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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Tutorial: Blender Basics – Basic Animation

 

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Welcome to the seventh tutorial of the Blender Basics tutorial series. In this tutorial we will be looking at basic animation 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

Animation File – https://drive.google.com/open?id=0BzQBwonj-XSsVjRTOUtaUl9xZTg

 

Timeline

This is a very basic animation scene of a sphere moving across a floor (link to this file is in the description). Across the bottom of the screen we see the Timeline. This is where we can set keyframes and scrub through the animation.

If we scrub through the Timeline we see the Frame number along the bottom. We can also go to a specific Frame within the animation. For Example, if we click in the Current Frame field and key in 15 we are now at Frame 15. We can also play the animation by using the animation controls. The Start and End Frame options allow us to control the length of the animation.

The Sync option allows us to sync our animation to audio using the AV-sync option. We can also drop frames from the animation using Frame Dropping. No Sync (the default) will play the animation at the set frame rate which we can see in the Properties panel.

We will be exploring the Timeline in more detail when we animate a character in a later tutorial.

Animating Objects

Let’s look at animating objects. Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Startup File.

Let’s go into Orthographic Mode (5 on the Numpad) and Front View (1 on the Numpad). Select the Cube and using the shortcut SHIFT+D duplicate the Cube and hit the ENTER key. Use the Manipulator and move this Cube below the first Cube. Tab into Object Mode and using CTRL-TAB go into Face Mode. Select the bottom face of the bottom Cube and move it up to flatten the Cube. Then, using the shortcut L (make sure the cursor is over top of the Cube) select this entire flattened Cube. Then using the shortcut S and the number 10 resize the flattened Cube. Now grab the top face and move it down so we can see the entire top Cube. Tab back into Object Mode and select the top Cube. Using the Manipulator, move the top Cube to the left.

We can create animation in Blender by using Keyframes. By default the End Frame for the animation is set to 250. We can shrink this down by changing the End Frame to 60. We can do this either in the Timeline or in the Properties Panel. Click in the End Frame field and change it to 60 and hit the ENTER key.

Now we are going to insert our first Keyframe. Make sure the Cube is selected and the Start Frame is 1. The easiest way to insert a Keyframe is to make sure the cursor is in the 3D Viewport and hit the I key to access the Insert Keyframe Menu. Here we can insert a Keyframe using Location, Rotation, and Scale. In this case we only need to set the Location so click on Location. Notice in the Timeline that Frame 1 is now a different color – indicating that a Keyframe has been inserted.

In order to have an animation we need at least two Keyframes. Let’s move to Keyframe 60 by typing in 60 into the Current Frame field. Then let’s use the Manipulator and move the Cube to the right. Now we need to insert a Keyframe by using the Insert Keyframe Menu (I) and adding a Location Keyframe.

Now if we go back to Frame 1 and hit the Play button we can see our very simple animation.

Animating Properties

In Blender we can animate almost anything. We can animate an object’s location, rotation, or scale. We can also animate an object’s color or brightness. In this example we will animate the Point Lamp.

Let’s go into Textured Mode and tumble around so we are looking down on the scene. Select the Lamp and in the Properties Panel click on the Lamp tab. Let’s set the Current Frame field to 0 in the Timeline. Let’s turn the Energy of the Lamp to 0.000 in order to make the scene dark. Let’s make sure the cursor is hovering over the Energy option and hit the letter I to insert a Keyframe. Notice that the Energy field will change color indicating a Keyframe has been inserted.

Let’s now go to Frame 50 and change the Lamp Energy to 5. Again, making sure the cursor is hovering over the Energy option, hit the letter I to insert a Keyframe. Notice that the Energy field will change color indicating a Keyframe has been inserted. Now when we go back to Frame 0 and play the animation we can see the Lamp becoming brighter as the animation plays.

We can animate multiple values at once. Let’s change the color of the Lamp.

Let’s set the Current Frame field to 0 in the Timeline and, hovering over the color in the Lamp properties, hit the letter I to insert a Keyframe. Now move to Frame 25 and change the color to blue. Once again, hovering over the color in the Lamp properties, hit the letter I to insert a Keyframe. Now move to Frame 50 and change the color to red and insert a Keyframe. When we now play the animation, not only does our Lamp turn on, we also see that the color changes.

Motion Blur

If we want our Render to have a more realistic look to it we need to add Motion Blur to give it a realistic sense of motion. We can add Motion Blur under the Render Properties panel.

Let’s click on Sampled Motion Blur to turn on that option. Let’s move to Frame 30 and render the animation. Notice that there is no blur seen in the Render because the Motion Samples are set to 1.0. If we turn the Motion Samples up to 4.0 and render this Frame again we can see how the effect works. Each time it renders the Cube moves just a bit. When the Render is complete these four renders are combined together into a single image which creates the Motion Blur.

The amount of Motion Blur is dependent upon the Shutter Length – or how long the shutter is open. The default Shutter Length is 0.5 which means that it is open for half of whatever the Frame Rate is set to. Since the Frame Rate is 24 the shutter is open for a 48th of a second. If we bring this number down it will lessen the effect and if we bring this number up it will increase the effect.

Let’s change the Shutter Length to 1.0 and render this Frame again. Notice that each time this Frame was rendered the Cube moved a bit more than when we had the Shutter Length set to 0.5. This means that when all four renders were combined the Motion Blur effect was increased.

Path Animation

Sometimes we need to animate objects along a specific path. This can be accomplished in Blender using Animation Paths.

Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Startup File.

The first thing we need to do is to create a path. We can do this by using the shortcut Shift+A > Curve > Path. Use the Manipulator and move the Curve along the X-Axis so it is visible. Now go into Orthographic View (5 on the Numpad) and then Top View (7 on the Numpad) and zoom into the Curve.

Once we Tab into Edit Mode we notice that this is in fact a Nurbs Curve. Once we right-click on the Curve we notice that we have individual Vertices. We are then able to click on each Vertex and manipulate it to make a Path. Once we have the Path that we want we need to Tab back into Object Mode.

In order to attach the object to the Curve we need to use a Constraint. Select the Cube and the open the Constraints tab (link icon). Click on Add Object Constraint and then under the Relationship options choose Follow Path. For the Target choose Nurbs Path. Once we choose our Target notice that the Cube snaps to the Path.

Go into Front View (1 on the Numpad). We need to set the proper Forward Axis – which in this case is the X-Axis. We also need to check Follow Curve so the Cube will always be in the correct orientation relative to the Curve. Now all we need to do is click Animate Path and then play the animation.

Rendering Animation

We have so far just rendered individual images but we can also render animations in Blender.

Let’s open the animation we used at the beginning of this tutorial (link is in the description).

Under the Dimensions section let’s change the format to HDTV 720p. For the purposes of this tutorial let’s change the End Frame to 20 for a quicker Render. The Frame Step allows us to Render every so many Frames – for example, if we change the Frame Step to 3 Blender will only Render every third Frame. We are just going to leave this set to 1.

Under the Output section we can choose where to save this animation by clicking on the folder icon and choosing a location. We can render this out as individual images or as a movie file. While it would seem that we should use a movie file such as AVI or H.264 this is not always a good choice. If the Render is interrupted then we would need to start the Render all over again which could be a problem if this was a long animation.

So, what is recommended is to actually save the animation as individual images (PNG, JPG, etc) and then stitch them together to form an animation. This process will be covered in a future tutorial. For now, let’s choose the JPEG format and then click Animation. You will now see the 20 Frames being outputted as individual images. If we open the folder we can see 20 individual JPEG images – one for each of our Frames.

 

 

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Tutorial: Blender Basics – Camera and Rendering

 

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Welcome to the sixth tutorial of the Blender Basics tutorial series. In this tutorial we will be looking at cameras and rendering 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

 

Working with Cameras

Let’s start by looking at the basic Camera that is part of the default scene.

If we select the Camera we can now go into the Data tab (video camera icon) we can access the properties associated with this Camera. Let’s look at the Display options first.

The Display options show the limits of the camera. We can turn on or off showing how far the mist comes from the camera. If we put a checkmark next to Mist we now see a line being drawn through the Cube.

We can turn on Title Safe Areas by checking the box next to “Safe Areas.” When we go into Camera Mode (0 on the Numpad) we can now see our Safe Areas within the dotted borders.

We can turn on and off the Name of the Camera. If we turn this option on we see the Name of the Camera in the lower-left corner of the Camera View.

The Size parameter grows or shrinks the size of the Camera icon. If we go back out of Camera View (0 on the Numpad) and change the size to 1.0 notice that the Camera has now become larger and if we change it back to 0.5 the Camera becomes smaller.

The Passepartout option sets the amount of gray on the outside of the Camera when in the Camera View. If we go back into Camera View (0 on the Numpad) and change the Alpha to 1.0 we now see black outside the Camera View and if we change it back to 0.5 we get a dark gray color in the background.

Now let’s look at the Lens options.

In the default Blender Render we have two Lens options – Perspective (which is the default) and Orthographic. Let’s quickly look at the Orthographic Lens first. This Lens type flattens the perspective and makes the render flat. The Orthographic Scale controls the apparent size of the objects in the Camera. If we change the Orthographic Scale to 10 the Cube looks smaller and further away from the Camera but if we change it to 5.0 the Cube looks larger and closer to the Camera.

Let’s look at the Perspective Lens which is the Lens we will use most of the time. This Lens acts like a real-world Lens.

The Focal Length parameter controls the amount of zoom or the amount of the scene which is visible. Longer Focal Lengths result in a smaller Field of View and shorter Focal Lengths result in a larger Field of View.

By default the Focal Length is set to 35 millimeters which is the same as a 35-millimeter lens. This is basically a wide-angle lens. If we change the Focal Length to 135 we notice how the Camera zooms in and we get a smaller Field of View. If we change the Focal Length back to 35 we zoom out and now have a larger Field of View.

Shift allows us to shift the Camera up or down. If we change the X value to 0.2 and the Y value to 0.2 notice how the Cube shifts to the lower-left corner of the Camera View.

Clipping is “the interval in which objects are directly visible.” This is a useful option when doing special effects within Blender. If we change the Start to 10 for example we notice a gray bar across the bottom of the Camera View and part of the Cube is disappearing. If we do a quick render you can see that the Camera will only render beginning at the Start point.

Depth of Field

Let’s go back to the 3D View and change the Start Clipping option to 0.1.

Let’s go into Top View (7 on the Numpad) and then use the shortcut SHIFT+A > Mesh > Cylinder to bring in a Cylinder. Then move the Cylinder so it is off to the left of the Cube. Then using the shortcut SHIFT+A > Mesh > Cone add a Cone to the scene and move it to the right of the Cube.

Select the Cube and add a material to it. Go to the Materials tab and change the Diffuse color to red. Select the Cylinder and give it a material by changing its Diffuse color to blue. Select the Cone and give it a material by changing its Diffuse color to green.

Go into Front View (1 on the Numpad) and using the shortcut SHIFT+A > Mesh > Plane add a Plane to the scene. Move the Plane below the Cube and size it using the S key and the number 6. Then give it a material and change the Diffuse color to purple.

Let’s then select the Lamp and change it to a Hemi Lamp. If we render this scene we notice that all the objects are in focus. This is because we don’t have a Depth of Field.

Let’s select the Camera and go back into the Data tab. If we go to the Display options and turn on Limits you notice that we have a cross at the Camera. This is the Depth of Field distance. If we change the Distance to 3.0, notice that this cross moves closer to the Cube. This is telling the Camera where it is going to focus.

In order to actually use the Depth of Field we need to work with Nodes. Let’s split the 3D Viewport into two horizontal areas and change the top area to the Node Editor and the bottom into a UV Image Editor. We need to use Composite Nodes so click on the Compositing Node icon (pictures) and then click on Use Nodes.

We have two Nodes – Render Layers and Composite. We can now add any filter to this Node setup to make changes to the scene. Since we want to add Depth of Field let’s add a Defocus filter by going to Add > Filter > Defocus. Once we place this Node in between the other two notice that the Image inputs and outputs are automatically connected. Now we need to connect the Z-Buffer output from the Render Layers Node to the Z-Buffer input of the Defocus Node.

The fStop is related to the Depth of Field an fStop of 128 means and infinite Depth of Field. What this means is that the higher the number the less Depth of Field and the smaller the number the more Depth of Field. Let’s change the fStop to 2.0 and if we render the scene we see a distinct defocus effect. The Maximum Blur changes the blur of the scene and we will just leave that at the default.

The Threshold determines how wide the focal area is – the larger the number the more stuff is in focus. If we change the Threshold to 10 for example and render the scene, we notice that the Cube and Cone are in focus but the Cylinder and part of the Plane are still out of focus compared to everything being out of focus when we had the Threshold set to the default of 0.2.

Creating Camera Targets

Let’s now look at setting up the constraints of a Camera. Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Startup File.

If we select the Camera we notice that we can move it like any other object in the Scene. However, there are times where we want the Camera to be pointing at a specific object and be able to move the Camera while keeping the object centered. This is where Constraints come into play in Blender.

Select the Camera and go into the Constraints tab (link icon). The easiest way to focus the Camera on a specific object is to use the Damped Track. Click on Add Object Constraint and then Damped Track under the Tracking option.

We can select a target object by clicking in the Target field and selecting Cube. We can now see that the Camera is pointing in the wrong direction. This can easily be fixed by selecting an Axis – in this case, the -Z-Axis so the Camera is pointing in the right direction. Now if we move the Camera we can see that it is always pointed toward the Cube.

Often times we don’t want to point to a specific object but rather to a target in the scene. We can do this by using a helper object and in this case we will be using an Empty object. Use the shortcut SHIFT+A > Empty > Plain Axes to add an Empty to the scene. Use the Manipulator and move the Empty above the Cube. This is a simple cross-hair target that will not render in the scene.

Select the Camera and go into the Constraints tab and click on Add Object Constraint and then Damped Track under the Tracking option. Choose Empty from the Target list and now notice that the Camera is focusing on the Empty instead of the Cube. This is very useful when doing animation in Blender.

Render Properties

Let’s now look at the Render properties.

Click on the Render tab (camera icon) to open the Render properties. In any scene that we may have there is always the Render properties option.

The first option we see is the Render properties. We can render the scene. We can render animation. We can also render audio. We can also choose how we want to display the Render. We have the option of displaying the Render full screen, in the image editor, in a new window, or we can keep the existing UI.

We have a number of Render Presets available to us. When we select a Preset it changes the Resolution settings, Aspect Ratio settings, and the Frame Rate. If we choose NTSC 4:3 notice that the Resolution changes to 720px by 486px, the Aspect Ratio is now 10 for X and 11 for Y , and the Frame Rate changes to 29.97.

Anti-Aliasing smooths out the edges as it Renders the scene. The higher the number the longer it will take to Render the scene. Shading is an option we have already seen and it deals with the Shadows and Ray Tracing.

Performance tells us how much of the computer will be used to Render the scene. Auto-detect will detect how many processors you have in your system. You can adjust the number of Threads to limit the resources used for Rendering.

The Output option is where we can choose how and where to save our files. By default Blender saves the files to the Temp Directory but we can change this to any folder or drive we wish by clicking on the folder icon. We can export our scene as a PNG, JPG, TIFF, or BMP as well as many other formats supported by Blender. We also have movie formats for rendering animations.

 

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Tutorial: Blender Basics – Lighting

  

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

Canyon Image – http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=210270&picture=scenic-slot-canyon

 

Point Lamp

Lighting is not just for illuminating the scene but it can also set the mood and drama of the scene.

If we select the Lamp in the default scene and go into the Lamp panel in the Properties Editor we see that we have five Lamp options: Point, Sun, Spot, Hemi, and Area. We also have a preview that will show us what our Lamp will look like in the scene.

Let’s start off by looking at a very basic light called the Point Lamp. If we now go into Texture Mode we can see the affect that the lamp is having on the Cube. As we move the Point Lamp up and down we can see how the Point Lamp’s falloff affects the lighting on the Cube.

The Point Lamp is similar to a bare lightbulb in a room in that it generates energy in all directions. If we move the Point Lamp above the Cube we notice that there is no shading on the sides of the Cube. If we then move the Point Lamp behind the Cube angled from one corner we notice that we get different shading over the Cube.

If we go to the Render tab and quickly render the scene we notice that we do not have a tremendous amount of light in the scene. If we go back to the Lamp panel we notice that the Falloff option is set to Inverse Square (the default). Inverse Square is natural lighting which means that the light falls off with the square of distance from the object – the Cube in this example. This means that things get dimmer the further they are from the light.

If we change the Falloff to Constant however we can see there will be no Falloff and everything will be illuminated evenly. If we quickly render the scene notice that the top and side closest to the Point Lamp are now evenly illuminated.

Let’s look at the other options available to us.

We can change the color of the light using the light picker. If we change the color to a bright yellow we can now see that the Cube has a yellow color highlight added to it from the Point Lamp. If we want to add a second color using the Point Lamp we simply add a second Point Lamp using the shortcut SHIFT + A > LAMP > POINT. We then move the second Point Lamp to the front corner of the Cube and change the Falloff to Constant and the color to red.

Let’s delete this second Point Lamp by selecting it and then using the shortcut X and delete.

Select the remaining Point Lamp and go back to the Lamp panel.

The Energy variable makes the light brighter or dimmer in the scene. If we change the Energy variable to 3 we notice how much brighter the light has become in the scene. If we change it back to 1 we notice how much dimmer the light has become in the scene.

Negative Light basically allows us to subtract light from the scene. This is useful if we have too much light in the scene. Specular and Diffuse allows us to add specular and diffuse channels to the light. Diffuse is useful when we want to have a more flat looking scene and Specular is useful for adding highlights to the scene.

We’ve already looked at the Inverse Square and Constant Falloff options. Inverse Linear is basically a straight-line falloff option. Inverse Coefficients combine the Inverse Square, Inverse Linear, and Constant options into a single formula. Custom Curve allows us to have the light fall off however we want it to. The Weighted option Falloff type allows the mixing of the two light attenuation profiles (linear and quadratic attenuation types) and is more of a custom option.

The Distance option is controlling where the light is falling – at a linear rate by default – to half its original value from the light’s origin. If we put a checkmark next to “Sphere” and using the MMB to zoom out we see a circle enclosing our scene.

The Sphere option restricts the light illumination range of a Point Lamp, so that it will completely stop illuminating an area once it reaches the number of Blender Units away from the Lamp, as specified in the Distance field. If we change the Distance to 5 we can now see that the Sphere is much smaller which means that the illumination range is now much smaller and (zooming in) we see that the scene is much darker.

Ray-Traced Shadows

Let’s go into Orthographic Mode (5 on the Numpad) and Front View (1 on the Numpad). Let’s add a Plane to the scene (SHIFT + A > MESH > PLANE) and place it at the bottom of the Cube. We can now size the Plane up using S and the number 4.

Now let’s select the Point Lamp and go back to the Lamp panel. Make sure the Falloff is changed to Constant and the Distance is 30.

In the real world lights cast Shadows but in Blender we can turn Shadows on and off. Let’s take a look at the Ray Shadow option in Blender.

If we check No Shadow under the Shadow option and do a quick render we see that we have no shadow. This doesn’t look natural at all. However, if we choose Ray Shadow and do a quick render of our scene we notice that we have a shadow of the Cube onto the Plane. This Shadow is very dark and has hard edges but there are ways of changing this style of Shadow.

We could add more light to the scene but an easy way of changing the look of the Shadow is to simply change its color. If we click on the Color Picker and change the color to a dark gray instead of black and do a quick render we notice that the shadow is now much lighter in color. This makes the Shadow look much closer to real life. We can of course make this any color we want which can be useful if we have something that it semi-transparent and we need to match a red object for example.

This Shadow has a very hard, crisp edge but there may be times when we need a softer, fuzzier edge to the Shadow. We can make this happen by using the Sampling and Soft Size options. If we change the Samples to 8 and the Soft Size to 2 and do a quick render we notice that the Shadow is not softer and has fuzzy edges

Creating Sunlight

Now let’s look at the Sun Lamp. This Lamp type creates a good approximation of the sky and we can also add in sky as well.

Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Startup File. Make sure the Lamp is selected in the scene and change the Lamp option to Sun. The Sun Lamp works basically the same as a Hemi Lamp since it is directional and not positional. In other words, the only thing that really matters is the direction of the Lamp and not the position of the Lamp.

If we go into Texture Mode we see that the angle that the Sun Lamp is currently located only illuminates the top and side of the Cube but if we rotate the Lamp (using the R key) we can change the parts of the Cube that are illuminated. Go into Top View (7 on the Numpad) and then hit R and rotate the Lamp so it is pointed toward the Camera. Now if we render the scene we notice that the top is still illuminated but the side is no longer illuminated.

The biggest difference between the Sun Lamp and the Hemi Lamp is that we can produce Shadows using the Sun Lamp. We can see that in the Lamp panel we have an option for No Shadow and Ray Shadow just like we had under the Point Lamp options.

The Adaptive QMC option calculates Shadow values in a less uniform and distributed way. This is useful in making quick renders. The Constant QMC option calculates Shadow values in a very uniform and evenly distributed way. This option results in more accurate Shadows. Threshold is used for adaptive sampling and is used to determine if the Adaptive QMC shadow sample calculation can be skipped based on a threshold of how shadowed an area is already.

The Sky and Atmosphere controls allow the light to create an artificial sky as well as an artificial sun. Let’s place a checkmark next to “Sky” to turn on these options.

If we now render this scene we notice that instead of the default gray background we now have a default Sky. Under the Render Presets we have Classic, Desert, and Mountain presets. The only difference between these presets is the settings that reflect each individual preset.

Let’s choose the Mountain Sky preset and render the scene. Notice that the default Sky color is now a darker blue gradient. However, when we render the scene we notice that we cannot see the sun visible in the Sky. This is because the sun is not actually facing the Camera.

Go into Top View (7 on the Numpad). Select the Camera and open up the Properties Region Panel (N).  Let’s change the Location to 0 for all the axes. Then move the Camera along the Y-Axis until it is at location -4. Then hit R and Z and rotate the Camera so it is facing the Cube. Then change the Z location to 3.

Now select the Sun Lamp and change its location to all zeroes. Then change the Y-Axis location to 3 and the Z-Axis location to 3.5. Change the Z Rotation to 180 so it is now facing the Camera. When we go into Camera View (0 on the Numpad) and into Rendered View we can now see the location of the Sun.

Turbidity is a general parameter that affects sun view, sky and atmosphere; it is an atmosphere parameter where low values describe clear sky and high values shows more foggy sky. If we change this value to 10 we can now see a foggy appearance in the Rendered View.

The Blending option blends the Sun Lamp with the background as defined in the World tab. If we change the Factor to 0 we get the default gray background and if we change it back to 1.0 we get the full sun effect. We also have Blending options just like we see in other software like Photoshop.

We have the option of changing the brightness of the Horizon and its Spread. Brightness controls brightness of colors at the horizon. If we change the Brightness to 1we see that the light is now much brighter and turns much more yellow and orange. If we change it back to 0.1 we see a much bluer sky. Spread controls the spread of light at the horizon. If we change the Spread to 8.0 we see a larger spread of light at horizon.

The Color Space allows us to select which color space the effect uses and the Exposure allows us to modify the exposure of the rendered Sky and Sun.

The Sun Brightness option controls the brightness of the sun. If we change the Brightness to 5.0 we see a much brighter sun effect. If we change it back to 2.0 we get a dimmer sun effect. The Sun Size option controls the size of the sun. If we change the Size to 8.0 we notice that the sun becomes smaller but when we change it back to 4.0 the sun becomes larger. The Sun Back Light option changes the sun’s color and light around the sun. If we change the value to 1.0 we see a color change to a more pink color and there is more light around the sun but if we change the value back to -1.0 we see a more yellow sky and less light.

The Atmosphere option is basically a way of making a fog effect for the render. It tries to simulate the effects of an atmosphere, that is, scattering of the sunlight in the atmosphere Place a checkmark next to Atmosphere to turn on the option.

Intensity sets the intensity of the sun. If we change the Intensity to 2.0 we notice that the sky is less blue but when we change it back to 10 we notice a bluer and more intense light. Distance changes the yellow light in the scene. If we change the Distance to 10 we get a much more yellow light than we did with the Distance set at 1.0.

Inscattering effects the light inscattered into the atmosphere between the camera and the objects in the scene. Extinction is used to decrease the effect of extinction light from object in the scene.

Spot Lamps

Now let’s look at the Spot Lamp. This Lamp type allows us to confine light to a very specific beam of light.

Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Startup File. Make sure the Lamp is selected in the scene and change the Lamp option to Spot.

The Spot Lamp allows us to confine light to a very specific beam of light within the scene which is similar to a spotlight in a theater or a flashlight. Notice that there is a cone of light that we can work with when we are using this type of Lamp.

Let’s go into Texture Mode so we can see how this Lamp works. If we move the Lamp up and down we get a change in the falloff of the light onto the Cube. If we move the Lamp along the X-Axis we can see how the light interacts with the Cube. If you look under the Lamp options you will notice that we have the same options that we had under the Point Lamp. For now, let’s just change the Falloff to Constant.

Let’s go into Orthographic Mode (5 on the Numpad) and Front View (1 on the Numpad). Let’s add a Plane to the scene (SHIFT + A > MESH > PLANE) and place it at the bottom of the Cube. We can now size the Plane up using S and the number 4.

Select the Lamp and go back to the Lamp panel. Let’s do a quick render and take a look at how this Lamp is illuminating the Cube and Plane

We also see that we have Shadow options similar to the Point Lamp and the Sun Lamp. In addition we have a Buffer Shadow option which we will explore momentarily.

We can manipulate the Lamp even further under the Spot Shape option. If we want to make the cone smaller and illuminate a smaller area we can use the Size option. Let’s go into Rendered View and change the Size to 25. Now we see that the Lamp is illuminating a much smaller area than when the Size was set to 75.

The Blend option controls the sharpness of the edge of the light. If we change the Blend to 0.75 we see that the edge has now become much softer than when it was set to 0.15. If we check Square it changes this edge from a rounded vignette-type edge to a square edge.

If we go into Texture Mode and turn on Show Cone we can now see where the light is falling. This helps when trying to set up the Lamp to illuminate certain sections of the scene. If we go back into Rendered View and turn on Halo we can actually see the beam of light. We can also change the Intensity of this light using the Intensity option. If we change the Intensity to 0.3 we see a much lesser intensity to the light than when it was at 1.0.

Buffer Shadows

Let’s turn off Halo, Show Cone, and Square and change the Shadow option to Buffer Shadow. Buffer Shadows are actually created using a bitmap rather than Ray Tracing so they render much more quickly.

The first option is the color of the shadow. Let’s change the color to a lighter gray.

The next option – Buffer Type – controls the way the Shadows are buffered. There are four options: Classical, Classic-Halfway, Irregular, and Deep.

The Classical Buffer Type is an older way of generating Buffered Shadows which isn’t very accurate and is really only used for backward-compatibility with older versions of Blender.

The Classic-Halfway Buffer Type is an improved Buffered Shadow method and is the default option. It works by averaging the first and second nearest Z-depth values.

The Box Filter Type is used for low resolution renders and provides anti-aliased Shadows. It is often useful for images which have sharply angled elements and horizontal/vertical lines. The Tent Filter Type is used as a general purpose filtering method that provides anti-aliasing. This Filter takes into account the sample values of neighboring pixels when calculating its final filtering value. Gauss produces a soft, blurry anti-aliasing option. It is excellent with high resolution renders.

The Soft option indicates how wide an area is sampled when performing anti-aliasing on the Buffered Shadows. If we change the value to 10 we see how much softer the edges of the Shadow are as opposed to when the value was set to 3.0. Bias helps with Shadow accuracy.

The Sample Buffers value can be set to represent the number of shadow buffers that will be used when doing anti-aliasing on Buffered Shadows. This option is used in special cases, like very small objects which move and need to generate really small shadows. The Size represents the resolution used to create a shadow map and Samples control the number of samples taken per pixel when calculating shadow maps.

Clip Start indicates the point after which Buffered Shadows can be present within the Spot Lamp area. Clip End indicates the point after which Buffered Shadows will not be generated within the Spot light area. The area between Clip Start and Clip End will be capable of having buffered shadows generated. As well as manually setting Clip Start and Clip End fields to control when buffered shadows start and end, it is also possible to have Blender pick the best value independently for each Clip Start and Clip End field.

The Irregular Buffer Type is used to generate sharp, hard Shadows that are placed as accurately as Ray Trace Shadows. This method also supports transparent Shadows. The Bias adds a slight offset distance between an object and the Shadows cast by it. If we zoom in and change the Bias to 5.0 we can notice a shift in the Shadow at the front-right corner of the Cube.

The Clip Start and Clip End work the same as the Classic-Halfway Buffer Type.

The Deep Buffer Type has options similar to the Classic-Halfway Buffer Type but it offers better filtering and supports transparency. Compress sets the threshold for the map compression and it gives you more bit depth in the shadow area so that way you can get more image in that shadow.

Hemi Lamps

Now let’s look at the Hemi Lamp. This Lamp creates directional light and basically creates an infinite hemisphere which projects light.

Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Startup File. Make sure the Lamp is selected in the scene and change the Lamp option to Hemi.

The Hemi Lamp is similar to a spotlight in that the light is directional but it doesn’t have a specific source so it doesn’t create a cone such as a spotlight. This Lamp type doesn’t have a lot of options available. We can change the color like we can with the other Lamps and we can change the Energy. We also see the Negative, Specular, and Diffuse options.

The Hemi Lamp does not cast shadows but it does have direction. The Lamp’s direction is over the Cube so if we do a quick render we see that the Cube is illuminated with a general light from above the Cube. It is important to remember that the light originates from infinity so the location of the Hemi Lamp isn’t important – only the direction. If we move the Lamp along the Z-Axis so it is below the Cube and then render the scene we still get an overall light. This is because the Lamp is still facing in the same direction even though its location is different.

Since the Hemi Lamp produces no shadows this Lamp is useful for a nice general illumination of the scene.

Area Lamps

Now let’s look at the Area Lamp. This Lamp provides light from a specific region, rather than a point or a source.

Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Startup File. Make sure the Lamp is selected in the scene and change the Lamp option to Area.

If we zoom into the Lamp we notice that it is a square and this is where the light is originating. We are projecting light from the square which acts similar to a soft box or a window.

Similar to the other Lamps we have a Color option as well as Energy and Distance options and Negative, Specular, and Diffuse options. In addition, we have a Gamma option which controls the contrast and falloff. The Area Lamp doesn’t have Falloff settings so the only way to control Falloff is to use the Distance and Gamma options.

If we go into Rendered View we notice that the light is very bright and blows out the scene. We have two options for changing the lighting. We can move the Lamp or we can change the Distance value. If we go back into Solid View we notice a dotted line extending out from the Lamp. This is the Distance of the Lamp. If we change the Distance from 30 to 5.0 we notice that the dotted line is now shorter and if we go into Rendered View we notice that the lighting has changed significantly.

Let’s go back into Solid View and look at the Area Shape. If we zoom into the Lamp we notice that there is a square that is producing the light. We can change the size or shape of the Lamp under the Area Shape options. Let’s change the Size X to 0.5 and leave Rectangle selected. We now see a rectangle producing the light. If we now change to Square we have a square producing the light. This really doesn’t have an effect on the shape of the light. However, if we combine this option with Shadows we can make changes to the scene.

Let’s change the Size back to 0.1 and zoom back out so we can see the Cube.

Let’s go into Orthographic Mode (5 on the Numpad) and Front View (1 on the Numpad). Let’s add a Plane to the scene (SHIFT + A > MESH > PLANE) and place it at the bottom of the Cube. We can now size the Plane up using S and the number 4.

Make sure the Lamp is selected and make sure Ray Shadow is selected in the Lamp panel. First, let’s change the color to a light gray and go into Rendered View. Notice that with Samples set to 1.0 we get a hard edge to the Shadow but if we change the Samples to 5 we see a much softer edged Shadow.

The Adaptive QMC option calculates Shadow values in a less uniform and distributed way. This is useful in making quick renders. The Constant QMC option calculates Shadow values in a very uniform and evenly distributed way. This option results in more accurate Shadows. Threshold is used for adaptive sampling and is used to determine if the Adaptive QMC shadow sample calculation can be skipped based on a threshold of how shadowed an area is already. Constant Jittered is similar to simulating an array of lights.

Background Images

There may be times when we want to use something other than a gradient for the background so Blender has the option of using a bitmap to create a background.

Let’s make sure we are in Rendered View and go into the World tab. Let’s change the Horizon Color to a light green, the Zenith Color to a gold color, and the Ambient Color to a dark aqua.

Go into Camera View (0 on the Numpad) and turn on the Paper Sky option. This option keeps the characteristics of the gradient but it is clipped in the image. The Blend Sky option blends the background color from horizon to zenith. The Real Sky option keeps the horizon color at the horizon and the zenith color is used above and below the camera.

We can also use images for our backgrounds. This is similar to working with Materials in Blender.

Go to the Texture tab and Choose New and change the Type to Image or Movie and open up your image. I am using a picture of a canyon that I got from Public Domain Pictures (the link is in the description). Then go to the Influence section and turn off Blend because we don’t want to use any of the color we chose under the World options. Now if we turn on the Horizon option we can now see our background image in the Camera View.

We can change the size of the image by going to the Mapping section and changing the Size. In this case, I am going to change the X, Y, and Z coordinates to 2.0.

Ambient Occlusion

Now let’s look at Ambient Occlusion which is similar to ambient lighting but with more shading to give the scene a more realistic look.

Let’s start with a clean scene by going to File > New > Reload Startup File. Make sure the Lamp is selected and then delete it from the scene (X) since Ambient Occlusion doesn’t need a light source.

In order to access the Ambient Occlusion option, go to the World tab and turn on Ambient Occlusion. If we go into Rendered View we notice that our Cube is lit even though we do not have a Lamp in the scene. When we turn on Ambient Occlusion, notice that the Gather option is also selected.

Factor is the strength of the Ambient Occlusion. The Add blending mode represents global illumination. If we change the Factor to 0.25 we notice that the Cube is now darker than when it was set to 1.0. The Multiply blending mode multiplies the Ambient Occlusion over the shading which makes the render darker.

The Ambience is based on the Ambient Color. If we change the Ambient Color to a bright green for example we now see that our overall Ambient Lighting is green.

Under the Gather section with have a Ray Trace option and an Approximate option. Ray Trace is the default and this is used to create the overall Ambient effect. If we change the Samples from 5.0 to 10 we can see there is a reduction in the graininess of the render.

The Approximate option approximates the Ambient Occlusion effect. This can be affective in saving render time and changing the Passes can smooth out the light and dark areas of the render.

Let’s go back to Ray Trace and turn the Samples back to 5.0 and change the Ambient Color back to black. Let’s turn off Ambient Occlusion and turn on Environment Lighting which is another form of Ambient Occlusion.

Environment Lighting pulls its color from the selection we have – which by default, is white. Let’s change the selection to Sky Color and change the Horizon Color to a dark blue and the Zenith color to a very pale blue. Now we have a very simple Horizon and Zenith color gradient in the render.

Let’s change from Sky Color to Sky Texture. Just like we did in the previous lesson go to the Texture tab and Choose New and change the Type to Image or Movie and open up your image. I am using a picture of a canyon that I got from Public Domain Pictures (the link is in the description). Then go to the Influence section and turn off Blend because we don’t want to use any of the color we chose under the World options. Now if we turn on the Horizon option we can now see our background image.

We can change the size of the image by going to the Mapping section and changing the Size. In this case, I am going to leave the X, Y, and Z coordinates at 1.0. Now we see that our Cube is taking on the color of the image.

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Tutorial: Blender Basics – Textures

  

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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

  

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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

  

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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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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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