Introduction to Blender modelling, basic overview and preparations

Starting with Blender. Where to begin and what to avoid

It might be difficult for complete beginner to find a right place where to start learning Blender. There are plenty of, mostly even really good, tutorials and guides. Even though it's not easy to start find a right place where to begin. The problem lies in actual greatest advantage of Blender and that is a multifunctionality. You can not describe Blender as a modeler, compositor, or animation software, simply because it is more than that. Blender is more like a window to another universe, your universe, more than just a tool to do something. That is the specific point, that makes the beginning so tough. But which, on the other hand, reward you later on. Since the aim of Blender is so wide many people focus on different things. Somebody use it on modelling, other one for compositing, third guy love to animate etc. Therefore their priorities of what is important to learn in the first place varies. So as their tutorials.

To find a spot from where you will start learning Blender you'll, obviously, need to think and decide what you would actually want do. Whether it is alien tiger fight movie, or photo-realistic still of your favourite coffee cup. It doesn't matter which way you choose, it's not like that matrix blue-red decission and you can change it anytime you want. Point of this is only to avoid trying to consume all the wisdom at once. That's impossible and may lead to frustration and suicide (not sure if smiley emoticon is a right option here, so let's forget it). You need to be prepared to step into darkness where most of you friends will be unkown X. At least for a while, until you start to slowly unravel their mysterious meaning and purpose. According to this theory, you should avoid trying to understand the charts, diagrams and overviews, which explains Blender functions, but rather look for simple examples of usage. You'll find diagrams useful later, trust me. Bookmark them, but now move to that weird videos, when 12 years old explain you how to model a mothership. Really go for it! You need to see it in action, staring at the default cube and hoping, that something will happen is not an option. You may find it embarrassing to spend half of a day modelling an apple, but go for it. Because one day, it will be an apple on your own"Pandora".

What we will do then?

According to above, I decided to help you choosing that way by this simple tutorial. Since we need to learn how to model, actually from the scratch (or default cube), it will be very simple introduction to Blender generally. We are working on Shirt project right, so let's model something simple right from shirt. Those Bara's laboratory clock might be the right choice. They are quite simple to model but we can learn a lot on them. kabe no tokei shirt blender modelling tutorial first image In order to model the clock we will look at how to model in Blender from refference image on the background. We will use the most common object type, called mesh. Explain how it works, and what is it composed from. To simplify the work, we will model from ortographic front wiev only and build a two dimensional object which we will expand into third dimension at the very end. To make it even easier and faster we will use the mirror and array modifiers. Maybe even some others. Also we will keep eye on arrangement and naming, which is more than crucial aspect in Blender especially. It can't be underestimated, because it can cause a lot of trouble later on. Really I wish I knew this earlier.

Launching Blender and getting ready

So let's start! First of all, you'll need to prepare your references. Images or ideas of what you want to do. From my experience, I can tell, that images are better (especially because Blender supports them). In case you do not feel ready yet to model your own stuff right now, download the clock image from here so you can follow me exactly step by step.

When you open Blender, there is a default settings which you can later modify to suit you better. First of all get rid of splash screen and let's have a look at the default screen. blender interface overview carnivora publishing modelling tutorial tony slacik shirt project wall clock

1 Number one is of course mighty and famous default cube. I personally think that nobody had ever used it for anything. It is just there. Deleting the default cube is the first step when working in Blender. Even though you replace it with... the cube. It's kind of ritual. You don't need to be confused of it's presence. Believe, that it is just a cube
2 3D cursor is, on the other hand, tool you'll use the most. 3D cursor, as the name suggests, defines the location of your cursor in space. That means position to 3 axes (XYZ) which defines the space in Blender (and everywhere else actually). This tells Blender where your attention is. For example where he would place an object for you, where exactly to merge two vertices and so on. Since you can only deal with two axes at the time (suppose you have flat monitor too) there is always one dimension missing. 3D cursor will keep track of that third one and makes it easier, or even possible for you to work in 3-dimensional space.
3 Lamp. There are various source of light in Blender. Each of them with specific behaviours in term of casting shadows, or passing through objects. We will not explain all of them now. But be advised, that those sticks with ball on top are sources of light.
4 Properties tab is also frequently used feature. Here you deal with properties of various objects, like intensity of light, object material settings, modifiers, constraints, textures, rendering settings etc. Basically dealing with values and options for current object. You'll use it almost all the time.
5 Object properties, or I call it like that. It is a tab of properties for current object in 3D space. Ita can be summoned by dragging that + button or simply by pressing N key. You can watch the values of location, rotation, scale of the object, also of the 3D cursor. Rename the object, easily lock an axis and so on. Basicaly it helps you deal with 3D space window.
6 Main menu, there's not a whole lot to say about it since it works quite the same as usual menus. Although you can switch here from predefined layouts. Each for different type of work, rather than always rearanging the windows. There are 7 possible layouts for Animation, Compositing, Default (this one), Game Logic, Scripting, UV Editing and Video Editing. Browse through them to know, what I am talking about. And Scene switcher at this phase can be happily ignored.
7 Object tools, is...object tools. Features here are not that easy to explain right now. They are not complicated, but at this phase it might look very simillar to object properties. We will learn how to use them when the time comes. Then why do I write about them? Well, because it's a big tab, which might confuse you. Now when you know, that you don't need it, you can press T to unsummon or summon them back.
8 Camera! It is the eye from which perspective, or sight, we will render the project, at the very end of the work. You can switch to it's view by pressing 0 on keypad. To switch back, you can go to front view by pressing 1, side view by 3, or top view by pressing 7. All of those views also have two options of view. Perspective and ortographic which you can switch between by pressing 5. Other numbers on keyboard changes the point of view slightly according to their position. Try it to understand what I am talking about. But we will use different ways most of the time. Another nice option is to use any object as a camera, select the object and press Ctrl + 0. Now when you press 0 you'll see from that object perspective. But let's move on!
9 3D window menu. Properties for your work in 3D space above. Here you set up properties for 3D cursor, rotation styles, switch between modes for modeling, painting and many other things. You'll understand shortly, now it's enough to know, that this menu is binded to a 3D space above it, where we will work the most.
10 Timeline. Unfourtunately we will not use it for purpose of this tutorial, but it is a line identifying the time. Since time is relative in Blender we will avoid further explanation right now. But as you can see on the picture, you can set the beginning and ending frame of your animation. Just to get closer to Blender, try to move in time by pressing ← key to move back in time and → key to see the future. Are you so excited too?

Ready to move on?

You might feel, like you still don't know what to do. You patiently gone through a bunch of informations, traveled in time a bit, but where's the model? But that's exactly how you will feel quite often now, starting to learn how to blender. But move a step forward to continuation of this article and you'll see, that those informations stood for reading. It is the same process as in Karate Kid, when you are painting some wooden fence to suddenly realize you've learned Kung-Fu.You just need to move forward, step into darkness and learn something you have no idea, you'll be ever able to use. That's the process. However, this one is not so cruel and we will use things we've learned here right in the following chapter. If you feel ready for your first modelling experience, let's move on!

>> Move on the next step, to model a clock! >>

Brought to you by Tony tony slacik carnivora profile photo Tony Slacik Animation, Special Effects, CG SFX, Properties I have no description!

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