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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