Tutorial: Blender Basics – Textures

Welcome to the third tutorial of the Blender Basics tutorial series. In this tutorial we will be looking at materials 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

Polka Dot Pattern – http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=118656&picture=polka-dot-pattern-background

Vintage Paper Pattern – http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=205466&picture=damast-vintage-tapeten-blau

 

Adding Textures

Textures can add realism to the materials used on objects in Blender. We are going to begin by adding a simple texture to help understand the process of texturing in Blender.

Make sure the Cube is selected and then open the Materials panel. Let’s change the Diffuse color to a light blue. This will gives us a solid color but if we want something richer we need to use a texture.

Let’s open the Textures panel (checkerboard icon). At the top of the panel we see that we have slots for multiple textures. For now we are going to stick with the default texture – Tex. Type allows us to choose the type of texture we want to apply. We have the choice of using anything from clouds to wood or even our own environment map or image or movie. Each one of these types has their own parameters and customizability.

Let’s choose Marble from the list. If we go into Rendered view we can see that the texture is already applied to our cube. The fuchsia color comes from the Influence section. This color can be changed if we wish but we will just leave it on the default. The texture is acting like an alpha channel. The fuchsia color is showing up where the white is located on the texture and the original blue color is showing up where the black is located on the texture.

If you notice under the Influence section, Color is checked. Influence by default affects the color. If we turn Color off, notice that the Texture is now hidden. If we turn the Color back on and change the influence to 0.500 the Texture is affecting the color but only at half-strength and if we change it to 1.000 the Texture is affecting the color at full-strength.

Emit affects the value of the shade and makes itself illuminate where it is white and keeps the standard color where it is black. If we check Emit and turn Color off this becomes evident. We can also affect Specular just like we have already seen earlier. Geometry can also be affected in this section. If we turn on Normal and Color and turn off the Emit, we now notice that the Texture becomes a normal map – creating bumps on the surface of the Cube.

Blend determines how the Texture blends with the original Diffuse color. We have multiple options with Mix being the default. If we are familiar with Photoshop or a similar program some of these options will be familiar.

If we go back to the Materials panel we will now notice that the Texture is being applied to our original Material.

Bitmaps

Now let’s look at how to use image maps as part of a texture.

Let’s go back into the Texture tab and remove the marble texture from the Cube. Now we do not have any textures on the Cube. Click on the second slot (below Tex) and hit the “New” button and change the Type to Image or Movie. In the Image section we need to click on “Open” and open up a bitmap. (I’m using a polka-dot pattern which can be found on Public Domain Pictures [link is in the description]).

The texture is now applied to the Cube but it is stretched. This is part of the problem of trying to wrap a 2D texture around a 3D object. What we need to do is map the 2D texture to the 3D model. This can be done under the Mapping section.

If we change the Coordinates to Object we can now see that the stretching has been fixed. We must realize though that depending upon the object, the Coordinates option may need to be set to UV or one of the other options.

UV Editor

Another way to texture an object is via the UV Editor.

Let’s delete the texture from the Cube by clicking on the “X” next to “Texture.” Click “New” and add a new Image or Movie Texture to the Cube. (I’m using a vintage paper pattern which can be found on Public Domain Pictures [link is in the description]).

Let’s split the screen into two vertical areas and change the right-hand-side to UV/Image Editor.

Make sure the Cube is selected and tab into Edit Mode (make sure you are in Orthographic Mode (5 on the Numpad)). We now need to make seams on the Cube so we can unwrap the Cube onto the UV map. Use the shortcut CTRL TAB and make sure we are in Edge Mode. We need to choose the top-front edge and the c-shaped edges on the two sides using SHIFT-RIGHT-CLICK. Once all seven edges are selected use the shortcut CTRL E to access the Edges menu and select Mark Seam.

Now, hit the A key twice to make sure that the Cube is selected. Now hit the U key and choose unwrap. If the unwrapping is crooked we can use the R key for rotation and the G key to move the UV and make sure it is straight. Click on the folder and open up the image.

Tab back into Object Mode and select the Lamp and change it to Hemi so we have better lighting. Now select the Cube and tab back into Edit Mode and then choose Rendered. We can now see that the Texture is mapped onto the Cube.

The pattern is pretty large and if we want a simple, quick way of making the pattern smaller we can make the actual UV of the Cube larger. If we hit the S key we can resize the UV and if we look at the Rendered Cube we can now see that the pattern is smaller.

Bump and Normal Maps

We can also make normal maps that will allow us to create the illusion of a rough surface.

Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Startup File. Make sure the Cube is selected and then go to the Materials tab and put a light brown Diffuse color on the Cube. Go to the Texture tab and choose the first slot in the Texture stack (Tex) and change the Type of Stucci. Now when we go into Rendered Mode we now see stripes going around the Cube.

Now let’s make a Normal Map out of this flat Stucci Texture. Under the Influence section turn on “Normal” under the Geometry section. We now see bumpy stripes going around the Cube in Rendered Mode.

Note that Normal Maps work best on objects that are high poly – meaning that they have a lot of geometry.

Displacement Maps

Normal Maps make the object appear to have a bumpy surface but they don’t actually change the surface of the object. If we want to actually change the surface of the object we need to use a Displacement Map.

Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Startup File. Make sure the Cube is selected and tab into Edit Mode. If we are going to use the Displacement Map we need to have enough geometry to make it work. Go to the Tool Panel and select Subdivide and change the Number of Cuts to 15.

Let’s go to the Materials tab and add a light-yellow Diffuse color to the Cube. Then, under the Texture tab let’s change the default Texture to Clouds. If we then go to the Influence section – under Geometry – we need to turn on the Displace option. Now, if we go into Rendered mode we can see how the Cube’s geometry has been changed.

Remember that Normal Maps is a surface effect which doesn’t change the actual geometry of the object. Displacement Maps however change the actual geometry of the object.

Node Editor

Another way to create textures for objects in Blender is to use the Node Editor.

Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Startup File. Let’s then split our view into two separate horizontal areas. Let’s change the top area into a Node Editor. What we want is to add a Texture to the Cube. So, we need to change to the Texture option (checkerboard pattern) and the check Use Nodes. We now see two nodes – one for texture and the other for the output.

These Nodes are actually connected to the Texture panel that we have been using. If we go to the Texture panel we notice that the same red and white checkboard pattern showing in the Nodes is listed there as well. If we go into Rendered view we see that the Texture is actually applied to the Cube via the Output Node.

We can also add Nodes and make changes to the Textures.

Let’s make the Checker Node is active by right-clicking on it and deleting it. Notice that our Cube is now dark because there is no Texture attached to the Output Node. If we click on Add and Textures you notice that we have the same Textures that we have already seen earlier. We also have Patterns available to us.

Let’s go ahead and choose Bricks from the Pattern menu. Now all we need to do is left-click and connect the Color output from the Bricks Node to the Color input in the Output Node. Notice that we can now see the Pattern on the Cube. We can change the colors of the bricks and mortar as well as the thickness of the mortar.

We can also do things like add a Texture to the Pattern. Let’s go to Add > Texture > Stucci. Now all we need to do is left-click and connect the Color output from the Stucci Node to the Color input in the Bricks Node. Notice that we can now see the Texture and the Pattern on the Cube.

So as you can see, there are a lot of possibilities here. You can certainly plug nodes into other nodes, so it’s a really great way to create highly custom textures and materials.

 

 

 

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Tutorial: Blender Basics – Materials

Welcome to the third tutorial of the Blender Basics tutorial series. In this tutorial we will be looking at materials 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

 

Assigning Materials

Once we’ve modeled an object we need to add some color and shading to it which we can do using Blender’s materials.

Let’s delete the Cube by using the shortcut X and Delete. Next, let’s add a UV Sphere to the scene (SHIFT A > Mesh > UV Sphere). Now let’s add a Cylinder to the scene (SHIFT A > Mesh > Cylinder). Move the Cylinder so we can see both meshes.

Right-Click on the UV Sphere to select it and then go to the Properties Panel and choose the Materials tab (sphere). (We can expand the Preview by dragging down on the bottom of the panel.) In order to add a material, click on the “New” button. Right now our material is named Material.001. It is always good practice to rename the materials using descriptive names. Double-click on the material name and change it to “Red” and hit the ENTER key.

We have four options for the material. Surface is what we will use ninety-five percent of the time. We can also apply the material as a wireframe, volume, or halo.

Below these options we have a Preview section. We can preview our material on a flat surface, a sphere, a cube, the monkey, or as strands or volume.

Below the Preview section we have multiple other options. Diffuse is the main color of the object. Specular refers to the highlights and we also have Shading and Transparency options. Mirror refers to reflecting. Subsurface Scattering is a translucent effect. Strands are for hairs and similar objects. We also have a number of other options such as mist.

In order to change the color to red click on the Color Picker under the Diffuse section. This will open up a color picker where we can pick a red color. Notice that we also have RGB, HSV, and Hex options. We also have an eye dropper so we can use it to choose a color that we already have as a material. Let’s just choose a red color for now.

*Note, your Color Picker may be circular. If you want to change your color picker to the square one like mine go to User Preferences > System > Color Picker Type (Square (HS + V)). Remember to save your settings.

Once we choose the red color we see that our UV Sphere turns red. As we tumble around inside the 3D Viewport notice that light is now reflecting off the UV Sphere.

Right now only the UV Sphere has a material applied to it. Let’s Right-Click on the Cylinder to select it and click the “New” button under the Materials tab. If you click on the drop-down menu beside “Material.001” you will notice that we can choose that same red color that we assigned to the UV Sphere. In this case however we are simply going to choose a new color.

Change the name of the material to “Blue” and then choose a blue color to be applied to the Cylinder.

Right now we only have one color assigned to each Mesh. It is possible however to add a secondary color to a Mesh. Let’s add a second color to the UV Sphere.

Right-Click on the UV Sphere to choose it. In order to add a second color to the stack, click on the plus to make another color slot. Then we need to click “New” and choose another color from the Color Picker. Let’s change the name of this material to “Yellow.”

In order to add this second color to the UV Sphere we need to tab into Edit mode. Using the shortcut A deselect everything. To make it easier to select faces make sure you are in Orthographic mode (5 on the Numpad) and in the Front view (1 on the Numpad). Use the MMB to zoom into the UV Sphere.

Using the shortcut CTRL TAB, go into Face mode and then use the Z key to enter Wireframe mode. Use the Box (or Border) select (B key) and select the bottom faces of the UV Sphere. Go back to Solid mode (Z). Choose the Yellow material in the Materials tab and then click on “Assign.” Notice that those faces that we had selected are now yellow.

Diffuse Shaders

We have two options that affect the material of the object. The Diffuse Shader provides the color and Specularity provides the highlights

By default we are using the Lambert Shader which gives us a basic diffuse color with darker color depending upon the lighting (which can be seen on the lower part of the UV Sphere).

If we change to the OrenNayar Shader we get an additional option – Roughness. If we have the Roughness set to 0.000 this shader acts just like the Lambert Shader. If we add a bit of Roughness – let’s say 0.500 – we notice in the Preview that the light is scattered a bit more over the UV Sphere. The higher the Roughness, the darker the Mesh will appear.

If we change to the Toon shader we basically get a two-tone shader. We get light areas and dark areas. Intensity affects the lighter parts of the Shader. Size changes the size covered by the lighter and darker areas. Smoothness changes the falloff of the lighter areas.

The Minnaert Shader gives us a kind of rim light affect. If we change the Darkness to 0.000 we really notice the rim light affect. This shader is quite handy if we are trying to get a rim light affect without adding multiple lights to the scene.

The Fresnel Shader bends the shading toward the edges. If we change the Fresnel effect to 1 and the Factor (which is a type of multiplication factor) to 2 notice that we now have a darker area where a lighter area use to be. It acts almost like an inverse shader.

The Intensity option – which is available across all of the shaders – affects the color. It acts similar to a color fader. The lower the Intensity, the darker the color will become on the Mesh.

Working with Specularity

Specularity shows the highlights or shininess of a surface.

Notice that there is a Color Picker under the Specular section. This means that we can change the color of the Specularity. Let’s click on the Color Picker and change the color to a bright red. Notice the highlight in the Preview is now a red color.

We also have a number of Specularity options and, just like the Diffuse option, we have an Intensity option available across all the Specular options.

Cook Torrance (CookTorr) is the default shader. This shader is useful for producing a plastic or shiny-type surface. The Hardness control essentially controls the soft edge between the center of the highlight and its falloff. The higher the Hardness, the harder the highlight becomes. If we change the Hardness to 300 we notice that the highlight becomes very hard – with very little falloff. Whereas if we change it to 10 we notice that the highlight is very soft with a lot of falloff.

Phong is very similar to Cook Torrance and it is used for glass. It is a bit softer than Cook Torrance. If we look at the Preview we can see that the highlight is softer with a Hardness of 10 than it was with the Cook Torrance and it is the same if we change the Hardness back to 300.

Blinn gives us an additional option – IOR (Index of Refraction) – which is another way of doing Hardness.  Let’s change the Hardness to 100 and the IOR to 10 you notice that we now get a tight highlight with a glassy type of surface. If we now change the Hardness to 30 and the IOR to 5 we get a dull shine on the surface.

Toon is very similar to Toon under the Diffuse option. The Size option controls the size of the highlight. For example, if we change the Size to 1, notice that the highlight now covers a larger area. If we change the Smooth option we can control the hardness or softness of the highlight. If we change the Smooth option to 0.5 we see that the highlight edge becomes softer.

The last option is Wardlso. We have a Slope control which is a cross between the Hardness control and the Index of Refraction. If we change the Slope to 0.400 we get a nice soft highlight but if we change it to 0.100 we get a hard highlight.

Additional Shading Options

Now let’s look at some shading parameters for our materials. Let’s collapse the Diffuse and Specular sections so we can focus on the Shading section.

The first option – Shadeless – takes off all the shading and makes the Mesh a solid-color object. If we check the box next to Shadless we see that the sphere in the Preview window is now a solid color and the highlight disappears. This is very useful if we want to make a light emitter and we need it to be a solid color.

Tangent Shading changes the way that the specular highlight works. Notice that with this option checked the highlight is stretched across the sphere. Cubic Interpolation changes the way the shading is interpreted depending upon how the light hits the object.

The Emit slider changes the amount of light that is emitted. If we set it to 0.5 we get a specular highlight which affects the Diffuse channel. If we change it to 0.1 we get something similar to ambient (or bounced) lighting.

The Ambient slider changes the ambient light that the object receives. This option depends upon the amount of ambient light in the scene.  Translucency makes the object look more solid or more translucent.

Creating Reflections

Tab back into Object Mode and add a Plane to the scene (SHIFT A) to act as a floor and then assign it a Diffuse color of purple. Make sure to move it below the UV Sphere and resize it (S 4). Let’s also select the Lamp in the Outliner and change it to a Hemi lamp. If we go into Material view we see that there are no reflections in the scene.

Let’s add reflections to the scene. Make sure that the Plane is selected and go to the Mirror section and check the box next to “Mirror.”

Change the Reflectivity to 0.500 and then go into Rendered Mode, we can now see a reflection of the UV Sphere onto the Plane. If we use the Color Picker and change the color to green we notice that the reflection is now tinted green.

The Fresnel Shader bends the shading toward the edges. If we change the Fresnel effect to 3.000 we see that the reflection is weaker in the center but still fairly crisp along the edges.  The Blend option controls how the Fresnel effect blends into the object. If we change the Blend to 3.000 the reflection disappears and if we change it back to 1.000 the reflection can be seen again.

Depth controls how many times an object or material reflects because you’re bouncing more light waves around. Max Distance controls how far the reflection will reach.

Gloss sets the glossiness of the object. If we change the Amount to 0.700 we notice that the reflection becomes blurred out. Samples changes how the reflection is shown – the lower the number the more round the reflection will look. Threshold changes the “brightness” of the reflection according to the amount of Samples we are using.

Ramp Shader

We can also use Ramps to add a gradation of both color and transparency to an object. Let’s turn off the Mirror option, change the Intensity under Specular to 0.000, and go back to the Diffuse section. This will give us a flat purple color on the Plane and in the Preview window.

If we check Ramp under the Diffuse section notice that we now have options for a gradient. Currently the gradient goes from black and transparent to white and opaque. The Factor controls how much the Ramp is applied. If we change the Factor to 0.000 we essentially turn the Ramp off but if we change it back to 1.000 we turn the Ramp back on.

We can easily make changes to the Ramp by clicking on either of the Color Stops and changing the color. For example, if we click on the right-hand (White) Color Stop and change the color to red we see in the Preview that what was once white is now red.

We can also add Color Stops by using the plus above the Colorband. We can then change the color of this new Color Stop and add a third color to the object. Click on the plus to add a new color stop. Let’s click on the center Color Stop and change the color to white. Notice that the Position is at 0.5 which makes the white mostly transparent. However, if we change the Position to 0.8 we see that if becomes more opaque and the red color stop has also changed. If we want to delete this Color Stop, click on the white Color Stop and then the minus above the Colorband.

We also have the same options for a Ramp under the Specular section. If we change the Intensity back to 1.000 and then change the color of the white Color Stop to a green color notice that the Specularity now goes from green in the center to transparent on the outer edges.

Transparency and Refractions

Let’s now look at Transparency and Refractions. Let’s start with a fresh scene (File > New > Reload Startup File).

Let’s go into Orthographic Mode (5 on the Numpad) and the Right Side view (3 on the Numpad). Let’s add two more Meshes – a Cylinder (with a red material) and a Cone (with a green material) and place them behind the Cube. Now, select the Cube and add a light blue material to it.

Transparency becomes very important when we want to create materials like glass or translucent plastic. Let’s change our point-of-view to the Front view (1 on the Numpad). We also need to change the Lamp to a Hemi lamp so we have enough light in the scene. If we change to the Material view we can see that there is no transparency which means we cannot see the two objects behind the Cube.

Let’s change the name of the material on the Cube to “Transparent.” Go to the Transparency section and put a checkmark in the box to access the options available under Transparency.

We have three options but the two we will focus on are Z Transparency and Ray Trace. Z Transparency is a simple, basic transparency which doesn’t include refractions or handling of lights. The Alpha option basically turns down the visibility of the object. An Alpha of 1.000 is opaque but if we change it to 0.200 we can now see in the Preview that the object becomes 20% transparent and we can now see the red Cylinder behind the Cube. If we tumble to the side of the Cube we can more clearly see how the Cube is now becoming transparent.

While it is true that we have transparency it obviously doesn’t look like glass. This is where the Fresnel effect comes in. The Fresnel effect pushes the effect toward the edges which keeps the transparency in the middle while fading off at the edges. Let’s go back into Front view and change the Fresnel to 3.000 and now we can clearly see the Cylinder behind the Cube. If we tumble to the side of the Cube we can more clearly see how the Cube has now become even more transparent – more like glass.

This works fine for some cases but if we want a more realistic effect we need to use Ray Trace. Let’s change from Z Transparency to Raytrace. If we use Ray Trace we get even more options made available to us. The most important option is IOR – Index of Refraction – which controls the lens effect.

If we change the IOR to 0.900 you can see in the Preview that the effect tend to push the refraction toward the center of the Sphere. The lower the IOR the more focused the refraction is in the center. Let’s change the IOR to 0.500 and now we notice a distinct difference between an IOR of 0.900 and 0.500.

Depth controls how many times an object or material reflects because you’re bouncing more light waves around. Gloss sets the glossiness of the object. If we change the Amount to 0.700 and look at the Rendered view we notice that the reflection becomes blurred out. Samples changes how the reflection is shown – the lower the number the more round the reflection will look. Threshold changes the “brightness” of the reflection according to the amount of Samples we are using.

 

 

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Tutorial: Blender Basics – Modeling

Welcome to the second tutorial of the Blender Basics tutorial series. In this tutorial we will be introducing modeling 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

 

Creating Mesh Primitives

A common object type used in a 3D scene is a mesh. Blender comes with a number of primitive mesh shapes.

When you start Blender by default, you get this Cube which is a primitive mesh. Now let’s learn how to add primitives to the scene. First, right-click on the Cube and delete it using the delete shortcut – the X key.

If we want to add a primitive to the scene, we can do it by using the Create Tab here in the Tool Bar where we have a number of Mesh objects that we can add. We can get this exact same menu by hitting Shift A on the screen.

*Note: Make sure your cursor is over the 3D Viewport Window when you hit SHIFT A.

There are 10 standard primitive shapes in Blender: Plane, Cube, Circle, UV Sphere, Ico Sphere, Cylinder, Cone, Torus, Grid, Monkey (who is called Suzanne)

In this case, we are just going to add in a Cube. If you scroll down to the bottom of the Tool Bar you will notice that you have various options for each mesh.

Editing Mesh Objects

The best and easiest way to start modeling in Blender is to simply start with a primitive mesh and then reshape it, add detail, and turn it into the model you want.

In order to edit any object, including primitives, we need to go into Edit Mode in Blender. By default we are in Object Mode, where we can select the actual objects in the scene. If we want to make changes to the cube we need to right-click on the Cube to select it (if it isn’t already selected) and then go into Edit Mode by using the TAB key.

Now let’s take a look at how to actually reshape and edit objects in Blender.

Let’s right-click on the cube to select it (if it isn’t already selected) and then delete it using the delete shortcut (X key). Now let’s add a simple sphere using the shortcut SHIFT A.

If we want to edit this sphere we need to right-click the sphere to select it (if it isn’t already selected) and then hit the TAB key to go into Edit Mode.

The easiest thing to do is just to select the single vertex and move it around. So if we want to make sure that we’re in Vertex Mode, we can hit CTRL TAB and select Vertex Mode. If we right-click on a vertex, you will see that a manipulator comes up and if we want to, we can move this manipulator which in turn moves the vertex. We can also select multiple vertices, so if we Shift Right-Click and select a couple vertices they still move along the normals.

There are also a couple of ways we can select multiple vertices. One way to do it is to use the Box (or Border) Tool via the shortcut of B LMB. You can also use the Circle Tool via the shortcut of C LMB. Another way to choose multiple vertices is using the Lasso Tool via the shortcut of CTRL LMB.

There is a potential problem with using these tools to select vertices. If you tumble around the back of the sphere you will notice that you haven’t selected the back-facing vertices. One way around this problem is to put the object into Wireframe Mode hitting the Z key and that toggles between shaded and wireframe. Another way around this problem is using the X-ray Mode. All you need to do is click on the Limited Selection button in the menu and you will then be able to see all the vertices.

We can do the same types of things with edges that we can with vertices. If we want to make sure that we’re in Edge Mode, we can hit CTRL TAB and select Edge Mode.

If I hold down the Shift key and ALT Right-Click, I can select multiple edges, so if we wanted to, we could manipulate these edges.

One thing that makes working in Edge Mode powerful is the ability to select Edge Loops. If we hit the ALT key and Right-Click, we actually select a whole ring of edges. It’s a very quick way of selecting multiple edges.

We can do the same types of things with faces that we can with vertices and edges. If we want to make sure that we’re in Face Mode, we can hit CTRL TAB and select Face Mode. In addition to scaling, rotating, and moving faces we can also Shrink/Fatten and Push/Pull.

Using ALT RMB, select a row of faces on the top of the UV Sphere. Then using SHIFT ALT select the remaining rows of faces on the top of the UV Sphere. When we get to the top of the UV Sphere we need to use the Circle Select (C LMB) to select the top faces. (RMB to lock in the selection)

In the Tool Bar click on the Shrink/Fatten button (under the Tools tab). When we move the mouse up and down you can shrink or fatten those rows. When we are satisfied with the modifications left-click and lock in the modifications.

Using ALT RMB, select a row of faces on the bottom of the UV Sphere. Then using SHIFT ALT select the remaining rows of faces on the bottom of the UV Sphere. When we get to the bottom of the UV Sphere we need to use the Circle Select (C LMB) to select the bottom faces. (RMB to lock in the selection)

In the Tool Bar click on the Push/Pull button (under the Tools tab). When we move the mouse up and down we can move each face in and out over its normal for those rows. When we are satisfied with the modifications left-click and lock in the modifications.

Two other hotkeys which are useful when modeling are the More and Less options. If you select a vertex, edge, or face you can easily select more or less based around your selection. For example, if we select a face on the sphere and hit CRTL NUMPAD PLUS we will expand the selection. If we then hit CTRL NUMPAD MINUS we will shrink the selection.

Proportional Editing

Proportional Editing allows us to edit more softly than simply selecting individual vertices, edges, or faces.

If we choose one vertex from the top of this sphere and begin moving it you will notice that I get a sharp edge without any sort of falloff. This is really an inefficient way of modeling. This is where Proportional Editing comes in.

We can turn Proportional Editing on and off either by using the button in the Widgets Strip or hitting the letter O.

Hit the letter O to turn on Proportional Editing. Then choose the top-most vertex and begin to move it. We can see how you now have a gradual falloff rather than a sharp edge.

We can also change the amount of area that we are affecting. Choose the top-most vertex and then the G key. We will notice a circle surrounding the cursor. Scrolling up and down with the Middle Mouse Button (MMB) (or using the Page Up and Page Down keys on the keyboard) will allow us to change the amount of area that we affect. Once we have the circle the size we want we just need to move the cursor. As we move the cursor we can continue to resize the area. Once we have finished the modification we just need to left-click to lock in the modification.

Sculpt Mode

Sculpt Mode in Blender is a way to do more organic modelling. In order to sculpt a bit more easily and take advantage of the sculpting tools it is best to have a dense model. In this demonstration we will be using a simple cube that has been subdivided multiple times.

Tab back into Object Mode and delete the UV Sphere using the X key. Using SHIFT A, add a Cube to the scene.

With the cube selected, hit TAB to go into Edit Mode. In the Tool Shelf choose Subdivide under the Add section then change the Number of Cuts (at the bottom of the panel) to 20. This will give a more dense mesh to sculpt on.

Now let’s change to Sculpt Mode. When we enter Sculpt Mode, notice that the cursor changes to a brush-based cursor. Now all we need to do is choose a face on the cube and left-click and drag. You will see that I am already sculpting. Now let’s undo that using CTRL Z and explore the sculpting tools.

At the top of this set of tools we have the various brushes that we can use in Sculpt Mode. The Radius is how we control the size of our brush. Using this option we can make our brush larger or smaller. If we hold down the F key we can also control the feather – or fall-off – of the brush by moving the mouse up and down. We also have options for Auto-smooth and Add and Subtract. Add means that we can pull out vertices whereas Subtract means we push the vertices in.

We also have a number of other options in Sculpt Mode. We can paint using a texture which is really handy for things like scales or even decorative items such as those found on buildings. We can choose a stroke method such as Space or Airbrush. Curve is basically affecting the feathering fall-off of the brush. Symmetry allows for the mirroring of the sculpting along any axis.

Extrusions

The Extrusion Tool is one of the most important tools used in any 3D modelling program. We can extrude faces, edges, or vertices.

Let’s go back to Object Mode.

First, let’s delete the standard Cube using the X key and then delete. Now let’s add a Cylinder using the shortcut SHIFT A > Mesh > Cylinder. Now we can begin extruding portions of the cylinder.

Let’s start by extruding a face. Make sure the Cylinder is selected and then hit the TAB key to go into Edit Mode. Once in Edit Mode hit CTRL TAB and go into Face Mode. Now, choose one face with the right-mouse-button (RMB).

In the Tool Shelf under the Add section you will notice two extrusion options – Extrude Region and Extrude Individual. If we only have a single face chosen, these two options work the same. So, if we choose Extrude Region and then move our mouse left and right you will notice that it extrudes that singular face. When you left-click you lock in that extrusion.

Let’s use CTRL Z to undo that extrusion and then the A key to deselect everything. When multiple faces, edges, or vertices are chosen Extrude Region and Extrude Individual work differently.

Let’s SHIFT Right-Click three separate faces . Now when we select Extrude Region you see that the extrusion operates the same way as it did with only a single face selected. Again, left-clicking will lock that extrusion in place.

Let’s use CTRL Z to undo that extrusion and this time select Extrude Individual. Notice that the three faces are now extruding individually along their Normals. Again, left-clicking will lock that extrusion in place.

Let’s use CTRL Z to undo that extrusion and the A key to deselect everything. Extruding also works on vertices. Hit CTRL TAB and go into Vertex Mode. Using SHIFT Right-Click choose three vertices on the Cylinder and choose Extrude Region. This will simply create an edge that connects to the object. Left-clicking will lock that extrusion in place.

Let’s use CTRL Z to undo that extrusion and this time select Extrude Individual. Notice that the three vertices are now extruding individually along their Normals. Again, left-clicking will lock that extrusion in place.

Let’s use CTRL Z to undo that extrusion and the A key to deselect everything. Extruding also works on edges. Hit CTRL TAB and go into Edge Mode. Using SHIFT Right-Click choose three edges on the Cylinder and choose Extrude Region. This will simply create planes that connect to the object. Left-clicking will lock that extrusion in place.

Let’s use CTRL Z to undo that extrusion and this time select Extrude Individual. Notice that there is no difference between this and Extrude Region. Again, left-clicking will lock that extrusion in place.

Let’s use CTRL Z to undo that extrusion and the A key to deselect everything. Now select the top-most Edge Loop by ALT Right-Clicking on a single edge and choose Extrude Region. This will allow us to create extra geometry at the top of the Cylinder. Left-clicking will lock that extrusion in place.

Smooth Shading

Let’s tab back into Object Mode and using the A key deselect all the objects. Place your 3D Cursor anywhere you want to add a mesh (by using the LMB). Then, using the shortcut SHIFT A > Mesh > UV Sphere, add a UV Sphere to the scene. If you look closely at the UV Sphere you will notice that it looks like a series of flat planes and doesn’t look smooth at all.

Let’s smooth the UV Sphere. Make sure you have the UV Sphere selected (Right-click) and then tab into Edit Mode. In the Tool Shelf click on the tab Shading/UVs to access the Shading options.

Using CTRL TAB, make sure you are in Face Select Mode. Using ALT RMB, select a row of faces on the top of the UV Sphere. Then using SHIFT ALT select the remaining rows of faces on the top of the UV Sphere. When we get to the top of the UV Sphere we need to use the Circle Select (C LMB) to select the top faces. RMB to lock in the selection then choose Smooth under the Faces section.

Using the A key, deselect the faces. As you tumble around (Middle Mouse Button – MMB) you can clearly see that the top-half of the UV Sphere is quite smooth compared to the lower-half.

Subdividing Meshes

Let’s tab back into Object Mode and using the A key deselect all the objects. Place your 3D Cursor anywhere you want to add a mesh. Then, using the shortcut SHIFT A > Mesh > Cube, add a Cube to the scene. If you look at the Cube you will notice that it has six flat faces. One way to add more detail to a Mesh is to subdivide it.

Let’s subdivide the Cube. Make sure you have the Cube selected (Right-click) and then tab into Edit Mode. In the Tool Shelf make sure to click on the Tools tab (if it isn’t already selected). Under the Add section click on Subdivide. Now we see options come up at the bottom of the Tool Shelf.

*Note: Once you click on the Mesh, the options at the bottom of the Tool Shelf disappear.

Notice that the Cube is already subdivided and we now have four faces on each side of the Cube. If we increase the number of cuts to two notice that we now have six faces on each side of the Cube. You can increase or decrease the number of cuts by using the arrows or clicking inside the field and typing in a number and hitting the TAB key.

We can also smooth out the edges by using the Smoothness option. If we change the Smoothness to 0.5 notice how the entire Cube is now looking more spherical.

Next we have the Quad Corner Type. We have the option of using Fan, Straight Cut, Path, or Inner Vertex. Fractal randomizes the vertices and Along Normal is used in conjunction with Fractal.

Subdividing Meshes is a great way to improve our modelling – for both organic and non-organic types of modelling.

Selecting Objects

We’ve already seen how to select an object by Right-clicking on it – be it a Mesh or simply a face, edge, or vertex. We can also select objects in the Outliner. If I wanted to select the Lamp for example, I would just click on Lamp in the Outliner and you will notice that now the Lamp is selected.

We can also select multiple objects by holding down the SHIFT key and Right-clicking. So, if we wanted to also select the Camera all we need to do is hold down out SHIFT key and Right-click on the Camera. You will notice that both objects are highlighted on the 3D Viewport and in the Outliner.

If we also select the Cube (SHIFT Right-Click), notice that the Cube is highlighted in a dark (and in this case a different) color. This shows us that the Cube was the last object selected.

*Note, in the default settings the selected objects would have an orange color.

To deselect an object we just need to hold down the SHIFT key and select the object. So let’s deselect the Cube and the Camera by SHIFT-Right-Clicking on each object.

A quick way to select everything in the scene is by using the A key and if you want to deselect everything in a scene you simply hit the A key again.

There are two other main ways of selecting objects in Blender – Box (or Border) Select and Circle Select.

Let’s tab back into Object Mode and add a UV Sphere to the scene by using the shortcut SHIFT A > Mesh > UV Sphere.

Use the A key to deselect everything. Once we hit the B key for Box (or Border) Select notice that we see crosshairs in the scene. All we need to do is left-click and drag over the UV Sphere to make a selection. If we hit the B key again and make another selection notice that the original selection remains selected.

Use the A key to deselect everything. If we hit the C key for Circle Select notice that we see a circular brush in the scene. All we need to do is left-click and drag over the UV Sphere to make a selection. Once the selection is made, simply hit the ESC key or right-click to lock in the selection. If we hit the C key again and make another selection notice that the original selection remains selected.

One nice thing about the Circle Select is that you can change the size of the Circle Select by either rolling the Middle Mouse Button (MMB) or using the Plus and Minus on the keypad. This allows for greater flexibility when making a selection.

Another handy selection tool is Inverse. If we hit CTRL I while we have some of the faces selected on the UV Sphere we will select all the other faces and deselect the original face selection.

Moving Objects

There are times when we need to move our objects around in 3D space. In order to do so we need to know about the axes in Blender. If we look in the lower-left corner of the 3D Viewport you will notice an icon which shows the axes. The Blue axis is the Z-Axis which is the vertical axis. The green axis is the Y-Axis and the red axis is the X-Axis.

The easiest way to move objects is with the Translate Manipulator.

Tab back into Object Mode and make sure the UV Sphere is selected (Right-click). If we want to quickly move the object along a specific axis we can constrain the object to a particular axis by using the Transform Gizmo. In order to move only along the X-Axis grab the red arrow and move the object. To move along the Y-Axis, grab the green arrow and move the object. Lastly, to move along the Z-Axis, grab the blue arrow and move the object.

Another way to move the UV Sphere along specific axes is to use the G key. If we want to move only along the X-Axis you simply hit the G key and then the X key and move the object. Notice that it is now constrained to the X-Axis. To move along the Y-Axis only hit the G key and then the Y key and move the object along the Y-Axis. To move along the Z-Axis only hit the G key and then the Z key and move the object along the Z-Axis.

Rotating Objects

There are also times when we need to rotate our objects. The easiest way to rotate objects is with the Rotate Manipulator. By using the Rotate Manipulator we can restrain the rotation to a specific axis. The red line constrains the rotation around the X-Axis. The green line constrains the rotation around the Y-Axis. The blue line constrains the rotation around the Z-Axis.

Another way to rotate the UV Sphere along specific axes is to use the R key. If we want to rotate only around the X-Axis you simply hit the R key and then the X key and rotate the object. Notice that it is now constrained to the X-Axis. To rotate along the Y-Axis only hit the R key and then the Y key and rotate the object around the Y-Axis. To rotate around the Z-Axis only hit the R key and then the Z key and rotate the object around the Z-Axis.

We can also rotate objects in degrees. All we need to do is hit the R key, then the axis (X, Y, or Z), then the number of degrees (for example, 90), and then the ENTER key.

Scaling Objects

There are also times when we need to scale our objects. The easiest way to scale objects is with the Scale Manipulator. By using the Scale Manipulator we can restrain the scale to a specific axis. The red line constrains the scale to the X-Axis. The green line constrains the scale of the Y-Axis. The blue line constrains the scale to the Z-Axis.

Another way to scale the UV Sphere along specific axes is to use the S key. If we want to scale only along the X-Axis you simply hit the S key and then the X key and scale the object. Notice that it is now constrained to the X-Axis. To scale along the Y-Axis only hit the S key and then the Y key and scale the object along the Y-Axis. To scale along the Z-Axis only hit the S key and then the Z key and scale the object along the Z-Axis.

We can also scale objects numerically. All we need to do is hit the S key, then the axis (X, Y, or Z), then the number (for example, 2), and then the ENTER key.

Using Snap

An easy option in order to move objects precisely in Blender is to use Snap.

First, let’s delete the UV Sphere and then add a Cube to the scene then making sure that the Cube is selected, and tab into Edit Mode.

The easiest way to Snap objects is to Snap to Grid. Choose the Snap option and move the Cube using the Translate Manipulator. Notice that the Cube snaps to the Grid.

We can also Snap faces, edges, and vertices. Use the shortcut CTRL TAB to go into Face Mode. Make sure Snap is activated and choose Face from the Snap Element list. Right-Click on the top face to choose it, and then pull it straight down along the Z-Axis. Notice that when you get close to the bottom face the top face snaps to it and it becomes a plane.

Now let’s undo that snapping procedure with CTRL Z. Use the shortcut CTRL TAB to go into Edge Mode. Make sure Snap is activated and choose Edge from the Snap Element list. Right-Click on front edge to choose it, and then pull it straight along the X-Axis. Notice that when you get close to the back edge the two edges snap together.

Now let’s undo that snapping procedure with CTRL Z. Use the shortcut CTRL TAB to go into Vertex Mode. Make sure Snap is activated and choose Vertex from the Snap Element list. Right-Click on top-front vertex to choose it, and then pull it straight along the X-Axis. Notice that when you get close to the back vertex the two vertices snap together.

Another option for snapping is to Snap an object to the 3D cursor. Use the LMB to place the 3D Cursor somewhere in the scene. Hit the A key to deselect everything and then hit the A key a second time to select the entire Cube. Use the shortcut SHIFT S and choose Selection to Cursor (Offset). This will move the entire Cube to the 3D cursor.

Modifiers

Modifiers, as opposed to the basic editing tools we’ve been using so far, are a lot more interactive. So let’s take a brief look at how modifiers help when modelling in Blender.

Tab back into Object Mode and delete the Meshes. Using SHIFT A, add a Cube to the scene.

Expand the Properties Panel so we can see all the tabs. Click on the tab with the little wrench to access the Object Modifiers tab. If we click on the Add Modifier button we will see a lot of Modifiers. Right now we will just look at how Modifiers work so let’s look at a simple modifier.

Make sure your Cube is selected and under Deform click on the Simple Deform modifier. Notice how the cube twists and deforms. Let’s look at the options that are common to all Modifiers.

The first thing we see is the name of the Modifier – in this case, Simple Deform. The first option with the camera icon turns the Modifier on and off in the Renderer. The second option with the eyeball icon turns the Modifier on and off in the 3D Viewport. The third modifier with the cube icon shows the Modifier when you are in Edit Mode. The last option with the triangle icon is used in Edit Mode to change the cage around the Modifier.

Hit the TAB key and go into Edit Mode. Notice there is a box around the cube. This is the cage. If we click the triangle icon we see that the cage now conforms to the deformed Cube mesh. Turn off the Cage option by clicking on the triangle and then hit TAB to return to Object Mode.

The two triangles next to the Cage icon move individual modifiers up and down in the stack and the “X” next to these triangles simply deletes the Modifier.

The Apply button applies the modifier to the Mesh. Once you have applied the modifier you cannot continue to make changes to it so only apply the modifier when you are done making changes to it. The Apply as Shape Key allows us to apply this Modifier as a Shape Key within the Shape Key stack. We will be going over Shape Keys in a later tutorial. We can also copy the modifier using the Copy button.

Now, let’s look at the options that are applicable to this Modifier.

We can see that we have different Modes available – Twist (the default), Bend, Taper, and Stretch. For now we will just leave the Twist Mode active. This Modifier has a Deform factor which is the angle at which the Mesh is deformed. The Limits option allows us to change where the twist starts and stops. We also have the option of locking the X-Axis or Y-Axis.

Let’s tab into Edit Mode and look at the other Modes available to us. Turn on the Cage option by clicking on the triangle icon. The Bend Mode allows us to bend the Mesh. The Taper Mode allows us to taper the Mesh. The Stretch Mode allows us to stretch and squash the Mesh.

Let’s say we want to have both a Twist and a Stretch on this Cube. We can easily do this by adding a second Simple Deform Modifier. We just go to the Add Modifier pull-down list and choose the Simple Deform Modifier. Now all we need to do is change the Mode of the top Modifier to Stretch.

Now we have two Modifiers affecting the Cube. If I wanted the Twist Mode to affect the Cube first all I need to do is switch the stacking order using the triangles.

Text

Now, let’s take a look at how to create text in Blender. Let’s start with a fresh file. Go to File > New > Reload Startup File.

We don’t need the Cube so right-click to select it (if it isn’t already selected) and then hit the X key and then Delete. Now we can add some Text using the short-cut Shift A > Text. Since we want to edit this Text, tab into Edit Mode.

If we tumble around for a better view we can see that a cursor is place at the end of the word. All we need to do is hit the Backspace key and type whatever we wish.

Let’s expand the Properties Panel and click on the icon that looks like an “F.” This will bring up the options for our text.

Resolution is how Blender will treat the U Direction of the text. The U Direction refers to control points for NURBS surfaces – which are similar to Edge Loops for Meshes. Fill determines the way a Curve is filled in when it is extruded and/or beveled. Under the Display option you will see an option for Fast Editing. When this box is checked Blender does not fill polygons while editing text.

Texturing is used for adding a texture to the Text. Geometry Modification allows for altering the space between the letters – in other words, it thickens or thins the letters. Let’s change the Offset to 0.015 and hit ENTER and we can see how the letters become thicker. We can also extrude the letters. If we change the Extrude to 0.05 and hit ENTER and then tumble our view we can see that we’ve added thickness to the letters. The Bevel option changes the size and resolution of the bevel. Let’s change the Depth to 0.015 and we can now see a slight bevel on the letters. Taper Object allows us to make a letter get thinner toward one end and Bevel Object allows us to give a letter a custom bevel.

We can also change the Font. In order to do this you will need to know where the Fonts are located on your machine. For PCs the Fonts are located in the Windows folder under Fonts (C:Windows/Fonts). For Macs the Fonts are located in the Library folder under Fonts (~/Library/Fonts/). For Linux the Fonts are located in the Library folder under Fonts (usr/lib/fonts).

In order to change the Font click on the Folder icon to the right of the Regular, Bold, Italic, and/or Bold & Italic options. Then, locate the Fonts folder, choose the Font and then click Open Font.

We also have the option to change the size of the Text or Shear the Text. We can use an Object Font which permits us to essentially make our own Font within Blender and we can place Text on a Curve. We can use Bold, Italic, Underline, and Small Caps to change the look of the Text.

The Paragraph section allows us to change the Horizontal and Vertical Alignment of the Text as well as the Spacing and Offset. The Text Boxes section allows us to distribute the text amongst rectangular areas within a single text object.

Booleans

Now, let’s take a look at how to use Booleans in Blender. Let’s start with a fresh file. Go to File > New > Reload Startup File.

Go into Orthographic Mode – 5 on the NumPad – and then go into Front View using the number 1 on the NumPad. Now we need to add another Mesh using the shortcut SHIFT A and adding a Cylinder. Use the red arrow to move the Cylinder along the X-Axis so it sits beside the Cube. Now SHIFT Right-Click to select the Cube along with the Cylinder. Now hit SHIFT D and ENTER to duplicate both Meshes and then move them to the side using the red arrow. Repeat this process one more time so we have three Cubes and three Cylinders.

The Boolean Modifier is used to cut away or add to another Mesh. Select the first Cylinder and move it so it intersects with the first Cube. Select the Cube and go to the Modifiers Panel and add a Boolean Modifier. In order for this to work we need to select the Object to be the effecter – in this case, the Cylinder. Under Object choose Cylinder. Now if we go into Wireframe Mode (Z) we can see that the Cylinder has intersected with the Cube. Now hit the A key to deselect everything.

Select the second Cylinder and move it so it intersects the second Cube. Select the second Cube and add a Boolean Modifier. This time we are going to change the Operation to Union and select Cylinder 001 under Object. Now we see that the Cube and the Cylinder have joined to form one Mesh. Now hit the A key to deselect everything.

Select the third Cylinder and move it above the third Cube. Using the shortcut S resize the Cylinder so it is about half the size. Now move the Cylinder so it intersects with the top of the third Cube. Select the third Cube and add a Boolean Modifier. This time we are going to change the Operation to Difference and select Cylinder 002 under Object. Once we hit Apply and move the Cylinder we can now see a hole cut out of the Cube.

 

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