Proportional Editing Tool

Relevant to Blender v2.37

by Kenneth Styrberg

When working with dense meshes, it can become difficult to make subtle adjustments to the vertices without causing nasty lumps and creases in the model's surface. When you face situations like these, use the proportional editing tool. It acts like a magnet to smoothly deform the surface of the model, without creating lumps and creases.

In a top-down view, add a plane mesh to the scene with SPACE>>Add>>Mesh>>Plane. Subdivide it a few times with WKEY>>Subdivide (or by clicking on the Subdivide button in the Editing Context Mesh Tools Panel) to get a relatively dense mesh (Figure 7.31, “A planar dense mesh.”). Or, add a grid directly via SPACE>>Add>>Mesh>>Grid, specifying the number of vertices in each direction. When you are finished, deselect all vertices with AKEY.

Figure 7.31. A planar dense mesh.

A planar dense mesh.

Select a single vertex in the mesh by clicking it with RMB (Figure 7.32, “A planar dense mesh with just one selected vertex.”).

Figure 7.32. A planar dense mesh with just one selected vertex.

A planar dense mesh with just one selected vertex.

While still in EditMode, activate the proportional editing tool by pressing OKEY or by using the toolbar icon and select either On or Connected. (Figure 7.33, “Proportional Editing icon”). When proportional editing is active the icon will have an orange color.

Figure 7.33. Proportional Editing icon

Proportional Editing icon

Change the curve profile used by either using the Mesh>>Proportional Falloff submenu, using the toolbar icon Figure 7.34, “Falloff Menu.” or by pressing SHIFT-O to toggle between the options Constant, Linear, Sharp, Root, Sphere and Smooth. (Figure 7.35, “Constant - No Falloff.” Figure 7.36, “Linear Falloff.” Figure 7.37, “Sharp Falloff.” Figure 7.38, “Root Falloff.” Figure 7.39, “Sphere Falloff.” Figure 7.40, “Smooth Falloff.”)

Figure 7.34. Falloff Menu.

Falloff Menu.

Figure 7.35. Constant - No Falloff.

Constant - No Falloff.

Figure 7.36. Linear Falloff.

Linear Falloff.

Figure 7.37. Sharp Falloff.

Sharp Falloff.

Figure 7.38. Root Falloff.

Root Falloff.

Figure 7.39. Sphere Falloff.

Sphere Falloff.

Figure 7.40. Smooth Falloff.

Smooth Falloff.

Switch to a front view (NUM 1) and activate the grab tool with GKEY. As you drag the point upwards, notice how nearby vertices are dragged along with it.

When you are satisfied with the placement, press LMB to fix the position. If you are not satisfied, nullify the operation and revert your mesh to the way it looked before with RMB or ESC key.

While you are editing you can increase or decrease the radius of influence (shown by the dark grey circle in Figure 7.41, “Influence circle.”) by pressing NUM+ and NUM- respectively. As you change the radius, the points surrounding your selection will adjust their positions accordingly. You can also use MW to enlarge or shrink the influence radius.

Figure 7.41. Influence circle.

Influence circle.

You can use the proportional editing tool to produce great effects with the scaling (SKEY) and rotation (RKEY) tools, as Figure 7.42, “A landscape obtained via Proportional Editing” shows.

Figure 7.42. A landscape obtained via Proportional Editing

A landscape obtained via Proportional Editing

Combine these techniques with vertex painting to create fantastic landscapes.

Figure 7.43, “Final rendered landscape” shows the results of proportional editing after the application of textures and lighting.

Figure 7.43. Final rendered landscape

Final rendered landscape