Page MenuHome

Viewport Manipulator Design
Closed, ResolvedPublicDESIGN


Currently in 2.8, we have this manipulator widget:

We want to re-design it to to improve these areas:

  • It should be less distracting
  • take up less constant space
  • We would like to be able to replace the XYZ angle indicator in the bottom left.

This is the design we've arrived at:

In the corner of the screen, users will see this:

On rollover, we reveal the sphere, like so:

Rolling over the buttons highlights it:

Side view:

Side View rollover:

Back View:

The viewport manipulator is designed to be able to replace the numpad for users who prefer a more visual interaction, and so it should cover the the same features. For this reason, we will also have a Perspective on/off toggle and a camera view toggle.


In Preferences, users will have three options:

  • Manipulator (Default)

This option makes it so you can fully use the widget for rotation and to jump to various views

  • Indicator

This option removes all interaction from the widget and makes it slightly simpler

  • Off

We show nothing


This gives some insight into our design process. We went through these alternatives before arriving at our final design:


Event Timeline

William Reynish (billreynish) lowered the priority of this task from 90 to Normal.Apr 19 2018, 12:43 PM
Dalai Felinto (dfelinto) changed the task status from Unknown Status to Resolved.Apr 23 2018, 1:19 PM

This part isn't clear to me:

We've decided for now to remove the Jump to Camera and Perspective toggles for now.

Switching to camera and turning on/off perspective can be done in this menu in top left:

  • There is no example of switching cameras / perspective (probably trivial, just noting there is no example of how it should look).
  • I'm not convinced it's a good idea to move perspective/ortho switching out of the manipulator.

    Accessing this from a menu isn't very convenient - nor discoverable in the sense it's not something you will quickly access when manipulating the view, so people will end up wanting to use the shortcut if we have this ability only available from a menu.

This raises the question - is it expected that people on laptops without a numpad can use this navigation manipulator instead?

That was my intention, with the new design this is no longer the case.

Committed tweaks: rB70bcb0c01c185dde6b73358561eb175bc5c3650d

  • Only show axis backdrop when hovering.
  • Move closer to the screen corner.
Brecht Van Lommel (brecht) changed the status of subtask T54986: Implement Viewport Manipulator Redesign from Unknown Status to Resolved.Oct 31 2018, 2:13 PM

I would like to point out a couple of minor issues with the current implementation:

As you can see, there are a few differences with the proposed design, namely:

  • Typography: the hand-crafted letters showing the axis name could/should follow more closely the font used in Blender
  • Anti-aliasing: I've been told that drawing smooth circles is hard, but I'm sure it's possible. Currently this is in stark contrast with all other areas of Blender's interface featuring curves.
  • Proportions: right now the circles are slightly too big to maintain good proportions with the axes (I imagine this is so that they are easier to select, but that can be a hidden hotspot around the actual circle). Can they be made smaller according to the proposed design?

I understand this is mainly "polish", but for such a prominent interface element enabled by default, I think it's worth it.

@Francesco Siddi (fsiddi): Yes, for some reason, it isn't anti-aliased here either. Campbell tells me it should be though, but it seems as if it doesn't work on hiDPI?

I'm on a non-hiDPI monitor here, and it still shows the issue. Do you agree with the other 2 points of the issue?
What is the protocol to handle this kind of feedback? Should the task be set as open again?

Yes I agree with you. The text is like that (afaik) because it doesn't use real fonts - it's just OpenGL lines. No idea how easy it would be to do it the nicer way. Not sure about correct protocol, we obviously have larger issues to tackle first. We could ask Campbell?

Hi @Campbell Barton (campbellbarton) do you have time to comment on and perhaps let us know when this could be worked on?

Brecht Van Lommel (brecht) changed the task status from Resolved to Unknown Status.Nov 1 2018, 4:25 PM

It may be a macOS specific issue with polygon smoothing, it's antialiased here on Linux. DPI is unlikely to have an influence.

I'll reopen the task.

I don't get antialiased circles either. Linux/AMD.

This should be made to work everywhere, since I can't redo am not sure how to handle this though.

Isn't this a more general issue? if we can't rely on GL_LINE_SMOOTH / GL_POLYGON_SMOOTH this will impact many areas, not just the view manipulator.

Does the transform tools gizmo also not draw with anti-aliased shapes? (shows with smoothing here)

Gizmos don't seem to be anti-aliased either.

Campbell Barton (campbellbarton) changed the task status from Unknown Status to Resolved.Nov 1 2018, 11:02 PM

Since this is a spesific OpenGL issue which seems like it's not isolated to gizmo's - opening T57570, rather handle replies there since it's not about the gizmo design and more a compatibility issue.,

psst, reply to T57570 :) seems all nvidia's support this and have done so since the feature was available.

I don't want to be repetitive, but there were two more topics in my initial post (typography and proportions).
Do you have time to look into this, or can it be placed on the task list?

@Campbell Barton (campbellbarton) , think this report has been closed too fast. There is definitely nothing resolved here -- aliasing is only one one of raised concerns. The rest of the points UI team agrees on, and is not addressed in any way.

The text is like that (afaik) because it doesn't use real fonts - it's just OpenGL lines. No idea how easy it would be to do it the nicer way.

This is super-easy to draw proper font.

Sergey Sharybin (sergey) changed the task status from Resolved to Unknown Status.Nov 2 2018, 10:16 AM
Campbell Barton (campbellbarton) changed the task status from Unknown Status to Resolved.Nov 5 2018, 12:49 AM

Committed tweaks to axis handle size & use font for XYZ axis see (rB287c023b8535ba42170d1c8ec56e4c258ff70ca5, rBc192ce6717d7c1da741d80671ffcc7ea02e664c8), closing.

Thank you Campbell, this is definitely an improvement.

@Francesco Siddi (fsiddi) np, and sorry for closing too quick!

For the eagle eyed users ...

  • While the code to center the characters over the circle is simple, at some UI scales there is subtle offset where it's not exactly centered. Even small errors are noticeable - somehow getting the boundbox of a character is not exacting.
  • The fonts aren't pixel aligned and are a little blurry, we could do this but then they would jitter relative to the circles, so ... those should be pixel too or it looks strange.

@Sergey Sharybin (sergey), if you want some super easy rainy day todo, feel free to look into these ;)

Not sure if this is where it needs to be suggested, but couldn't find a more appropriate task.

Could we get a button in the viewport to toggle between Turntable and Trackball orbit styles?

Right now, it's a hassle needing to open up preferences to do so, especially because it can't even be hotkeyed.

@KiJeon (0o00o0oo): I can't see why this should be a button in the viewport. We cannot, for obvious reasons, add every single preference inside the viewport, or it will become unmanageable and get in the way of your work.

Something like Trackball vs Turntable really is a preference, hence that's where it should be.

@William Reynish (billreynish) I see it akin to orthographic/perspective, it's a usability issue. I think this is especially true when sculpting, but I find even when modeling or animating, sometimes I want to turn the viewport a certain direction that Turntable doesn't allow me to, but it takes me out of my workflow to fire up the preferences window, find the option to toggle.

If nothing else, do you know if this switch will be hotkeyable in Blender 2.8 if we can't get a button for it?