Tutorial: Blender Basics – Rendering in Cycles

 

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Welcome to the tenth tutorial of the Blender Basics tutorial series. In this tutorial we will be looking at the Cycles Rendering Engine in Blender.

Blender Reference Manual – https://docs.blender.org/manual/ja/dev/index.html

Blender Hotkeys Reference – https://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2.4/Reference/Hotkeys/All

Blender GPU Graphic Card Requirements – https://docs.blender.org/manual/ja/dev/render/cycles/gpu_rendering.html

Stone Texture – https://pixabay.com/en/stone-wall-texture-rock-old-1719722/

 

Render Settings

The Cycles renderer in Blender is a much more photorealistic renderer. We can change to the Cycles renderer by going to the Information Editor and, using the drop-down menu, change the renderer from Blender to Cycles.

One of the nice things about using Cycles is that we can use the GPU on our systems to accelerate the rendering process if we have the proper graphics card. (You can find out more about the required graphics card in the Blender manual – link is in the description.)

In order to change to using the GPU instead of the CPU go to the Render tab and under the Render section change the Device option to GPU Compute.

We also get a Sampling section when we use the Cycles Render. If we open the Sampling section under the Render tab we notice that we have two presets – Final and Preview. It is possible to add or subtract other presets by using the plus and minus buttons.

If we choose Preview notice that our Samples are set to 6 which is a very low-quality render. If we render this Cube we can see how quick the render is but how low-quality the render appears to be. We can change that number to 60 for example and re-render the Cube. Now we see that the render would be of a higher quality.

In the Cycles Render we also have a new section under the Render tab called Metadata. Metadata allows us to create a Stamp on the output. This would allow us to add a watermark or information such as the camera lens to the Render. Let’s place a checkmark next to Stamp Output and leave all the defaults. When we render the Cube we now notice that we have information about the render on the actual render itself.

The Light Paths section determines how light is calculated in the scene. We have three default settings but more settings can be added or subtracted using the plus and minus buttons.

Direct Light uses only the lights in-scene without any bounced lighting or indirect lighting. This is what we have been using throughout this entire course. Full Global Illumination and Limited Global Illumination add bounced lighting in the scene.

We also have options for Motion Blur, Performance, and Post Processing available under the Render options when we use the Cycles Render

Creating Basic Materials

Creating Materials in Cycles is similar to creating Materials in the Blender Render Engine.

Let’s select the Lamp and change it to a Hemi Lamp in the Lamp panel. Now let’s select the Cube and change our view to Rendered and open the Materials tab.

If we want to add a material all we need to do is click on the plus and the click on New. We can twirl open the Preview section to see a preview of what we create. Under the Surface section we can change the type of material by clicking on the dot to the right of the Surface option. We have multiple options but we are going to use the default Diffuse BSDF option. We can change the color of the material. In this case we will make this a blue. Once we select the Default Material and delete it using the minus button we now see our blue Material. We can also set the Roughness and the Normal. We will just leave those at the defaults.

Under the Setting section notice that we can change the Specular options just like we can in the Blender Render. However, notice that we also have a Viewport Color option. If we go back into Solid Mode notice that we cannot see the blue Material that we added. However, if we click on the Viewport Color and, using the eyedropper, change it to blue we can now see the blue Material while in Solid Mode.

We can also use the Node Editor to manipulate basic Materials just like we did in the Blender Render. Let’s split the Viewport into two horizontal areas. Let’s change the top area into the Node Editor and click on Use Nodes and change the bottom area to the Rendered Mode.

Let’s make this Cube look like glass. Click on Add and under the Shader options choose Glass and place the Node between the already existing Nodes. Notice that this new Node will automatically be connected to the other Nodes. If we now look at the Rendered view we can see that our Cube has now turned into a see-through object.

Image Maps

Let’s now look at Image Maps. Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Start-Up File. Don’t forget to change the Render Engine to Cycles.

Make sure the Cube is selected and then go into Rendered Mode. Let’s go to the Materials tab and add a solid blue Diffuse color to the Cube.

In order to add a Texture to this Cube we need to click on the circle to the right of the Color Bar and choose Image Texture. Now, under the Color options we select Open and choose the stone texture from Pixabay (link is in the description).

Split the Viewport into two vertical areas and change the right side area to the UV Image Editor. Click on the arrows next to “New” and choose the stone texture. Tab into Edit Mode and unwrap the Cube using the shortcut U and then Smart UV Project. Now we can see the stone image being applied as a Texture to the Cube.

This Texture is too large so we need to resize the Texture. Go into the Texture tab and under the Mapping section change the X, Y, and Z Scale to 4 to scale down the image Texture.

 

 

 

 

 

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Tutorial: Blender Basics – Character Rigging and Animation

 

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Welcome to the ninth tutorial of the Blender Basics tutorial series. In this tutorial we will be rigging our basic character in Blender.

Blender Reference Manual – https://docs.blender.org/manual/ja/dev/index.html

Blender Hotkeys Reference – https://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2.4/Reference/Hotkeys/All

Walk Cycle Poses – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Walk-cycle-poses.jpg

 

Rigging

The first thing we need to do in order to animate our character is to give him some bones. This is called rigging a character.

Let’s go into Front View (1 on the Numpad) and move the 3D Cursor to the bottom-center of the character by using the LMB. Go into the Right Side View (3 on the Numpad) and make sure the 3D Cursor is in the proper place.

Go back to Front View (1 on the Numpad).

We are going to use Rigify in order to make it easier to rig our character. Go to User Preferences > Addons > Rigging >Rigify. After you place a checkmark next to the addon make sure you Save User Preferences and then return to 3D View.

In order to add the armature to the character use the shortcut Shift + A > Armature > Human (Meta-Rig).

Use the S key to scale the Armature to the proper size. In order to see the Armature inside the character go to the Armature tab (skeleton icon) and check X-Ray under the Display section.

Tab into Edit Mode and in the Tool Shelf (if you do not see it use the T key to show it) under the Options tab check X-Axis Mirror which will act similar to a Mirror Modifier.

Use the MMB and scroll in to see the bones of the feet. Let’s use SHIFT + RMB to remove the Toe Bone, Heel Bone, and Control Bone by using X and Delete Bones.

Go back to Front View (1 on the Numpad). Right-Click on the bottom of the Lower-Leg Bone (where the foot Bones use to be) and, using the Manipulator, move it along the X-Axis to its proper place.

Reposition the Knees by right-clicking on the upper part of the Lower-Leg Bone and moving it along the Z-Axis and then the X-Axis.

Select the Hip Bone and move it down to the upper part of the leg and move it along the X-Axis if necessary.

Select the bottom Bone of the Spine and move it to the pelvic region.

Use the B-key (Box Select) and remove the Hand Bones and the Control Bones using the X key and Delete Bones.

Go back to Front View (1 on the Numpad). Select the Wrist Bone and move it into place and rotate the Bone (using the R key) as needed.

Select the Elbow Bone and move it into place.

Select the Shoulder Bone and move it to the shoulder area.

Select the Collar Bone and move it into place and make sure the Neck Bone is slightly overlapping the bottom of the head.

Go into Top View (7 on the Numpad) and straighten any Bones as necessary then go into Right View (3 on the Numpad) and straighten any Bones as needed.

Tab back into Object Mode so we can parent the character and the Armature.

Go back to Front View (1 on the Numpad) and right-click to select the character and then SHIFT + Right-click to select the Armature. Hit CTRL + P to bring up the Parent Menu and select With Automatic Weights.

To test our parenting, go into Pose Mode (CTRL + TAB) and select any Bone. Use the G-key to grab the bone and move it. If everything is working correctly use CTRL + Z to undo the move and reset the character to a T-Pose.

Tab back into Object Mode (CTRL + TAB) and hit the A key until everything is deselected.

Weight Painting

Now we need to make sure the Armature and mesh are working correctly together. To do this, we are going to need to use Weight Painting.

Select the Armature (you may need to right-click twice to select the Armature) and go into Pose Mode (CTRL + TAB).

Select the Shoulder Bone and using the R key rotate the arm. Select the character mesh and go into Weight Paint Mode (CTRL + TAB). We can fine-tune the deformations of the character rigging in Weight Paint Mode.

In the Tools Panel under the Options tab select X Mirror.

Select the Hand Bone and Rotate (R key) it to see if there is any changes that need to be made due to harsh interaction with the surrounding bones. We need to do the same for each bone on one side of the Armature. (Since we have the X Mirror selected any changes we make will be mirrored to the other side.)

If you find an area that needs to be changed go to the Tools tab and change the weight (0 to take away from the deformation and 1 to add to the deformation).

Using the A key, select all the Bones and then using ALT+R we can reset our character back to the original T-Pose.

Animation

Use CTRL+TAB  to tab back into Object Mode right click (twice) to select the Armature and then using CTRL+TAB tab back into Pose Mode. We are going to do a very simple four-stage walk cycle. Open up the Transform Tools panel (N) and place a checkmark next to Background Images. Click on Add Image to load the walk cycle image from Ajaykarat. (I have provided the walk cycle image link in the description.) After the image is loaded close the Transform Tools panel (N).

Go into Front View (1 on the Numpad) and rotate the Elbow and Upper Arm Bones to place the arms in a more natural pose.

Go into Left View (CTRL+3 on the Numpad).

Using the reference, rotate the legs Bones and arm Bones to match the rotation of the reference. (Right-click to select the Bone and left-click to lock in the rotation).

Use the A key to select all the Bones and using the Insert Keyframe menu (I) insert a Rotation Keyframe on frame 1.

Move ahead 10 frames and rotate the Bones. Once you have the rotation completed use the A key to select all the Bones and using the Insert Keyframe menu (I) insert a Rotation Keyframe on frame 10.

Move ahead another 10 frames (Frame 20) and rotate the Bones. Once you have the rotation completed use the A key to select all the Bones and using the Insert Keyframe menu (I) insert a Rotation Keyframe on frame 20.

Move ahead another 10 frames (Frame 30) and rotate the Bones. Once you have the rotation completed use the A key to select all the Bones and using the Insert Keyframe menu (I) insert a Rotation Keyframe on frame 30.

Change the End time of the animation to 30 and test out the animation.

This is a very simple walk cycle but it should help you on your way to making more refined and intricate animations.

 

 

 

 

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Tutorial: Blender Basics – Character Modeling

 

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Welcome to the eighth tutorial of the Blender Basics tutorial series. In this tutorial we will be using the skills we have thus acquired and model a basic character in Blender.

Blender Reference Manual – https://docs.blender.org/manual/ja/dev/index.html

Blender Hotkeys Reference – https://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2.4/Reference/Hotkeys/All

 

Let’s go into Orthographic View (5 on the Numpad) and then Front View (1 on the Numpad) to make it easier to model this character.

Make sure the Cube is selected and then Tab into Edit Mode. Using the shortcut for the Specials Menu (W), subdivide the Cube. Use the A key to deselect everything and then the Z key to go into Wireframe Mode. Now, use the B key for Box Select and select the left side of the Cube and then the X key and Delete Vertices.

Go back into Solid Mode (Z). We can now add a Mirror Modifier so we need to only model one side of the character. Select the Cube (A key) and open the Modifiers tab (wrench icon). Click on Add Modifier and choose Mirror.

Go into Top View (7 on the Numpad) and the Scale along the Y-Axis (S + Y) to make the Cube thinner and left-click to accept the changes. Go back into Front View (1 on the Numpad) and into Wireframe Mode (Z).

Deselect everything by using the A key. Use the B key for Box Select and choose the Vertices on the top-right of the Cube. Use the E key to Extrude along the X-Axis (about 1.5 Blender Units) and left-click to lock in the extrusion. Then extrude one more time (about 1 Blender Units) and left-click to lock in the extrusion. This has produced the arms of the character on both sides.

Deselect everything using the A key. Use the Box Select (B key) to select the bottom Vertices. Use the E key to Extrude along the Z-Axis (about 2 Blender Units) and then use the Manipulator to separate the two halves along the X-Axis. Extrude along the Z-Axis again (about 1.5 Blender Units) and adjust the angle along the X-Axis using the Manipulator. Extrude one more time along the Z-Axis (about 0.5 Blender Units) and adjust the angle along the X-Axis using the Manipulator.

Tab back into Object Mode. Go back to the Modifiers tab and click on Apply to apply the Mirror Modifier.

Tab back into Edit Mode and add a Cube (SHIFT+A > Cube). Move the Cube along the Z-Axis but allow it to overlap the body by about 10-percent. Go into Top View (7 on the Numpad) and the Scale along the Y-Axis (S + Y) to make the Cube thinner.

Go back into Front View (1 on the Numpad) and use the A key twice to select the head and body. In the Modifiers tab click on Add Modifier and choose Subdivision Surface. Change the View to 3 and the Render to 4 and now we have a smooth character.

Let’s give our character a material. Make sure the entire character is selected and go into the Materials tab. Let’s rename the default material to Ginger and give it a brown gingerbread color and change the Intensity of the Specularity to 0.005.

Let’s Tab back into Object Mode and select the Lamp. Go into Top View (7 on the Numpad) and move it to the front of the character. Then go back into Front View (1 on the Numpad), select the character, and Tab back into Edit Mode.

Now let’s add a texture to the character. Go to the Texture tab and choose Stucci for the Type. If we give this a quick render we notice that the character has a fuchsia color attached to it. We can easily change this under the Influence section. Click on the fuchsia color and make it black. When we render the character again we now have black replacing the fuchsia color.

Let’s add a bit of dimensionality to the character. Under the Influence section of the Texture tab click on Displace and change the value to 0.040. Click on Normal and change the value to 0.025. Let’s Render the character and see what it looks like now.  Now let’s go back up to the Stucci section and change the Size to 0.004 and Render the character.

We have our character modeled so let’s save this character so we can use him in the next tutorial. Go to File > Save and then give the file a name (i.e. Gus) and choose a folder and then save the .blend file.

 

 

 

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Witch’s Brew – Game Level Design

Witch’s Brew is a game that I am in the process of developing. It is intended to be a side scrolling, maze game. This is simply a prototype of a game level that I am using to further refine the game. This is not the final version of the level or the final version of the character.

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