How To Use 3D Viewport and Outliner in Blender

Updated on: August 23, 2022

Now that you have successfully installed the software on your computer, it’s time to learn some Blender. So, let’s get familiar with the interface! In this tutorial we will learn about 3D viewport and outliner.

We know Blender’s UI may be a little overwhelming, even more if this is your first time using the software. But just like “with great power comes great responsibility”, with a lot of capabilities comes a… pretty busy screen. But don’t worry, we won’t be using all these tools right away. We’ll just get you familiarized with the main stuff, and will move to more specific tools and menus when it is more relevant.

Every time you start Blender, you’ll face an initial screen very similar to that of Photoshop and many other design software, in which, basically, you can create a new file or open a recently saved one. In Blender’s case, the left column is for Creating a New File and the right one will show any Recently Opened Files you may have.

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To create any New File, you can choose from a specific template or just pick a General project, either selecting it from the options on the left column or just clicking outside the Startup Screen.

Once you’re past that initial menu, you’ll be facing the main window, which is The 3D Viewport. Here you will be able to view your 3D object along with its three axes (X, Y, and Z) into the scene. The Scene is the whole space we’re visualizing represented by the grid. Basically, the scene is the same as “The Project”, or “The File.” Every new Blender Scene starts with three default objects in it: A 3D cube, a camera, and a light (we’ll cover those later).

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If you press “N” on the keyboard, you can access a side bar containing different menus such as the Item Panel: which shows information about the object selected, the Tool Tab: with different options to assign to your cursor, the View Tab: which has settings for the 3D Viewport, and any add-ons and plugins if you have any.

If you hit “T” on your keyboard, it will turn on and off the toolbar located at the top left of the screen. For now, it will only show some Transform and Selection tools, but as we progress, you will see this menu changing, as it is context sensitive.

 Once that you have understood the Viewport, we can move on to the outliner.

The Outliner is the “list” located at the top right of the screen, showcasing all the objects that are currently in our scene. This list allows us to maintain an order in our project.

The Scene Collection includes absolutely every element contained in our scene, and just like any other design software, you can create Folders or Subcollections by right clicking in the outliner and selecting the option. You can see that a “Collection” folder is created by default, containing the camera, the cube and the light.

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Selecting any of the objects in the hierarchy (or the Outliner’s list) will also highlight them in the 3D Viewport, or vice versa. This may come in handy in cases when you have a lot of elements in your scene and want to select an specific object to edit it, or temporarily hide it from the scene (by clicking the eye next to the object on the list, or by pressing H to hide it, and ALT+ H to bring it back). 

Lorena M. Rodas leverages her experience across film, writing, and production to make complex tech concepts accessible through storytelling. With a background spanning sci-fi, AI, and emerging tech, Lorena translates her depth of knowledge into engaging, educational content. She is an expert at decoding high-level topics to reach broad audiences.
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