This is the second chapter of a series of posts about my experience working with the open-source application, Blender. I'll spend at least 30 minutes every day over a period of 8 weeks working directly with Blender and I'll post my discoveries, links and ideas at least once a week.
How to start learning Blender?
Self-guided learning of anything can be both an exciting adventure and one filled with frustration. From personal experience, I can tell you that you have to lower your expectations. You aren't going to be creating the complicated animations and scenes you see being featured at Blender.org and on the net.
Two things can help you self-motivate: one, start with making something that interests you, two, do a little bit of work each day. The goal is to develop a habit which you can expand on later.
Making a Cup in Blender
There are literally hundreds and hundreds of videos (and some books) that offer to help you learn Blender. The home site, Blender.org, has some of the best. Blender guru and others also offer well done introduction.
But I want to make a cup. A simple ceramic cup. And in the process of following the steps to make this cup, I hope to learn the interface, keyboard shortcuts, modeling, simple materials and rendering in Blender.
Best tutorial for making a simple cup in Blender is from littlewebhut.com (via Youtube as tutor4u). This excellent site features some great tutorials for Blender. The speaker goes through the tutorial very slowly and the video demonstrates each step you need to take while emphasizing the keyboard shortcuts he uses. It's a two-part tutorial that takes you through creating a mesh cylinder to adding simple materials to basic rendering in the Blender Cycles renderer. Here's my first attempt:
Modeling in Blender is very similar to the workflow in other 3D apps. There are some specific things you need to do in Blender that are unique to the application, but these are minor. Rendering was a problem for me because as I adjusted settings the render just got worse. I need to learn more about rendering in Blender cycles renderer. We'll look at this in a future article.
Final render of Cup Tutorial in Blender Cycles renderer
Coping with set-backs
Just after I finished the Blender Cup tutorial the cpu in my workstation fried (due to heat). I'm currently waiting for a new cpu, so I had to switch over to my 4 year old MacBook Pro to keep up with my Blender habit.
Currently Blender is in version 2.78c which works perfectly on my MacBook. However, there are problems with touchpad and lack of 3-button mouse. Yes, you can emulate 3-button mouse in Blender properties, but the situation is not ideal. Even after purchasing a new 3-button mouse I still had problems panning the 3D scene. Since I don't have time to solve the problem and I've got my workstation up and running again with a new cpu, I think I'll stick to my main PC for future work. Disappointed, but I'll figure the Mac settings for Blender in the future.
- My friends at the Renderosity Blender forum have been most helpful in suggestions for getting a better looking handle for the cup. Thanks!
- Blender Cup tutorial, Part 1 https://youtu.be/y__uzGKmxt8
- Blender Keyboard shortcuts https://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Doc:2.4/Reference/Hotkeys/All
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Current version of Blender is 2.78c. Download link here.