November 6, 2021 Linh Nguyen

How to move Camera in Blender

Viewport and Camera

When working in Blender, you can become confused about the difference between the viewport and a camera object. It’s understandable, since the viewport can be thought of as a virtual camera, and a camera object can be used as a viewport. Here’s what they are, and the differences between them:

  • The viewport is the main view that the user sees when they start Blender (see above image). The viewport isn’t an object; rather, it’s like a window that allows you to look around the scene that contains your model. It’s part of the Blender interface and is only there for the development and viewing of the model. It doesn’t serve any major purpose in rendering.

The camera is something that must be added to the scene, or created. It’s an object within the scene and is responsible for rendering the image. Specifically, anything it’s pointed at will be part of the rendered image. Camera objects, however, are not designed to be moved as easily as the viewport and, therefore, are not suitable for development purposes. If you want to learn how to navigate your model and aren’t interested in rendering an image from it, a camera object isn’t necessary.

Methods to move Camera

Method 1: Viewport Controls (Viewport Only)

Note: This method of navigating works only with the viewport. Use a different method if you’re looking to move a camera. There are three main motions that one would use in the viewport: zoom, orbit, and pan. Zoom moves the viewport closer or further from the center of the scene. Orbit rotates the view around the center of the scene. Pan moves the entire scene across the viewport in any direction. Here’s how to do each motion:

  • Zoom: Simply scroll the mouse wheel up or down while the cursor is over the viewport. Alternatively, you could hold down Ctrl and the mouse wheel button while moving your cursor up or down on the screen.
  • Orbit: Hold down the middle mouse button while moving your cursor around the viewport. Be sure to start holding down the middle mouse button while your cursor is inside the viewport.
  • Pan: Hold down Shift and the middle mouse button while moving your mouse across the viewport. Just like orbiting, panning requires that your cursor be inside the viewport before you hold down the keys.

If you don’t have a scroll wheel or scroll wheel button, see the Blender manual for instructions on emulating the scroll wheel, also called the third mouse button.

Method 2: Direct Controls (Camera Only)

Note: Direct controls only work with a camera object, so don’t try to use them for the viewport. Though not the preferred method of moving a camera, it’s still very useful.

After selecting your camera by left-clicking on it, you can either translate it or rotate it. Translating is the same as panning or zooming in the previous section. In other words, you can do both with the translate control. Rotating the camera tilts it in one direction, be it clockwise or counterclockwise, upward or downward, left or right.

  • Translate: Press ‘G’ while the camera’s selected. You can now move your mouse cursor to pan the camera.
  • To zoom, press Ctrl and the mouse wheel once simultaneously, and move the mouse to zoom in or out.
  • To pan, simply move the mouse around after pressing ‘G’.
  • If you only want to pan in one axis, press ‘X’, ‘Y’, or ‘Z’ on your keyboard to toggle axis locks.
  • Rotate: Press ‘R’ while the camera’s selected. Moving the mouse cursor rotates the view clockwise or counterclockwise.
  • To turn the camera left or right, press ‘Z’ and move the mouse cursor.

These movements are easier to make while in the camera view. If you want to align the camera to the current viewport view, you can do so by pressing Ctrl + Alt + 0 on the number pad.

Method 3: First-Person (Viewport or Camera)

This is perhaps the easiest way to move the camera or the viewport. The first-person view, known as Walk Navigation in Blender, allows you to “move around” using the mouse to rotate and the keyboard to “step” forward, backward, side to side, up, and down. These controls are similar to those in many video games.

Note that if you are using Blender 2.8 or later, the default shortcut to enter first-person view has changed from Shift + F to Shift + Grave key (that is, Shift + `). If you want to change it back, follow these simple steps:

  • Go into the preferences located on the “Edit” menu at the top left of the screen.
  • Select the “Keymap” section and on the name search, type “Fly”.
  • Click the default shortcut box.

If the speed at which the view moves isn’t to your liking, you can scroll the mouse wheel up to speed up or down to slow down the rate of motion. Once you are done looking around, or you have set your view to your desired position, press enter or left-click to exit the first person view. Your current viewport or camera view will be saved once you exit. It can then be moved using any of the other two methods. Now you know how to navigate your scene in Blender, whether it’s through a camera for a render or in the viewport so you can continue modeling at a new angle!

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Linh Nguyen

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