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Clean up the image editor
Closed, ResolvedPublicDESIGN


Currently the image editor is a bit of a mess. Since T and N panel have been switched, the tools are on the wrong side. Especially the masking tools are totally flipped.
But the with arrival of tabs this could be cleaned up rather elegantly.

I had a look into and found that there are actually 3 different regions, UI, TOOLS, and PREVIEW. It seems to me that Preview, which are the scopes, is considered as toolshelf, at least it has the same hotkey, and the actual tools and properties, are both put into the N-panel.
Not only is that confusing for the user, I find that also very confusing inside the code ( which frankly I don't know much about, but at least for me as a noob that makes it harder to tweak the UI).

So I propose this:
Make the scopes be considered as regular Tool (that's not less unfitting than "preview").
Then put the scopes into a tab.
All the other tools like for painting, masking etc go into a toolshelf tab as well.
That way we even avoid scrolling, because you can have image properties and paint tools open at the same time without the need to scroll much.
In mask mode there are also tools that go to the toolshelf, while the mask properties would go to N-panel.


The decision has been made to go with @Sebastian Koenig (sebastian_k)'s proposal. This was decided after the discussion here and after consensus in the Weekly Dev Meeting.


  • Tab 1: UV-Tools
  • Tab 2: Scopes
  • Tab 3: GreasePencil.


  • Tab1: PaintTools
  • Tab2: Scopes
  • Tab3: GreasePencil


  • Tab1: MaskTools
  • Tab2: Scope
  • Tab3: GreasePencil

All properties will be placed on the right, and toolbars on the left, making it consistent with the 3D View and other editors.

Revisions and Commits

Event Timeline

Just as a info, I am standing by to implement this, after it has been discussed and approved.

Brecht Van Lommel (brecht) lowered the priority of this task from 90 to Normal.Jan 27 2014, 1:26 PM

Moving the scopes into the toolshelf doesn't make much sense to me, as I understand it they are the kind of thing that you might keep open to inspect render / compositing / sequencer results.

I don't know where they fit best though, perhaps the toolshelf works in practice. I would guess it's more convenient to keep them on the right hand side, and add editor properties there as well then. Image properties and tools could stay on the left hand. That's pretty arbitrary as well though, maybe someone has a better idea.

personally, I think the image and game properties should be on the right side, as they are properties, not tools. this would be more consistent with the 3d view as well.

On a different note, perhaps an actual "UV editing" mode would clear this up. in the 3d view, edit mode displays only edit mode tools, paint mode displays only paint tools, and so on. But in the image editor, many of the tools simply stay visible, even for unrelated task.

for example, we use the "view" mode for UV unwrapping and editing; this is not only confusing, it also displays a lot of unnecessary tools(like the scopes) that are not needed for the UV process.

A dedicated UV mode could display more relevant tools(ie. UV sculpt, live unwrap,Island and transform tools..), without cluttering the panels more, and would improve the UV workflow. As it is now, most of the features and tools for UV's are hidden behind menus, or accessed by shortcuts,hindering discoverability.

perhaps something similar could be achieved with tabs, but I prefer the task oriented display that modes provide.

just my two cents ...

@Warren Bahler (russcript) after a bit of thinking I do agree.
Having a UV mode would solve a lot of problems. We don't need scopes in uv mode, we don't need uv-tools while masking. It would clean a lot of things up.
Also, having a proper toolshelf for uv-tools would give us some room to put uv-sculpting tools in it too, currently they are too hidden in the menu.

I do think scopes can be considered as a tool, and could be in the toolshelf while in View-mode.

Continuing this thought however we could also argue that the View-Mode is already UV-Mode. The only thing which is missing is to have the UV-Tools accessible in the Toolshelf.
If we consider the scopes a tool for image inspection, they could easily be moved into a tab in the toolshelf.
I am thinking of how I would use the Image Editor while compositing.
I would definitly want to have scopes at least available to check color range etc, but at the same time would like to have the Mask Tools available. So I could imagine a setup where I am in mask mode, with all the mask tools in the mask tab, but with one or two scopes pinned down from the scopes tab.
If scopes would only be available in view mode that workflow would not be possible.

So with the modes we have right now we also could have this setup:
View-Mode: Tab1: UV-Tools, Tab2: Scopes, Tab3: GreasePencil.
Paint-Mode: Tab1: PaintTools, Tab2: Scopes, Tab3: GreasePencil
Mask-Mode: Tab1: MaskTools, Tab2: Scopes, Tab3: GreasePencil
All 3 modes would have the properties on the right side.
I don't care too much about a GreasePencil Tab, but maybe just because of consitency with other editors...

We could take a page from 2D editors. Histograms and info tools are usually on the right, along with layers/masks/etc.


View Mode:

  • Grease pencil tab


  • Scopes tab
  • Image tab (image properties, game properties, display)

Paint Mode:

  • Grease pencil tab
  • Brush tab (color, brush, overlay, appearance, tool, paint stroke, paint curve)
  • Texture tab (Texture, texture mask)
  • Pallette tab (color palette)

(overlay could be moved into the appearance panel)

(Same as view)

Mask Mode:

  • Grease pencil tab
  • Mask tools


  • "Image" changes to "Mask". Add Mask Settings and Mask Display here.
  • Mask Layers tab

UV Mode:

  • UV sculpt
  • UV tools (Export UV layout, Mark Seams, etc.)


  • UV Vertex
  • Add display options in display

I agree, the View mode could be considered the UV Mode, but perhaps It should be renamed ?

but as far as the scopes, is there any advantage to moving them into the tool panel?
I don't use them much so can't really say, but I can imagine leaving them open while painting or compositing/masking, which would make it desirable to have the tools also visible.

@Diego Gangl (januz) I like the order there, but I tend to think that that the image properties tab should be available in all modes, as they all concern images to some degree; for example, it could be handy in the UV process to quickly create and modify a test grid image.
Combining the UV and View modes you suggested would in effect accomplish this. but now we're kinda going in circles :-{

as a start, there's already been some UV tools design in this addon: T37975


I'm happy to help with the clean up of the image editor if you want to delegate some parts of the development, once there is a decision.

  • andrew

@Warren Bahler (russcript) The Mask tab and the UV tab in properties are the images tab, but change name according to the mode (and add options like UV Vertex). Sorry I didn't make that clear in the proposal. On the other hand, maybe it's not a good idea to change the name.

@Diego Gangl (januz) - I get it now, guess we'll have to wait until the UI team has time to review this to reach a definite conclusion, they must be pretty busy with the 2.7 release right now.

I like @Diego Gangl (januz) 's approach too. Adding an image would be supported on UV mode as well by the New/Open buttons instead of having a menu item entry of the image menu.

Any updates here? We should solve this for 2.70.


  • Scopes sidebar should be renamed to "Tool Shelf", consistent with other editors.
  • Then we can start reorganizing the panels. I would go with what we have now, rather than adding new modes. We could still refine this for 2.71 imo then.

For current set I pretty much agree with what @Sebastian Koenig (sebastian_k) proposed.

I've made some mockups, but I still need to finish a few sections (Masking most notably).


  • Scopes
  • Grease Pencil


  • UV Tools
  • UV Sculpt
  • Scopes
  • Grease Pencil


  • Paint Tools
  • Texture Settings
  • Brush Settings
  • Scopes
  • Grease Pencil

Working on it still

I'd like to see this one done for 2.70 as well (sorry for not chiming in earlier). And I also think that @Sebastian Koenig (sebastian_k)'s proposal is the best

@Diego Gangl (januz) your's looks pretty good, but I think it's being split up too much. For example, why split color palette and the brushes into two tabs? Anyone using the palette is going to want easy and constant access to their stored colors. Same thing for UV Tools and UV Sculpt. They're both sets of tools for actively modifying and working with your UVs. I don't think they should be split up.

Okay decision has been made via consensus during weekly dev meeting. Check OP.

I am going to implement it asap.

I'm not @Diego Gangl (januz) but I favor splitting UVSculpt too.

UVSculpt doesn't really work with the other UV tools; you can't say, select verts and align with UVSculpt activated, because your cursor is a brush and can't make selections. It's basically why it has its own grab brush--otherwise users would have to enable/disable UVSculpt to grab and move verts. Almost every tool listed on this mockup is disabled in some fashion when UVSculpt is enabled because they operate on selections:

So for that reason, I think putting it in it's own tab simplifies UI complexity a great deal. Tab into UVSculpt all the listed settings work. Tab back to UV Tools, all those settings work.

Oh, oops, already consensus when I was typing. I should have refreshed first.

@xrg (xrg), will go with the single tab for now, but we can always revisit it if the UV Sculpt really proves to need it's own tab. I think it's better to start with fewer tabs and then add more if needed, rather than to start with more and then remove.

Will we leave those discussion pages for after 2.70 or should we add new ones? I think there's some points here that are worth revisiting.

@Jonathan Williamson (carter2422), the reason for splitting the color palette in it's own tab was that the palette can grow in rows and become quite long if you imported a 100 color palette (for example). The user would most likely pick a brush, and then work with different colors. But if they needed both, they could pin one of the tabs.

Just want to chime in real quick and give my support for not splitting UV and UV sculpt tools up.
It's bad enough that we cant work in full screen when doing UVs currently without adding multiple tabs for one job into the mix too. :)

@Andy Davies (metalliandy) The actual use-case of UVSculpt is similar to something like the Liquify Filter in Photoshop. It's used for editing UVs like the other tools, but it is its own mode, with its own set of tools and functionality, completely independent of other tools.

You can't say, use the Pinch Brush in UVSculpt and then Weld without leaving UVSculpt mode first. Since they're not really compatible with each other the various settings between the two are just clutter the end user has to micromanage while working. Since there isn't any reason to show Weld (or any of the other UV Tools) when you're using the Pinch Brush: splitting UVSculpt off into its own tab, conveniently keeps the workspace clean for the user, and the only difference is they click a tab rather than a checkbox to enable/disable it.

I was thinking that separation of UV tools from Image tools might be a good idea but image tools are still really basic and few to warrant a whole mode of their own.

About the UV sculpt controversy, I don't think this really needs a dedicated tab at all, just hide unnecessary panels when UV sculpting is active. We might choose to have a dedicated UV sculpt mode for consistency with 3D viewport, but this might be a bit overkill. Current workflow with Q key is faster and UV sculpting is not that involved to warrant its own mode either.

@xrg (xrg), Yes, I understand what the UV sculpt is for :) My point is that it is UV tool and people will want to keep all UV tools together for consistency. At least I do. :P

I have spent years tying to optimise my workflow regarding UV and generally I want the UV tools, image size, display options, the normalised check box and the UV grid stuff together. moving all these tools around would cause havoc to my workflow.

There is no point changing stuff for the sake of changing. The UV/Image editor is hardly cluttered anyway.

@Andy Davies (metalliandy) I'm moving things for better workflow efficiency, not for the sake of changing. Everything you need I grouped on my mockups so they can be accessed at the same time with less hassle.

Tool Shelf (UV Tools)

Properties (Image size; Display; Normalized checkbox; UVGrid)

Since UVSculpt tools do not work with the other UVTools, I opt to bump them to another tab to keep the workspace tidy in both situations. If we're going to just lump all the tools together ad-hoc without regard to how they're accessed and used, the tabs themselves aren't going to be very effective.

Anyway, the decision has already been made; moving on.

Committed some changes here. These do not include the full set of UV tools, which should be discussed, but mask tools and paint tools should be more predictable now. Paint tools are not too different from 3D viewport. the only thing which is different is the lack of an 'options' tab. This can be refined later, when we revamp the 3D paint tabs. Mask tools are similar to the clip editor.

Are we done for 2.70? If so, we can remove the "Blender 2.70" project here.

Sergey Sharybin (sergey) changed the task status from Unknown Status to Resolved.Feb 21 2014, 6:19 PM
Sergey Sharybin (sergey) claimed this task.

No need to remove the project. Simply close it as resolved.