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The Node Editor

This section explains the window in general, and its header menu options. It also tells you how to enable nodes for use within Blender.

Accessing The Node Editor

Select the Node Editor window.

First let's enter the node editor by changing our window type to Node Editor. As shown in Select the Node Editor window, click on the window type icon and select Node Editor from the popup list. Node maps can get quite large, so use or create a big window. The window has a graph-paper style background and a header.

Each scene within your blend file can have multiple Material Node maps and ONE Compositing Node map. The Node Editor window shows either type of map, depending on the selector position.

You might want to add a new window layout called 6-Nodes (the list is shown on the User Preferences header at the top of your screen) comprised mostly of one big Node Editor window. My layout has the buttons window at the bottom and a text editor window on the side for me to keep notes. If you have a widescreen display (or even a regular one), you might also want to add a 3D view or UV/Image Editor window to the left side of the Node window layout, so you can work with images or your model while you're manipulating nodes. Having the 3D Preview Render panel open on top of an object is quite useful if you're tweaking material nodes.

Node Editor.

By default, the header, when first displayed, is uninitialized as shown:

Default Node Editor header.

Activating Nodes

  • What nodes to use?
    • If you want to work with a material node map, click the ball in the Material/Compositing node set selector. (See Node Editor Header with Material Nodes enabled.)
    • If you want to work with a compositing node map, click the overlaped pictures on the Material/Compositing node set selector. (See Node Editor Header with Compositing Nodes enabled.)
    • If you want to work with a texture node map, click the checker on the Material/Compositing node set selector. (See Node Editor Header with Texture Nodes enabled.)
  • To actually activate nodes, click the Use Nodes button.
  • The first time that you select either a Material, Compositing or a Texture node map, the Node Editor window will be instantly filled with starter input and output compositing nodes already connected together.
Node Editor Header with Material Nodes enabled.
Node Editor Header with Compositing Nodes enabled.
Node Editor Header with Texture Nodes enabled.

Node Editor Window Actions

When the cursor is in the window, several standard Blender hotkeys and mouse actions are available, including:

Popup menu
Space - Brings up a main popup menu, allowing you to add, view, select, etc.
X or Del - Deletes the selected node(s).
Box select
B - Starts the bounding box selection process. Position your cursor and LMB Template-LMB.png click & drag to select a set of nodes.
Cut connections (lasso)
CtrlAltLMB Template-LMB.png click & drag - Starts a lasso selection, BUT when you let up the mouse button, all threads (connections) within the lasso are broken.
CtrlZ Very helpful if you forgot to press B before box-selecting, eh?
CtrlY or Ctrl⇧ ShiftZ - You can use this if you used "undo" a bit too often :)
Select multiple
⇧ ShiftLMB Template-LMB.png or ⇧ ShiftRMB Template-RMB.png - Multiple node select.
G - Moves your current selection around.
Standard Window Control
Node maps can get pretty hairy (large and complicated, that is). The contents of the window (the node map) can be panned just like any other Blender window by clicking MMB Template-MMB.png and dragging about. Wheeling Wheel Template-MW.png up/down or using the keypad
+ NumPad/- NumPad will zoom in/out. The window can be resized and combined using the standard window techniques (see Navigating in 3d Space).

Node Editor Header

At a glance

On the window header, you will see header options:

  • View - to see things more clearly;
  • Select - to do things more clearly;
  • Add - to walk add Nodes, organized by type;
  • Node - to do things with selected nodes, akin to vertices;
  • a Material, Compositing or Texture node set selector;
  • a Use Nodes button;
  • a Use Pinned button;
  • a Go to Parent button;
  • a Snap button;
  • a Snap Node Element selector;
  • a Copy Nodes button;
  • a Paste Nodes button.
Node Editor Header with Material Nodes enabled.
Node Editor Header with Compositing Nodes enabled.
Node Editor Header with Texture Nodes enabled.


View, Select and Add

These popup menus provide the basic functions:

This menu changes your view of the window, standing in for the standard keyboard shortcuts + NumPad (zoom in), - NumPad (zoom out), ↖ Home (zoom all) or equivalent mouse actions.
This menu allows you to select a node or groups of nodes, and does the same as typing the hotkey to select all A or start the border select B process.
This menu allows you to add nodes. Please see the next section for a discussion on the types of nodes that you can add, and what they do. Clicking this menu item is the same as pressing Space when the cursor is in the window


H - Hides your selected nodes. Just like vertices in a mesh.
Most importantly, this menu option allows you to create a user-defined group of nodes. This group can then be edited and added to the map. To create a group, select the nodes you want, and then NodeMake Group, or just use the keyboard shortcut CtrlG. Edit the name using the little input box in the group. Groups are easily identified by their green header and cool names you have picked for them.
X - Deletes selected nodes.
⇧ ShiftD - Makes an Unlinked copy, with the same settings as the original.
G - Moves the little nodes around according to your mouse, just like with meshes.
Duplicate - Faked you out
The new copy is placed exactly over the old one. But it isn't the connected one, so playing with the controls will do nothing to your images, even though it looks like it's connected with the little threads coming out of the node that is underneath. You have to move the duplicated node to reveal the connected node beneath it.

Grab - Reminder Only
Just like my mother-in-law, the menu item does not actually do anything; it's just there to remind you that you can press the G key when your cursor is in the window and actually accomplish something with your life (like rearranging nodes in the window).


Material/Composite/Texture Selector

Nodes are grouped into two categories, based on what they operate on:

Use Nodes Button

This button tells the render engine to use the node map in computing the material color or rendering the final image, or not. If not, the map is ignored and the basic render of the material tabs or scene is accomplished.

Use Pinned Button

This button tells the render engine to use pinned node tree.

Go to Parent Button

This button allows you go to parent node tree.

Snap Button

Toggle snap mode for node in the Node Editor window.

Snap Node Element selector
This selector provide the follow node elements for snap:
Grid (default)
Snap to grid of the Node Editor window.
Node X
Snap to left/right node border.
Node Y
Snap to top/bottom node border.
Node X/Y
Snap to any node border.
Snapping to node border takes into account snap target:
Snap Target.
Snap Target
Which part to snap onto the target
Closest: Snap closest point onto target.
Center: Snap center onto target.
Median: Snap median onto target.
Active: Snap active onto target.

Copy Nodes Button

This button allows you copy selected nodes to the clipboard.

Paste Nodes Button

This button allows you paste nodes from the clipboard to the active node tree.

Layout Nodes

Layout nodes are designed for enhanced arrangement your nodes in Node Editor window. They are available from menu Add -> Layout.

Examples of the Layout Nodes.

Blender provides the following layout nodes:

This node is used for simple join a several nodes in the single place.
It's intended for branching threads with the purpose of optimization of Node Editor window's space.
This node is applied for switching between color values. Available only for Compositing nodes.

Buttons for work with Compositing nodes

Buttons for work with Compositing nodes

Free Unused Button

This button frees up memory space when you have a very complex node map. Recommended.


Use the active viewer node output as a backdrop. When enabled, additional settings appear in the Header and the Properties Panel:

Backdrop Channels.
Backdrop Channels
Set the image to be displayed with Color, Color and Alpha, or just Alpha.

Options of Zoom and Offset of Backdrop.
Sets how big the backdrop image is.
Change the screen space position of the backdrop, or click the Move button, or shortcut AltMMB Template-MMB.png to manually move it.

Auto Render

Re-render and composite changed layer when edits to the 3d scene are made.

Perfomance for Compositing Nodes in Node Editor

Perfomance for Compositing Nodes in Node Editor
Set quality when rendering in Node Editor.
Set quality when editing in Node Editor
Max size of a title (smaller values give better distribution of multiple threads, but more overhead).
Enable GPU calculations when working in Node Editor.
Buffer Groups
Enable buffering of group nodes.
Two Pass
Use two pass execution during editing: first calculate fast nodes, second pass calculate all nodes.
Viewer Border
Use boundaries for viewer nodes and composite backdrop.
Highlight nodes that are being calculated.
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This is the old manual!
For the current 2.7x manual see

User Manual

World and Ambient Effects


World Background

Ambient Effects

Stars (2.69)

Game Engine


Introduction to the Game Engine
Game Logic Screen Layout


Logic Properties and States
The Logic Editor


Introduction to Sensors
Sensor Editing
Common Options
-Actuator Sensor
-Always Sensor
-Collision Sensor
-Delay Sensor
-Joystick Sensor
-Keyboard Sensor
-Message Sensor
-Mouse Sensor
-Near Sensor
-Property Sensor
-Radar Sensor
-Random Sensor
-Ray Sensor
-Touch Sensor


Controller Editing
-AND Controller
-OR Controller
-NAND Controller
-NOR Controller
-XOR Controller
-XNOR Controller
-Expression Controller
-Python Controller


Actuator Editing
Common Options
-2D Filters Actuator
-Action Actuator
-Camera Actuator
-Constraint Actuator
-Edit Object Actuator
-Game Actuator
-Message Actuator
-Motion Actuator
-Parent Actuator
-Property Actuator
-Random Actuator
-Scene Actuator
-Sound Actuator
-State Actuator
-Steering Actuator
-Visibility Actuator

Game Properties

Property Editing

Game States



Camera Editing
Stereo Camera
Dome Camera




Material Physics
No Collision Object
Static Object
Dynamic Object
Rigid Body Object
Soft Body Object
Vehicle Controller
Sensor Object
Occluder Object

Path Finding

Navigation Mesh Modifier

Game Performance

Framerate and Profile
Level of Detail

Python API

Bullet physics


Standalone Player
Licensing of Blender Game

Android Support

Android Game development