Tag Archives: 3D

Blender 2.8 for Absolute Beginners [1]

There are a lot of excellent video tutorials out there, but…none of them allow you watch in slow motion. That means you have to stop, rewind, play, rinse and repeat, until you see that one, teeny thing that a beginner doesn’t know and the presenter takes for granted.

As an absolute beginner myself, I’m writing this series of posts to save other absolute beginners from the hours of frustration and research that went into learning the teeny things everyone else takes for granted. Each post will be step-by-step with screenshots, and I welcome comments that point out things I’ve missed or taken for granted. So, let’s begin!

What is Blender 2.8?

Blender 2.8 is open source, 3D graphics software.

Translation: Blender 2.8 is a free app that produces models of ‘things’ that can be viewed from all angles – i.e. in 3D.

Where can you download Blender 2.8?

You can download the app from here:

https://www.blender.org/download/releases/2-80/

As with all software downloaded from the internet, you should save the file to your computer and scan it with your anti-virus software before installing it.

Getting Started

Once Blender 2.8 is installed, this is what you will see:

The colourful bit in the middle is like a temporary shortcut menu. Common functions are on the left, and recently used files are on the right. Left click on the dark grey grid in the background to make it disappear.

You will now be looking at the Layout workspace. It contains all the tools and options you will need to create and edit a 3D model. As a beginner, this is where you will spend most of your time.

Before starting to explore the workspace, however, I need to address the elephant in the room – Blender keyboard shortcuts.

Keyboard Shortcuts

Most software programs allow the use of keyboard shortcuts – e.g. Ctrl C for Copy and Ctrl V for Paste [in Microsoft Office programs] – but these shortcuts are an added extra for those who already know the software and want to work faster. In Blender, this process is reversed – i.e. shortcuts first and menus second.

Even as recently as Blender version 2.79, the menus were all over the place, and learning how to find functions in them required as much memory as learning how to use the shortcuts themselves. I started with 2.79. It was hard, very hard.

Enter Blender 2.8. The core functions remain the same, but the interface and the menu system have been rationalized from the ground up, making the learning process much easier. Navigation functions are grouped together as are the creating and editing functions you will use the most. Better still, when you can’t find/remember a less used function, there is a fairly logical and consistent way of finding it. And finally, if all else fails, you can press F3 on the keyboard and search for the function by name.

I had to smile as I wrote about F3. Search is a core function in any software, yet even in 2.8, it’s accessed by a keyboard shortcut and requires you to remember which key it is hidden behind! Blender 2.8 may have emancipated the menu, but shortcuts are still more…equal. 🙂

Irony aside, there is a compelling reason why the experts use the Blender shortcuts; they’d go insane selecting millions of small, repetitive functions from the menus! And you will too.

To give you a simple example, you can use this navigation key to zoom in and out of your model:

Left click the zoom icon [circled in red] and hold the mouse button down as you move the mouse towards you or away from you. Moving the mouse towards you zooms the scene out – i.e. it gets further away. Moving the mouse away from you zooms the scene in – i.e. it gets closer to you.

Or you could simply use the scroll wheel on the mouse to zoom in and out.

So which keyboard shortcuts should you learn off by heart?

Opinions will differ, but I found the navigation ones a must:

Zoom in and out

Move the scroll wheel on the mouse to zoom in or out.

Free move around the scene

This allows you to view the scene from all angles. Hold down the scroll wheel on the mouse as you move the mouse around. [The pundits talk about holding down the 3rd mouse button, but if you’re like me and don’t have one, holding down the scroll wheel works just as well.]

Move the object in the scene
  1. Click the object to select it.
  2. Press ‘G’ on the keyboard [‘G’ for ‘grab’].
  3. Do NOT click the object again [this is not like the click-and-drag you are used to]. Simply move the mouse and the object will follow like a dog on a leash.
  4. When the object reaches its new location, left click the mouse to lock it in place. [If you want to move the object again, you will have to press the G key again.]
Move the object in just one direction

To understand this shortcut, imagine that you have positioned an object in just the right place and you don’t want to accidentally mess it up. But…it could do with being just a tiny bit higher [or lower or left or right or backwards or forwards]. How do you make that small adjustment without messing it all up?

The answer is by constraining [locking] movement to either the X, Y or Z axis:

Unlike the graphs you probably learnt as a child, in 3D, up and down is known as the ‘Z’ axis. In Blender, the Z axis is shown in blue, the X in red and the Y in green. The orientation of ‘X’ and ‘Y’ will depend upon how you are viewing the object. In the example shown below, I want to move the object to the right:

As you can see from the screenshot, left and right are on the X axis [the red line on the grid]. To move the object precisely to the right:

  1. Click the object to select it.
  2. Press ‘G’ [for ‘grab’] followed by ‘X’ [for the X axis]
  3. Move the mouse to the right.
  4. Left click the mouse button to lock the object in place.

If you want to move the object up or down, the shortcut is ‘G’ and ‘Z’. In the screenshot above, moving the object backwards and forwards would be ‘G’ and ‘Y’.

If you want to use the menus you will have to start by opening the toolbar on the left. To do this, point the mouse at the right edge of the toolbar. When the mouse pointer changes to a double headed white arrow, click-hold-and-drag to the right:

Keep dragging until the toolbar is open and shows the label for each icon. Click the ‘Move’ option as shown:

You should now see a kind of 3D compass in the middle of the object. Click-hold-and-drag the blue arrow to move the object up or down on the Z axis. Click-hold-and-drag the red and green arrows to move the object in the direction of the lines on the grid [red for X, green for Y].

I admit I found the whole  X,Y and Z spatial awareness thing a bit hard at first but, as with most things, the more I had to move objects around, the easier it all became. And as I learned more advanced processes, I realised that X, Y and Z are absolutely fundamental to using Blender. I suspect they’re fundamental to learning any 3D software.

Ultimately, you will learn the shortcuts that make your life and work easier. For me, one shortcut I simply couldn’t live without is Ctrl Z. It’s standard for ‘Undo’ and will save you millions of clicks as you work in Blender.

Undo

Hold the Ctrl key down while you press the letter Z. This will undo the last thing you did. You can repeat Ctrl Z up to about 30 times, or until you run out of steps to undo.

Alternately, you can click ‘Undo’ on the Edit menu [top left of the screen]:

I’ll finish this first post off with a beginners tutorial that was quite good. It takes you through the basics of navigating the viewport using both the navigation icons and the keyboard shortcuts that go with them. The ‘viewport’ is just the name given to the dark grey grid.

Whether you use the menus or the shortcut keys, I hope you have fun and enjoy the learning process.

cheers

Meeks


Posing…with attitude. :D

I think I’m coming down with something, so I’ve done precious little all day. But sitting doing nothing does have its advantages. I finally managed to rig my little man, and that meant I could pose him. 😀

-grin-

Night night!


Blender 2.8 – a body at last!

Have I ever mentioned that I become obsessed with things sometimes?

Yes, well. I almost gave up learning Blender after the disappointment of the chair:

A couple of weeks on, I’m glad I kept at it. My ‘body’ is no prettier than the chair, but it’s an order of magnitude more sophisticated, and I’m bloody proud of it! lol

I haven’t worked out the bits that make the rendered object look good, but at least you can see my little man. 🙂

The round balloony things are light sources that give the figure its light and shade.

I’ve looked at an awful lot of video tutorials to get to this point, but the two that helped the most are:

  1. for the body

2. for the head

The reason I had to find a different tutorial for the head was because the one for the body used a function/technique that I simply could not replicate. I think that’s because the tutorial was done in Blender 2.78 while I’m using the latest version, 2.8.

In future posts I’m going to detail the translation problems I managed to solve, as well as a few very, very basic tips for people who really are just beginning. All too often, I came unstuck because of details or methodology so basic that the expert doing the teaching simply did not think of explaining it. That happens to me a lot.

For now though, I really, really need to vacuum my house. Things have been a wee bit neglected of late…

Have a great weekend everyone!

-hugs-

Meeks


$249 3D printer for kids?!?

You know I love tech, and you know I’ve loved the idea of 3D printers for a long time now. In fact, a future-tech version of the 3D printer appeared in one of the Innerscape books [where Miira prints herself a new outfit as part of a ‘disguise’]. But this?

You can find the full article, including a really good video review, here:

https://sv3dprinter.com/2019/06/23/3d-printing-news-alerttoybox-the-3d-printer-just-for-kid/

This shorter video [just over 1 minute] is an advertising trailer:

Honestly? If I had a grand child, I’d be thinking very seriously of buying this for their birthday, just so I could have a play with it! I particularly like the fact that kids can create their own designs instead of simply using the stock models.

As scary as it may seem, this is the future of tech, and it’s coming at the speed of sound.

cheers

Meeks


Eyesight & Oculus Rift

As an old[er] gamer with dodgy eyesight, I’ve been worried that I’d never be able to play VR [virtual reality] games. Well, yesterday I learned that I can. 😀

But first things first: what is Oculus Rift? Basically, it’s a very expensive piece of headgear that makes it possible to view imaginary things as if they were real. The model I tried out yesterday looks like this:

As well as the goggles and inbuilt headphones, the Oculus Rift comes with two handsets that transmit Wifi data to the two ‘receiver’ units positioned in front of the ‘player’.

All of this hardware is controlled by specialist software running on a fairly powerful pc. Without getting too technical, the software sends two, separate, high resolution images to the lens inside the headset. The appropriate image then bounces through one of the lens and into the left or right eye.

To get an idea of how this works, close one eye and look at an object. Close both eyes and move a few inches to the left. Now open the other eye and look at the object again. The object hasn’t changed at all, but the viewing angle has – i.e. you’re seeing a part of the object you haven’t seen before. Put the two images together, and you get a 3D image.

The human brain interprets these separate images all the time using a process called ‘stereopsis‘. But for some individuals, stereopsis doesn’t develop as it should. The brain still gets streams of images from both eyes, but these individuals see depth using a process called ‘motion parallax‘.

I am one of these individuals, and that’s why I worried I wouldn’t be able to see in VR. But I can! I can. My spatial awareness expanded right out, and when a bunch of very large robots suddenly turned feral and loomed over me, I instinctively threw my hands up to protect my head! I also squeaked in fear, but the less said about that the better. 😀

This is a video of a bunch of older people experiencing VR for the first time:

The headset shown in the video clip is the VIVE rather than the Oculus Rift, but the experience is much the same.

I wasn’t wearing glasses when I tried out the Rift, but apparently you can fit your normal glasses inside the goggles by adjusting the fit.

And now a word or two about the quality of the graphics. I wasn’t wearing any of my glasses [I have 3, one each for long, mid-range and close viewing] and that may have made the graphics less than optimal. Or it may be that the graphics still need to be improved. Or perhaps you simply need bleeding edge computer hardware to get the best results. Whatever the reason, I was in no danger of mistaking computer generated graphics for the real thing. But…the sensation of depth really does trick the brain into believing the images are real. One day, we may not be able to perceive the difference at all.

Finally, some unpleasant aspects of the hardware. For starters, the goggles are heavy. Whilst you’re ‘inside’, you tend to forget about the weight because there’s so much there to distract you, but it does feel a bit like carrying half a brick around on your head. It’s also hot. Yesterday was only warm, but after ten minutes playing with the Rift, my hair was wet with sweat.

A big part of the weight of the Rift comes from the glass lenses that make the magic possible. Given how young the technology is, I suspect the mechanics will be improved rapidly. One improvement I would very much like to see is in the handsets. Although they are far more intuitive than the controllers used with consoles, they’re still clunky. Gloves and a full-body suit with embedded sensors would be miles better. They’d also be miles more expensive, but hopefully the price will come down by the time I can afford to buy one. 😉

All in all, I loved my taste of VR, and now that I know I can see despite the issues with my eyesight, I’m determined to own my own setup…one day.

cheers

Meeks


3D printing research – here in Melbourne

My thanks to SV3DPRINTER for pointing me to this interesting article from Swinburne University, right here in Melbourne [Australia]:

https://www.swinburne.edu.au/news/latest-news/2018/08/pioneering-housing-construction-with-3d-concrete-printers-at-swinburne.php

Although Professor Jay Sanjayan wasn’t giving away any technical secrets about his new process, the prospect of new materials to use in the printing process is very exciting. Nevertheless, it’s his comments about disruption to the construction industry that really got me thinking. 3D printing in construction makes it possible to automate construction.

But then what happens to the brickies and steel workers and carpenters whose jobs will become redundant?

I’m excited by the possibilities brought about by 3D printing, but also a little apprehensive. I firmly believe that some form of Universal Basic Income [UBI] will become necessary, possibly even in my lifetime. Sobering thought.

cheers

Meeks

 


CLIP – a new kind of 3D printing

The one problem with printing ‘layers’ of material is that it leaves ridges. Those ridges can be seen quite clearly in this example of super large scale 3D printing:

 

But 3D printing is still in its infancy. Allow me to introduce CLIP, a new kind of 3D printing invented by ‘…two chemists and a physicist, ..[who].. came in with a different perspective.’ That perspective is ‘continuous liquid interface production technology’, CLIP for short.

‘To create an object, CLIP projects specific bursts of light and oxygen. Light hardens the resin, and oxygen keeps it from hardening. By controlling light and oxygen exposure in tandem, intricate shapes and latices can be made in one piece instead of the many layers of material that usually make up a 3-D printed object.’

That’s the gist of it, but if you go to the Washington Post article here, you can get a much better understanding of the process. You can also watch two amazing time-lapse video clips that show the magic of CLIP at work [pun intended]. 😉

cheers

Meeks

 

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2015/03/16/this-new-technology-blows-3d-printing-out-of-the-water-literally/?noredirect=on&pi_adid=48343&pi_clickid=91b86c6b5b584f2fa25fee579eacd5b5&pi_creativeid=173761&utm_medium=email&utm_source=powerinbox-revenuestripe&utm_term=.62c51a7e2952


3D printed food

My thanks to sv3dprinter for this great post about a company that developed 3D printed food for NASA:

I recommend checking the post out as it contains links to other great videos on 3D printing:

https://sv3dprinter.com/?p=6769

If microwaves brought about a revolution in foodprocessing last century, 3D printing will do the same for this century. I love the tech but I think I’ll stick to home cooking. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


At last…a ‘real’ hologram, except it’s not a hologram!

If you remember how Princess Leia appeared as a ‘hologram’ in the original Star Wars movie, you’ll find this new technology incredibly exciting. Why? Because for the very first time, we have the ability to project an image into space…in real 3D:

I cannot stress the importance of this technology enough. VR is exciting and impressive, but AR – Augmented Reality – will become a part of our lives much, much faster. Why? Because the uses are almost unlimited. Imagine walking down the street and having a full-colour, 3D advertisement step out from the wall and ‘talk’ just to you.

Okay, adverts you can’t escape are probably a terrible example, but what about crafts? Instead of looking up a youtube video clip, you could snap your fingers and have a 3D presentation appear in your workshop, loungeroom, kitchen, whatever. You could look at that presentation from the back, front, side, top or even from the bottom for those tiny details that aren’t normally visible in 2D.

Well, this new volumetric display technology could well be the innovation that allows us to do all that and so much more.

-mumble- Those scientists might want to change the name though. VD just does not have the right ring to it. 😦

cheers

Meeks


#Corel Draw 8’s Skew function and a new graphic for Twitter

…and here it is!

For those unfamiliar with Twitter, we’re allowed to ‘pin’ one tweet to our home page, or whatever it’s called. That tweet can be anything, including a post from another social media site such as WordPress. If there’s an attention-grabbing graphic on that pinned tweet then other people are more likely to click to see what it’s all about. Well, that’s the theory anyway. 🙂

Until now, I’ve been using the awesome 3D looking graphic Chris Graham [The Story Reading Ape] created for me back in 2017. If you follow me on Twitter you’ve probably seen it a million times:

I still like the graphic, but the Innerscape episodes no longer exist so it was well and truly time for a new one. And this is where the Skew comes in.

I used Corel Draw 8 again, and I’m fairly happy with the result, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing. Part of that was my own fault as I underestimated the size of each book’s cover graphic. Corel can usually handle them without a hiccup, but this time it kept stalling on certain functions and flat out refused to allow me to export the finished ‘group’ of images.

I investigated the usual suspects – file size, hidden parts of images that take up a lot of resources, a bottleneck in the clipboard. Nothing. Zip. Nada.

What on earth was going on?

I’m ashamed to admit that it took me hours to finally realise that the Corel ‘Skew’ function was the problem. Basically, skewing a complex graphic or group of graphics is not like adjusting the size or any of the other, ordinary transformations. It uses resources. Lots and lots of resources. I could get away with one or two applications of the skew but after that, it was as if the whole system was seizing up.

My computer is over three years old now, and it was middle of the road even when I had it built, so my problems with skew could have been exacerbated by lack-lustre computing power. Nevertheless, skew itself must have been doing something strange as well because when I tried to export the graphic, Corel couldn’t even display it in the export screen.

Anyway, lesson learned – use Skew sparingly and preferably not at all on big images/groups.

Time now to get Twitter sorted. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 


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