Blender Beginners Tutorial – Part 2 – More tools and techniques

posted in: 3D, Blender | 0
In this tutorial we’re going to show you a few more tools to improve your ability to manipulate models.

Before we get started:

After this video, you’ll be able to scale your models and the distance between selected vertices as well as add new geometry and vertices and of course delete them too. This will be most of the tools that we’ll need to start creating interesting models, which will allow you to go off and start modeling simple objects on your own.

Don’t get too ambitious starting off. Otherwise you might feel a bit overwhelmed and get turned off by it. I know. I use to spend days on a model only to realize I messed it up so badly, it was unrecoverable. But sometimes, that’s part of the learning process.In our next Blender video, we’ll model an actual object and we’ll get into more complex modeling techniques and cover the vast areas of Blender. Don’t forget to subscribe to this channel to receive those updates.

Let’s continue learning about modeling in Blender.

The next tool I’m going to introduce you to is the scale tool. We can scale the entire model, but most of the time, we’ll be scaling vertices within that model. Let’s take a look at that now.

We’re going to start with our default cube again.

In Object Mode, hover your mouse over the 3D view and press the S key. Now move your mouse around and you’ll see your model scaling up and down. Left click to set the new scale for your model. Normally, you don’t actually want to do this. This affects the scale value of our model. If the scale is not 1, you might get some strange results.

 

To see what your model’s scale factor is, press the N key while hovering your mouse over the 3D View. This will bring up the properties panel in your 3D view. Make sure you’re scrolled all the way to the top of it. This shows the properties of the currently selected object, whether that’s a model or a vertex or multiples of them. At the top, we have the x, y and z location. Click and hold your left mouse button over top one of these values and drag back and forth. You’ll see the model move in that direction. Like I mentioned in the previous video, holding the shift key, you can change these values with much more fine tuning. You’ll remember, the G key moves our objects, and after hitting the G key, you can press the X, Y or Z button on your keyboard to constrain the movement to those axis. These fields are another way to change those values with a bit more precision. If you’re doing architectural models, or you know the exact dimensions of the model you’re making, you can use these fields to input the values exactly.

 

Below the X, Y and Z location fields, we have rotation. This works the same as the R key and you can constrain it to the X, Y and Z axis by adjusting each one of these fields. Again, if you know the exact angle, you can type it in here. But Blender lets you do that with shortcut keys. And since shortcut keys are the best way to navigate Blender, let me show you that now.

 

Make sure your model is selected, press the R key to begin rotating our model, press the X key to constrain the rotation to the X axis, then press 4 and then 5, as in 45, to rotate the model 45 degrees. If you want to rotate the model in the oppose direction, press the minus key before or after the number. In other words, if you want to rotate negative 45 degrees, press the minus button when typing in 45 for the angle that you want to rotate. And if you’re wondering, yes, you can rotate your objects using quaternions as well.

 

Finally, below the rotation fields, we have scale. This was what we wanted to adjust. Usually you want these fields to be 1. If you want to make your object bigger, you do that in Edit mode. I’ll show that to you in a second. So let’s reset those to 1 now. You’ll see this changes our model back to a cube. That’s ok. A best practice is to move your model in object mode, and scale, rotate and other transformations in edit mode. This retains the local geometry of the object as you’d expect it. Let me show you the preferred way of scaling your object now.

 

Hit the Tab key to go into edit mode, select the top vertices and press the S key and move your mouse. You’ll see that they all scale toward and away from each other. We can get some interesting effects by tapering the shape of our cube. Play around with it for a bit. Select different vertices and see how they scale.

 

Now that you’ve played around with that for a bit, let me explain. They scale to their median point. In other words, if you select two vertices, their median point is a point, equidistant between them. In other words, the exact middle of the two vertices. If you have three vertices, it gets a bit more complicated, but the median point is the weighted value between those points. To better illustrate this, select three vertices. If you have the manipulator tool selected, it’ll be shown where the median point is. Another way to see this is the scale tool itself. Press the S key to scale them. You see where that dotted line goes into our geometry? That’s the median point. It’s important to know where your vertices are scaling to.

 

Let’s hide the manipulator tool for a second. Press the button on the bottom that looks like an axis. This will hide the manipulator tool. I usually keep this off anyway since it just gets in the way. Keyboard shortcuts are faster anyway. Now, hold Shift and the S key. This will bring up our Snap menu. Select the “Cursor to Selected” option to put that crosshair looking thing on our vertices’ median point. That thing is called the 3D cursor. It’s an extremely powerful and helpful tool that we’ll get into more a little bit here, but a lot more in later videos. For now, go down to the menu at the bottom of the 3D view, the one that looks like two white circles, and select “3D cursor” from that menu. This is the Pivot Point menu and in the case of scaling, it controls how things scale to and from. This works with rotation too, and you can imagine how that works since it’s has to do with pivoting. Try it out and play around with it for a bit.

 

With the 3D cursor option selected, scale your vertices again using the S key. You’ll notice nothing has changed. Now, if you choose to select with your left mouse button, you’re going to click with the right mouse button somewhere next to your cube. I’m going to rotate our view a little bit. Move your mouse away from that point a little bit and hit the S key to scale again. Notice that when you move your mouse toward the 3D cursor, the vertices move toward that point. That’s scaling toward the 3D cursor. Why is that useful? Scaling toward an object gives you great control over how you shape your model and you can place that 3D cursor anywhere in your scene and use it to manipulate vertices. I use the 3D cursor all the time.

 

Let’s spice things up and add another cube to our scene. I know, exciting, right? First, go into object mode by pressing Tab. Now, one way you might do this is to copy and paste the cube. Hit G to move it to see the new cube. Undo that. Now, with the original cube selected, hold Shift and then press D to duplicate the cube. Move your mouse. You’ll notice that the new cube sticks to your mouse. In other words, using Shift-D not only copies and pastes the cube, but also enables the move operation, just like if you pressed the G key. This is what we call a macro: a set of operations linked together. This is the preferred method of duplicating objects and vertices, so we’ll use Shift-D from now on. If you don’t want to move the object after duplicating it, for some reason, simple hit the Esc key or select-click without moving your mouse to place the model right where it is, just like you would with the G shortcut.

 

Alright. So we’re really throwing a lot of stuff at you now, but you may be wondering, is all modeling done with cubes? While they tend to be one of my favorites, they’re far from the only geometry allowed in Blender.

 

Here’s another use of the 3D cursor. Wherever it is, new objects will be added at it’s location.Press and hold the Shift key and press A. This will bring up the Add menu. I know, another keyboard shortcut. If you’re not friends with your keyboard, 3D modeling might not be for you. If you really want to learn Blender properly, keyboard shortcuts are a must. If you forget a keyboard shortcut, each view, say the 3D view, has a bunch of menus attached to them. Scan through these for the different actions you can take and they’ll list their shortcut for each menu item. Some share the same keyboard shortcut. In those cases, that usually means that shortcut brings up a menu with those items in it.

 

With our Add menu open, hover your mouse over the Mesh option and then select UV Sphere. This adds a facetted sphere where the 3D cursor is. But wait, what the heck is a mesh you may be wondering, and why are all the shapes under that menu? A mesh is the object that describes our geometry. In other words, it’s our model’s geometric data. From now on, I’ll be calling these models meshes, since that’s the proper term.

 

With our new sphere added, Tab into Edit mode and you’ll see the sphere is made up of many vertices. 482 to be exact. Did I count them? No. If you look up near the top of Blender, you’ll see that it says Verts: 0/482. That means you have selected, in the current mesh, 0 of 482 vertices total. You’ll also see faces. A face, is made up of at least 3 vertices that make up the plane between those vertices. These are called Tris, or triangles. A four vertex face is called a quad, and there are preferred. Any more than that, we can call N-gons, or the variable N to denote N vertices and “gon” which is short for polygon. After that, we have objects, lamps and we have memory usage and the name of our mesh. In this case, “ phere.” You can rename that if you want. In the properties panel, hit the N key, if it’s not open, and scroll down until you see Item. Change sphere to something else. The name changes in the top and on the right in our outliner.

 

Pause this video and take a moment to explore the other settings in that panel. Hit the N key again to make it disappear.

 

You may not want the sphere there. Or, maybe you want to get rid of some of the vertices. Let’s show you how to mess up our sphere by deleting some stuff. Select a single vertex and press the X key. Our delete menu is displayed. Go up to the Vertices option and click. You’ll see the point that you selected, and surrounding gray faces that surround our vertex, disappear. There’s now a gaping hole in our sphere.

 

You may be wondering why the X key and not the delete key? The delete key also works, not the backspace key, but the delete key. While modeling, you’ll usually have your left hand on your keyboard and your right hand on your mouse so a majority of the most often-used shortcut keys are on the left side of the keyboard.

 

Tab out of Edit Mode and into Object Mode. With your sphere selected, hit the X key again. A menu will pop up to confirm our delete. Click the delete option with your mouse and our sphere is gone.

 

Ok, now we’re getting places. As an exercise to try on your own, let’s try modeling a basic, low poly forest, or low polygon count forest. Add a cube. Move it’s top vertices higher. Press Shift-S to place the 3D cursor to the median point of the select vertices, while in edit mode. This will add the sphere to the existing mesh. Scale the sphere up so it looks like the top of a tree. Maybe move it up a bit. Tab out into Object mode, duplicate our tree and move it. Constrain it to the X or Y axis so it stays on the same Z plane. Another way of doing that is to press Shift-Z after you’re moving your object to move it in every other axis except the Z axis. This works the same with Shift-Y to only move in the X and Z axis or Shift-X to move only in the Y and Z axis. After you’re done making a few trees, remember, Shift-D to duplicate, press the number 0 to look through your camera. Look good? Maybe a few more adjustments. Maybe move your camera. Press F12, and render it out! F3 to save.

 

What other low-poly scenes can you come up with? Go to ElectronicArmory.com and post your results on the page for this video. Don’t be shy!

 

We just scratched the surface of modeling, let alone other things like texturing, lighting, animation, compositing, video editing, motion tracking and much much more. But you now have a solid foundation to begin your modeling adventure, whether you want to make models for games, art, 3D printing, architecture or engineering. Be sure to like this video if you want to see more videos like this.

 

Well, I hope you enjoyed this tutorial from the Electronic Armory. If you’re new here, we have tutorials on all things electronics, from native mobile development, software engineering, electrical engineering and everything else to arm yourself in the digital world. Be sure to check us out at ElectronicArmory.com, hit us up on Facebook, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube Channel for more awesomeness on all things Electronic. More info is in the description below. Thanks and we’ll see you next time.

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