Project Bug Hunt #6: Model Madness

By Shamus Posted Tuesday Oct 13, 2020

Filed under: Programming 52 comments

One of the major goals of this project is to see if we can furnish a space station. That is, we want to load in some models and arrange them around the level in ways that make sense.

My first thought is to build some crude models, just to prove that my idea is sound. I don’t want to stop programming so I can re-learn 3D modeling. I haven’t done any serious modeling since the turn of the century, and all the technology has changed since then. So I figure I’ll just make a few basic cubes to represent the various objects in terms of size.

That wasn’t a good idea. It just didn’t give me the sense of whether or not the system is working. I could see it was probably working in theory, but that wasn’t a very satisfying way to conclude this exercise. I don’t have any screenshots of this experiment, which is fine since the screenshots would be roughly useless.

So let’s skip that misadventure and jump ahead to the point where I finally open up Blender and decide to make some models.

Blender

Back in 2006 I made the joke that the Blender interface was like the Dark Dimension in Dr. Strange. At the time, I could only find a tiny little 320x200 example image from the comics. Things are VERY different here in 2020. I could probably fill my hard drive with all of the Marvel comic pages available through Google Image Search these days.
Back in 2006 I made the joke that the Blender interface was like the Dark Dimension in Dr. Strange. At the time, I could only find a tiny little 320x200 example image from the comics. Things are VERY different here in 2020. I could probably fill my hard drive with all of the Marvel comic pages available through Google Image Search these days.

You might remember that I nearly lost my mind trying to learn Blender fourteen years ago. I revisited it a few years ago and found it improved, but still maddening to learn. My “workflow” would go something like this:

  1. I want to select an object, so I click on it. But the left/right mouse buttons are reversed compared to literally every other program ever made, so instead of selecting, I move something I didn’t want to move.
  2. In trying to un-do that move, I manage to open up a mysterious and unwanted context menu.
  3. In trying to close the unwanted menu, I accidentally select one of the mysterious operations it offers.
  4. Nothing seems to happen? So then I try to select the object AGAIN, but this time I remember to correctly use the wrong mouse button.
  5. That menu thing I unwittingly selected a second ago now goes into action, performing an unknown operation on the object.
  6. I hit Ctrl-Z to undo, but then an object I created a while ago will vanish.
  7. I hit Alt-E, which in all other programs would open the Edit menu, but instead it begins another unknown operation. Maybe an object is being somehow changed as I move the mouse or whatever. I hit escape, but that doesn’t seem to let me out of this operation. So I hit delete, and now another object vanishes from my scene.
  8. After spending twenty minutes painstakingly building these objects, this chained attack of trick inputs has obliterated half my work. I lose my mind and declare vendetta on the developers forever.

To be clear, this isn’t exactly how it worked. I can’t give you the exact buttons I pushed or what crazy things happened as a result, because I often didn’t understand what was happening or I did wrong. But this is what it felt like: A long chain of compounding mishaps because nothing worked the way I expected.

The New Blender

This program starts AMAZINGLY quickly. It's three seconds between the moment I click the icon and the moment the program is ready to use.  Given the sheer complexity and power of this software, that's miraculous. Compare that to any modern video, photo, or even code editor.
This program starts AMAZINGLY quickly. It's three seconds between the moment I click the icon and the moment the program is ready to use. Given the sheer complexity and power of this software, that's miraculous. Compare that to any modern video, photo, or even code editor.

This is no longer a problem in version 2.8 and beyond. The change in usability is so drastic that I’m surprised the Blender community didn’t revolt. If I spent years training my muscle memory to do everything backwards and sideways, then I’d lose my mind if someone came along and made the interface work the way newbies expect.

But for whatever reason, this didn’t happen. Everyone seems cool with the new Blender, and it’s about a thousand times easier for me to learn. In fact, this is easier than the programs I learned back in the 90s when 3D modeling was much simpler. I manage to get the basics down in just a few minutes, and in less than an hour I have a steady workflow going. It’s not a fast workflow or anything, and I’m still making awkward and confusing blunders, but I’m getting real work done.

After a few hours, I have a small collection of objects to work with. I’ve decided to build more or less conventional office furniture. I know the plan is to make a space station / ship of some kind, so mundane objects aren’t really on-mission. My rationale is:

  1. I know this first round of objects is going to be really rough. Two weeks from now I’m going to look back on the stuff I’m making now and cringeNote from the future: I was right. I hate these objects now, but I still haven’t gotten around to replacing them.. So these objects are, ultimately, doomed.
  2. Since these objects aren’t going to be around for long, I want to make some things with a familiar purpose and scale. If I build office furniture that’s incorrectly sized or arranged, then that will be obvious right away. That’s not necessarily true if I build (say) a warp core and a bunch of space control panels.
  3. Office furniture is fairly simple. It uses lots of basic shapes, flat surfaces, ninety degree angles, and simple textures. I don’t need to do any intricate modeling, build any fancy textures, or worry about getting textures to line up between different curved surfaces.

This is Fun

A floor lamp for 46  triangles. This is exactly the kind of work I was doing in 1998.
A floor lamp for 46 triangles. This is exactly the kind of work I was doing in 1998.

It’s been almost 20 years since the last time I did this kind of work, and I forgot how fun this can be. Back in the 90s, I was very focused on making low-poly models. Every model was like a little puzzle: “How can I evoke the intended shape while using the fewest polygons possible?” That kind of work is a bit more technical than general modeling. The job wasn’t always great, but this is one of the parts I really enjoyed.

As time went on, there was less need for artists to fuss over individual polygons. The job became gradually less technical and more artistic in nature. If you needed a dining room table for 26 quadsA quad is a pair of triangles. We don’t make that distinction these days. Now everything is expressed in triangles., then I was your guy. If you wanted “A late-period Federal dining set in mahogany with leather upholstery, using the attached inlay pattern.” then you should give the job to anyone but me.

So this project is taking me back to the work I did in my late 20s. In fact, I’m having so much fun that I end up spending almost a week making all kinds of crap. I have more than enough objects for the next stage of the project, but I don’t want to stop.

Flat-Color Was a Mistake

Ew. This grey lump is supposed to be some kind of double-desk thing.
Ew. This grey lump is supposed to be some kind of double-desk thing.

I’m really struggling to get the textures to line up nicely. Partly this is because I’m still new to the Blender UV mapping interface, and partly because I’ve foolishly made my office furniture with beveled edgesOr are these chamfered edges? I can never remember. and now I’m having trouble making that work. Back in the day, most of my furniture was made of cuboid shapes and texture mapping was fairly straightforward.

But it doesn’t look right to simply project a square texture onto these non-square desktops. We get partial texture pixels all around the edge, and that makes it look like things are misaligned. I keep fussing with it, trying to get the seams to line up with the 135° corners, but it doesn’t really work.

So then I get the bright idea to do everything in a flat-shading style. I love the flat-shaded polygon look in real games, so maybe that will look cool here? If the desktop is all a single color then I don’t have to worry about making the texture line up.

Ugh. No. While I love this art style, I don’t know how to do it properly. My desk ends up looking unfinished rather than untextured. Besides, the rest of my game is leaning towards a pixelated late-90s aesthetic. That is mutually exclusive with the flat polygon look.

Whatever. When I started I wanted to use basic cubes so I didn’t get bogged down making art, and here I am a week later letting art style concerns distract me from the programming work at hand. I do my best to ignore how ugly some of this crap is and open up Visual Studio so I can get back to programming.

Welcome to Space-IKEA

Here is a bunch of crap I made.
Here is a bunch of crap I made.

Actually, no. I just can’t resist making more stuff. I make some generic computer cabinets. A soda machine. Some random pipes and panels to go on walls. Some benches. Potted plants. Light fixtures. Doors and doorframes. Some wall-mounted display screens.

I decide to make computers. For whatever reason, I gravitate towards making chunky computers with CRTs. That doesn’t make a lot of sense in a space-station future, but it’s what I’m interested in building and it makes for more interesting and challenging models. I make a few modern LCD screens, but their shape is so simple that it’s not very fun.

I don’t have the furniture placement code done yet – we’ll cover that in the next entry – so for now the program just takes all of the imported models and arranges them in a big grid outside of the level like some sort of weird furniture warehouse.

A lot of this stuff looks like crap, but it’s good enough for the proof-of-concept work I’m about to do.

 

Footnotes:

[1] Note from the future: I was right. I hate these objects now, but I still haven’t gotten around to replacing them.

[2] A quad is a pair of triangles. We don’t make that distinction these days. Now everything is expressed in triangles.

[3] Or are these chamfered edges? I can never remember.



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52 thoughts on “Project Bug Hunt #6: Model Madness

  1. Lino says:

    Not gonna lie, the last two entries went a bit over my head, but now that things are taking shape, I’m really excited for the next entry. I really hope you turn this into an actual game some day…

    1. Taellosse says:

      I hope you aren’t holding your breath for that. I’m sure it isn’t impossible, but based on Shamus’ past history, it’s highly unlikely. Generally speaking, Shamus does these coding projects as proof of concepts and nothing more. He’s often released the source code afterwards for others to play around with it themselves, but it doesn’t get developed into anything that could be called a playable game. To my knowledge the only exceptions to that are Good Robot – which he developed in partnership with an indie studio once he worked out the conceptual code – and a Sudoku-esque number-puzzle game he wrote a couple years ago, which I’m not positive he was ever able to properly release because Steam’s publishing requirements didn’t play well with the laws in his state and the policies of his bank.

      That said, it’s still possible he could turn this into something non-coders could mess with – one or two of his past coding projects were packaged into screen savers, for example.

  2. Olivier FAURE says:

    Huh. This is making me curious about Blender. I might give it a try this weekend.

    1. Alex says:

      I’d recommend you check out Blender Guru’s tutorial on making a donut: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPrnSACiTJ4

  3. ShivanHunter says:

    Clunky CRT mainframe-boxes are the best choice for pixelated late-90’s graphics. Basically all the computers looked like that both in and out of game ;)

    I started modelling on Wings3D, which is this little Erlang proggy with a hella intuitive interface once you get used to the idea that everything is in context menus. It can’t do much – not even things like rigging and animation, let alone rendering or running an actual bloody game engine like Blender has – but for whipping a simple mesh into shape and slapping some UV coordinates on it, it’s been great. (Your Blender experience is the same as mine. I really should try to get into it now they’ve un-bolloxed it.)

    1. Zaxares says:

      I’m nostalgic now for CRTs. XD Yes, they weighed a ton and they gave off this subtle (but quite noticeable if you leaned in close) static electricity feel, but I still kinda miss them. Oh! And I liked how they had the ability to retain focus no matter which direction you were looking at them; in contrast, with modern LCDs, if you don’t happen to be sitting in front of the computer looking straight at the monitor, the colours/focus seems washed out or darkened.

      1. Echo T says:

        I thought they’d more or less fixed the viewing angle with newer and more expensive flatscreen monitors. My own is a mid-range 1080p one from about 5-10 years ago, and it’s got at least 40 degrees to the left and right (80 total horizontal), and 40 degrees if you’re viewing from above the screen.[1] Last time I thought about replacing it, all of the ones for sale seemed to have even wider angles, and even these are more than sufficient for sitting at a desk. Apple laptops definitely seem to be around 170 degrees total viewing angle, at least horizontally.

        [1] Unfortunately, it’s got almost zero degrees of angle below the screen before it starts fading, so if I’m watching videos in bed on a lazy weekend, everything is darkened.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Looking at the local computer store’s website, both the $6000 super monitor, and the cheap $160 monitor I opened up claim 178 degrees in both the horizontal and vertical.

        2. Paul Spooner says:

          As far as making flatscreens look futuristic, a few 45 degree angle jogs go a long way to break up the boring rectangle look.

      2. A Gould says:

        I still have one downstairs (one of those “well, it still works so I’ll stash it just in case…. twelve years ago…” decisions).

        The upside is that my kid is now old enough (and geeky enough!) that they are all over it – until they realize their high-end graphics card doesn’t have VGA outputs!

      3. Mr. Wolf says:

        It’s the static electricity that I miss the most. That and demagnetising: there was nothing quite like the sound of an entire classroom of CRTs degaussing at once.

      4. Taellosse says:

        They also made a very distinct sound. It was monotonal, and I think at an extreme end of normal human hearing, but definitely there. Flatscreens mostly don’t. I wonder if that’s largely a product of the significantly lower power requirements of modern screens, or if its more to do with the operations of a CRT internally.

  4. Xeorm says:

    Huh, Blender was made better? That’s actually pretty good. I remember dabbling in it some for a personal game project and having no idea what to do with it. It’s clearly powerful, but as someone with only a bit of experience with modeling it was indeed an exercise in frustration.

  5. Raion says:

    If I spent years training my muscle memory to do everything backwards and sideways

    Ah, you mean, like inverted Y-axis controls ;P

    1. Echo Tango says:

      The most annoying thing about the Y-direction debates, is that most people don’t even realize they’re already mapping different meat-space directions to what’s shown on the computer / game-system. When you’re operating a mouse or holding a game-pad in a typical way, the motion of the device is forwards and backwards, not “up” and “down”.

      1. Geebs says:

        The Y axis is a broad church, and there’s room for everybody, both right thinking Y-inverters and poor, sad, misguided, non-Y-inverters.

        People who invert the X axis, however, are heretics and will forever burn. Looking at you, Wind Waker-era Nintendo.

        1. Echo Tango says:

          Actually, an inverted X-axis could make sense if the thing you’re controlling was man-portable a flack gun and your guy was holding handles behind the swivel. Then moving your mouse-hand in a direction in real-world space would match what your guy is doing in video-game space. :)

          1. Kathryn says:

            This is why I invert both axes. My mental model is that I’m standing behind a camera. So I have to push the back of it left to look right, and I push the back of it down to look up. I can’t make sense of any other system.

            1. Vernal_ancient says:

              That, at least, is sensible, unlike my brain which thinks inverted X-axis makes perfect sense for 3rd person controls as long as there’s no crosshair (push left to move the camera left, etc) but doesn’t apply the same reasoning to the Y-axis. And any game where there is a crosshair, I apparently think in terms of moving the crosshair, which is perfectly fine until I played AC: Brotherhood and had to keep flipping the X axis between inverted and normal whenever I took a mission relating to leonardo’s machines…

              1. Vernal_ancient says:

                Come to think of it, the camera in Uncharted always felt wonky to me, and that’s exactly why. I left the x-axis normal for the fights, but then whenever I was just exploring it kept messing me up. Don’t think I consciously realized that at the time, I just thought it felt off

                1. Echo Tango says:

                  This is why games need custom controls for each major gameplay mode! :D

                  1. tmtvl says:

                    As someone who uses a Dvorak keyboard: they really, really do (Stardew Valley has a minigame that uses WASD, I can’t do it).

                    1. Retsam says:

                      Well, that seems solvable just by programming the game based on physical keys, not based on the letters they type.

          2. Radkatsu says:

            Meanwhile, it does NOT make sense in a game like Final Fantasy 12. I have no idea who at Squeenix thought that was a good idea. Thankfully the remaster a few years back fixed it and allowed you to change both axes to your tastes.

        2. John says:

          Never played Wind Waker, but that’s the one with the boat, yes? When sailing in a small craft, pushing right on the tiller makes the rudder (or the outboard motor) and the boat go left. That’s just how boats work.

          Though if Wind Waker makes you push left to go right when you’re on land, then I don’t know what to tell you.

          1. Vernal_ancient says:

            It’s been a while since I played Wind Waker, but if I remember right, pressing right makes the boat go right, but the camera controls are inverted on the x-axis

  6. GreyDuck says:

    How timely that I’m reading this now, the morning after I spent two frustrating hours in Blender trying to get the hang of “shrinkwrapping” a 3D-scanned mesh to smooth it up some. I am, to be clear, an absolute n00b who has barely gotten past that obligatory “donut guy” tutorial series. Ahem.

    (Someone 3D-scanned a “Bud” brand rubber duck. Which is great but I don’t want to use it as-is because it has that weird knobby-ness you see in a lot of 3D-scanned objects that haven’t had any cleanup done to them… and also because that “U” on the front is very distinctive and I don’t want anyone coming after me with legal-type documents.)

    Anyway. Blender, woo! Fun times!

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      If you want to smooth it out, try the “Decimate > by angle” modifier, followed by a subdivision modifier.

      1. GreyDuck says:

        Oooh! I’ll give that a spin, thank you. (The shrinkwrapping technique I’ve been trying out is… not really best suited for some of the complexities of the ducky model, particularly the damned bill…)

  7. evileeyore says:

    “Or are these chamfered edges? I can never remember.”

    Bevel and chamfer are functionally identical as long as you aren’t a machinist or furniture/cabinet maker. The simplest difference, or method to establish a difference is this:

    “A bevel is a non-perpendicular edge structure. A chamfer is a bevel that specifically eases a sharp edge.”

    So the primary difference is “are you dulling an edge?” If ‘yes’, it’s a chamfer.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Right! In mechanical design, a chamfer is a bevel with a flat face. In Blender, you get it by setting the “Segments” of the bevel tool to 1, so it’s even the same operation. But in solid modeling tools they are usually separate feature types, where a bevel is rounded and a chamfer is hard. I presume the same is true in finish carpentry.

      Interestingly, you can also use the Bevel tool in Blender to do molding, such as the venerable Roman Ogee. Select the “Custom Profile” box and go to town! (Warning: May have unintended effects where more than two beveled edges meet. For best results, use the “by weight” limits and set the edges to bevel manually (Ctrl + E menu).)

    2. Decius says:

      A chamfer is not a bevel. The two features and operations are mutually exclusive.

      A chamfer is a transition between two surfaces, a bevel is itself a surface. It’s possible to chamfer a transition into a bevel, if you’re insane.

      If you’re altering a corner, it can be a chamfer (there are other ways to alter corners). If you’re making a chisel, you want a bevel.

  8. Paul Spooner says:

    Ooh! I see some placeholders in your desk model! Are those locations where other objects are parametrically selected for placement? Looks like hooks for monitors on the top, and chairs in front? Maybe, other desks on the sides?
    Do you’re “monitor” models also have hooks for desk clutter? A pencil holder perhaps? Which also populates with parametric pencils and pens?

    Glad you’re having fun with Blender. It’s a great tool, and we in the community are happy to go through the growing pains in order to make it accessible to more people. Plus most of the shortcuts are the same, and most of the expertise is about knowing what Blender is capable of, as opposed to just knowing how to execute lots of different commands.

  9. Frank says:

    I’m working on procedural building generation with interior object placement as well. I’ve been working on this for months at night after my real job. Your progress appears to be much faster than mine. Of course, I don’t have much interest in creating my own 3D models because I’m not very artistic. I prefer to create my models programmatically through code. I created some nice cube-based furniture, and a bed with pillows expressed as 3D parametric functions to get the curved shapes right. After many hours of that, I just started downloading free 3D models online and using those instead for the more complex objects. Now I’m loading some ~1GB worth of models for furniture, cars, people, etc. Every time I add some model I come up with several more objects that I want to add, so I’m sure this project will never end!

    Your project is great! I hope you keep working on this. It’s very interesting to see how others approach this procedural buildings task. Also, note that my building exteriors were originally based on your Pixel City project.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Months? Looks like it’s been over two years now!
      Cool stuff! I’ll leave some comments, but the main problem I see is that there’s not a consistent art style, and the lighting isn’t realistic enough for the setting. One of the great advantages of a science fiction setting is that no one is familiar with how a “space station” really looks. But since you’re generating a city with believable indoor spaces (bathroom bookcases not withstanding) it’s much more obvious when things don’t look right. Without obvious stylization, it just looks like a poor job at realism instead of an intentional artistic choice. I realize the criticism is a bit unfair, given that you’ve admitted up front that you’re not an artist, and that the project is more about generating the spaces than making them look good.

      You’re familiar with “Subversion” by Introversion software? Just another example of how this kind of city generation project can eat as much time as you want to give it.

      1. Frank says:

        The buildings are full of a mix of procedurally generated furniture, programmer art, and random textures/models I found online. If I ever decide to make it into a real game or something ready for release I’ll have to find some artist(s) who know more about this and can create better models. I don’t think I have the rights to distribute those models and textures, and most of them aren’t part of the git repo anyway. At this point I’m more interested in the procedural generation aspect, flexibility, scalability, and performance. Once I have a system in place that can handle every possible type of object I might go back and do a better job with them. I would rather concentrate on making all rooms navigable by the player and AI, ensuring each building has the required set of rooms and objects, having a reasonable placement of everything, keeping objects from intersecting each other, obeying all of my placement rules, having everything run at 60 FPS, etc.

        Bathroom bookcases were just there for an amusing post and aren’t added to real buildings.

        The lighting is difficult because whatever solution I use has to work with hundreds to a thousand individual room lights in realtime. I have indirect lighting, but it’s incredibly slow and noisy for buildings of this scale.

        I’m not too worried about how long this will take. I’ve been working on 3DWorld since 2001 so that’s, what, 19 years? I’m not spending any money on this or expecting to make any money off it, so there’s no hurry. It’s a fun background project to work on when I feel I haven’t been productive enough programming at my real job!

  10. Dude Guyman says:

    When blender 2.8 was released, there was a bit of a revolt about them changing the hotkeys, but it was minor due to the extremely customizable nature of blender- you could easily keep your keymaps and keep the old method of control.

    The reason some might prefer the ‘backwards and sideways’ way of doing things was the sheer speed of it. Switching selection to the right mouse and keeping other operations on left mouse meant time consuming misclicks almost never happen, but more then that mapping everything to obscure wierd hotkeys means that once you’ve learned the obscure weird hotkeys, you can do entire series of things in seconds or even fractions of a second. It’s a lot like vim or emacs in that regard – needlessly difficult for beginners or people without power user needs, but extremely powerful for people who put in the time to learn it.

    That said it’s probably for the better that they’ve made a more industry standard keymap default for new users. It’ll turn less people away at the door. And while it is a shame that people won’t learn the speedy way, as someone who does know the speedy way, it’s ruined me for other programs. Which now feel like a snail riding a sloth through an ocean of solidified molasses. So maybe it’s better not to know and never join the cult of emacs/vim/blender in the first place.

    1. Paul Spooner says:

      Well said. I never thought about the misclick issue, but it hasn’t been a problem for me so far.
      And yes, it’s crazy how fast you can work when the program is responsive and there are rich hotkeys. I’ve worked with other 2D and 3D modeling tools my whole career, and the only one that comes close to Blender in terms of productivity is AutoCAD (though newer versions have become more sluggish).

  11. Mr. Wolf says:

    Fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes! The dead rising from the grave! Human sacrifice! Programmers doing art! Dogs and cats living together! Mass hysteria!

  12. Philadelphus says:

    I know what you mean about the inverted left-mouse-button/right-mouse-button controls, because I first started learning Blender about a decade ago now. But even back then there was a toggle in the options menu to switch them around and I suspect a lot of people (like me) just turned that on first thing and never thought about it again, so that when it was finally switched in 2.80 most people didn’t even notice. I last used Blender several years ago (2017, I think?), and don’t have a need to use it again soon, but when I next get the urge to play around with 3D modeling I’m looking forward to all the improvements.

  13. Paul Spooner says:

    I’m really curious what that computer box is in the foreground of the last screenshot. The top-right corner seems to have some sort of vent as well.
    Also, why is space Ikea floating off the ground? Is it because there’s no gravity in space? Looks like you’ll need to add a gravity gun.

    1. Shamus says:

      Ugh. PAUL, that is OBVIOUSLY a space-photocopier / printer!

      How else could people on space stations print all the required hardcopies of their TPS reports?

      (No, seriously, that thing is supposed to be a copier. It’s a little too big. Comes up to the player’s chest. I promised myself I’d stop fussing with it and get back to coding.))

      1. The Rocketeer says:

        I thought it was a reployer.

      2. The Puzzler says:

        Now I want a game that goes all-in on the retrofuturism. Space fax machines. Floppy disk drives. Video cassettes. Phones with number pads and prominent aerials.

        1. Paul Spooner says:

          You, sir, are in luck! Can I interest you in a Quadrilateral Cowboy?

        2. Mr. Wolf says:

          You mean something post-“cassette futurism”?

  14. Zak McKracken says:

    Whaaaa..? I’ve been meaning to finally give Blender a go this summer after about …15 years of lurking (broken only by two episodes where I faithfully executed a video editing tutorial and worked out how to use the compositor to perfom image calculations, before finding ImageJ), and you just beat me to it.

    Just fired it up, and yes, definite improvement! I can do some polygon editing without really looking at any manuals or such!

    But here’s the question I’ve not been able to answer by neither web search nor reading through documentation, and which drives me nuts, and I almost bet that it’s something that’d drive you nuts too:

    Who or what determines the center of rotation when I’m rotating the view?
    At the beginning, it’s the coordinate origin, but if you ever pan the view, it moves. I’ve found the setting which will automatically put it at the center of the current selection — but if that’s an option, and it’s off by default: What is the default method? How do I prevent the view rotation from just rotating out into nothing while I’m trying to look at that one corner of the thing I’m making? There must be a trick, but I can’t find it in the documentation, and most of the more experienced users just seem to control it on intuition and not notice they’re even doing it … or do they?

    1. Zak McKracken says:

      Ha — and I just worked it out, after writing an elaborate question on blender.stackexchange.com, then finding it had a very elaborate answer in a vaguely related question — in case anyone’s interested:
      https://blender.stackexchange.com/questions/644/why-does-the-zoom-sometimes-stop-at-a-point

      auto-depth and alt+MMB just rescued Blender for me.

    2. Shamus says:

      If you discover this, please let me know. I have the same question. Sometimes it works fine for hours, and other times it pivots around some seemingly random point in space. In the old days I assumed it was the odd 3D Cursor concept, but it happens even if the 3DC is at the origin.

      1. Zak McKracken says:

        Posted a link above, probably while you were writing this.

        The setup I’m using at the moment is:
        * view rotation is set to orbit, orbit method is Turntable (which is the default in both cases)
        * Preferences/Navigation/Orbit&Pan Auto: Depth on — which means I need to pay attention where I start dragging when rotating the view but the distance to the view pivot point is reset to the distance to whatever is below the mouse pointer
        * To focus on any particular thing at the edge of the current view, use alt + MMB to instantly center the view on it. This moves the pivot point to where you clicked, and moves the viewer location parallel to it, so view angle, distance and direction stay the same.

        There’s also an option to always rotate around the current selection, but sometimes I need to rotate to find the thing I *want* to select, so that strikes me as less useful.

  15. D-Frame says:

    Designing soda machines is easy. Just make sure they won’t give you lemon-lime when you want orange.

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