GUI - Layout and Workflows

RealFlow comes with an default layout that is always applied while starting the application. This standard interface can be changed to your individual needs and then defined as a new start layout. The initial screen is almost the same for all operating systems. Only a few buttons, some system specific font faces and handles are slightly different. The layout itself is separated into several sections, containing everything you need for setting up a RealFlow scene, modifying objects, and accessing all of the software’s parameters and nodes. Of course, it is possible to rearrange these elements, add or remove windows, and save the layout. The individual parts of the GUI are explained in detail in the following chapters of this documentation.

To get you off to a good start, it is a good idea to classify the different parts:


Please click on the image for a full-screen view.


Window Tools

The top bar of each panel contains a couple of different symbols and icons, two on the left, three on the right. Windows and Linux users will recognize them immediately:



The first two symbols represent functions for changing a window’s content and different split views. The following three icons indicate functions for A) minimizing, B) maximizing and C) closing a window. In this context, “Maximizing” means in that the window is detached from the layout and available as a floating window.

RealFlow’s panels do not have a fixed assignment. Each window can be transformed easily into another one. For example, it is possible to convert a viewport window into a "Curve Editor", or a "Global Links" panel into a "Node Params" window. By clicking on the symbol on the far left, RealFlow opens a little menu, showing all of its available types. Active windows are displayed in grey, invisible ones are white.

The second icon on the left is used to create various arrangements of split windows. You can choose between “Split Vertical”, “Split Horizontal” and “Split Quad”. Of course, this option only makes sense with RealFlow’s viewport. Applying “Split Quad”, for example, to the "Nodes" panel creates three additional viewports.

Saving a Layout

RealFlow's standard layout already shows different elements for many tasks, but the software has much more to offer. When you take a look at the “Main Menu” under “Layout” you can see all of RealFlow's available panels and windows. These GUI elements can be considered the main functions, and they can be freely attached to or detached from the user interface. In contrast to the windows of the main group, the tools (e.g. “Fracture” or “Simulation Retime”) cannot be added to the user interface: these are separate modal windows and the underlying parts of the interface cannot be accessed as long as these panels are open.

RealFlow's interface elements are semi-magnetic: when you opened a new window from the “Layout” menu it is possible to move it over the entire interface with the white bar at the top. But, you can also drag the window with its title bar. With this action, you can move and drop the panel to any other place. During this process, RealFlow indicates where the window can be placed and how it will fit into the interface – horizontally or vertically. Once the window has been attached it can be scaled, for this purpose there is a slider. Simply position your mouse cursor between two windows to activate the drag mode – now it is possible to shift the borders. You can apply as many windows as your operating system can handle. Already attached windows can be repositioned with exactly the same method. If you have more than one monitor, it also possible to create multi-screen layouts.


Please bear in mind that layout files from previous RealFlow versions are not always compatible with the latest build, because older versions might lack some elements.


Once you are happy with the current positions and sizes of the windows, the layout can be saved to disk:

Layout > Save Layout

The default place for the layout files is located in RealFlow's program directory and specified under “Preferences”:

File/RealFlow > Preferences > Layout > Layouts folder

In the input field below you can also determine which file should serve as RealFlow's start-up layout. This GUI arrangement will automatically be loaded and applied with each start of RealFlow, but you can switch at any time to any other valid layout file:

Layout > Load Layout

With this command it is possible to load a layout file from any available source. Layout files from the default folder are added to a drop-down menu under:

Layout > Apply Layout

This way the different layouts can be instantly changed to your current requirements. RealFlow's layout files carry the “LAY” extension and can be opened and read with any ASCII-capable text editor.

When you change the order of RealFlow's shelves, add new shelves, rearrange the icon bars, or add new commands then it is not necessary to save these changes with a new layout file, because they will be stored automatically.