Tag Archives: screenshots

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


How to disable Quick Access in Windows 10

I have to use Windows 10 when I’m teaching, and I’ve found that the new Quick Access option in File Explorer is confusing the hell out of my students.

Quick Access is like the old ‘Recent Places’ in Windows 7, except that in Windows 7, you control whether you see those recently accessed files and folders or not. In Windows 10, the ‘Quick Access’ function displays recent places by default, and they always appear at the top of the navigation tree. Essentially they are duplicating some of the files and folders shown under ‘This PC’, making my students wonder:

  • Which version of a file or folder should they use?
  • And if they do use the handy Quick Access area, why doesn’t it show ALL of their files and folders?
  • Have those other files and folders been lost?

For beginners, this duplication only leads to confusion and makes understanding how to save and retrieve their work even harder. For this reason, I told them to ignore Quick Access and go straight to ‘This PC’.

Why? Because only in ‘This PC’ will you find all the files and folders stored on your computer.

Sadly, it’s hard to ignore Quick Access when it’s the first thing you see and you have to scroll way down the screen before you can even see ‘This PC’. To solve this problem, I went searching for a way to tame Quick Access without requiring the powers of a super geek to do it. And here it is:

Step 1

Open File Explorer.

Step 2

Click the File button [or tab] on the File Explorer toolbar as shown:

Step 3

You should now see a menu of options. Click ‘Change Folder and search options’ as shown:

 

Step 4

You should now be looking at a popup menu of Folder options. The first option on the General tab is ‘Open File Explorer to:’ Quick access’. To change this option, click the small arrow next to ‘Quick access’ as shown:

Step 5

You should now be looking at the two available options – Quick access and This PC. Click the option for ‘This PC’ as shown:

Now, File Explorer will automatically go down to ‘This PC’ whenever you open it.

But…

Quick Access is still there, and it’s still saving a ‘history’ of every folder you’ve opened and every file you’ve created or edited. In other words, the confusion continues.

Step 6

To stop Quick Access from continuing to duplicate your movements, you’ll have to stop it from saving that history. With Folder options still open, go down to ‘Privacy’ and untick the two options shown there:

 

Step 7

File Explorer will no longer track what you do on your computer, but your past movements are still there, in Quick Access. To clear everything out of Quick Access you have to clear out the history as shown below:

Once you click the ‘OK’ button, all of the File Explorer history will be gone from Quick Access, and it won’t come back!

There doesn’t appear to be any way of getting rid of the Quick Access option entirely, but at least now it won’t duplicate every thing you do on your computer, and you will be in control of what you see on File Explorer. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 


Lefties – how to adjust the mouse buttons in Windows 10

I wrote up a quick how-to for a student of mine and thought it might be useful for other left handers out there.

Step 1

Click the START button [circled in red] to display the Start Menu. On the Start Menu, click ‘Settings’[shown in green] :

Step 2

With the Settings dialog box displayed, click ‘Devices’ [shown in green] :

Step 3

With the Devices dialog box displayed, click ‘Mouse & touchpad’ [shown in green]:

Step 4

With the ‘Mouse & touchpad’ dialog box displayed, click ‘Left’.

The option for ‘Right’ will now be displayed.

Click ‘Right’ as shown:

Left handers should now be able to mouse click using the index finger of their left hand and the right button of the mouse. 🙂

cheers

Meeks

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


A naughty weekend in Warrandyte

No! Not that kind of weekend…;) This kind of weekend:

The lighting effects are truly glorious in Elder Scrolls Online, and they inspired me to create classically inspired interiors for my in-game house. That involved finding recipes, gathering ingredients and finally crafting beautiful items like:

…the goblets and knick knacks you can see displayed on that shelving.

I also splurged and bought a very expensive recipe for a glass goblet and some ‘food’. In this last screenshot, you can see my wedge of cheese, the bread platter, and some kebabs. Dinner chez moi. 🙂

I loved the player housing in Final Fantasy XIV, but the housing and control in ESO are an order of magnitude better. Harder to master, but I think the effects speak for themselves. And yes, I did spend a lot of time playing this weekend. But I also spent a lot of time, and most of my energy mowing. I literally did not have enough oomph left over to write. Today, though, I will make up for lost time.

cheers

Meeks

 

 


2 free days for the KDP how-to books

I should probably stretch these promotions out but…meh, let’s have some fun. 🙂

Okay, from October 23 to 24 [2 days], the ebook version of How to Print Your Novel with Kindle Direct Publishing and How to Print Non-Fiction with Kindle Direct Publishing will be free on Amazon:

The difference between the two books is that the How to…Novel is pitched at absolute beginners while the How to Non-Fiction is for self-publishers who have to deal with lots of graphics. Oh and the How to Non-Fiction has a new Index of Links at the very back. You can find it by looking at the bottom of the Table of Contents.

If you’re just interested in the KDP side of the equation, both books cover the same information. This includes three appendices that contain information specifically for Aussie authors.

Both how-to books are in colour and fixed layout:

Although you can pinch-and-zoom with fixed format ebooks, you can’t change the font size to suit your comfort zone. That’s why I made the font size 24. On my Kindle Fire, that size is like a normal size 12 font in a paperback. I also made the pictures as ‘visible’ as possible so you wouldn’t have to keep zooming in and out all the time. I haven’t tried either book on a phone so if anyone gives it a try I’d love to know how well [or badly] it works.

Fixed format ebooks can only be read on one of the Kindle Fires or via the free Kindle app.  You can get the app. for a variety of devices at this web address:

https://www.amazon.com/kindle-dbs/fd/kcp

The free promotion should start at midnight tomorrow for the Northern hemisphere. For us Aussies, it will begin at about 6 pm tomorrow.  I genuinely hope lots of people download the books, and I would really, really appreciate the odd review. 🙂

cheers

Meeks


IngramSpark cover template builder

Just a very quick post about the covers for IngramSpark.

First, you can find the template builder on the IngramSpark website here:

https://myaccount.ingramspark.com/Portal/Tools/CoverTemplateGenerator

You won’t have to register with IngramSpark to use the cover generator, but you will have to type in an ISBN for the book plus other details like total page count etc:

IngramSpark will send you an email so you can download the template [two choices InDesign or PDF].

The template will look like this:

The cover has to fit over the entire coloured area, with particular attention to the text that goes on the spine. Then the WHOLE template plus cover image has to be saved as one, converted to whatever [for me it’s PDF] and that is sent off as the cover file.

Hope that makes sense.

Night all,

Meeks


#FFXIV – decorating my new room

Non-gamers look away now!

Just a couple of pics of my room in the Tonberry FC. Absolutely adore the ‘rust red’ of the walls:

and…

Okay, back to work now. -waves-

Meeks

 

 

 


#Windows 10 updates – #Metered Connection

This how-to is for all non-US users of Windows 10 who have capped broadband plans – i.e. only get XX gigabytes of data per month.

Pre-Step A

Go to:

  1. Start
  2. Settings
  3. Update & Security
  4. Windows Update
  5. Advanced Options

Now make sure ‘Choose How Updates are Installed’ is set to ‘Automatic (recommended)’ as shown below:

update auto is on

[Note: if this option is set to ‘Notify to reschedule restart’ at this point, Windows becomes…confused and could go into a perpetual loop. Mine did and I had to do a hard shutdown to get it to stop].

Step 1 – Finding the ‘Metered connection’ option

Click on the Start button and then select:

  1. Settings
  2. Network and Internet
  3. Wifi
  4. Advanced Options

Under ‘Metered connection’, click the slider button to show ‘on’:

metered connection

Step 2 – changing how Windows 10 updates are scheduled

Now go back to:

  1. Settings
  2. Update & security
  3. Windows update
  4. Advanced options

and under ‘Choose how updates are installed’, change ‘Automatic’ to ‘Notify to schedule restart’.

Now, Windows 10 will notify you of:

  • available updates, and
  • how much broadband they will use

but it will not download and install them automatically. This is what my laptop now shows:

new update option

My heartfelt thanks to The Opening Sentence for showing me where the ‘Metered connection’ option was hiding! I feel a lot better now. 🙂

cheers
Meeks


Working with Children Check – step-by-step

Most community based learning centres have some programs for children, so most community centres require volunteers [and paid staff] to be cleared for working with children. Given the horrific tales of child abuse all over the media, I agree that vetting adults who work with children is a good idea. Unfortunately the implementation of that good idea is a bureaucratic nightmare.

Having just struggled with this nightmare myself, I thought a step-by-step walkthrough of the process might be useful to others. So here it is.

Step 1 Go to the Working with Children home page :

http://www.workingwithchildren.vic.gov.au/utility/home/

Step 2 Ignore the animated prompt to register and click on the big, blue ‘Apply for a check’ button on the right of the page :

working with children home page

Step 3 You should now be looking at a page full of information about who should apply, etc etc. Ignore all that, and scroll down to the bottom of the page where you will find some more big, blue buttons. Right at the very bottom you will see a slightly smaller, blue button called ‘Start Application’. Click it as shown :

working with children app page2

Step 4 You should now be looking at another long page of information. Scroll down until you reach the bottom of that page. There you will find this :

working with children app page4The first text box asks if you’ve applied for a check before. Click on the small arrow next to the question and select either yes or no. I selected no.

The second text box is only for those who have applied for the check before and already have some documentation. For newbies like us, ignore.

The third text box requires that you choose between a check for an employee, or a volunteer. If you select ’employee’ it is assumed that you will be paid for your work and/or that the employer will pay for your check. The fee for an employee check is $102. If you select ‘volunteer’ there is no fee, but you will not be able to work with children in a paid capacity.

To select either employee or volunteer, click the small arrow to the right of the text box and make your selection. To continue, click ‘Next’.

 

Step 5 At last, the contact details form. This should have been very straight forward, but it wasn’t. You start by filling in your current, residential address details. Then you get to the bit shown in red below :

working with children app page7

This is for your postal address, and includes a little checkbox that you can click if your postal address is the same as your residential address. This is what happened when I clicked the checkbox and ‘Next’ :

working with children app page7 errorThe address details aren’t real, but you can see that they were carried over quite nicely to the postal address fields… except for the state. For some reason the application doesn’t recognize its own data.

The only way to get around this error is to uncheck the checkbox and manually type your postal details in again. Then hit ‘Next’ and everything is fine. -face palm-

Step 6 The next page asks for ‘Organisation details’:

working with children app page8

The organisations in question are the companies for which you are volunteering. Now despite the fact that I am volunteering to work with adults, not children, I may be asked to do something with children in the future – e.g. take a class, or take over for 5 minutes while the assigned carer goes to the loo – so I need to have the checks in place ahead of time…

– click ‘yes’

– click the small arrow next to ‘Occupational Work Codes’ and select the option that best describes what you will be required to do with children.

Step 7  Then you click ‘Next’ and get this :

working with children app page8 error

Luckily, this error is actually not a real error at all. What’s happened is that when you clicked ‘yes’ under  Organisation details, the system did not allow you to specify the names of those organisations. This form is a kind of catch-up [and something you should have seen all along]. Click in each box and fill in the relevant details. Finally click ‘Add organisation to list’ as shown :

 

working with children app page9 error

Step 8 If you need to add multiple organisations, click ‘Add another organisation’ as shown :

working with children app page10 error

Step 9 Almost done. You should now be looking at a legal looking page. Right down the bottom you should see this :

working with children app page11

– Click the small checkbox [small red circle] and then,

– Click on ‘Sign and Submit’

What this does is send a sort of electronic ‘intent to apply’. But…. YOU STILL HAVE TO SEND IN THE PAPER APPLICATION!

Step 10 The Confirmation page. This is actually rather important:

working with children app page12 print

You now have to print off the form you have just filled in by clicking ‘Print or Save’. It will have a box for signing… BUT DO NOT SIGN IT! Take the unsigned form, along with a passport photo and suitable ID – e.g. passport, driver’s license, Medicare card etc – to an Australia Post office*. The Australia Post employee will then watch you sign the printed form [and date it]. They will then certify that the ID you have shown and your signature all match.

Then, they will take your application and do whatever it is they do with it. In return, you will receive a receipt to show that you have applied. However you will not, legally, be authorized to work with children until your application is accepted. Not sure how long the acceptance part will take but I’d guess at least two working weeks.

* You will not be able to find a list of ‘participating Australia Post offices‘ by clicking the link on the Confirmation page. That link only takes you to the main Australia Post page. Where you go from there I have no idea. I’d suggest ringing up one of the larger Australia Post offices instead.

And there, at last, you have it, how to navigate one of the worst interfaces I have ever had the misfortune to use. Good luck, and now I’m off for a much needed coffee.

cheers

Meeks

p.s. My application is in! I went to the Australia Post office in Eltham and everything went smoothly.

 

 

 


Nice feature WordPress!

I’ve been noticing something strange in my stats lately, so tonight I looked at them more closely, and discovered a really nice WP feature in the process. Basically it allows you to look at the stats of individual posts over time :

Image

If  you already know about this little gem then please ignore the rest of this post. If not, I’ll show you where to find it.

Click on the Stats tab of your WordPress page [the main one, not Dashboard], and look on the right hand side where it lists the top posts and pages :

wp feature

 

If you click on that little zoom icon, the stats for that particular post will be displayed.  And they’re amazing. 🙂

I still have no idea why my post on the Samsung Galaxy SII is getting so much attention all of a sudden, but I know I’ll be playing with the zoom icon from now on. Gotta love some of the toys um, I mean tools WordPress gives us.

Goodnight all!

Meeks


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