BBB - Blender Basics for the Blunt

Discussion in 'Gallery & Designs' started by Czestmyr, Aug 16, 2006.

  1. Czestmyr

    Czestmyr Member

    As someone proposed, I decided to make a series of a few tutorials for the designers out there that don't have the necessary $s to buy a proprietary software like Rhinoceros or Pepakura. I myself don'ŧ own a copy of these products, thus using Inkscape + Gimp + Blender to create my designs (well I'm working on the fist one so far - the locomotive, but hopefully, other will follow :) )

    Pars prima: The beginnings are always hard

    Other parts:
    Pars secunda: Lighting and Materials
    Pars Tertia - The Knight Show (Basic Modelling)

    So you are decided to make your diagrams in Blender, butr you don't know how? Then you're just like me a couple of years ago. I started using Blender, but it was a Spanish village for me (Czech idiom = I didn't understand it at all; more interrestingly, a similar Idiom exists in German - "Es sind Böhmische Dörfer für mich" = This is like Czech villages to me :-D ). The hardest thing is to learn the user interface, so this tutorial will concentrate on it. Finally, we will use our new aquired skills to produce a simple render of a cube.

    So if you don't yet have one, go to and obtain a copy of Blender, prefferably 2.41 or higher, since I'm using 2.41. Start it up.

    What you see upon the startup is the basic layout of Blender, there are a few more and you can customize them, but that is beyound the scope of this tutorial. Let's just concentrate on the most important things. So starting from the top we see: Main menu, then 3D view along with some buttons belonging to it and even more below it we see another bunch of strange controls and buttons.

    Ok, let's forget about the buttons for a while and let's try to move around in the 3D view a bit. It is very easy. Try pressing numbers 7, 1 and 3 on the numeric pad of your keyboard. They switch the view to the top view, front view or side view, correspondingly. Now try to press the middle button (you can press both buttons if you don't have a middle button) and make small circles with the mouse - see, you're orbitting around the scene. Now press [shift] and make circles with the pressed middle button - you pan your view, finally, pressing [ctrl] and moving the mouse with middle button pressed zooms in or out (you can also use the mouse wheel).

    So that would be the movement in 3D view. Now let's try to create a simple scene and render it. In the 3D view, you can see some basic stuff - a cube and a camera. So just select the cube with your right mouse button and try to scale it a bit with the key. You can also move it with the [G] key, if you want. It's G as in Grab. FIne, that should be enough for now. Press [0] - zero on the numerical keyboard - this changes your view to the camera. The cube is still selected. To deselect (or select) all objects on a given layer, the [A] key is used - very useful sometimes. So just try to press it. Everything should be unselected now.

    Now, still in the camera view - can you see the three frames around the view? Yes, that's it those two slashed frames and one solid. The first slashed frame is just some guide I don't pay attention to it. But the second slashed frame, on the other hand, should be payed some attention to, since this is the border of the rendered picture. The third frame, the solid one, is in fact our camera object, we are observing the scene from. So try to select the camera by left clicking this frame.

    Now, we need to set the camera to be orthogonal, because the model diagrams are not in perspective. So let's have a look at the bunch of buttons at the bottom of the screen (let's call this the Buttons Window). By pressing those tiny buttons at the top of this window (at the right side of the label "Panels"), you are switching between different types of those buttons. Alternatively, you can use [F4] thru [F10]. With our camera selected, press [F9] and look at the buttons. You can see two tabs there - labeled "Links and Materials" and "Camera". We will focus on the "camera" tab. Notice that little button labeled "Orthographic". Press it. Our camera has turned an orthographic camera. Play a bit with the scale slider at the top of the button (don't try to drag, just click - dragging would slide by too large amounts), so that our cube fits in the rendered area (the second slashed frame). You can also press [G] in the 3D view and grab the camera a little bit, so that our cube sits right in the middle of the scene.

    Now, press [F10] and look at the Buttons Window. See the BIG "Render" button there? Try to press it and - voila! We have a big black cube picture! (Or a big grey cube picture, I can't recall, whether there was a light in the standard scene) Anyhow, this is the end of this lesson, next time we shall focus on the eye candy part - the materials, lighting and edge rendering.

    Till the next time!
  2. Stev0

    Stev0 Active Member

    I am a Max user and I have tried Blender only to find it alien in technique.
  3. TheWebdude

    TheWebdude Just a Member

    Henry Grovver's been working on a Pepakura-type piece of freeware that shows great promise:
  4. Czestmyr

    Czestmyr Member

    Well, Max is greatand professional, as long as you have the money to buy it ;) But I would say, that Blender deals better with modelling. Maybe Max can be personalized to behave similar to Blender, but you know, I'm no professional, who needs a BIG piece of SW for accordingly BIG bucks. Max delivers on a CD, Blender installer is around 8 MB, Max costs 3,500$, Blender nothing. Make your choice.

    Blender may seem a little alien for a while, but when you get the grip, modelling is very efficient in it. :wink:
  5. Czestmyr

    Czestmyr Member

    That software looks great, it's a pity that it's not open source or for Linux. But can it create anything more sophisticated apart from 3-Dimensional mathematical bodies?

    Edit: According to the homepage, it IS open-source!
  6. Hi Czestmyr,

    :roll: Dont listen to these nitpickers, youre little tutorial is highly appreciated. At least by me. Thank you for your time so far, looking forward to read more!

  7. Stev0

    Stev0 Active Member

    I come from a Autocad background. When I tried 3D it was in Max (another Autodesk App). I still have my student copy of Max2 from school on my Win98 laptop.

    It's crash-tastic. ;)
  8. barry

    barry Active Member


    Thanks for starting the thread

  9. Gil

    Gil Active Member

    Keep on Threading...,

    Hi Czestmyr,

    I think it's great that you have taken your time to write a tutorial on a free and open souce app like blender. Showing a way to enter cardmodel design in an affordable manner is unarguably of great service to us all. So please by all means "do your tut"...,

    Best regards, -Gil
  10. cgutzmer

    cgutzmer Guest

    Nice! Looking forward to more. Great idea for tutorials :)
  11. Amazyah

    Amazyah Senior Member

    Hello Czestmyr,
    Thank you for taking the time to write everyone a toot on how to use this software. I, for one, appreciate it greatly.
    I used to be a kitchen and bath designer for a French cabinet company called Chabert-Duval and have used two cad programs through them, my favorite was called Ordi-Cuisine, the other, 20/20. These were both simple programs by todays standards and both are childs play when compared to Blender, Auto cad or Pro-E.
    I have never used Blender before and as a matter of fact, I just downloaded it so that I could follow along on your tutorials.
    Thank you again for your efforts and time.
    By the way, I love your train! Pretty darn cool!

  12. Czestmyr

    Czestmyr Member

    Pars Secunda - Lighting and Materials

    Pars Secunda - Let there be light (and materials)!

    Hello to everyone willing to take another portion of my Blender tutorials! (Important - don't take the word "Blunt" in the thread title too seriously - it is there just to provide some extra B for the acronym :wink: ) This time, we will have a brief look at the lighting of a scene and create some materials for our objects, so that when we make our final render of the scene, it'll look as one of those nice card model schemes that can be found in some commercial kits.

    I have prepared a simple scene for this part of the tutorial - it consists of a simple bastion model and a camera. You can of course create a model of yours, but modelling is a bit trickier in Blender, if you're not so familiar with its interface. So I strongly suggest you to download and unpack my scene that is attached to this post.

    Ok, let's begin. Open Blender and load the scene - Main menu - File - Open... - navigate to the unpacked "bastion.blend" file, click on it and click on the open button. So far so good. You should now see a small building in the middle of the 3D view being viewed from a selected camera. Now make the camera orthogonal.
    Time for a QQQ - Quick Quiz for the Quickwitted - How do you know, the camera is selected? How do you make it orthographic?
    If you can't remember, the answers can be found in the previous part of the tutorial.

    Go to the Buttons Window and press the sixth button from the set of six tiny buttons at the top of it, then press the first button from the set of three tiny buttons a bit right from the latter. You can hold a mouse pointer over the buttons for a while to see, what they mean - Our buttons read "Scene (F10)" and "Render Buttons". Alternatively, you can get to the render buttons by pressing the [F10] key. Don't forget this, as you will render very often in the future. Try the render button - black silhouette on a blue background - dull. Now we don't want to end with the black cube again, do we?

    Therefore, I will teach you lite the model with three directional lights. It is much faster to compute for your machine than ambient occlusion and it lites the whole model, not just part of it like a single point light. The technique relies on three directional lights, shining with different intensity, with different colors and from different angles.

    Let's go to the 3D view and create those lights. We will need the Context Menu for this. First, change to the top view.
    QQQ - How do we switch between the different views?
    In the top view, click with the mouse somewhere around the model to place the crosshair cursor there. This is where our lights will be created. Evoke the context menu by placing your mouse cursor in the 3D view window and pressing the [spacebar]. Navigate through the menu: Add - Lamp - Sun. Other frequently used types of lights are a simple Lamp, which shines in all directions with decreasing intensity as the distance from the source increases, or the Spot light, which areates a cone of light - similar to a reflector light.

    Change to the side view or front view and rotate ( [R] ) the light, so that it shines at an approximate angle of 45 degrees - much like an afternoon sun. The direction of the light is the same as the direction of the slashed line, pointing from the light.

    Now, duplicate the light two times to make three lights. You duplicate an object by pressing [shift]+[D]. The newly created object gets grabbed automatically, so you can move it a little bit and click to position it. We should now have three lights, near to each other. Navigate to the Lamp Buttons in the Buttons Window by pressing the third button from the set-of-six then the first from the set-of-five. (They should read "Shading (F5)" and "Lamp Buttons"). Select one of the three lights and decrease its intensity. To do this, you can either slide the "Energy" slider in the "Lamp" tab of the Lamp Buttons or you can move your mouse pointer over the number near the slider and press the left mouse button while holding [shift]. You can now enter an exact value - 0.7 should be what we want. Under the "Energy" slider, you can see three sliders, labeled "R", "G" and "B", meaning red, green and blue components of the light. In addition to decreasing the light's intensity, change its color a little bit, by sliding one of the color sliders a bit to the left.

    Now select another light and decrease its intensity as well and change its color to another color - don't get carried away, the light should be, for example, light rose, not crimson red.

    We are heading towards our lighting finish line - rotate the two colored lights, so that one of them is shining from the side and the other is shining slightly from the bottom, as strange as it may sound. Change to the top view and arrange the three lights around the building using the [G] and [R] keys.

    Let's change the material of our objects now. Navigate to the Material Buttons (Buttons Window - Shading (F5) - Materials) by clicking the third button from the set-of-six, then second from the set-of-five. This dialogue is also used very often, so again, don't forget, how to get here. The Material Buttons allow you to create materials for your objects and/or assign already existing materials to them. You won't see anything, unless you select an object in the 3D window, so select the main body of the bastion.

    Two tabs should appear after selecting the bastion - "Preview" - this is where the material can be previewed quickly without rendering the scene - and "Material" - here, you choose the materials for your objects.

    We don't have any materials in our scene yet, so click the "Add New" button in the "Material" tab. WOW! Now that's a whole lot of controls! We will concentrate only on some aspects of materials, you can experiment with the others later. First, we need to name our material in order to be able to identify it more easily in the scene. To do this, you just have to click into the textbox, that appeared instead of the "Add New" button. It reads "MA: Material" now, so type in "Paper" to make it "MA: Paper". Change the color of the material to make it a bit yellowish. There are three colors for each material - diffuse, specular and mirror. Mostly, I change only the first one. To make sure, we are manipulating the diffuse color, make sure the "Col" button is pressed - it is located near the three colored boxes on top of each other. The color sliders are similar to the color sliders of the Lamp Buttons. Set the blue color ammount to approximately 0.6.

    We also need to change the shader properties of the material. So activate the "Shaders" tab in the Material Buttons by clicking its title. We will use the standard shaders and will change just a few parameters. Different shaders have different parameters, so it makes no sence to describe them in detail. Just play with the parameters and render the scene, till you get desirable results. I used values of 0.6 for "Spec" and 0.3 for "Hard".

    Now apply the Paper material to the rest of the objects in the scene. Select each of them and in the Material Buttons, click on the tiny button with two arrows on it and hold the mouse button pressed, choose our Paper material and release the mouse button. Do this for all the visible objects in the scene (not the lights or the camera).

    The final trick, we are to learn in this lesson, is rendering of edges. In the Render Buttons, find the Green button, labeled "Edge". Click it and render the scene. YES! We have rendered a simple diagram for a paper model of a small bastion! To save the rendered picture, go to the main menu: File - Save Image...

    Wow! This was a little bit exhausting, but I hope it will not be so exhausting for you. I also hope, Blender is starting to look interresting in your eyes. And don't be afraid to try things for yourself. As soon as you get the basic principles of Blender, the rest can be discovered easily by the method of trial and error.

    Feel free to ask if you have troubles or are just curious. Next time, we will concentrate on some modelling methods, so if you have a specific wish about, what we should modell, drop a post. :wink: See ya!

    Attached Files:

  13. rmks2000

    rmks2000 Member

    Czestmyr - What is the seam cutter in Blender? Is that a sort of unfold tool?
  14. Czestmyr

    Czestmyr Member

    seam cutter? I've never heard of it. Is it maybe some sort of plugin? Could you tell me where I can find it? Because some sort of unfolder in Blender would be awesome.
  15. rmks2000

    rmks2000 Member

    It is in the 2.42 release statement on the link below:

    UV Unwrapping
    With the new angle based flattening, complex meshes can be unwrapped with much better results. Seam cutting tools to mark seams with a single click make it easier to cut up a mesh into charts, and the minimize stretch tool allows to reduce area distortion.
  16. TheWebdude

    TheWebdude Just a Member

    That does indeed sound interesting and promising!
  17. Czestmyr

    Czestmyr Member

    Ok, that would truly be very useful. But I'm afraid, that even with this tool, there will be some distortion, since this tool is primarily used for uvw unwrapping and texturing of the model and it is not so important for the unwrapped model to be undistorted.
  18. Czestmyr

    Czestmyr Member

    Pars Tertia - The Knight Show (Basic Modelling)

    Hello again, and welcome to the show! Tonight, we will start with our special guest - Mr. Knight...

    Well, to be honest, we will start working on Mr. Knight. I saw a modelling tutorial for 3DS Max, where they were showing people how to make a chess set. We will try to make a model of a knight chess figure, because I think that it has some tricky parts, where you may learn some advanced modelling techniques. Additionally, after we've created the model, we will texture it and then I'll show you how to use my B-Paperizer plug-in for Blender. Using it, we shall create a paper model of a chess knight.

    Let's get down to business! If you haven't done so, start Blender and get ready!
    A necessary QQQ - Try to recall the movement in 3D and the few keyboard shortcuts, that were mentioned in the first lesson.

    I have not told you, how to create the basic shapes in Blender, although it is similar to placing lights. You can place the objects in the scene, move, rotate and scale them and even shape their shape (what an ugly phrase) to your liking. If you look at the 3D view, you'll see a black crosshair with dashed red and white circle inside it. This is the so-called 3D cursor. We have used it in the lighting tutorial already to place the lights. So to create a new shape, just position the cursor in the 3D view and press [spacebar]. In the pop-up menu, choose Add - Mesh - Whatever. A new object appears and you are automatically switched to the edit mode. This modes serves for editing the selected object - that means, adding or manipulating vertices, edges or faces. You can switch between the modes by the [Tab] key on your keyboard or with the roll-down menu under the 3D view (see attached picture, fig. I) This roll-down menu can also be used to determine, what mode we are in.

    But we won't be using the cube now, so exit the edit mode and with the cube still selected, press [Delete] to delete it. Goodbye our little cube, your time has come, though you will remain in our hearts forever. Bits to bits, vertices to vertices...
    Oh, ... Now, where was I?

    Yeah, I remember! We were going to model a chess knight!

    Although I suppose that most of you know, how the 3D models are represented in the computer programs, I will still provide some rough basics for the less experienced among us. Every 3D object in most of the 3D CAD programs consists of three types of elements: Vertices, edges and faces. Basically, what we see, when we view a render of a model, are the faces. Faces are mostly triangles, but Blender can handle quadragons as well. Other programs can suposedly handle something like 32,000-gons, but I doubt that such thing is really necessary. But how do we specify the positioning and shape of such a face? This is where vertices (plural from vertex) come in handy. They are points in 3D space and can be connected to create a face. If we connect only 2 vertices, we create an edge only. But in fact, every face has its edges. This description is imprecise and I know, I may have confused you a bit, but you will get the concept quickly while using Blender.

    Now we're finally ready to start modelling. Switch to the top view ( [7] ) and position the 3D cursor somewhere in the middle of the scene. Make sure, we're in orthographic projection and not in perspective by looking in the View menu under the 3D view (see picture at the bottom, fig. II) You can alternatively change this by using this menu or by pressing the [5] key on the numerical keyboard.

    We will start with the base. Still in the 3D view, press [spacebar] and add a cylinder mesh with 36 vertices. Again, we're switched to the edit mode automatically. Don'ŧ exit it, since we will need this mode to change this dull cylinder into a chess piece base.

    We will continue in the side or front view. Our goal is to extrude the cylinder, so that it narrows to the top. The edit mode has three submodes - vertex editing, edge editing and face editing (fig. III on the picture, from the left: vertex, edge, face), so make sure you're in vertex editing mode. Press [A] to deselect all vertices. They should be all violet. Now Select all the vertices of the top base of the cylinder. No, stop knocking on your head, we're of course not going to select them one by one. We will use the Border Select tool. So hit and you will see two grey lines crossing each other at your cursor's position. You can now draw a rectangle with the click-drag-release method to select all vertices in the rectangle. So click with your left mouse button, drag the cursor to draw a rectangle around the desired vertices and release the mouse button. You can allways deselect all by [A] and try it again.
    IMPORTANT! Make sure, the little cube button near the editing submodes (vertex, edge, face) buttons is switched OFF! If you want to know why, just try to select the vertices with it turned on and observe the cylinder from different angles...

    We're heading towards the finish. Still in the side or front view and with the vertices selected, press [E]. This will allow us to Extrude the selection. In the popup, select "Region". You are now grabbing the extruded vertices around. Move them above the original vertices and click the middle mouse button to constraint the translation to one dimension. Place the vertices above the original ones and click. Now, we only have to scale the current selection down to achieve the desired effect. Hit the key and scale it down, press the mouse button to confirm.
    TIP: You can click the middle mouse button while scaling to constraint the scaling to one dimension as well. You can try this easily: Create a new plane object in the top view and try to scale it (you don't have to be in edit mode - scaling the whole object will do this time) with and without the constraints; see the difference?

    You can play a bit with the model, select a part of it with the border select tool and grab it around or scale it to change the proportions of the model. Exit the edit mode when you've finished.

    So this is it! We've created the base for our knight! Look at the attached picture to see, what you should have produced. Next time, we will try to create the knight's body. That's where the true fun will begin. Till the next time!

    Attached Files:

  19. cygielski

    cygielski Member

    I hope you can show us how to import curves into the damned thing - I've been trying with .ai and .eps files to no avail. Other than that, the program seems pretty well organized, and your tutorial has certainly helped me to get the hang of it. I'm looking forward to more - and thanks for what you've done so far.

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