This Blender beginner tutorial will teach you how to begin modeling in 3d.
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In this video we’re going to introduce you to the free and Open Source 3D modeling and animation software Blender. After this video, you’ll be able to navigate through Blender, move objects and change their shape. In future videos, we’ll show you how to create more complex shapes in our model. Eventually, you’ll be able to create whatever you can think up, and make it look good, too.
Blender is an extremely powerful tool that not only allows you to model in 3D, but animate those models and edit that video since it’s also a video editor. You can also mix live action video with your 3D models as if they were really there with Blender’s spacial tracking features. Blender is also extremely popular with people who 3D print.
You don’t have to start your models from scratch. There are websites where you can download models for your projects or for 3D printing. Try out TurboSquid.com and Thingiverse.com
Now that you’re totally enticed to learn Blender, let’s get started.
After downloading and installing Blender from Blender.org and launching it on your favorite operating system, you’ll see Blender’s interface. It’s composed of a few different parts, so let’s cover those really quickly, and then we’ll dive down deeper as needed.
First off, you’ll need a mouse with a middle scroll wheel. Other types of mice will work, but if you have a different type,- you’ll have to figure out how your particular mouse works with Blender. A full keyboard is also highly recommended. If you’re on a laptop without a number pad, Blender can accommodate. Let me show you how to emulate a full number pad on a compact keyboard.
Let’s talk about Blender’s most interesting view, the 3D view. In the default view, you’ll see a cube with what is actually the camera from which you’ll render your 3D image from, and a light to light your model. Otherwise it would be almost completely dark. With your mouse, click and hold the middle mouse button and move the mouse around. You’ll see you’re able to spin and tumble the model. Next, use the scroll wheel on your mouse to zoom in and out of the model. Finally, hold the shift key and hold the middle mouse key. This will pan the model in the direction you move your mouse. Get comfortable with this before we move on.
Once you’re fairly comfortable spinning and tumbling the model around, I’m going to show you two types of views that you can view your model in, orthographic and perspective. By default, we’re in perspective. Perspective shows the model with depth. It does this by making objects farther away, appear smaller. This is how objects in the natural world behave. You’ll notice the gridlines converge as they lead away from us and diverge as they approach.
If you hover your mouse over the 3D view and press the number 5 on your keypad, you’ll switch into orthographic mode. Blender’s shortcuts tend to act on the view that your mouse is hovered over. Some shortcuts affect the entire application. I’ll try to call them out as they work. So, the Orthographic view, shows the objects along parallel gridlines, meaning objects do not get smaller or larger the farther or closer they are. This mode will be helpful in certain aspects of modeling.
Let’s switch back to perspective by hovering our mouse over the 3D view and pressing the 5 key on our number pad.
Once we’re back in perspective, and we can tell that by the label in the top lefthand corner of our 3D view, press the number 1 key on your keypad. Make sure to hover your mouse over the 3D view for this to work. This will bring show us the front of the model. If you hit the number 5 key, and switch into orthographic, you’ll see the grid appear.
Press 3 on the number pad to go into right view, 7 to go into the top view. If you hold the Control key and press 1, you’ll see the back view instead of the front. Control-3 will show the left side and control-7 will show the bottom.
That’s pretty much it for navigating your view around your model. We’ll get into more advanced techniques in the future. In the meantime, play around with it, get use to it, and memorize the keyboard shortcuts. You’ll be using them a lot.
Moving our model
Ok, now that we got the basics of moving around our model, let’s do something a little more interesting.
Let’s show you how to move our object around. Let’s find a good view. Make sure the model is selected by left clicking it if you chose the Left-select option in the options. If it’s orange you, you know it’s selected. Now hover your mouse over the 3D view and hit the G key. Then move your mouse. You’ll see the model moves with respect to your mouse. Left click to stop moving the model. If you rotate your view around, you’ll see the model was left where you put it, but maybe not where you thought it would be. When you move it in this manner, Blender moves the the model along the same plane as the view.
Most likely, you’ll want to move the model along the x, y or z axis. Hit control or command z to undo your move, to put the model back. Again, hit G, but this time hit Z to constrain the move along the Z-axis. Press the X key and move your mouse. Press they Y key and move the mouse. You’ll see the model constrained to each of the x, y and z axis.
If you hold down the shift key and move your mouse, you’ll see the model moves slower. When moving or changing parameters, you can often hit the shift key to fine tune the change. Hit ESC to cancel the move.
Next hit the R key, again with your mouse hovered over the 3D view, and move your mouse. This will rotate our object. Just like the G key to move our model, the R key to rotate our model can be constrained to the x, y, z axis as well. Let’s give it a try.
Changing our object
Ok, that’s still not that interesting. But moving in 3D on a 2D screen is a bit complex.
Now, let’s get to the good stuff, actually manipulating the shape of our model. With your cube selected, hit the tab key, this will put you in Edit mode. You can see what mode you’re in by looking in the lower part of the 3D view. Hit tab again and you see “Edit Mode” turn into “Object Mode.” Edit mode allows us to edit a model’s vertices. Object mode allows us to manipulate the entire object. We’ll explain the intricacies of these two modes in future videos.
Hit tab until you see “Edit mode.” You’ll see that our cube now has some vertices. Click on one of these selects it. Hold the shift key and selecting another vertex will select it while keeping the previous vertex selected.
To deselect all the vertices, press the A key. To select everything, hit the A key again. The A key will toggle between selecting everything and deselecting what’s selected. This works in Object mode as well.
Remember how to move our model? Moving vertices works the same exact way. Hit the G key, constrain the movement using the x, y, z key. Hit ESC if you want to cancel the move.
Try selecting a few vertices and move them around to make an interesting shape.
Now, let’s make a more interesting shape. Select the top four vertices by holding down shift and clicking on them. You might have to hit the A key first to deselect what you have selected.
Camera and render
Once you have something interesting, let’s render out an image of our model. The image will be rendered from the perspective of our camera. You can move and rotate it just like any other object. Make sure you’re in Object Mode first, if you want to move it. We’ll leave ours right where it is for now.
Next, we’re going to use the Cycles Render engine to render our image. Switch it from Blender Render to Cycles Render by clicking on the drop down and selecting it. Next, hit the F12 key on your keyboard and the render will start. It’s a simple model with simple materials and one light, so it’ll render quickly. Once it’s done, you’ll see it’s a basic grey object in gray light. Let’s go ahead and save this image. It is, after all, probably your first render ever. You can go to the Image -> Save as Image menu item, or simply press F3. Choose a save location and name for your image and press the “Save As Image” button.
If it is your first image, congratulations! Stick with it, soon you’ll be making beautiful renders. It might seem complex at first, but we’ve just showed you the features you’ll be using 70% of the time. We’re not quite there yet of course and the final 30% gets a bit more complex. In future videos, we’ll show you how these, combined with additional Blender features will make modeling 3D objects fun and relatively easy. Manipulating vertices will become second nature and you’ll only become limited by your imagination.