- Critical Tips
- Modeling Organic Shapes
- Rendering Fur via Particles
- Texture Masking
- Using images to allow different amounts of a shader-effect to be shown.
- Toon Shading
- Specific Tips
Very important tips to know that will boost the quality of your art significantly!
- The default renderer is Blender, but swap to Cycles (menu at the top of the screen) to use physically-based rendering! Your art will be shaded much more appropriately and it's much easier to use things like bumpmaps.
Blender tools, what they do, and how they're best used.
- Control + B
- Causes some faces, edges, or verticies to split into new ones, creating a nice smooth bevel in-between! Great for creating... well... beveled edges!
- Inside the edge menu (Control + E)
- Causes mesh that's otherwise connected along som edge(s) to separate. New edges are generated and assigned to new verticies so the mesh is no effectively split at that line.
- Kind of a combination of extrusion and scale. Allows you to create new faces in some number of existing faces, and then push those faces in or out.
- A nice tool for creating sockets, divets, or machine-like rods and such.
- Basically, use it when you want to extrude, right-click, then scale or move. Inset does all that, but better.
- Allows you to create asymetrical cutouts directly into a mesh.
- Nice for creating asymmetrical looks or odd mesh forms that can't easily be done via extrusion or insets.
- Highly recommend making sure no faces are left as F-gons (have more than 4 verticies), which can cause rendering issues and oddities.
Loop Cut & Slice
- Control + R
- AKA Insert Edge Loops
- Cuts a series of faces along a single column. Great for introducing a new row of edges in a model.
- In the render/camera tab...
- Set the framerate, start, and end frames.
- Output - MPEG
- Format - MPEG-4
- Codec H.264
- Bonus tip for creating 3D circle-around animations easily!
- Create an "empty" at the center/origin
- Make the empty a parent of the camera
- Rotate and keyframe the empty!
- Set the keyframes to interpolate - linear (Graph Editor, Key, Interpolation Mode)
UV Project from View
- A very, very quick way to unwrap and texture an object.
- Only really works for toon-based or gradient art, not HD or very detailed work where the surface has scratches or a bumpmap or something.
- To use for toon mesges, upwrap faces specifically, separately, then align them to the texture as needed!
Modeling hard objects is pretty straightforward and relatively easy. Everything is boxes and hard creases at well defined, egineered edges, but what if you want to model a character or a creature?
- Work top-down. Basic form then to details. In a hard-edged model, it's easy to just do relative details right away because everything's already mapped out. Can't do that here.
- Break the object down into basic 3D shapes: cubes and spheres. It's okay if objects poke into and through each other at this stage.
- Modeling with spheres (UV/ICO) is actually really tough. Many unnecessary polygons are introduced and it's hard to add details to it. Instead, use cubes and a subsurf modifier to make them round.
- Use the knife tool to introduce new faces for extrusion after basic form is down.
- Be sure to keep faces to 3-4 verticies. 5 or more will cause issues in most rendering engines. Even in Blender, there will be issues if you try to emit particles like hair or fur.
- Use the inset tool to create sockets and depressions.
- Even rocks and rock-faces are organic! They have hard edges, but it will look odd unless you add a lot of asymmetry and knicks and craks. Don't just rely on bumpmapping to solve the lack of details.
Rendering Fur via Particles
- Use the Cycles Renderer. It does a great job rendering fur.
- Apply a new Particle effect to an object (particle tab).
- Give the base, underlying mesh its own regular material. Probably just a basic diffuse.
- Create a new materil for the fur. Assign the material to the fur in the particles tab!
Let's say you're creating a 3D model, like a glowing irridescent mushroom! We want the mushroom to glow and emit light, but not entirely along its surface. Nor is there a separate part of it only emitting light like a lamp's bulb would. It sure would be nice if we could emit light strongly at some location and slowly taper out so that no light is being emitted. We can do that using texture mapping!
Notice how the ground is lit more brightly than the walls and ceiling. This is because the mushroom is set to only emit light from its rim and underneat the cap!
- UV Unwrap the object.
- Create a texture with a nice greyscale gradient. A color gradient can work too without issue, but the color of the gradient won't affect the color of the emissive light.
- Align the UVs on the texture such that the emissive part is white and the unemissive parts are black.
- In Blender's Cycles node editor, create a new emissive shader node.
- Create a Mix shader to mix between the object's color output and the emissive output.
- Create an Image Texture node and give it the gradient image file.
- Set the Fac amount to be the value of this gradient image.
- Use UV Project From View and simple gradient textures.
- For the blender render engine, I recommend setting the matieral so there's no specular (make the specular color black) and changing the main color to use a ramp (via a checkbox). Then make the ramp effect the output instead of the shader (menu right below the color ramp).
- For the cycles engine, I recommend using the textures and making the nodes use high roughness values.
In early 2018, I did a study of canine/wolf ears.
- Start with a triangular prisim. The tip will be more pointed.
- Insert row-cuts to allow for the base of the ear to be wider and taper up exponentially
- There's a good amount of thickness between the inner and outter ear. Leave a segment of outward-facing faces to give this uniform thickness.
- The inner ear simply follows the contours of the outter ear.
- Add a crimp/nook on the edges of the ear near the sides of the head.
- Fur is very short and soft on the outside, getting a bit longer towards the base.
- Inside the ear, fur is quite a bit longer.
- Ears themselves don't really animate, just the points where they connect to the head.
- The ears-back look is achieved by pushing the outter edges back and inner edges forward. The ears fold at the cimp and along a ride on the back.