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Add Tabs to 3D View Paint Modes
Closed, ResolvedPublicDESIGN


For paint modes I don't think we need much, I propose we just add Brush, Options and Grease Pencil tab. The actual brush settings and such are needed constantly, so they should not be separated from the actual brush panel. But the Options panel is seldom used.


A decision has been reached via the weekly Blender developers meeting. This will be committed soon.



  • Brush
  • Texture
  • Stroke
  • Curve
  • Topology
  • Symmetry


  • Options
  • Appearance
  • Overlay

Grease Pencil

Event Timeline

@Jonathan Williamson (carter2422) I like this arrangement for the tabs. I was just playing around with sculpting and moving a lot of these things to other tabs will really clean it up. To your point, many of the options aren't used much, so they really can be tucked away under the new tabs.

Jonathan Williamson (carter2422) renamed this task from Add Tabs to 3D View Sculpt Mode to Add Tabs to 3D View Paint Modes.Feb 3 2014, 12:11 AM
Jonathan Williamson (carter2422) updated the task description. (Show Details)
Jonathan Williamson (carter2422) updated the task description. (Show Details)

I am a bit split about "Topology" being an option or a brush setting. It really is a global option currently but maybe people prefer not to change tabs to turn it on/off? (I guess pinning can help there but better have the best defaults). Similarly, "Overlay" is a brush setting.

Of course we can change those settings to be global or brush settings only, accordingly, right? For instance one might argue that overlay might serve better as a global option. Thoughts?

The only important thing to bear in mind is that we should not force painters/sculptors to change tabs often to accomplish regular tasks unless this task involves a lot of scrolling and panel juggling already.

In all of the mockups so far, I think the important thing to remember is that some panels are default to closed, some as open, and you can clean up by closing panels from the default open. I like the mock up of the sculpt mode in that it attempts to sort out the lesser used panels, but across the board in all the paint tools like vertex paint, texture paint, weight paint, etc,those option settings are necessary depending on the function needed, so pushing to a new tab isn't really going to help speed things up unless they are really lesser used items.

For me, lesser used items are the Project Paint tab in 3d view ( on my end is default open, so could be closed or pushed to a Settings tab), and Appearance panel (already shown in the Options tab in mock up). Settings concerning the brush, the curve, the stroke, and the Brush Texture and Brush Mask Texture are all settings I push around a lot, so I need them on my main tool panel. I agree about Grease Pencil getting its own tab, but I hope this is consistent in all tool bars as well - in the UV Image Editor, we have all of it in the toolbar (N) but in the other views where it is available, we get it split across the T and N panels. The Image, Game Properties, and Display panels could go to a tab of their own, or move them to the T Panel(confusing) with the Histogram, Waveform, and Vectorscope tools. I have them all collapsed and saved that way so that I have less scrolling to do unless I open someone else's blend file.

I really think if you are in there working, we should really set up that we get the color palette from either Psy-Fi's work or the addon to nest right under the color picker instead of dropping down to the bottom of the tool bar.

I think it is interesting that you push the overlay of the brush and the curve to the options tab, I guess this is a a set and forget item for some. Again, the panels in the mock up I looked at are almost all closed there, so I hope that this is part of the solution.

I noticed that with all the paint modes, we get weird text in the Operator panel where you would normally input data after calling a tool, like the F6 panel. This to me is a waste of space, since all I get are messages showing Texture Paint toggle, etc. (speaking of the Texture Paint in 3d view). This area could be left off the field or closed down out of the way to allow more visibility in the tool bar maybe.

And one last wish: if we could have a version of F6 panel to allow a floating color picker to change color and mix mode with, then we could paint full screen with no tool bars open at all, and the panel could disappear so as to not be in the way until called again....

I've been organizing some notes on Texture Paint into a Google Doc and have some mockups in there. It doesn't have Sculpt or the other paint modes though.

I split the Tool Shelf into 5 tabs (plus Properties Panel):

  • Paint Tools (For Painting)
  • Texture Settings (Texture management)
  • External Paint
  • Brush Settings (For Creating/Modifying Presets)
  • Grease Pencil

I share the doubts of psy-fi regarding the Topology.

The most concern is that there is a type of controls that even if they have a global assignement, they are though required on a frequent basis during the sculpting.

To put just one of these in the tab of general options means forcing the user to have that tab always opened.

An example of this type, in my view, concerns the topology: while the commands ' Enable Dynamic ',' Symmetrize ',' Optimize 'and' Smooth Shading 'are rarely used, the' Detail Refine Method 'and the' Detail Size 'may be used much often during the sculpting.

Also the Lock option for the axes, that could actually be an option relating to brush IMHO, it's an option that I personally use very often, even more because it is a global option, so whenever I change brush I must switch them back also.

Thank you

@Antonis Ryakiotakis (psy-fi), @Paolo Sourvinos (sourvinos), at least in my own workflow it's very common for me to toggle Dynamic Topology on and off, depending on what I am doing. I generally use the hotkey, but feel it should also be present in the brush settings. Rather than explicitly look at whether something is a Brush setting or Option, I prefer to look more at how it's actually used in a workflow. This way we can prioritize what is shown in what tab.

Here is my rationale for how I've split up the panels:

  • Brush tab contains panels that directly influence your brush and/or the effect your brush has on the sculpting surface.
    • Topology, while technically a "setting" for sculpting, directly changes the effect your brush has on the surface and is something that is often toggled on/off.
    • Symmetry, similar to Topology, is a setting but frequently needs to be adjusted
  • Options tab contains those panels that don't directly influence your brush's effect on the surface, and generally are more about appearance.
    • The Overlay has no effect on the actual sculpting, and is merely a visual helper that most artists will either use or won't use.
    • The same goes for Appearance.
    • The one exception here is Lock. As has been suggested elsewhere, I believe this needs to be moved alongside Symmetry, into the Brush tab.

The overriding goal with tabs in all editors is to ensure the artist seldom needs to switch tabs while working, and they should also help reduce scrolling by organizing panels primarily by priority and workflow. There is no single rule here, so there's always going to be a bit of give and take.

@xrg (xrg), looking through your doc right now. Nice work! The one thing that really stands out (as far as the tabs go) is the Texture Settings. Currently I don't think we can justify putting this in it's own tab. However, if we can get brush textures to the point where you never need to leave the toolbar then that'd be great. Currently you have to bounce between the toolbar and properties editor too much.

@Antonis Ryakiotakis (psy-fi) didn't you do some work on this via GSOC?

@Jonathan Williamson (carter2422), I have been thinking that indeed 'Topology' panel's place might indeed be in brush tab after all. One could argue that it is confusing if it is indicated as a brush setting in the UI, but workflow wise I do agree it doesn't make sense to separate it. The only reason I might be skeptical is that topology used to be so low in the panel order that you inevitably had to scroll to use it, while it is clear that turning it on/off is a frequent step in workflow. In that case maybe changing a tab would not be so bad really.

Perhaps a better name instead of 'brush' would be better for the tab - 'stroke' or 'behaviour'? I just wish there was a way to better indicate which options constitute brush state (ie will change when changing a brush) and which do not. Might not really be important on user level though and not important on organizing the tabs in particular.

@Antonis Ryakiotakis (psy-fi), I agree that "Brush" is not the best name, but I cannot think of anything better.

Some alternatives:

  • Behavior - this just seems weird, not sure why.
  • Sculpt - seems redundant with "Sculpt mode" and does not clearly indicate what's here
  • Tools - this is perhaps the most clear, while also being very general. It also matches with other object modes.

@Jonathan Williamson (carter2422) I must say I like @xrg (xrg)'s suggestions a lot since it really focuses on a 'set up once and reuse' workflow. In that sense, a tab that allows quick toggling between brushes and includes often used options, and other tabs that include the hairy stroke/texture details may be nice to have.

Don't forget we can change/separate the panel content for that to work too :)

@Jonathan Williamson (carter2422) The textures are the most challenging to untangle I find. I originally tried putting them in with the Brush Settings, but they have so many settings and variables it becomes difficult to layout in a way that maintains easy accessibility. Especially in Texture Paint because there is Alpha/Mask Textures in addition to regular Textures, and as I pointed out in the doc: I didn't even add procedural texture options.

My logic/reasoning for the separate tab is: assuming we ship with good presets, texture management tends to be a more common task than setting up a brush in the most general workflow. Sculpt Mode, for example, ships with pretty good presets. In the average sculpt session, I think a user probably won't setup a brush preset, but there is a decent chance they may set up a texture. I figure having Texture Settings in its own tab makes it easier/quicker to access than if they were nested in with the brush settings or whatever.

Either way, as long as we eliminate the need to juggle with the Properties Editor so often, I will probably be content with it.

@xrg (xrg) I keep a properties window open to brush texture and mask texture just for that purpose sometimes. It is easier there for the procedurals and set up of the texture brush/mask textures as well.

Love the proposals there in the doc. I was wondering if maybe we might revisit the size of the brush preview icon, it seems larger than necessary, so maybe we reclaim real estate by decreasing the size?

I agree with @xrg (xrg)'s assesment. I wonder if I can append a separate tab proposal on the same task to indicate how this might work.

@Antonis Ryakiotakis (psy-fi) @xrg (xrg), I'm not opposed to putting texture panels into a Textures tab, although I would prefer to wait on doing that until better texture workflows and presets are worked out. We can always add the Texture tab in 2.71 or whenever the texture improvements are added.

So that we can continue moving forward, is anyone opposed to initially defining a Brush (or Tools) tab, and a Options tab? As has been pointed in the BA discussion (which I completely agree with) most of the brush settings must stay immediately available within a single tab. Unlike some other modes, Sculpt mode does not benefit from too much segmentation.

@Jonathan Williamson (carter2422) I'm totally fine with that; no opposition.

As far as that thread: I think things like the Dyntopo settings should go in the Properties Panel rather than the Tool Shelf. I started a Sculpt Design Doc but it is still very WIP. There are some settings completely missing from the mockups still.

I was planning on coding up mine on my own, but I still need to get familiar with Blender's UI code. :/

@xrg (xrg), that mockup looks like it has some great things in it! When you feel it's ready for review I'd love to look at it more and talk more in depth about it.

I'll submit a patch for sculpt mode tabs shortly.

@xrg (xrg), if you need any help with those I can help as well. They shouldn't be too difficult to handle. Just poke me through twitter/BA/email/irc

Jonathan Williamson (carter2422) changed the task status from Unknown Status to Resolved.Feb 10 2014, 6:52 PM

Closed by commit rBe920206a900c.

@Antonis Ryakiotakis (psy-fi) I probably will eventually. Right now I'm just kind of breaking and greping things to figure out where everything is. Not sure the textures are going to work how I wanted; difficult to make it clear which one is which.

I agree with XRG and Psy-fi that topology should not be in the brush settings tab. I brought this up at blender artist and some people argued that they need to keep it there so it is always visible - not to need to switch between tabs.

After looking at XRG's sculpt mode ui proposal document , it looks like even in it's WIP stage the interface for sculpting and texturing looks much better in it- solving a lot of the current issues of panel colapsing/scrolling.

Dynamic topology is a sort of a global mesh operator, that is destructive - its not like the modifiers. Having it somewhere in properties would be nice but am not sure if it makes sense.It is an operator after all. It could still have a tab of it's own in the toolbar, because it contains other operators- such as resymetrize and simplify - those are tools by themselves. So imo that whole panel should have it's own tab.

Does XRG need to add it to the official UI proposal WIKI or would this google doc suffice?
I understand why he would go for google docs- its easier to manipulate the content of a google doc.

If we are to look at global operation modes and moving stuff out of the toolbar- one thing that seems to need it the most is symetry. It's something that potentially can affect other tools inside sculpting or texturing in the future- not only the brushes. You could move that to the 3d viewport bar-

It will make it always visible and easy to toggle on and off. Of course- you cant cram in all of its sub options, but having the main ones exposed as toggles like that would be a great way of making use of that space. Currently the 3d viewport bar is not being used at all in some of the modes. It has a lot of potential.

It goes without saying that the texture and sculpting modes in blender would benefit the most from the new tabs system. It would be so nice not to have to ever collapse a panel in there again and actually see what your brush alpha, texture and settings are without having to scroll.

The topology tools are almost as important as changing your brush size in my opinion, so I think it needs to be visible as much as possible. Dynamic topology also seems to turn itself off in quite a few situations, which can be trouble when you are "snake hooking" or using other brushes. Unless you have wireframe on, it can be hard to tell if you are just pushing vertices around or tessellating them.

@xrg (xrg) like the design direction. I can see that you also agree how important the dynamic topology tools are to the sculpting process. Keeping it in settings would work nice.

I am sure there are better long term solutions, but following the patterns we are now, it is definitely an improvement. Can't wait to see the final results.

Sorry, I cant find where to write my proposal. I think it's a good idea to add buttons to fast select and create a new image for texturing without enter to edit mode

The soc-2013-paint branch already has such a feature and it will be included in 2.71.