The vital functions

Loading files

Blender uses the .blend file format to save nearly everything: Objects, scenes, textures, and even all your user interface window settings.

To load a Blender file from disk, press F1. The focused window then temporarily transforms into the file load dialog shown in Figure 18. The bar on the left can be dragged with LMB for scrolling. To load a file, select it with LMB and press ENTER, or simply click it with MMB.

Figure 18. File load dialog.

The upper text box displays the current directory path, and the lower contains the selected filename. The P button (PKEY) moves you up to the parent directory; the button with the dash maintains a list of recently used paths. On Windows operating systems, the latter also contains a list of all drives (C:, D: etc).

Please note that Blender expects that you know what you are doing! When you load a file, you are not asked about unsaved changes to the scene you were previously working on: completing the file load dialog is regarded as being enough confirmation that you didn't do this by accident. Make sure for yourself that you save your files.

Saving files

Saving files works analogously to loading: When you press F2, the focused window temporarily changes into a file save dialog, as shown in Figure 19. Click the lower edit box to enter a filename. If it doesn't end with ".blend", the extension is automatically appended. Then press ENTER to write the file. If a file with the same name already exists, you will have to confirm the overwrite prompt.

Figure 19. File save dialog.

The save dialog contains a small feature to help you to create multiple versions of your work: Pressing NUM+ or NUM- increments or decrements a number contained in the filename. If you want to simply save over the currently loaded file and skip the save dialog, you can press CTRL-W instead of F2 and just need to confirm the prompt.


This section should only give you a quick overview of the vitals to be able to render your scene. A detailed description of all options can be found in the chapter called Rendering.

The render settings can be found in the DisplayButtons (Figure 20) that can be reached by clicking the , or simply by pressing F10.

Figure 20. Rendering options in the DisplayButtons.

All we are interested in for now is the size (number of pixels horizontally and vertically) and file format for the image to be created. The size may be set using the SizeX and SizeY buttons, and clicking the selection box below (in Figure 20, "Targa" is chosen) opens a menu with all available output formats for images and animations. For still images, we may choose Jpeg, for instance.

Now that the settings are made, the scene may be rendered by hitting the RENDER button or by pressing F12. Depending on the complexity of the scene, this usually takes between a few seconds and several minutes, and the progress is displayed in a separate window. If the scene contains an animation, only the current frame is rendered. (To render the whole animation, see the Section called Rendering Animations in the chapter called Rendering.)

If you don't see anything in the rendered view, make sure your scene is constructed properly: Does it have lighting? Is the camera positioned correctly, and does it point in the right direction? Are all the layers you want to render visible?

Please note that a rendered image is not automatically saved to disk. If you are satisfied with the rendering, you may save it by pressing F3 and using the save dialog as described in the Section called Saving files. It is saved in the format you previously selected in the DisplayButtons.

User preferences

Blender has a few options that are not saved with each file, but apply for all files of a user instead. These preferences primarily concern user interface handling details, and system properties like mouse, fonts and languages.

As the user preferences are rarely needed, they are neatly hidden behind the main menu. To make them visible, pull down the window border of the menu (usually the topmost border in the screen). The settings are grouped into six categories which can be selected with the violet buttons shown in Figure 21.

Figure 21. User preferences window.

Most buttons are self-explaining or display a helpful tool-tip if you hold the mouse still over them, so they won't be described in detail here. We will just give an overview of the preference categories:

View & Controls

Settings concerning how the user interface should react to user input, e.g. which method of rotation should be used in 3D views. Here you can also activate 3-button mouse emulation if you have a two-button mouse. MMB can then be input as ALT-LMB.

Edit Methods

Lets you specify details of the workings of certain editing commands like duplicate.

Language & Fonts

Select an alternative TrueType font for display in the interface, and choose from available interface languages.

Auto Save

Auto saves can be created to have an emergency backup in case something goes wrong. These files are named Filename.blend1, Filename.blend2, etc.

File Paths

Choose the default paths for various file load dialogs.

System & OpenGL

You should consult this section if you experience problems with graphics or sound output, or if you don't have a numerical keypad and want to emulate it (for laptops).

Setting the default scene

You don't like Blender's default window setup, or want specific render settings for each project you start? No problem. You can use any scene file as a default when Blender starts up. Make the scene you are currently working on default by pressing CTRL-U. It will then be copied into a file called .B.blend in your home directory.

You can clear the working project and revert to the default scene anytime by pressing CTRL-X. Please remember to save your changes to the previous scene first!