Tutorial: Blender Basics – Introduction and Interface

  

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Welcome to the first tutorial of the Blender Basics tutorial series. In this tutorial we will be introducing Blender and taking a look at Blender’s interface.

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

 

What is Blender?

Blender is the free and open source 3D creation suite. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline—modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, even video editing and game creation. Advanced users employ Blender’s API for Python scripting to customize the application and write specialized tools; often these are included in Blender’s future releases. Blender is well suited to individuals and small studios who benefit from its unified pipeline and responsive development process.

-About: https://www.blender.org/about/

Where can I download Blender?

You can download Blender for free at blender.org.

As of the time of this recording Blender 2.78c is the latest stable release from the Blender Foundation. To download it, go to the download page at blender.org and select your platform and location. I would recommend using the Installer option. Once you download the file you run the downloaded Installer just like any other executable file.

Can I use Blender on a laptop?

You can use Blender on a laptop however there are a couple of things that you will need in order to easily use Blender.

First, you will need a mouse. Using a trackpad in Blender can be very tricky and not very comfortable. It is recommended that you purchase a mouse to use instead of the trackpad.

Second, you will need to make a change to the User Preferences if you do not have access to a Number Pad. Simply go to Users Preference and open the Input Tab. Under the Input Tab place a checkmark next to “Emulate Numpad.” This will permit laptop users to use the numbers at the top of the keyboard in lieu of a numpad. Don’t forget to “Save User Settings.”

Helpful Addons

There are some useful addons that I would recommend you activate for future use.

Click on the Add-ons tab…

Import-Export: FBX Format – Allows for FBX meshes, vertex colors, materials, textures, cameras, lamps, and actions

Import-Export: Import Images as Planes – Imports images and creates planes with appropriate aspect ratios

Import-Export: UV Layout – Export the UV layout as a 2D graphic

Import-Export: Wavefront OBJ Format – Allows for importing and exporting OBJ meshes, uvs, materials, and textures

Don’t forget to “Save User Settings.”

Blender Interface

When starting Blender, the splash screen appears in the center of the window. It contains help options under links and the recently opened blend-files.

To close the Splash Screen and start a new project, click anywhere outside the splash screen (but inside the Blender Window) or press ESC. The splash screen will disappear revealing the default screen.

*Note: Your Blender interface will appear gray since I have a theme applied to my interface.

To reopen the Splash Screen select Help > Splash Screen.

After starting Blender and closing the Splash Screen your Blender window should look something similar to this. Blender’s user interface is consistent across all platforms.

The Default Screen

By default Blender starts up showing the default screen, which is separated into five areas containing the:

  1. Information Editor
  2. 3D viewport
  3. Outliner
  4. Properties Editor
  5. Timeline

Screens

Screens are essentially pre-defined window layouts. Blender’s flexibility with areas lets you create customized working environments for different tasks such as modeling, animating, and scripting. It is often useful to quickly switch between different environments within the same file.

Default Screens

3D View Full: A full screen 3D View, used to preview your scene.

Animation: Making actors and other objects move about, change shape or color, etc.

Compositing: Combining different parts of a scene (e.g. background, actors, special effects) and filters (e.g. color correction).

Default: The default layout used by Blender for new files. It is useful for modeling new objects.

Game Logic: Planning and programming of games within Blender.

Motion Tracking: Used for motion tracking with the movie clip editor.

Scripting: Documenting your work and/or writing custom scripts to automate Blender.

UV Editing: Flattening a projection of an object mesh in 2D to control how a texture maps to the surface.

Video Editing: Cutting and editing of animation sequences.

Areas

The application window is always a rectangle on your desktop. It is divided up into a number of re-sizable areas. An area contains the workspace for a particular type of editor, like a 3D View Editor, or an Outliner.

Arranging

Blender uses a novel screen-splitting approach to arrange areas. The idea is that you split up the application window into any number of smaller non-overlapping areas. That way, each area is always fully visible, and it is very easy to work in one area and move over to work in another.

Changing the Size

You can resize areas by dragging their borders with the left mouse button (LMB). Simply move your mouse cursor over the border between two areas, until it changes to a double-headed arrow, and then click and drag.

Splitting and Joining

Area Split Widget

In the upper right and lower left corners of an area are the area split widgets, and they look like a little ridged thumb grip. It both splits and combines areas. When you hover over it, your cursor will change to a plus symbol (+).

Use the left mouse button (LMB) and drag it inward to split the area. You define the direction of that border by either dragging horizontally or vertically.

In order to join two areas, use the left mouse button (LMB), and click and drag the area splitter outward.

The area that will be closed gets a dark overlay with an arrow. Now you can select the area to be closed by moving the mouse over it.

Release the left mouse button (LMB) to complete the join. If you press ESC before releasing the mouse, the operation will be aborted.

The Properties Editor is being merged “over” the Outliner.

Tool Shelf

To open and close the Mesh Tools panel, use the T key. Most of these tools are also available as shortcuts (displayed in the Tooltips for each tool) and/or in the Specials menu (accessed with the W key), the Edge menu (accessed with CTRL E), and Face menu (accessed with CTRL F). The properties of each tool are displayed in the operator panel at the bottom of the Tool Shelf.

Even more mesh editing tools can be enabled in the User Preferences > Add-ons.

Properties Region

To open and close the Properties Region panel, use the N key.

In the Properties Region Panel, the panels directly related to mesh editing is the Transform panel, where numeric values can be entered for location, rotation, scale, and dimensions. We also have access to the Grease Pencil which allows you to write notes or draw in the 3D Viewport.

Rendering Engines

Blender has two options for rendering engines: Blender Render and Cycles. For the most part we will be using Blender Render for this video series but I will explain Cycles at the end of the series.

The Blender Internal Render is Blender’s non photo-real render engine.

Cycles is Blender’s ray-tracing production render engine. To use Cycles, it must be set as the active render engine in the Information Editor.

Cycles may be able to use your GPU to render. To see if and how you can use your GPU for rendering, see the documentation on GPU Rendering.

https://docs.blender.org/manual/en/dev/render/cycles/gpu_rendering.html

Saving Your Work

In order to save your work you simply go to File > Save. The native file extension for Blender is .blend.

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Village Auto

I have always had a love for villages and small towns – especially for the small business owners. I made this 3D model as a practice in game asset development.

Tools: Blender 2.7; Photoshop CC (Texture/Color)

Village Auto Model

Village Auto Wireframe

Village Auto Color

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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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Demo Reel – January 2017

Jennifer S. Abbott is a multimedia and game designer and artist, writer and educator. I work primarily in Photoshop, Illustrator, After Effects, and Blender. I specialize in vector/graphic art, game development, motion graphics, 3D modeling, and website design and development. I am open to working with individuals, small businesses, non-profit organizations, and educational organizations.

I have always had a creative side and enjoy sketching, 3d modelling and animation, writing, and educating. I became a digital media artist and designer in order to not only pursue my passions but also to assist others in expressing themselves or their business/organization in a creative manner. I believe in creating great design that fits the context and needs of the client.

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Tutorial: Rusted Hammered Metal Texture (Photoshop CC)

What you will be making:

rusted hammered metal texture

  1. Make a New Project – Width: 1080; Height: 720
  2. Make the Foreground color Black and the Background color White (use the B/W icon)
  3. Fill the Background layer with Black (ALT+BACKSPACE) (Mac – OPTION+DELETE)
  4. Right-Click on the Background layer and choose Convert to Smart Object
  5. Go to Filter > Render > Clouds
  6. Go to Filter > Render > Difference Clouds
  7. Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Distort > Glass
    ……Distortion: 18
    ……Smoothness: 2
    ……Texture: Frosted
    ……Scaling: 100
  8. Click on the fx icon and choose Pattern Overlay
  9. Click on the small arrow to the right of the texture
  10. Click on the small gear and choose Small List
  11. Click on the small gear and choose Patterns (Choose OK to replace your current textures or Append to add these patterns to your existing textures)
  12. Click on the small arrow to the right of the texture and choose Rusted Metal
    ……Blend Mode: Soft Light
    ……Opacity: 25
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Public House

A pub, or public house, is a house licensed to sell alcohol to the general public. It is a drinking establishment in Britain, Ireland, New Zealand, Canada, and Australia. In many places, especially in villages, a pub is the focal point of the community. Samuel Pepys described the pub as the heart of England. -Wikipedia (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pub)

Tools: Blender 2.7; Photoshop CC (Texture/Color)

public house 3d model

public house 3d model wireframe

public house 3d model texture

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Tutorial: Security Camera Image (Photoshop CC)

 

What you will be making:

Security Camera Image

  1. Open the image
    ….File > Open
    Direct Link: http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:12072012_Jefferson_Memorial_04.jpg
  2. Make a copy of the image (CTRL + J) and name it Base
  3. Make a fisheye view of the picture and darken the edges
    Go to Filter > Lens Correction
    ….Click on the Custom Tab
    ….Distortion: -30
    ….Vignette Amount: -100
    ….Vignette Midpoint: 39
  4. Add a grainy effect to the image
    Filter > Filter Gallery > Texture > Grain
    ….Intensity: 50
    ….Contrast: 50
    ….Grain Type: Clumped
  5. Make a new layer and name is Lines
  6. Click on the foreground color
    ….Hue: 0
    ….Saturation: 0
    ….Brightness: 50
  7. Fill the image with the foreground color (ALT + DELETE)
  8. Make the scan lines
    Go to Filter > Filter Gallery > Sketch > Halftone Pattern
    ….Size: 1
    ….Contrast: 40
    ….Pattern Type: Lines
  9. Go to Select > Color Range
    ….Select: Highlights
  10. Make a new layer and name it Scan Lines
  11. Make sure your background color is white and fill the image with white (CTRL + DELETE)
  12. Delete the selection (CTRL + D) and drag the Lines layer to the trash
  13. Make the Scan Lines Layer active and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur
    ….Radius: 1
  14. Change the blend mode to Soft Light
  15. Click on the Adjustment Layer button and choose Solid Color
    ….Color: Light Green (I used eef3e7)
  16. Change the Blend Mode to Color and make the Opacity 70%
  17. Go to View and make sure rulers and snap are checked
  18. Drag out a vertical guideline to 35 pixels inside the left border of the image
  19. Drag out a vertical guideline to 765 pixels inside the right border of the image
  20. Drag out a horizontal guideline to 386 pixels inside the bottom border of the image
  21. Drag out a horizontal guideline to 35 pixels inside the top border of the image
  22. Make a new layer and Choose the Type Tool and open the Character Box to choose the font and size (I used Alterebro; 20pt; White) (If needed, us the Horizontal Scale and Tracking to make the text closer together) and type out the date
    Direct Link (Font): http://www.dafont.com/alterebro-pixel-font.font
  23. Choose the Move Tool and move the text until it snaps to the lower-left hand corner guides
  24. Make a copy of the text (CTRL + J) and choose the Move Tool – drag it until it snaps to the lower-right hand corner guides
  25. Double-click the layer to highlight the text, and type out a camera number (use the Move Tool to realign the text if needed)
  26. Make a copy of the text (CTRL + J) and choose the Move Tool – drag it until it snaps to the upper-right hand corner guides
  27. Double-click the layer to highlight the text, and type out a time of day (use the Move Tool to realign the text if needed)
  28. Make a copy of the text (CTRL + J) and choose the Move Tool – drag it until it snaps to the upper-left hand corner guides – you will need to move it to the right to leave enough space for a small circle you will make later
  29. Double-click the layer to highlight the text, and type out REC (use the Move Tool to realign the text if needed)
  30. SHIFT-click on the bottom text layer to highlight all the text layers
  31. Right-click on the selected layers and choose Rasterize Type
  32. Make the top text layer active and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur
    ….Radius: 1
  33. Click on each text layer and repeat the blur (CTRL + F)
  34. SHIFT-click on the top text layer to choose all the text layers
  35. Drag the layers onto the new group icon and rename the group Text
  36. Make a new layer and name it Record
  37. Choose the Elliptical Marquee Tool and holding down SHIFT + ALT drag out a small circle (16 pixels)
  38. Click on the foreground color and choose a bright red (I used fd0303)
  39. Fill the selection with the color (ALT + DELETE)
  40. Delete the selection (CTRL + D)
  41. Use the Move Tool and move the Record button to the left of the REC text – snapping to the guides. (Adjust the REC text as needed)
  42. Make the REC Layer active and go to Filter > Blur > Gaussian Blur
    ….Radius: 3
  43. Hide the guidelines (CTRL + H)
  44. Make the Scan Lines layer active and make a new layer above it – name it Box
  45. Choose the Rectangular Marquee Tool and drag out a box around the time text to the edge of the image
  46. Make the foreground and background color default to black and white (Use the black/white icon)
  47. Fill the selection with the foreground color (ALT + DELETE) and change the Opacity to 50%
  48. Delete the selection (CTRL + D)
  49. Go to Filter > Blur > Gausian Blur
    ….Radius: 1
  50. Make a copy of the Box layer (CTRL + J)
  51. Use the Move Tool to move the copy Box layer to the left to cover the record text and button (Use CTRL +T to adjust the width of the Box as necessary)
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