Each software requests learning time. The software offers more options, more learning is long.

    And I would add that if the interface is too cluttered, you can press T and N. ..

    Finally, I am totally against. I will not go over my list of arguments but I still have many other (perhaps more subjective).

    PS Or you need to create the "magic button" : make-me-a-super-modeling-which-is-exactly-what-I-want-with-a-professional-level-rendering-(please) for those who do not want to do the job of learning Blender.


  16. I am going to take a little bit of time for the proposed changes to sink in. There are a few elements I don't think I will agree with. But the more I think about it the more I warm to it.

    One change I would strongly suggest is making the panel at the bottom of the 3d viewport semi transparent or otherwise indicate visually that it belongs to the 3d vieport. Having to sets of menus in an application is unusual and this would probably help hint which does what.

  17. I think my reservations have to do with the fact that there is now a lot of space in the interface that is not doing anything useful. When I think about it I can see that I am not really losing any functionality but that is still going to be a gut reaction from many proficient users (or maybe they are still using 2.49 anyways). I realise that once the job is done it will probably be a lot less uncluttered. But maybe there should be a provision to add user defined buttons or controls
    as this could make blender more productive for those of us who are not particularly bawked by complex interfaces. Also it happens to be one of the favourite features in Maya of a friend of mine who does find the Blender interface too confusing.

  18. I think I like this UI better. Text should be optional. Most text should be based on hovering, and meaningful icons make more sense to me. I learn what they mean if I see the text two or three times. I like this UI better.

  19. I'm super tired and didn't read all post, but I'll interject this. Perhaps the option for the "Traditional" interface (2.5) and another for the new interface, and perhaps the ability to customize it yourself to an extent to save as a profile? just my thoughts. I like the fact the UI is being looked at to be polished up a bit. Thx!

  20. Less is More.
    But I could use a user-defined tool-bar, so I could use my own preferences.

  21. Very good.
    I really like the layout, looks very clean and inviting.

  22. Frankly Speaking...I prefer the original UI (the 1st image), everything ready to be used in front of me. I Agree with Mikhail- " hierarchical menus are really annoying compared to just having the buttons all on screen easily accessible".

  23. I really like the improvements... i dont' use all the features all the time.. but given that i can search for the items in context.. i would prefer the cleaner UI.. Hope this cleaner UI will be available soon :)

  24. I think you are going too far in the name of a vacuous design philosphy nor based in usability. Using "gibberish" to describe accurate, relevant and often used information illustrates this perfectly. Visual clarafication is good. Hiding functionality and information is obfuscation; more clicks for the initiated, and hindrance to learning for the novice. I learned (what little I know of) Blender mainly through exploration of the interface. Your proposal presents the explorer with desolation. Please consider which changes may bring real functional benefit and which are mere sacrifice to aesthetic creed. At least allow the flexibility to satisfy those who would rather see the garden of delights than the wasteland.

  25. I don' t think that to purify blender interface help new user to understand how to use the tools, but the idea to associate an icone in the simplest action is good as in a lot of young 3d software like modo.
    Oh and please do not touch the header, I use all tools present in the 3d view header and that accelerates my worflow , in spite of I use most of keyboard to model. (To model architecture: snapping, translate/rotate/scale assocaite to transform orientation and pivot center are very important tools and must be easily accessible).

  26. Would you accept If I wrote a proposal on how to get horizontal panels back? :)
    Also, another way to clean up the GUI is to move all things from the N panel that are not View specific to the properties. That's pretty much all of them, except for View and Display.
    Also - Since Cycles materials are purely node based, we can pretty much get rid of the Material and Texture tabs and make Material selection drop-menus in Data and Object tabs.
    Downfall - No quick way to edit materials.
    Solution: Merge Node editor and properties into one, making Node editor a new tab for Properties... Because nodes are properties as a matter of fact...

  27. I'd agree with the writer who said that there should be two UI's - the traditional one with all the power available at all times... and a simplified one for those who are learning blender. And make it easy to switch between them as there's never a point where everything falls into one camp or the other!

    But if you'd like to consider an alternative to UI simplification - how about the mouse gesture interface used by another 3D system? I remember it from years ago - and it was very clean. You did a right-click with a short drag and it displayed a star-layout of appropriate options, at that point. I felt it was a revolutionary step forward - but no-one else seemed to notice it!

  28. I agree with Gianmichele!
    It HAS to be optional, otherwise you will run against a much to hard front!
    I like the blender interface as it is, because its all accessible. Sure its hard for a new one to get into it, but for him the new things may be a choice.

    However the floating panels for Translate etc. are horrible! Having it over your workspace really just slows down your work in the 3d-window, since often there are hundreds of objects or vertices, and you want to select one and accidently click on it (or the other way round).

    Better bring the mouse gestures back(they miss in the interface more than the complexity bothers(which is a matter of taste)) and make those changes optional, the protests would be too much otherwise

  29. i like the space saving feature.. but blender is still very much dependent on keyboard shortcut knowledge, which makes it a pain to get used to if you come from other 3d software.

    Why not have a toolbar panel, like the one in maya, that is changing its contents depending on what is selected (like the context menus in maya) and also (can be) set on autohide..

    Just throwing ideas there. You must do something about access to tools and Blender's dependency on shortcuts. A lot of it is hard to find even with the spacebar search box, because its naming conventions are different from maya and max

  30. replace the text in the toolbox panel (on the left) with icons- that would make them both easier to find and save up some space. You cant imagine how annoying it is to search for the loop cut tool and reading that list of items..+not remembering or wanting to remember the stupid keyboard shortcut for that

  31. Hah, UI discussions are always interesting!

    Thanks for the feedback everyone.

    I'd like to say a few things before people freak out:

    -This is an exercise on a blog - doesn't necessarily mean this is what will happen. It is inspired by the work that Brecht already did in his Cycles branch, trying to take things further down that road. One of the things I like about doing this is that it forces one to think about alternative solutions, rather than just going along with what we have.

    -Blender is evolving quickly. It is gaining features, gaining tools, gaining workflows. Whenever you have such a large old app, you have the issue of bloat. I think we have to be very mindful of the fact that Blender is already quite bloated, and getting larger every day. In order to sustain this awesome evolution in capability we have to do some spring cleaning once in a while, re-examine things, clean things.

    -To those who say we just changed the UI in 2.5: I consider the user interface the defining element of an application. It's what sets apart a good app from a bad one. Whatever happens, the UI will and should continue to evolve over time.

    -About the suggestion that we add a 'Read my mind and make awesome stuff' button: If possible that would be perfect! :)

    FreeMind: Would I accept if you wrote a proposal? Of course I would! We've thought long and hard about horizontal properties, and each time we've discussed it, no one could figure out a good expandable way of organising and expanding arbitrary UI controls this way.

    1. wow! i am new at Blender..this sounds all good but i just want to know how to remove all the lines :)lol

  32. Current Blender 2.5 interface is very, very good! I like all these hard lines, many lines and buttons! If I want to hide all of it, I just press Shift+Space in 3D View. And then I use hotkeys for all actions. Please don't reduce the program to a child's toy!

  33. I totally agree that actual UI needs to be simplified! Gratz!

  34. NO!!! Seriously, if I will run Blender and see this "clear and simple" interface, I will think that is a bug! And I will think it every time when I will see it. Hands off from Blender interface!

  35. Great proposals. I really hope this will be implemented in Blender.

  36. Am I the only one who is happy with the UI how it is?? If this will be implemented in 2.7 or what ever i'll forever use 2.6!!

    Anyone agrees??

    1. The current set-up, while it does not seem user-friendly, makes sure everything is easily accessible. The menus give us a way to use many features while editing without making you search too much and lose track of what you're doing. I like it as-is.

  37. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  38. I really hope this would be an optional theme, or something along those lines.

    The current interface to me is fine, I know where items are, and it's more essential that everything I need is on the screen, or at most one click away in a menu.

    This bare minimum interface may be good for people who are new to Blender, or who are doing fairly simple tasks, but for a person who a) knows Blender b) knows what they are doing, and how to do it, and c) has many, many options that need tweaking, then this new interface would be a major step back.

    Also, I think it just looks very 90's, and it's really changing the interface for the sake of change.

  39. Please, don't give Blender the dumb-down treatment.

    "If you design your software to be usable for idiots, idiots will be the only people using your software."

  40. I think this will be a great positive move for modelling as what one modeller strives for is more modelling screen area than buttons. I, personally, do most of the operations while modelling in blender by using shortcut keyboard keys and clicking on a button is not really a preferred step while modelling. But, when it comes to shading, you do need the scrambled buttons & slots all over, with whom one can constantly fiddle with. Because while shading you hit and tweak the things to get the shaders right. But I would agree with this change. We can have shading mode with lots of buttons to change properties and modelling mode with very less buttons. The current 2.6 interface needs improvement, it comes really hard at you. The interface of cycles branch is much more soothing to the eyes and can get even better. Finally, one has to remember that the user is a human being and you have to pay attention to the ergonomics of the human eye. Everyone will agree that at the end of the day, the use of 3D program is tiring for the human eye. And digital artist suffer from tremendous strain on their eyes. If we can relieve them with a soothing, light interface which does not make the eye move a lot, doesn't make the neck turn much, keeps the shoulders relaxed then the artists will worship you for blessing them with it.

  41. Thumbs down! Thumbs down!! Thumbs down!!!

    This is awful! Hands off from the Blender interface! Hands off from the Blender interface!! Hands off from the Blender interface!!!


  42. Sorry for my emotional reaction, but this is really the end of Blender, if it will be implemented.

  43. I know a LOT of people telling that they prefer modelling with Blender instead of with, say, 3DSMax, just BECAUSE everything is accessible at the same time.
    This makes modelling very fast.

    Sure, the learning curve is steep in the first place, but, once you are familiar with the Blender interface, it's easy to use.
    Honestly, I wish every software would work this way.

    So do not touch the interface. Please.

    And don't forget that Blender is a complex and powerful application. This is neither Word nor a Click-Your-Homepage-In-Easy-Steps app.

  44. Looks well, but unusable. The beauty for the eyes is important, but usability is more important. I want to do 3D works, not to admire the interface.

  45. This kind of simplicity is worse than stealing.
    1. What for are buttons in the work area? I can click one in the heat of the work and swith unnecessary option! And it will take time to understand what happend and get it back!
    2. I totally disagree with replacing render buttons in 3D-View header. Every window type may be maximized/minimized. If I need to render with maximized 3D-window, I would have to minimize it, go to Options window, click button there instead of clicking it in the header. Odd movements.
    3. I can't understand how to move Option on/off switchers to the list of options that they are swithes!?
    //Happy hotkey user

  46. swith/switCh

  47. Reduce the mount of clicks!!!
    the original blender interface is like a console in a airplain: all the funktions in view, less clicking in submenues. hiding isn't an option. old B&O beocenters had less buttons in view and the finetuning wheels and buttons hidden under a large flap. thats works for listening music - but dont for making music!!!
    ask yourself: why are there so many keys on a piano or synthesizer?
    why are there so many levelers in a recording studio?
    for - what the fuck - are there so many buttons on a DSLR for pro's? a pro need it. instandly! rush! no thinking and clicking in odyssey menus like in compact cameras.
    same here: blender is a creating studio for film.
    press shift+space for uncluttering the view.
    press Tkey to blendout the toolbox to get more space .

    microsoft and adobe worked in a manner of hiding the needed options: really frustrating to search the functions you need and is a clicking hell for a pro.

    please help the memory of the muscles to refind the options fast.
    most used buttons need to be in view: on klick or view to control if it's checked.

  48. Stop, stop, stop!
    As many other people have pointed out, making things easier for new users usually means ignoring the needs of all current users.
    All that "gibberish" you mentioned, I use, all the time.
    Your first screenshot is mis-representative, if you need more screen space you press T or N. I already had to re-learn the positions of every control moving from 2.4 to 2.5 and it sucked. I love the speed at which the blender UI lets me work and I can't see how your changes would make me anything else but slower.
    I'd be amused to see your proposals for butchering this UI

  49. UI is NOT the biggest problem of Blender. Actually, it is not a problem at all. First it need to fix bugs and add/renurn some features.

  50. Shift + Space = Simply. Done :)

  51. Alt+F4 is simplier :)

  52. There are many options and ways to simplify your work area in Blender. I agree with others who have stated to leave the UI alone for the time being. Yes there are redundant controls, in some cases. However, if one needs more work space there are hot-keys for that. Or you can set up your menus to essentially display what you wish them to. Blender's UI is customizable, both at the entry user level, and at the advanced programming level. So, I am left asking the question, what's the issue?

  53. I think that it is cool. I from Ukrain. My dream for Blender UI is next - main window is clean - space with model. And when cursor move to left or right - half transparent icons and prorerety well be intensity color. Sory so my English Grammar and words))))) Blender Forever--------------> free for the people and education. A am Olexandr/ It is Blender

  54. This comment has been removed by the author.

  55. I think that here must be a choice for users.
    Some things that you suggested looks very good (and acts too) but some other - only gives a bit of free space but for this sake takes some necessary functionality.

    The real thing about it:
    I (almost) completely disagree about this picture
    Choosing different grab selectors, snap menu and even Render buttons (BTW it renders only OpenGL view - it's not that "render"!) must be on the bottom panel. It's very convenient by it's definition.
    Few words about "Why?"
    - I choose different orientations pretty often but I use buttons on the left vertical panel very seldom (Smooth, Extrude Individual and some cases to choose numbers for actions). It's about your "Move to tools"
    - Making everything "hierarchical" isn't always a good decision. In the case of a retopology process, switching "Auto-snap" (that "magnet" icon) will be a real pain (two clicks instead of one).

    Now I can advice some good DECISION:

    I used AutoCAD on my first job and I found that it's possibility to create own button sets is the very best way to optimize your workflow. So I removed everything that isn't actual to ME (not to other users) under my profile. And I left some very common buttons such as "Line", "Circle", "Snap to..." and etc. That helped me a lot.

    The organization of this mean is simple

    - you drag unwanted element from the toolbar and then you'll be asked to remove it. Always you can restore it from the menu of tool bars easily.
    - if you want to add some element you need to find it from the menu of tool bars. In case of Blender it means (I suppose) that it will be found through simple Search procedure (hit "space" and enter a part of that button you need)

    So everything I told about is the FLEXIBILITY. We need this but not the complete "optimization".
    Sorry if it was sounded offensive but it's not that I meant.

  56. I'm 100% for this.
    I regularly maximize a single 3d viewport when working, and only pop out of it to use the properties panel. The tool shelf and n menus are just a clutter with only a few things I actually use them for, the rest of the time they stay hidden.
    Wings3D, Silo, Sculptris
    While they are all modelers they have strong followings, and are loved by their users because they let you focus on what your doing, and don't distract with a cluttered interface.
    I think animation and rendering could easily go this route as well with a simple but smart design.

  57. I really like your proposals and the look of your mockup.

    But preventing unnecessary clicks for actions you're using a lot is also important.

    I think the interface needs to get even smarter about what buttons to show based on what task the user is engaged in.

  58. It's good that someone looks at these things but "less is more" kind of approach is wrong.
    First what you do is look how the software is intended to use, why is it so powerful. Then you go and look for how to improve it.

    Can Blender UI be improved? Absolutely. Does it need to be simplified for new users? Hell no!
    Those who have started with 3D Max and Maya might know that clean UI doesn't convert to results. Hidden things are hidden. With Blender it was fastest kickstart ever, and that was with 2.4x.

    Blender is and always has been very keyboard centric, you don't just hide shortcut key tooltip if you want new users to learn them. All tutorials teach shortcuts.

    You don't move things just because they seem to belong somewhere else, there might just be some workflow improvements in not doing that.

    Blender has flexible and configurable UI which is very powerful feature. That's also something that tutorials teach for new users.

    Btw. press T and then shift+space, no clutter ;) ctrl+alt+q for quad view, n for properties.

  59. I really like the new way of the UI. I hope it will come in the trunk :)

  60. I really like your analysis and design proposal. The only thing I would add is to consider having multiple rows of tabs on the right (the design is already out of room on the row), with one of them being dedicated to the outline panel (which I'm always re-sizing to based on where I need space at the moment). The outline panel is extremely important and moving it into a dedicated tab (maybe the first one, with the render panel being second) gives it more space and the other panels more space.

    One of the big problems with Blender's UI is that it doesn't communicate available functions - something really useful for all the users learning the tool who haven't mastered the large number of basic key commands (which is likely the majority of users).

    - nXain

  61. Just beautiful! I really like it :D

  62. I dont see the point. all you did was take off the shortcut menu and the time line and moved some buttons around. there is no real change here. why does everyone want to remove the gradients? I think the ui looks cheap without it.

  63. Ohhhh... perfect, at the end somebody go to shit in the better thing of Blender, the interface.

    Actually if I want change the interface I only need quit the left panel and the timeline and I'll have the same space in the screen that you, thanks to lie, have.

    And all for what??? to have six stupid icons in the top left of the viewport?? are you from the past?? I used hotkeys to do my work, I have two hands. I know that much people, specially the amateurs, have one hand for the mouse and other hand for the dick. But it's not my case.

    Please, If you want spent your time doing changes in the GUI change the fucking Tool-shelf position and don't destroy the GUI for wanabe artist and kids.

  64. that would be cool, Blender will be easier to a lot of newbies...

    1. it would be easier on newbies but would show complete disregard to the old-time users who use a lot of the less-known tools.

  65. Removed boxes around some items, such as Window Selectors

    ... don't get why: the concept is like others sub-menu.
    Is like Shading or Proportional... or like Windows or Scene changer.

    I like the general idea but I would like to see a "live" example:

    Take a Big Buck Bunny windows organization from a scene quite complex and try your interface:
    user will have the same command available?
    to make this or that common operation will need more or less steps?
    can I add newer commands easily?

    Thank you for your efforts,

  66. Please- continue to develop this. The idea is to get people into the "zone" Get the tool out of the way and design it so that it is in line with what you intuitively do.. Now some here are in love with looking powerful, rather than being powerful.
    If you can simplify tools and streamline while making you a faster user- why not?

  67. Hey, you know what's fun? Working in the garage, reaching into a tool box for something, and having to do that every damn time you need the tool, instead of just leaving it out there.

    You can probably guess how I feel about this, but let me express my raw train of thoughts about this: Fuck no. Fuck no. Fuck no. Fuck no.

    I can understand and appreciate how getting into a new software can be, that problem faced by users became negligible with the invention of YouTube. Now that I know where the tools are, I'd like to just leave them out.

    As for the whole clearing out space, I really don't see that as an issue. Need more space? [SHIFT]+[SPACE]. Boom, you've got it.

    All that said, if you want to get rid of stuff, or add it, to the UI you should be able to. Maybe we just need the be able to right click on a menu bar and from a drop down list check off or on features we want. That seems like a fair idea to me, and no where near as extreme as gutting the interface so bad that it looks like a drawing program for children.

  68. ok, maybe exchanging some text labeled buttons with icons but the other ui proposals would slow down the whole workflow. this kind of "direct access" of most functions is very important for efficent workflow. a lot submenus are pain. i also hate those new "ribbons" in max.
    in blender we got all we need shift+space ->T ->N =clean workspace

  69. Hey man -- I appreciate this work, and like some of it (like the floating buttons in the upper left of the work space.) The thing for me is that I rarely if ever end up working in a visually cluttered workspace. There are already tools available to prevent it, although I see not many people using those tools. If you have a well-configured workspace for materials, animation, etc, it gives you the tools and screen space that you need, all accessible by workspace switching with Ctrl-Left and -Right.

    For the times when I really need to maximize 3D space (i.e. modeling and animating), I find that no matter how optimized I have my properties, etc., I *always* maximize my workspace with Shift-Space. The switch is nearly instant. If you need something that isn't immediately available from the spacebar menu, tool shelf or n-key panel, getting all the controls back is just another Shift-Space away.

    Now, I do think that something like this would be great for a "beginners" interface project. I know that the idea of a stripped down UI for people just trying out the software has met with a thumbs down in the past, it might be time to pick up that ball again and run with it.


  70. Bill, you remind me of legislators... at first they have a few good ideas and legislate but soon there after they begin to legislate for the sake of legislation.

    Suggestion: Since the folks who utilize blender are right brain driven, why not give them the freedom to arrange the interface and stay out of some grand de-facto concept? Some folks above sort of nailed it with a 3 choice GUI option; have one starting point being "clean" interface, one which looks similar to the current 2.5/2.6, and finally an "advanced" with everything in your face option. Then, let the individual artist modify his/her own choices and save out. You may think this is already the case but you coming in here jacking things up now forces all artists to have to make numerous customizations just to try and get back to what they may need. Conversely, if you build 3 different GUIs then market, artists will be able to select one which they are most comfortable and eventually improve to their liking but will have a better starting point vice what you are thinking. Just food for thought.

  71. <<-Blender is evolving quickly. It is gaining features, gaining tools, gaining workflows. Whenever you have such a large old app, you have the issue of bloat. I think we have to be very mindful of the fact that Blender is already quite bloated, and getting larger every day. In order to sustain this awesome evolution in capability we have to do some spring cleaning once in a while, re-examine things, clean things.

    -To those who say we just changed the UI in 2.5: I consider the user interface the defining element of an application. It's what sets apart a good app from a bad one. Whatever happens, the UI will and should continue to evolve over time.>>

    You are saying that before merge of Bmesh, Carrot, Tomato, Onion, Freestyle...

    Would not it be safer to change UI in these branches instead of directly in trunk only for Cycles merge?

    You take the risk to break in 2.61,2.62,2.63 what only works since 2.57.

    Obviously, Toolbar in pose mode needs a rewrite after Pepper merge. But the purpose should be to provide a quick access and visibility to menu operators that don't have shortcuts.
    Name in buttons means understandable by anyone.
    Only icons means less space.
    I don't care if it one of the other.

    Reality is that toolbar is not only composed of buttons.
    In sculpt/paint mode, there are color picker, sliders, preview.
    In the last operator region, there are sliders, numerical values.
    Do you move brushes settings/Last Operator Region to Properties Editor ?
    It makes work in maximized editor unbearable.
    Do you restore 2.4X floating panels ?
    Is it really a good idea for brushes ?


    Perfect solution exists. It is 2.4X free mode.
    I said it 3 years, ago. And you ignored it.

  72. << We've thought long and hard about horizontal properties, and each time we've discussed it, no one could figure out a good expandable way of organising and expanding arbitrary UI controls this way. >>

    Perfect solution exists. It is 2.4X free mode.
    I said it, 3 years ago. And you ignored my comment.

  73. I have a proof.

  74. You say that this will help new users, but remember what happened with 2.5x. Every single tutorial on the internet was instantly made obsolete. And the 2.5x switch was an improvement. I see no good in these "improvements".

  75. I think several of us agree to remove redundancies, but as I´ve seen a lot of us may feel unconfortable with the clean up that you suggest, we just think it is too much, we need some buttons on sight! I think you should think on going something more in the middle of the actual UI and the UI you are proposing.

    Even If u see it sooo clean... it may feels a little cheezy, And it has been hard to Blender to stay away from that image being an open source, The most professional softwares aren´t that clear, and maybe a so clean interface would make blender look unprofessional.

    It maybe is not the right time for this changes. :S

    I appreciate a lot your work, and it is great anyway, you are a smart guy!

  76. No way... Blender UI is just fine.

  77. I like the idea, however I would advocate that if this is done we find a way to allow it be one of the "Modes" of Blender. When Blender loads, the splash screen allows you to choose between "Blender" and "Maya" mode. Even though switching between the two does nothing, perhaps in the future they could have actual meaning and function.

    Perhaps we have the "Blender Advanced" user moder and maybe "Blender Beginner" preselects at the splash screen start up. The "Blender Beginner" mode could encompass the ideas that William is talking about, while retaining the more cluttered look for users who are more comfortable with Blender's advanced features.

  78. if you make the new GUI OPTIONAL, a lot of people will be more willing to accept it being available in Blender.

  79. Not exactly a Blender guru but several years from being a beginner as well - I can cope with just about any UI anyone sticks on Blender at this stage, but "better it were done quickly"

    I was comfortable with the 2.4 UI, could find things fast and knew where to look for what features I didnt use often. Having begun the monstrous learning curve for the new UI, if it's going to change again do it NOW and then STOP for a while so we can have more than a few moments to use it productively after getting used to it all over again :)

  80. Whoa, didn't get through all the comments, but will throw in a few points -

    1. Buttons aren't as visually cluttering when they´re grouped as your green lines make out.

    2. This is not a magazine layout you're doing. Neither is it casual / consumer software like Twitter or Skype. It is an advanced piece of software, with advanced options.

    3. Having options visible is a good thing and makes for easier understanding of the possibilities. The way it is now *saves* time rather than loses it, especially with 2.5's better groupings and disclosure triangles and such.

    Now, I've been feeling I lost screen space in the 2.49 to 2.5 transition. I still think the 2.5+ interface is an improvement, but there's too much margin and whitespace. I want things crammed as tight as in 2.49. You cannot magically make Blender non-complex by hiding everything, that *increases* complexity.

    That said, there are two improvements that would make Blender vastly better:

    - Emphasize to everyone to shift-space into screens as much as possible. This is the key feature of a non-overlapping system. It makes a modeling 3D view as clean as your suggestion, almost. This would mean a more visible button so people discover the feature.

    - Columns in buttons - I know you dislike horizontal layouts, but it makes no sense at all that you can't maximize a button window without getting completely useless wiiiiide buttons. They should sort into columns and auto-expand. As it is now, every other screen type can be kept around and maximized when needed (like the organizer in the default upper right) but not the buttons - which is where you really need it.

  81. Your simpler interface is a lot less frightening to a beginner than the current interface.

  82. I like the idea of simplifying blender.
    My friend who wants to learn blender can't deal with the current complexity of all the buttons and texts, so he'd love this.
    But i fear not being able to find everything like i can now (yes, fear of change- but i'm willing to accept it if it's done).
    so, good luck to one and all whether it's done or not.

  83. The new GUI looks great !
    Blender really needs a faster and cleaner UI.
    The old user interface is just full of clutter.
    For longtime, pro Blender users just make a simple switch to the old interface, so it is
    no change for them. Or a switch in the preferences.

    What blender also really needs a simple,fast material selector like in all other 3d apps.

    In Blender i just use the keyboard short cuts it
    is much much faster then the UI.

  84. Many people buy Cinema 4D for the simple interface and it is fast to work with.

    So maybe more users will now use blender with
    the easier and faster interface instead of Cinema.

  85. I hope, noone wants to make it look less complex for the beginners than it is.

    1. I agree with removing visual clutter iff the correspondences stay clear due to the layout. Removing vital information ("gibberish") for more whitespace is just painful.

    2. You add more whitespace in the 3D header and obstruct the 3d view. Potential performance hit due to overlay?

    3. If better layout made scrolling unnecessary by putting more on screen it would help a lot. We can unclutter again with fullscreen.

  86. One thing I'll say here (and then probably mention to another developer) is that when I first wanted to render the viewport, my first assumption was that I could go to the dropdown menu at the top that said "Blender Render" and be able to select an "OpenGL" option. Sadly, all that was there was the option Blender Game which was useless.

  87. Bill,
    that would be awesome if you could simplify the Blender gui. But would also keep the current utilitarian version available for those who like
    it (in User Prefs) if possible.

    It wasn't till 2.5 came out that I was able to get on the learning curve...and now am absorbing Blender as fast as I can, and having a ton of fun! =)

    But I still think it would help the workflow and
    learning curve if the gui was less cluttered, and incorporated more icons like Carrara, especially the object manipulators.

  88. William, I think you are heading in the right direction with this idea. A ui should be constantly refined as it progresses, a good case in point being C4D which is never shy to do some housecleaning and workflow changes between versions.

    Some of Blender's UI deficiencies derive from not having a tabbed interface and not having enough right click context menus. Most clean modern UI's such as AE, C4D, Fusion , benefit from a cleaner UI by tabbing out menus, rather than the scrollathon that Blender menus have become. Way too much clutter and confusion. It really should only present the information in context to the currently used tool.

    The 3d cursor which is a longtime pet hate of mine just screws up what is normal in almost any application. Left should be selection with right used for context sensitive menus and middle for lesser used selections. Right click menus could do away with a lot of menu clutter and moreso if it was in the form of pie style hiearchical menus rather than lists. Keep it visual!

  89. There is a big difference between opening blender for the first time and using Blender in production.

    You won't hide the complexity at all but sure, you'll make it easy for Blenderguru's fanbase.

    Anonymous Coward n_n

  90. I really like the current interface in 2.5/2.6. Blender finally has as well laid out and productive a UI as Modo or 3DS Max.

    Let's not simplify Blender so much that it looks like a child's toy and all the often-used items are hidden in tool menus requiring more clicks to access.

    I agree with the people that are saying: give users the choice. Start with a strong UI (i.e. similar to current one) and offer people easy access to a "simple" mode if they want and also give non-technical users the flexibility to customise the UI and/or share their interface creations (learning python to do it may put cutomization out of reach of many artists?)

  91. Your UI Ideas are a big step forward I think. In addition to that I think blender needs more icon based button that would make it more ease for people coming from other 3d Software like 3D Studio or Maya. Take the new Graphite tools of 3d Studio for example they are a very good start. With Mouse over descriptions they are very self explaining. Maybe a Icon Based menu like this(context sensitive with all tools of the software displayed based o the task you are doing) should pop up on demand by pressing the Space bar(or any other exposed key) for example. Every function should be reachable at the same location based(less mouse travel) on the context, with tab you could manually switch between categories as well. Please make blender a more communicating piece of software. Icons that a directly telling the user what they to just by view them are lots more intuitive that text only buttons. Experience design is very important especially on a software so many people are working with.

  92. I completly agree with that:
    "The 3d cursor which is a longtime pet hate of mine just screws up what is normal in almost any application. Left should be selection with right used for context sensitive menus and middle for lesser used selections. Right click menus could do away with a lot of menu clutter and moreso if it was in the form of pie style hiearchical menus rather than lists. Keep it visual!"

  93. William, AFAIK you were involved significantly in improving Blender's UI to the current state, congratulation. IMHO would suggest that you make a script that can be installed just like other scripts in Blender. Through this script the UI is then modified as per your mockups.

  94. My general response to this is: If it is done in a way that preserves blenders present customizable UI then OK. If it is a screen layout I can choose to use or avoid then OK.
    But if it falls short of either of these then my opinion is - no, this improved UI is a terrible idea.

    Point for point...:

    Clutter is the presence of UI elements where they do not belong. But the user should decide what belongs where.
    Disturbing points of focus is imo a question routine. So while newer blender users might like a UI like the one presented more experienced users might not.
    Taking up less space is imo an invalid point. With the present customizable UI I can decide how much or how little a percentage of total screen space is used for eg. the 3D view.
    Fewer strings of text I think is covered by the points on clutter and disturbing points of focus.
    Let users focus on content - well if the user can select or make any desired panel layout then this is simple a matter of doing so. No change is necessary.
    Is calm and relaxing to look at. This is again a question of routine. I see what I look for. The rest is irrelevant. If I feel it disturbs me I can remove it. No change is necessary.
    Lets you concentrate on a few things and present them well. Again I put this down to routine. To a new-comer, few well-presented items are good. For the experience user having to dig for a setting or tool is a nuisance. So again having it as a panel layout the user can select (or which might be the default) seems to me to be the better choice.

    Reduce amount of unneeded lines, gradients and boxes. This could be good if it is still obvious what and where a control or widget is present. But I am not convinced and would probably like to be able to switch it on and off.
    Use hierarchy to move rarely used items into menus: There is the risk of moving something to a menu that is used not that rarely after all and ending up with a UI where you have to dig to find what you want. Again this should be in the users control.
    Remove unnecessary items entirely. Who decides what is unnecessary? Again I think this is down to user routine/experience and way of working.
    Rethink some features to need less buttons. I do not follow. Blender is complex and with complexity follows a lot of buttons. To me this seems a question of what to display which again should be the users decision.
    Add more whitespace. The extra whitespace I see in the screenshot reminds me of the old blender button panel. It looks a lot less tight and to me it is harder to look at than the present blender UI.
    Promote the content itself. The content is what the user is working on at present. The 3D view might be all important or not very important at all. The present customizable UI handles this perfectly.

    Question: The buttons floating on top of the 3D view - can I switch them on and off? Can I decide which functions/buttons to display?
    Is the text explaining what a given button does only displayed when it is selected? Is this customizable?

    Wrt. removing the gibberish data text in the top toolbar - it may not be gibberish to all users. For me personally I would like to be able to put the information in a more prominent position - perhaps floating in the 3D view. So at a glance I can see the number of selected vertices etc. Again I feel it should be customizable.

    To sum things up - please don't take away my freely customizable blender UI. If you feel simplicity is called for make a layout or layout set called simple and leave it at that.
    I think it is obvious that my overall opinion of the proposed UI is that I do not like it. But if I can choose not to use it. Or mix in the level of complexity I like then I think everybody will be pleased.

  95. "To sum things up - please don't take away my freely customizable blender UI. If you feel simplicity is called for make a layout or layout set called simple and leave it at that. "

    Now, it will make Blender UI better? Really? I´m a blender user since 1999. At the time I used lightwave for pro stuff and found blender as a tool for starting playing in linux. What made me to love playing with blender was it´s interface! It was unique. Strong. Full of buttons that MAKE SENSE! Today I use it more and more for pro stuff. But it´s insane! Blender should respect also those who use it as a professional tool! I, for example, don´t have time to keep re-learning everything every year. Jobs to do. So, you could give us a break, please? :) Maybe better than a new interface, would be to keep it close to what already is and just tune it up a little. It´s time consuming re-leaning hot keys or where is now that button or command, etc. Since 3D is not a simple task, a too simple interface can make it even worse! ;) What I like in MAYA is that it´s not simple, but the metaphor for things are simple… maybe instead of change the things from place you guys should concentrate in creating better metaphors for fluid dynamics interface, simulations, fix a few misuses of blank space in the interface, so on… create short, easier names for the tools, menus, buttons.
    a great example of a complex interface with a simple metaphor? Go create fluid in MAYA. ;)
    sorry, but I see it as a futile re-design.

  96. Great Ideas. I love the Optimized/Clean-UI proposed being accessible through pull-downs.

    The blender UI featured in your screenshots, are these graphic edits and proposals? or have you altered the py files, etc. to alter the Blender UI?

    If the second, is this Blender UI available as a script, or set of instructions? To get tools to be over canvas/3d area, and other features present in your images? Can we work with this version and provide trackable feedback somewhere?

    Thank you

  97. While appreciating your efforts, I also think that such a simple interface is not a step into the right direction.
    As numerous other people here already pointed out, an overly stripped down look might be great for attracting beginners, but in the long run it runs the risk of making things even more complicated. To hide a function among several submenus for example can be more appealing to the eye at first sight, however I heavily doubt that it would be very user-friendly for experienced users, who need to accomplish complex tasks in Blender.
    In my opinion integrating such a simply layout as an option might be a good idea, but it should not be the new default interface. In any case you shouldn't overdo it.

  98. This comment has been removed by the author.

  99. How about hit T and join area to get rid of bottom window. Same amount of space.

  100. I hate this approach. You're going to make my work take five times longer because weenies can't learn to use the program to its intended extent.
    So for the love of god, make this design downgrade OPTIONAL. Do not do what Adobe did to Flash CS4.

  101. If we want a larger workspace, ctrl + up_arrow or command + up_arrow is 3-4 inches away...

  102. I like the new interface immensely. Sure, some menus could be smarter but you can modify the UI to suit. The N and T windows can be hidden/unhidden in a keystroke together with the ctrl+up_arrow (as mentioned above) to minimize/maximize the viewport. Those three simple keystrokes get you into and out of "god mode" quickly and easily. Shortcuts are your friend and have always been the mainstay of Blender and other 3D apps. Learn them.

  103. William, I love what you're doing. Just want to encourage you not to waver when people mistaken a cleaner, less cluttered UI means a less powerful feature set. I can already tell there are some people who mistaken Maya and Cinema's UI as powerful, because of all its icons. A smarter and faster work flow is the goal of every UI designer.
    I have been a UI designer for 12 years, worked with a congitive scientist and have been studying 3D interfaces since '95. Your work reminds me a bit of the briliant workflow done in Silo (SubD modeler).

  104. Things I like about this:
    -No endless list of blank material slots? Alright! My scroll wheel sometimes catches that area & I have to re-position my mouse.
    -No background behind toolbox buttons. If the buttons don't fill the full height, neither should the background.
    -Scan-ability, as mentioned.
    -Less wasted space for smaller monitors. I don't consider my monitor to be small, but Blender makes it feel that way.

    What I hope to see & don't know if it's in this revamp:
    -If I scrolled down a long tab(like texture) & switch to a short tab or collapse all the bottom sections/dividers(whatever they're called), it would be nice if I didn't have to scroll up just to reach the bottom of that tab.
    -If the properties tabs go off-screen due to being too narrow, I'd like to see a scroll arrow at the end like you see on various toolbars or long menus(not a scrollbar, just an arrow at the end of the bar to go further). I understand I can use my scroll wheel, but it's not obvious at first, and side-scrolling with a vertical scroll wheel is odd.

    I consider myself to be a step above "newbie", so I don't see any problems(besides wanting text beside some more buttons), but I do see plenty to like.

  105. ok but please, don't get the 3ds max syndrom with removing the floaters backgrounds just to say "hey! it s NEW!! we totally changed! no background in the floater!"

  106. Good proposal. I'm a little concerned about oversimplifying, but I'm sure that can be dealt with. As a first step, I think we should make it easier to support multiple sets of UI scripts, so we can test radical new ideas without having to worry about angry users.

  107. Is there a way to test empirically if one interface is quicker than another, whether it is easier to remember one interface over another, is it easier to pick up as a beginner, does it slow down a pro, how many clicks and metres travelled to finish a specific task? Why is a specific user faster than another, is a specific task faster in Blender or an alternative and why? Perhaps it is time to do some real world studies with real applicable results.

    If you think a specific interface is faster and you can actually prove it, it is much more likely to be looked on favourably.

  108. Current UI is best. New interface is bad.

    Better fix bugs in Blender, work. and do not touch interface.

  109. Something like Unity in Blender? Please, no. I'm still using Blender 2.49, it works like a charm. You only must to know where is everything and then you recognise it by the color and size of its strange buttons :D.

    With the "new" 2.5+ we have lost a lot of visual recognition, and with this new proposol we will lost short ways with an unique "click".

    Please, think again.

  110. Excellent Work!!!

    I just hope that all contributors to Blender take more time to reassess the user interaction of their code.

    Programmers tend to think overcomplicated when it comes to structuring their GUI s. Most times they pretty much structure it as a 1-to-1 mapping from their source code functions straight into text-boxes, lists and check-boxes.

    It takes time to rethink your visual design, but the pay-off is phenomenal (from the users side).

  111. You are the best. Hope to see Blender like this!

  112. wow! it looks really nice... there are some things that i prefer to see at first sigh, but it's just lazyness... it looks very well designed and clean.

  113. Just a thought, with all that white space I'd seriously include either a floating nav or keypress 3D Nav hotbox for Tablet users. Hopefully extend on what the 3D Navigation Add-on does but include Isolate View as well as Frame Selected options. You want to be able to swap viewports and do these things with a pen tap or click as fast as possible while keeping the UI clean.

  114. Good starting idea, repulsive result. The "gibberish" you want to remove is essential information for professional users (like game artists). Same goes for many of these grouped status buttons: they indicate feature on/offs.

    Logic behind moving things to nested menus is flawed. Reason why I hate 3ds Max so much is that it hides things deep in nested menus. It's impossible to work with a software that tries to prevent me from working. As said: hiding something doesn't make it simple, it makes it lot more complex (and very, very slow to use).

    What Blender needs is some way to show linked panels/items in one glance. For example combining material/texture settings for fast overview. Same goes for particle settings, items are too distributed and require constant back/forth swapping for eyes and hands.

    And as said: Blender is not a Twitter client, it's a tool.

  115. The main cluttering comes from repeating the tools in every 3d window. As you suggest it would be better to put them all in just one toolbar.

    On the other side I don´t quite understand the existence of the Timeline window, it would be better to merge it into the dopesheet, that would give us the time control buttons without creating a new window.

    To improve clarity, I think it is also weird that there is no "Edit" menu, it would be more clear for beginners, and there i would put "transform", "snap", "undo", "redo" which belong more to the Edit concept. I know that would add one more menu, but it would be simpler to understand.

    Another dark corner of Blender is that not every command is in the menus. I haven't been able to find the Knife nor the Subvidide Smooth command in any menu. I think the Tool Shelf is a great idea, but EVERY command should be in the menus to avoid de Tool Shelf if the user prefer it that way. Again, it would be easier for beginners...

    Long life to blender, the last update to 2.5 greatly improve its ease of use, and hope that it would become clearer.

  116. Looks oversimplified to me.
    Doesn't matter how awesome it looks if it hides stuff away in submenus and leads to more clicks and mousetravel. RSI is never a good thing.

    Functionality > appearance, always.

    Now, there is obviously some clutter that could be done away with, there's a bit of duplication that could be taken out, but your example takes it much too far.

    Now, a cleaner default layout, that'd be nice.
    Then have a look at removing unneeded duplication and look at simplifying some of the panels maybe, but your example takes it much too far and completely ignores all the cleanup that can already be done by simply hiding/moving interface stuff.

  117. I agree the user interface and how you do stuff needs to be simplified, KISS is the way to go. I always found Blender to clutter and to reliant on the user to remember short cuts.
    This is a good beginning.

    I always felt at home in Maya through, it just works the way my mind wants it to work. An the problem there is that everyone minds works differently.

    "Is there a way to test empirically if one interface is quicker than another, whether it is easier to remember one interface over another, is it easier to pick up as a beginner, does it slow down a pro, how many clicks and metres travelled to finish a specific task? Why is a specific user faster than another, is a specific task faster in Blender or an alternative and why? Perhaps it is time to do some real world studies with real applicable results.

    If you think a specific interface is faster and you can actually prove it, it is much more likely to be looked on favourably."

    Yes there are ways, but it requires a specialise lab, arranging for a wide range of users to come to the that lab and to carry out a range of tests and tasks with different user interfaces.

    All very expensive and time consuming, you could easily mount up a bill of hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars/Euros doing this type of testing, and only have covered a tiny fraction of blender features.

    I believe Microsoft spent tens of millions of dollars developing the new Ribbon interface, they tested the hell out of it until it reach the point where every test was coming back with improve results. If you got the cash to invest in doing the same for Blender then go ahead, hirer the labs, hirer the designers and programmers and hirer the testers, I look forward to seeing your results.
    If not then we will just have to go with ideas such as these, and see a way more haphazard approach to user interface designs in Blender and I suspect in many other volunteer led projects.

  118. Remove the NLA? No way, NLA simplifies things, not complicates.

  119. What I have in Mind.

    What I would like to be able to do.

  120. I have made a small proposal for improvement.

  121. Business cleaners often provide you with fantastic value to the workplace environment, without having having to worry about staffing a compliment of cleaners. contract Carpet Cleaners Johannesburg

  122. Hey:
    Proposal to get horizontal panels back.

    Your GUI simplification idea + Horizontal panels + N shelf for favorite panels and nodes + Get rid of T shelf and replace it with a custom horizontal Icon list at the top = Win.


  123. Hi Billrey,
    this is the first blender ui cleaning that make me happy.
    There is a few things that you "send it" to the totally unserious category (like work space with default Tool Shelf open or Timeline, that is not fair). Also you choose for you very comfortable situation that is not corresponding with reality correctly. It's a shame that you "shoot down" your hard work with this "small" things.

    I hope most of the people will take it with tolerance and your work become to the next step . . .

    Thank you very much

  124. Uhm, good work with the sub-menu.

    Definitely that's the way to go.

  125. Again and again, this also where Softimage shines, UI, clean, streamlined, organized, and focus on content.
    When more and more blender get ideas from Softimage, copying, and improving them (of course), better will be.

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  127. I came to this post from the Blender Podcast. Creating a larger 3d view area is smart. The ideal UI would be invisible. That is in the works as I write this but it's not here yet. There is a way to simplify Blender's UI and I will be taking notes as I use Blender more and more. I like what you did so far.

  128. Perhaps a touch *too* cut down for a general purpose interface, but very appropriate when performing a specific task (such as material editing in this case...). The information presented doesn't have to be cut down massively, just made relevant, obvious and unambiguous - same goes for controls.

    I found the comment about airplain [sic] consoles hilarious - whoever wrote that needs to get an internets and do their research: look up "Glass Cockpit" on wikipedia, for pete's sake - yes, aviation has unavoidable complexity issues too, but the aviation industry recognises it and is actually doing something about it.
    tl;dr - This is what blender is:
    ... and this is what it could be:

    Seriously though guys, if a new user can't do basic modelling without referring to an external document, or a user with a little experience needs more than an "it's over there" to find and use any given feature - well, you just failed at UI, my condolences.

    I'm not kidding about this bit: accountants, secretaries and HR people are a great resource for this kind of thing when you're working at a larger company - plonk 'em down in front of the software and if they have issues, you have work to do. If not in that situation, get your Mom to model a toaster, your GF to model a set of earrings, your BF to model a car dashboard, whatever. You'd surprised at the degree to which you don't have to remove any functionality or bury stuff to get a usable interface.

    Question: how easy is it to re-front-end Blender for experimental purposes - could you just put together a new layout and hook it up to underlying functions, or is it spaghetti-coded?

  129. im not sure about cleanning so much, its a bit crouwded but there is too many usefull info hide.
    one thing that bothers me are especially the side panels, it would be great to have the posibility of splitting then like any other window, that would allow the posibility of arrange the info in a more flexible way with out so many vertical scrolling.
    the idea would be something like this

  130. As a new Blender user (I've previously used Lightwave and 3DSMax mostly), I must say that it has a really unwieldy user interface. What took me 5 minutes to do in 3dsmax took half a day to figure out in Blender because there is no consistency and expected logic to the user interface. If despite having experience in 3D modeling and animation I can't figure out how to do things without extensive googling, the user interface will be close to impossible to learn for any new user.

    All this "make local/single user", references to python scripts etc crap you find in right click menus (if they pop up at all since sometimes they don't because you don't have the exact right thing selected) is just annoying and above all confusing. Not being able to drag and drop anything is really archaic. It took me a while to figure which of the window options controlled which panel because they're not consistent either as the toolbar is sometimes on top, sometimes on bottom.

    What separates Blender from other equally complex packages is that the others are much more consistent in their user interfaces and you don't have to understand the inner workings of the program to figure out the workflow and functionality.

  131. hi, i'm a maya user and i have to say that hen i tried to use blender, i saw a very good software, with a very good ui finition, but not clear, too much scattered and when i see your work, it looks like i could understand this ui in ten minuts instead hours.

    Would like to see this in blender !!

  132. How did you do this exactly, I'm really wanting to modify my Blender to be more simplistic.

  133. "Hid arrows in number widgets. This could appear on mouse roll-over"

    Although this sounds good and would look cleaner, it causes a problem for any interface that does not support mouse hover. Specifically, imagine using a touchscreen display without support for hover: you wouldn't see where to click your pen (or finger).

  134. hi, i'm interested on modification of the interface too, how you do it? thru phyton scripts or need modification of the binaries and new build done in other programation lenguajes?

  135. omg! where I can get this version of blender, I really liked the UI

  136. It is a great idea to make the Blender UI cleaner. It is the reason why
    people like me pay 5000 dollars for a 3D tool. The blender UI is just
    to slow and complicated. Even photoshop has 3d now and it is really
    fast to work with. Same project would take 5 times more in blender just
    because of the UI. But some people in the community just block the progress.

  137. The UI of blender is really crab. Thats why most people use the keyboard. Just because the UI is crab. A new UI please !

  138. I read through all this... and some of these reactions are quite sad.

    First off, let me state that I work in the 3d field and use a large assortment of 3d and 2d applications. Not once have I ever encountered another professional who wants to use blender, much less wants to work with a cluttered over saturated UI.

    I see this "advanced users need a busy UI" and "simplified UI is only for newbies". Anyone who says this has no idea what an advanced user is or what goes into an advanced workflow.
    These same people pretend to be "advanced users" show of art that looks like it was made by a first grader with his finger up one arse. Yeah I said it. Your work sucks! So much for "advanced user". There is no point in that title if you cant make something look good and on par with the pros.

    The guy who taught me in certain 3d applications...he was the art lead at EA and worked on numerous products, he also was the lead character artist at another studio. Guess where he is now? He runs a high end art school which focuses on 3D asset creation as well as film making. The first thing he does when loading up any 3d app is get rid of as much UI as possible. In Maya he will work from ctrl + spacebar mode (which hides everything) and use only hotkeys and the radial menu that pops up with the space bar. He is pro, he taught UI can do more harm than good...and quite frankly if he doesnt need a UI.... real advanced users shouldnt need one either. This is what separates the men from the boys.

    I would argue that a newbie would need more visual elements in a UI than an advanced user, so this whole "advanced users need more interface" is just out right stupid. It is talk from people who were too cheap to use the professional applications and cant pump out professional work. Blender could get used more professionally if it listen to the people that matter... those people being the ones that actually make a living and produce amazing work from 3d applications. Blender wont go anywhere meaningful if it doesnt push its UI up to the standards of apps like Maya, XSI and 3DS max. In fact Maya is becoming more dominant in the industry, zbrush and mudbox for sculpting and apps like 3d coat for other work.

    Blender's developers could learn a lot from apps like 3D coat and Maya where the UI is concerned. Simplicity is best as long as the features are still there with quick access. You should never have to go pixel hunting.

    Good blog post and agree entirely with Billrey.

    I am really getting tired of these kids and hobbyist who dont understand the interface design and theory, or why the industry doesnt take Blender seriously. Blender could be taken seriously, reach a target audience that can put Blender in the lime light, if they just stopped listening to these advanced users whose capability extends to the point of making blobby cubes and stick figures. The pros dont use blender as a primary 3d app for a reason, and many wont even want to try it to begin with...try figuring out why.

    1. I totally agree with you.
      I think the problem with Blender is that it has been built by and for people who focus more on capabilities of the program than UI. For whom the ability to use the software and to expand its possibilities is more important than producing real 3D projects in a limited timeframe.
      They think the most important thing is that is works and once you get the hang of it and grow with it as the software grows, you don't mind that the info is cluttered around the screen in sometimes the most unlogical way.
      I have worked with 3DMAX for years without any training, i've switched to C4D without any problem, and for me, the test is simple, if i am not able to get some basic stuff out of a new software within a few hours without having to read a manual first, there is something wrong with it.
      I have downloaded Blender for the 4th time over a period of 3 years i think, the first time i opened it and closed it within 15 minutes, The second time i got tired after half an hour, right now it seems to be better, but still its a pain in the ass.

      This program has such possibilities, it simply needs a logic uncluttered interface to start with.
      And it is not really the quantity of buttons and info but more important is the way the aye arranged and are made visible or not, etc...
      You can always clutter it up your own way later on. The more you get to know it, the more you get used to the shortcuts or the more you fill the toolbars with the info and the buttons you need. That is exactly what i do with C4D which is completely customizable ( But starts with a very basic standard startup layout!)
      But for a newbee (to the program that is) it has to show the basic functionality the first time he uses it or he goes back to the software he knows.
      Right now I have to decide (again) if i can spend the time to get used to it, and it is impossible for me to make a simplified menu, because i don't know what i can take away an what i really need.
      If tomorrow someone creates a skin for this program that makes it usable for a large public, and sells it for 100 euros a piece or even more, het will get rich in no time.
      Why don't the developers think about this? Are they so much focused on the engine and suspension that the think the car doesnt need good seats and a gearshifter on the right spot?
      This "car" is like a Porsche where the have put the pedals the other way around or where the brake pedal changes place every time you change gears...
      Not impossible to drive if you read the manual first and train a lot, but it would be so easy if they would just put them in the right place.
      If you crash this car it is not because you are a "sunday" driver, it is because the designer does'nt appreciate the importance of this "detail".
      Maybe that is the reason why a program with these hughe functionalities rarely shows really good work in its gallery.(with some exeptions of course)
      For an artist or designer, the software is a tool to get something done, not a goal in itself.
      Righ now Blender is used buy diehards, who developed it or used it from the beginning, and by people who generally have more time than money. Not enough money to spend on regular software and lots of time to learn it the hard way. With some exeptions probaby, as always.

      I will be following this interesting blog, I found it by searching for "Blender interface" because I am getting a little depressed again.
      I would really like to use this thing and would love to donate monthly fees, but i don't have the time to make the switch and overcome this horrible UI.
      So if anyone wants to take this further, i'm interested, as far as i can spend the time.
      Billrey is already going in the right direction, but it will take some more "blood,toil,tears and sweat" to finish it.
      And i also want to mention that in no way i want to step on the toes of the people who developed it. They have coen a great job, apart from the last detail, wich is to make it usable for normal human beings.

  139. And yet you put your article on a page with a dark background with black text.


  140. another mockup

  141. I like the idea of a bigger progress bar. An accurate ETA would be really good too, along with a pause option.

  142. Along with all this talk of improvement, a method for achieving your goals would be very useful. Without this your article is just white noise in a background of white noise.....

    1. Hello everyone. My Boss asked me to add a Custom Editor Type in Blender rather than adding Panels to the existing View_UI and Customn Properties because we want to assign different attributes like numbers to different polygons and vertices.

      Is it possible with Python

  143. Hello everyone. My Boss asked me to add a Custom Editor Type in Blender rather than adding Panels to the existing View_UI and Customn Properties because we want to assign different attributes like numbers to different polygons and vertices.

    Is it possible with Python

    December 14, 2012 4:12 AM

    1. Im actually referring to customizing the Blender Gui

  144. Hmm... I'm not saying that Blender's UI is perfect, or that it cannot be improved, I just want to point out that with a little learning, the UI becomes much more functional, in the same way as learning how to drive a car and what all those big scary pedal thingies do, and why there are big radial speed-o-metre thingies in covering half of the windscreen. Although user intuitiveness is important, I argue that it is not more important than functionality, where functionality is necessary. Imagine the cockpit of an airplane. Would you have a blank space with 2 joysticks, 3 buttons, and a much lower control over the plane and as such, a much lower chance of a successful flight? Or would you rather have your cockpit stacked with as many buttons, joysticks and airplane flying tech as could be fitted in, and a much higher control over the plane's functions and a high chance of a successful fight? I would hope you would choose the latter as much as I would hope you would not be my pilot if you did not. This means: more functionality, more control, means much more effectiveness, in the right hands. Experiment a little, learn, and enrich enhance your ability in Blender.

    I would also like to point out that many of the suggestions listed here are actually in Blender, lol. The menus can be resized and relocated. Different areas can be maximised by just pressing shift+space. Objects can be drag-dropped into the 3D Viewport from the Object Outliner. Materials can be drag-dropped onto objects in the 3D Viewport from the materials section in the Properties area. Mouse hover over any button and you will get a tooltip describing exactly what the tool does, as well as a python reference. You can save your user-defined settings with control+u. The Blender UI is highly, highly customisable.

    I would like a refinement rather than a transformation of Blender's UI such as, as suggested, change Object Mode into just Object. Also, before deciding that removing all that text data "gibberish" in the top right header would be a great idea, first educate yourself towards the meaning of that data. "Be the change you want to see in the world"

  145. Black-on-Gray text for the comments section. Brilliant UI design!

    1. Heh, my thoughts exactly. I was Googling "blender white UI", because the default dark text on grey background is impossible to read for me, and the third result sends here, where the problem is even more pronounced. Making the Blender UI less cluttered would certainly be a nice improvement, but it's a drop in the water compared to the much bigger issue of dark backgrounds.

  146. Great work Billy Rey! I love the work you've done cleaning up the UI.
    Any chance you will share a download link so we can change to the UI you created?


  147. just a general suggestion as i have a hard time reading the comments: its hard to read black text on dark grey background

  148. hi..Im college student, thanks for sharing :)

  149. 100% supporting this, loved silo3d interface.
    I smell multiple post from same obsessed anonymous above bashing this...

  150. Developing the GUI of a very complex piece of software is always going to polarize, and not just because once a user has invested the hundreds of hours to master a particular application they begin to appreciate even its warts and the prospect of learning a new product can cause them serious convulsions. In the past, the cost of entry into 3D graphics and animation was a steep one, and almost no one would have predicted that what was essentially $35,000 software would eventually become available as freeware. However, even though the cost of purchasing 3D software has plummeted, the tools remain complex and are a barrier to many potential artists. You'll never be able to please everyone with one product, so maybe the interface needs to be made available with a beginner-friendly mode that becomes more complex as the user discovers new features...

  151. Hey! I'm wondering if you still have this interface? I'm doing my master thesis on the blender UI and I like the approach you had there. Reply to if you still follow this :D

  152. wow! i am new at Blender..this sounds all good but i just want to know how to remove all the lines :)lol