In Softimage, there are many ways in which you can access commands and tools. Many of the tools that are available depend on the context in which you're working (such as the type of object you have selected or the type of view you're working in). This section describes the different ways in which you get commands and tools.
You can use the mouse for performing basic operations such as manipulating objects in a scene, choosing commands, and selecting options in dialog boxes and property editors. You must use a three-button mouse on all operating systems.
You can access most commands from menus on the main menu bar at the top of the interface, from the toolbars on the left of the interface or from the main menu bar, and from the menus on the main command panel.
Some pop-up menus are displayed by Alt+right-clicking (Ctrl+Alt+right-click on Linux) or just right-clicking on individual elements, such as geometric objects, cameras, and lights, in the 3D views, the explorer, and the schematic view, or from specific areas of the interface. These type of pop-up menus are called context menus because they provide commands that are applicable (in context) to the chosen object.
The exception is when you use the context menu in the explorer to mute/unmute deformations or activate/deactivate constraints. These commands act like toggles, and affect only the deformation or constraint under the pointer. A check mark in the menu indicates whether the node is currently muted or active.
As opposed to commands like Duplicate that have an immediate effect, tools are modes in which you interact with elements in the 3D views. For example, you can use the Transform tool to move objects around in 3D space. Shortcut keys are mapped to most of the tools used in Softimage, and pressing a key activates a specific tool. Once the key is pressed, the mouse pointer changes shape to identify the active tool. Any further actions you perform with the mouse are then related to that tool. For example, pressing the Z key activates the pan and zoom tool so that holding down the right mouse button zooms out of the scene, and holding down the middle mouse button zooms in.
You can activate a tool in this mode by quickly pressing and releasing its shortcut key. Once the tool is active, you can click and drag the mouse to use the tool. The tool remains active until you choose another tool. To deactivate the tool, simply activate a different one, or press Esc to activate the default tool. If Enable Sticky Key Toggle is active in your [ ], you can also press the tool's key a second time to activate the default tool.
You can activate a tool in supra, or temporary, mode by holding down its key while manipulating the mouse. When activated in this way, the tool temporarily overrides the current tool. As soon as you release the key, the previous tool is re-activated.
For example, you can press and release the T key to activate the Select Point tool in sticky mode. Select some points, then press and hold the O key while dragging the mouse to orbit the camera around the object in supra mode. As soon as you release the O key, Select Point is active again and you can select points on the other side of the object.
Follow these steps for an example of how to activate and work with the commonly used interaction tools such as selection, transformation (scale, rotate, and translate), and camera manipulation (pan and zoom, orbit, dolly). This example assumes you are using the Softimage interaction model.
By default, the Select icon (the large arrow button on the Select panel) is on and highlighted in green, indicating that you are now in selection mode. If the Select icon is not on, press the space bar to switch it on.
If you select an object that is part of a hierarchy, left-clicking selects only the object, middle-clicking selects all objects in its branch, and right-clicking selects the entire tree (in the 3D views only).
The s button in the Select panel is highlighted and the pointer changes to indicate that you are using the scale tool. When you release the X key, the scale tool is deactivated and you return to the previous tool (in this case, the selection tool).
Notice that when you release the mouse button you are still in zoom and pan mode. This is because the tool was activated as sticky: if you quickly press and release the key, the tool is activated and remains that way until you select another tool.
To activate another tool, press any key or choose a tool from the main command panel. For example, you can switch to selection mode by pressing the space bar or by clicking the selection button on the main command panel.
You can activate a number of tools from the main command panel. If the Select icon (large arrow) is highlighted, for example, you know that your mouse is mapped to the selection tool. If one of the SRT buttons is selected, you are in transformation mode, and so on.
You can repeat the last command in general, as well as repeat the last command from a specific menu button. For example, this lets you apply an operation to the selected object, then select a different object and apply the same operation again without digging through menus and submenus.
For example, select a grid and choose Modify Deform Randomize on the Model toolbar. Then, get a new grid using the Get Primitive menu, and middle-click on the Modify Deform menu button. A Randomize deformation is applied to the new grid, even though the last command overall was from the Get Primitive menu.
Note that middle-clicking to repeat a command does not work in the main menu. In addition, it does not work across toolbars — if you choose Get Primitive Null in the Model toolbar and then switch to the Animate toolbar, the Get Primitive menu button in the Animate toolbar does not remember the Null command.
You can tear off most menus in Softimage so that they stay in floating windows that you can move around the interface as you like. This is useful for when you have a few menus that you use sometimes, but don't want to always have to change toolbars or menus to access them. Or you want to hide the main command panel, for example, to gain viewing real estate, but still want to keep a menu from that panel available.
When you release the mouse button, the menu is loaded into a floating window that you can minimize, resize, and close. The torn-off menu stays available only for the current Softimage session; that is, it's not saved with your scene.