Different 3D editors (Blender, 2D Studio Max, Autocad etc) use different shortcuts for view point moving, rotation and zooming.

What is more common way to do that?

  • Be inside the environment and have the ability to fly? :)
    – rk.
    Apr 25, 2013 at 17:34

2 Answers 2


Approaching this question from the point of view of designing the navigation from scratch, you need to think how user create models and the common practices.

Animators/architects will be creating 3D models and they will demand a higher use of the views - as they will need to be constantly changing between views to assure the model is correct from every single angle. i.e. Imagine doing a nose, you need to constantly check the nose from all the angles to make sure it's not just a flat triangle. Modeling is about patience and it's very easy to get it wrong if you are not constantly checking all the views. With this user case in mind, the "space tab" is really convenient because the key is very large and the user doesn't have to think too much which key they need to press.

The zoom will also be very used feature for animators/architects, specially for 2D models software like Autocad. For this feature, most users will tend to prefer to use the scroll bar in their mouse but the "Z" is also one common key to use for this function. It recalls the name of the function but also is very accessible for the left hand.

For rotation as far as I am aware there isn't any specific key that I've seen a pattern. I've seen it in "J" and "K". Keys with proximity to the hand to allow the user to be fast.

One more thing I want to add is that some 3D programs use features like "relative snapping" where a Shift needs to be pressed along with the main feature key, i.e. "J+Shift". So if you need a complementary function the "Shift" is the key to use.


Navigation a 3D environment is a complex process that does not map easily to a mouse and keyboard interface. In 3D programs like you mentioned, experts have managed to make the process controllable, through the limited interface, by only manipulating one part of a 3D transformation at a time.

Even though each program has their own controls they usually provide 3 main operations.

  • Pan
  • Orbit
  • Zoom

Keyboard or mouse buttons simply control which operation is being interpreted from the current 2D mouse movement.

You could use any form of state selection (keyboard, radio, mode button) to control these operations.

Although other forms of 3D navigation exist, they all work by manipulating a small part of a 3D transformation using a limited axis control.

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