Learn 3D Graphics

Blender Basics

Learn the basics of modeling forms in Blender.

Making a flower by drawing with vertices

  1. When you first open Blender, click outside of the splash screen to access the startup file
  2. Making sure that you are using "Object Mode", select the default cube (right-click) and press "X" to delete
  3. In the Outliner window Outliner icon is missing, right-click on "Scene Collection" to create a new collection for any objects we will create New collection image is missing
    • Double-click on the name of the new collection in the Outliner and rename to a more descriptive name (ie. Scene Objects) for clarity Rename collection image is missing
    • If you find the camera and lamp distracting, click on the eye icon to the right of the first collection to temporarily hide their visibilty in the workspace Visibility toggle image is missing
    • For more compex files in the future, use multiple collections (ie. environment, characters & etc.) to keep your file organized and to easily show/hide larger areas at once
  4. Setup the 3D View Window to start the flower:
    1. Switch to a top view by pressing "7" on the numberpad or click in the view widget, on the blue circle with a "Z" (upper right of the 3D View window) Change to top view image is missing
    2. Pivot point image is missing If the pivot point is not located in the center of the grid, use the shortcut "shift+S" to snap to "Cursor to World Orgin" Set pivot point image is missing
    3. Add a plane using the shortcut for the add menu: "shift+A" and select a plane (Mesh → Plane) Adding a plane image is missing
    4. Double-click on the name of the plane in the Outliner and rename to a more descriptive name (ie. flower) for better organization and clarity (always name objects descriptively as you make them - this becomes important later on when you have many different objects in a single file) Rename the plane image is missing
    5. Back in the 3D View window, switch to "Edit mode" using "tab" or the mode dropdown switch to edit mode image is missing
    6. Delete the plane to leave a blank slate for the flower:
      1. With the flower active, press "X" to delete
      2. Select "Vertices" so that all segments of the plane are removed (since "Edit mode" is active, the flower is still an object in the outliner and the origin of the plane still remains, even though the faces/edges/vertices are now gone) Delete vertices image is missing
  1. Use control+left-click to create the first vertex (data point) for the flower, a little ways to the left of the "Y-axis" (green/depth) and at least one larger block below the "X-axis" (red/width) First vertex image is missing
  2. Add 5 more vertices (connected by edges) to create an arc that crosses the X-axis using control+left-click Left side of petal image is missing
    • If one vertex is selected, the next vertext will be connected to it by an edge (this is what we want)
    • If multiple vertices are selected, the next vertext will be connected to each selected vertex by an edge (for now, avoid this)
    • If no vertices are selected, the next vertext will not be connected to anything
  3. Adjust the vertices as necessary using the "Move" tool's transform manipulator Move in toolbar image is missing (shift+spacebar)
    • Pull the green handle to move along the Y-axis
    • Pull the red handle to move along the X-axis
    • For now, do not use the blue handle, which moves along the "Z-axis" (blue/height)
    Adjust vertices image is missing
  4. Switch back to the select tool to prevent the move widget from interfering (shift+spacebar) Select in toolbar image is missing
  5. Finish the left side of the petal by creating faces
    • faces make up the interior space formed by vertices and the connected/closed edges
    • While faces can be made up of any number of vertices, the program works best when sticking to quads (4 vertices per face) instead of n-gons (more than 4 vertices per face)
    1. With the top vertex selected, create a new vertex directly to it's right, on top of the Y-axis (this should create a horizontal edge) Add horizontal vertex image is missing
    2. Create a vertext directly beneath (parallel to the vertext 2nd from the top on the left) Add vertex below image is missing
    3. Create a face by selecting the top 4 vertices (shift+right-click to add to the selection) and press "F"
      Select only 4 vertices image is missing Make a face image is missing
    4. Create the next 2 faces:
      1. Select only the bottom right vertext Select bottom right vertex image is missing
      2. Create a vertex directly below (parallel to the equivilent vertex on the left) Select bottom right vertex image is missing
      3. Select the set of four vertices and press "F" to make a face
        Select only 4 vertices image is missing Make a face image is missing
      4. Repeat the last 2 steps to make one more face using the same method Third face image is missing
    5. Make the last 2 faces using a different technique:
      1. With only the bottom right vertext selected, press "E" to extrude and then "Y" to lock to the Y-axis and pull down the extruded vertex to be parallel to the bottom left (left-click to keep the position)
        Select bottom right vertex image is missing Extrude vertex image is missing
      2. Switch the selection mode from "Vertex select" to "Edge select" Edge select image is missing
      3. Right-click on the newly formed right edge to select it Extrude vertex image is missing
      4. From the context menu (W), choose subdivide Subdivide image is missing
      5. Select only the upper left and right edges (shift+right-click to select multiple) from the newly subdivided edges and press "F" to make a face
        Select edges image is missing New face image is missing
      6. Deselect (alt+A) and change the selection mode back to vertex
      7. Press "C" to enable brush select and paint the 4 vertices that make up the missing face (right-click to exit the brush) Brush select image is missing
      8. Press "F" to make the last face Last face image is missing
    6. Adjust vertices as needed with the move tool's transform manipulator (shift+spacebar) Adjust vertices image is missing
  6. Make the right side of the petal by extruding the middle:
    1. Select the entire right side with alt+right-click Select right vertices image is missing
    2. Press "E" to extrude and then "X" to lock to the X-axis
    3. Pull the extruded vertices over to the right and left-click to keep the location Extrude right vertices image is missing
    4. Adjust the location of the right vertices to mirror the left side
      • Press "G" and then "X" to move a selected vertex along the X-axis - when it is positioned properly, left-click to keep the position
      • Press "G" and then "Y" to move a selected vertex along the Y-axis - when it is positioned properly, left-click to keep the position
      Adjust vertices image is missing
    5. Select all the vertices "A" Select all vertices image is missing
    6. Make sure you don't have any overlapping vertices with "alt+M → By Distance" (it's helpful to run this occassionally to prevent issues) Merge overlapping vertices image is missing
      • The merge distance can be adjusted in the merge window in the bottom left of the 3d window if needed (the default should be fine) Merge options image is missing
    7. Deselect with "alt+A"
  7. Use "Quad View" (ctrl+alt+Q) to make the flower petal 3-dimensional: Select all vertices image is missing
    • In quad view, the top, front, and right perspectives are always visible
    • Zoom in/out with the scroll wheel
    • Pan by holding shift while dragging with the middle mouse button (mmb)
    • In the top right frame only you can change the angle/rotation with either mmb+drag, the numberpad keys, or the view widget
    1. In a top view, select the middle vertices of the petal (along the Y-axis) with either alt+right+click or box select (B) Select center vertices image is missing
    2. Hovering over the right or front view, press "G" and then "Z" to move the bottom of the petal down along the Z-axis Move center vertices image is missing
    3. Turn on proportional editing using the toggle or "O"
    4. Set the falloff type for proportional editing to "sharp" Change falloff image is missing
    5. Make a subtle arc by adjusting the bottom vertices on either end of the petal
      • When proportional editing is on, use the scroll wheel to control the area of influence
      • A white circle represents the influence area - only when you are actively moving something
      • The proportional editing size replaces the 3D View window's menu while it is in active use
      • Turn on "projected from view" when you want vertices that are directly behind to move in sync with the vertices in the front (top, left, right or bottom views only) Projected view image is missing
    6. Adjust other vertices as needed to create a petal sihlouette you like using the move tool or shortcut G locked to the X, Y, or Z axis as needed Petal shape adjusted image is missing
    7. Turn off proportional editing (O) and exit quad view (Ctrl+alt+Q)
      Turn off image is missing Top view image is missing
  1. Make sure the top view (numberpad 7) is active
  2. Set a pivot point for the center of the flower
    1. Left-click with the cursor about 1/2 to 1 larger square away from the bottom of the flower (on the Y-axis)
    2. Press the main keyboard's period key (.) and make sure that the pivot type is set to "3D cursor"
    Set pivot point image is missing
  3. Add the rest of the petals:
    1. Select the entire petal (A)
    2. Use "shift+D" and then "R" to duplicate and rotate along the pivot point and then left-click to keep the location Duplicate and rotate petal image is missing
    3. Repeat the last step as many times as necessary to complete the flower petals All petals image is missing
    4. Adjust flower petals as needed by deselecting (alt+A or right-click outside of the object), hovering over the petal and pressing "L" for loose part and then "R" to adjust the rotation
  4. Add the center of the flower:
    1. Zoom out a little (scroll-wheel) and then move the cursor/pivot location off to the side (left-click), a little away from the flower
    2. Add a "UV Sphere" (shift+A) Add a sphere image is missing
    3. In the front view (numberpad 1 or the bottom green circle in the view widget), refocus the view on just the sphere by pressing the numberpad's period key (.)
    4. Deselect the sphere (alt+A or right-click) and switch the shading from solid to wireframe (Z → Wireframe) Wireframe view image is missing
    5. Use box select (B) to select the bottom half of the sphere Select half image is missing
    6. Delete the bottom faces (X → Faces) Delete half image is missing
    7. Refocus on both the center and the petals by using shortcuts "A" to select all and then the numberpad's period key (.)
    8. Deselect all (alt+A or right-click)
    9. Reposition and scale the flower center to fit with the petals:
      1. Select only the flower center (hover over the center and press "L")
      2. Switch to quad view (ctrl+alt+Q)
      3. Use the Move tool's transform manipulator (shift+space) in the different windows to move the center to rest inside the petals
      4. If necessary, use the "Scale tool" to resize the center (or use shortcut "S") Position center image is missing
    10. Add a slight indent to the center:
      1. Select the vertex at the center of the center (right-click in the top view) Select center vertex image is missing
      2. Turn on proportional editing (O)
      3. Turn off projected from view and change falloff to smooth Proportional editing settings image is missing
      4. In the front or side view use the move tool and pull down the center vertex along the Z axis (blue handle)
      5. Use the scrollwheel to adjust proportional editing as needed while adjusting the center vertex Adjust center image is missing
    11. Turn off proportional editing (O)
    12. Switch back to solid view (Z → Solid)
  5. Rotate the entire flower to face frontwards using "A" then "R" then "X" then "90" to select everything and rotate 90deg along the X-axis (left-click to keep the change)
    Before rotate image is missing After rotate image is missing
  1. Select only the flower center (alt+A then L while hovering)
  2. Move the cursor to the flower center using "shift+S" → "Cursor to Selection"
  3. Add a circle (shift+A → Mesh → Circle) Add circle image is missing
  4. Rotate the circle to face front ("A" then "R" then "X" then "90" and left-click)
  5. Resize and/or reposition as necessary using the transform manipulators from the Move and Scale tools Adjust circle image is missing
  6. In the top view, extrude the edge loop to make the first segment of the stem using "E" and then "Y" (to lock to the Y-axis) and left-click to keep the change
  7. Shrink the new loop slightly (S) - this will work best if the pivot point is to the side of the stem Extrude center image is missing
  8. In quad view's right view, continue to extrude each new bottom loop, adjusting the size and rotation as necessary until you are satisfied with the stem:
    1. "E" to extrude, pull into place and left-click to keep the change
    2. Move the pivot point to the bottom of the new loop (left-click)
    3. "R" to rotate the loop slightly more downward
    4. "S" to scale, only if needed Extrude again image is missing
    5. Keep repeating until the stem is a reasonable length Finished stem image is missing
    6. Exit quad view (ctrl+alt+Q)
  9. Duplicate the flower twice:
    1. Switch to "Object" mode (tab)
    2. Try changing the shading to smooth for a more polished look (3D view menu → Object → "Shade Smooth") Smooth shading image is missing
    3. Use "shift+D" to duplicate and move the new flower into position before using left-click to keep the change (duplicating in object mode creates a separate object in the outliner)
    4. Repeat
    5. Adjust individual location/scale/rotation using the move, rotate, and scale tools as needed 3 flowers image is missing
    6. In the outliner, make sure to turn the original collection's visibility back on so that the camera and lamp can be adjusted Visibility on image is missing

Add materials, adjust the lighting, set the camera view, and render your first image by utilizing the other tabs.

Making a creature starting with a basic cube

  1. Open Blender and click outside of the startup window to enter the default startup file
  2. Optimize the organization in the Outliner:
    1. In the Outliner window, right-click to create a new collection for your creature
    2. Double-click on the name of the new collection in the Outliner and rename to a more descriptive name (ie. Creature or etc.) for clarity
    3. In the outliner, drag and drop the cube into the new collection
    4. Temporarily hide the first collection (with the lamp and camera) by pressing on the eye icon next to the collection name - if they are distracting
    Organization of the outliner image is missing
  3. Select the cube (right-click) and switch into "Edit" mode (tab)
  4. Access the context window (W) and choose "Subdivide"
  5. In the small subdivision option window (bottom left), increase the number of cuts to "3" (or subdivide another time) Subdivide with a cut of 3 image is missing
  6. Round off the vertical corners (Z-axis)
    1. Select one corner with alt-right-click Select corner image is missing
    2. Switch to the top view (numberpad 7 or the blue Z in top right view widget)
    3. Use the Move tool's tranform manipulator to move the corner inward along the x (red) and y (green) axes Adjust corner image is missing
    4. Switch to a side view (click and drag with the scroll wheel or use numberpad shortcuts 1 or 3
    5. Repeat the last few steps for the other 3 vertical corners Adjust 4 corners image is missing
  7. Stretch out the torso:
    1. Select the middle vertex (from the top view) with right-click Select center vertex image is missing
    2. Turn on proportional editing (O) and change the falloff type to "Smooth" (leave "projected from view" unchecked) Proportional editing settings image is missing
    3. In the side (numberpad 3) or front (numberpad 1 or lower green cirlce) view, press "G" and then "Z" to pull the center vertex up along the Z-axis Pull up center image is missing
    4. If necessary, use the scroll-wheel to adjust the rounded top of the creature, before using left-click to keep the change
  8. Add legs:
    1. Switch the select mode to face select Face select image is missing
    2. In bottom view (ctl+numberpad 7 or press the blue Z twice in the view widget), select the mid-outer faces on both the left and right (shift+right-click) Select faces to make feet image is missing
    3. In the front view (numberpad 1 or the empty green circle in the view widget), press "E" and then "Z" to extrude down a small ways - left-click to keep the location Extrude feet image is missing
    4. Scale the faces slightly inward (S) Scale inward image is missing
    5. Extrude again (E then Z) to create the lower leg Extrude again image is missing
    6. Extrude again (E then Z) to create a foot Extrude again image is missing
    7. Switch to edge selection mode Select edges image is missing
    8. Shift+right-click to select the bottom front edge of each foot
    9. In a side view (numberpad 3 or X in the view widget), press "G" and then "Y" to pull out the foot along the Y-axis - use left-click to keep the change Select faces to make feet image is missing
  9. Customize the sihlouette:
    1. Select an edge loop (ie. the bottom front) with alt+right-click and use the Move tool to adjust the edge's location (ie. move the edges up and inwards) Adjust belly image is missing
    2. Make other adjustments as needed
  10. Add a mouth:
    1. In the front view (numberpad 1), enable the "Loop Cut" tool (cmd+R) Loop cut tool image is missing
    2. Mouse over the mesh, then click and drag to add and position the new loop (to add detail horizontally and/or vertically where you'd like the mouth) Place loop image is missing
      • Increase the number of cuts in the small loop cut options window (bottom left) if needed Adjust loops image is missing
    3. Repeat the last step if more detail is needed either horizontally or vertically
    4. If proportional editing is enabled, turn it off (O)
    5. Use vertex select and the Move tool's transform manipulator to adjust vertices into the outline for a mouth Adjust mouth vertices image is missing
    6. With face select enabled, select the faces inside the mouth shape (shift+right-click) Select mouth faces image is missing
    7. In the right side view (numberpad 3 or the red x in the view widget), press "E" and pull the faces of the mouth slightly inward (to the right) before using left-click to keep the change
    8. Extrude one more time, slightly further inward (to the right) so that there is both a mouth cavity and faces that could be used as lips Extruded mouth image is missing
    9. Deselect (alt+A)

Modifiers can allow you to make a variety of adjustments to your mesh object as a whole - often non-destructively. This means that you can remove or disable the modifiers and return to the unaltered object.

  1. Add the "Subdivision Surface" modifier to add detail which smooths out the creature:
    1. In the properties window, go to the modifiers tab (wrench icon) and select "Add Modifier" Modifier tab image is missing
    2. Under generate, choose "Subdivision Surface" Add modifier image is missing
    3. Increase both "View" and "Render" (the final output) to at least 2 (only add as much detail as needed - too much subdivision can slow down Blender)
    4. Toggle visibility of the modifier on/off in the viewport by clicking on the monitor icon at the top of the modifier and render visibility with the camera icon Modifier visibility image is missing
  2. Add the "Mirror" modifier to work symetrically:
    1. Delete half of your creature (so that it will be perfectly symmetrical)
      1. Switch to the front view (numberpad 1)
      2. Change the shading to "Wireframe" (Z → Wireframe)
      3. With vertex select active, use "B" to click and drag a box selection around the left side of your creature Select half image is missing
      4. Press "X" to delete the "Faces"
        Delete half image is missing Deleted image is missing
      5. Switch back to "Solid" shading (Z → Solid)
    2. In the properties window, go to the modifiers tab (wrench icon) and select "Add Modifier" Modifier tab image is missing
    3. Under generate, choose "Mirror" Add mirror image is missing
    4. By default the X-axis is mirrored - switch the axis if necessary Adjust mirror axis image is missing
    5. Correct the overlap/seam if necessary:
      • If there is a slight gap, increase the merge limit slightly Adjust mirror merge image is missing
      • If there is a large gap - or incorrect overlap, use the Move tool's transform manipulator to move the object into the correct position (so that the right edge lines up with the object origin) Correct mirror image is missing
      • If only part of the gap is incorrect, use the Move tool's transform manipulator to move each vertex into position
    6. Add eye sockets:
      • With the mirror modifier on (and not applied), making one eye socket will also create the other (unless you place the cavity directly over the mirror's seam)
      1. In the front view (numberpad 1), enable the "Loop Cut" tool (cmd+R)
      2. Mouse over the right side of the mesh, then click and drag to add and position the new loop (to add detail horizontally and/or vertically where you'd like the right eye placed)
        • Increase the number of cuts in the small loop cut options window (bottom left) if needed
      3. Add more loops as needed either horizontally or vertically Add eye loops image is missing
      4. Use vertex select and the Move tool's transform manipulator to adjust vertices into the outline for an eye socket - or select the 4 corner vertices and press "S" to scale inward Socket shape image is missing
      5. With face select enabled, select the faces inside the eye shape (shift+right-click) Select faces image is missing
      6. In the right side view (numberpad 3), press "E" and pull the faces of the mouth slightly inward (to the right) before using left-click to keep the change
      7. Extrude one more time, slightly further inward (to the right) so that there is both an eye socket and faces that could be used as eyelids Finished sockets image is missing
      8. Deselect (alt+A)
  3. Add eyes:
    1. Switch back to "Object" mode (tab) so that the eyes will be their own objects - this is important if they are animated so that the eyes can move independently
    2. Add a "UV sphere" (shift+A → Mesh → UV Sphere) Add sphere is missing
    3. In quad view (ctrl+alt+Q), use the move tool's transform manipulator to place the eye inside the socket Socket shape image is missing
    4. With just the eye selected, duplicate it (shift+D)
    5. Move the new eye into the other socket with the move tool's transform manipulator (or use "G" then "X" to move along the x-axis) Second eye image is missing
    6. In the outliner, rename the UV spheres to "Eye.L" (left eye) and "Eye.R" (right eye) or something similarly descriptive Rename eyes image is missing
    7. Adjust the eyelids if needed:
      1. Select the body mesh, and switch back into "Edit" mode (tab)
      2. Select the loop around the right eye (alt+right-click) and scale inward (S) or adjust individual vertices as necessary
  4. Add arms:
    1. Add loop cuts as needed to add more detail where the arms will be added Add arm loops image is missing
    2. Adjust the vertices to make a slightly more rounded outline for the arm Adjust arm vertices image is missing
    3. Select the faces where the arm will be and extrude (E) outwards (from either the front or back view)
      Select arm faces image is missing Extrude arm image is missing
    4. Scale slightly inward (S)
    5. Extrude one more time so that there can be an elbow Adjust arm vertices image is missing

Sometimes artists deliberately (or accidentally) create part of an object/character as a separate object and then need to join multiple objects together.

  1. In "Object" mode (tab), create a new cube (shift+A → Mesh → Cube) Add cube for hand image is missing
  2. Adjust the cube to look like a simple hand with a thumb:
    1. In quad view (ctrl+alt+Q), line up the cube with the right arm (or whichever arm IS NOT the mirror), leaving a gap between the arm and "hand"
    2. Adjust the scale of the cube to be more suitable for a hand (it should be flatter) Adjust hand scale image is missing
    3. Exit quad view (ctrl+alt+Q)
    4. With the "hand" cube selected, switch into "Edit" mode (tab)
    5. Subdivide a couple times (W → Subdivide) - or subdivide once and increase the number of cuts to 2
    6. Select a couple faces where you want the thumb to be and extrude out
      Select faces for thumb image is missing Extrude faces for thumb image is missing
    7. Adjust the edges as necessary to make a sihlouette you like (use alt+right-click to select a full edge) Adjust hand shape image is missing
    8. Select and delete the faces at the wrist area
      Select hand faces image is missing Deleted image is missing
    9. In quad view (ctrl+alt+Q), line up the hand so that it is almost connected to the arm but leave some space inbetween (so that you can see the faces on the end of the arm)
  3. Join the hand and creature objects together:
    1. In "Object" mode, select the hand first and the creature last (the order of selection is important - only the name and modifiers of the last object selected will be kept) Select both objects image is missing
    2. Use the shortcut "ctrl+J" Objects joined image is missing
  4. In "Edit" mode, select and delete the faces on the arm where the hand and arm will meet (both the hand and arm should look hollow)
    Select arm faces image is missing Arm faces deleted image is missing
  5. Temporarily turn of the visibility of the subdivision surface modifier (monitor icon) Modifier visibility image is missing
  6. Join together the vertices of the hand and arm using either:
    1. Snapping:
      1. Turn on snapping by clicking on the magnet icon at the top middle of the 3D window and set the snapping type to "vertex"
      2. Make sure vertex select is active Enable snapping image is missing
      3. Select a vertex from the edge of the hand and press "G" to grab it
      4. Pull the vertex to the matching vertex of the arm and release when it snaps into place Vertices joined image is missing
      5. Repeat as necessary to completely connect the hand and arm
      6. Remove overlapping vertices
        1. Select all with "A"
        2. Use "alt+M" to open the merge commands and select "By distance"
      7. Turn off snapping by clicking on the magnet icon again
    2. or Merging:
      1. Select one vertex from the hand and the corresponding vertex from the arm Vertices selected image is missing
      2. Use "alt+M" and choose one of the merge commands (NOT "By distance") Merge image is missing
      3. Repeat as necessary to completely connect the hand and arm Hand joined image is missing
      4. This works best when selecting in the same order and using the same merge command
  7. Turn on the visibility of the subdivision surface modifier (monitor icon)
  8. Add materials, textures, and particles as needed

Lighting

Good lighting is important if you want to have a quality render (output). Without good lighting, fireflies (white pixels) are more likely to occur.

Lamps can only be added in "Object" mode, using the add menu (shift+A). At minimum, there should be one lamp in your scene. Lamps will sometimes display differently between the different render engines.

Change the lamp type in the lamp properties Lamp properties icon image is missing. The strength/power setting has a large impact on the brightness of the lamp.

  • Point:

    This lamp is naturally quite dim and points downwards. It is best for adding small accent lights - not to light an entire scene. If using Cycles, try a starting strength of 1000. If using Evee, try a starting power of 50W.

    Point lamp image is missingPoint lamp settings image is missing
  • Sun:

    This lamp is bright like the sun - no matter how close it looks like in the scene, the light behaves like it is coming from far away. This lamp is often best for outdoor environments.

    Changing the rotation of the sun makes the light look like it is from different directions or times of day. Set the pivot at the bottom of the lamp for the best control when rotating. Most often a strength between 6-10 is ideal.

    Sun lamp image is missingSun lamp settings image is missing
  • Spot

    This naturally dim lamp creates a spotlight shape - both angle and position can be adjusted. If using Cycles, try a starting strength of 200. If using Evee, try a starting power of 50W.

    Spot lamp image is missingSpot lamp settings image is missing
  • Area

    This lamp is naturally dim and works best to add targeted areas of directional light. Usually the strength/power needs to be increased. If using Cycles, try a starting strength of 50W. If using Evee, try a starting power of 30W.

    Area lamp image is missingArea lamp settings image is missing

Working with Materials

Be aware that materials do sometimes vary a little between the different render engines. If you end up changing engines, you may want to make adjustments to the material settings.

Make sure to change the shading (Z) to either rendered or viewport to see the materials. Viewport will just show the color, not the material impacted by light.

  1. Make sure the correct object is active in the Outliner
  2. In the properties panel, open the "Materials" tab Materials properties icon image is missing
  3. Add the material by:
    1. If the object has no material, use the "+ New" button Materials properties icon image is missing
    2. If there is already a material and you are adding a new one, use the "+" button next to the material name and then "+ New"
      New material  icon image is missing New material image is missing
    3. Double-click on the material name to add a descriptive name (this is helpful if you reuse your materials later on) Rename materials image is missing
  4. Customize and adjust material settings:
    1. Change the surface type by clicking in the name next to "Surface"
    2. Set a base color after the surface color by clicking on the color field (next to color or base color) to enable the color picker
    3. Adjust other settings as needed
    Materials properties icon image is missing

The first material applied to an object will always display on the entire object. There must be at least 2 materials for a material to display on only part of an object.

  1. Set/change your first material as described above (the first material always applies to the entire object - until additional materials have been assigned)
  2. In edit mode, select the faces that should display in the new color
  3. In the materials tab of the properties panel, click on the + icon to add a new material
  4. Press "+ New"
  5. Click on "Assign" so that the selected faces use the new material (selected faces can be assigned at any time to any material)
  6. Adjust surface/color/other settings as needed
2nd material image is missing 2nd material image is missing

For more complicated materials, sometimes it is easier to work with "nodes" instead of the properties panel. See the node view in the "Shader Editor" - previously called the "Nodes Editor".

  1. Open an additional panel by clicking and dragging from the top right corner of the 3D window towards the left
  2. At the start of the menu for one of the 3D windows, change the window type to "Shader Editor"
  3. Adding/Removing materials:
    1. Towards the right of the Shader menubar, click on the new material icon (if hidden, use the scroll wheel to show) to add a new material
    2. Click on the "X" icon to unlink the material from the object
  4. Adding/Removing nodes:
    1. Add new nodes with "Shift+A":
      1. Move node to the desired location
      2. Left-click to keep the location
    2. Delete selected nodes with "X"
  5. Moving Nodes:
    1. Use "G" to move a selected node
    2. Placing a node between 2 others will connect the 3 nodes together
  6. Disconnecting Nodes:
    1. Click and drag on the connected socket of the right node
    2. Release away from that socket or connect to a different socket

Always make sure to customize the world background - whether that means changing the color or adding a background. Otherwise your render will always feel a little incomplete.

  • Solid Color:
    1. In the world tab World properties icon image is missing of the properties panel, click on the colored rectangle next to "Color" and use the color picker - or type color values to choose a custom color Materials properties icon image is missing
  • Default Sky (Cycles only):
    1. In the world tab of the properties panel, click on the more options button (circle icon) to the right of color
    2. Select "Sky Texture"
    3. Choose a sky type
    4. Click and drag on the sphere to adjust the angle
    5. Adjust other colors as needed
  • Custom Image:
    1. Choose a high resolution image and correct in Photoshop
      1. In Photoshop's top menu, go to "Filter → Other → Offset"
      2. Drag the horizontal and vertical dials to move the corners into the middle
      3. Use tools as necessary to blend/hide the visible edges
        • Patch tool - to blend large areas
        • Clone stamp - to paint with a small selection from the image
        • Burn tool - to darken areas of the image
        • Dodge tool - to lighten areas of the image
      4. Use "Filter → Other → Offset" again, to make sure the image still repeats well when set back to the original offset
      5. File → Save As
      6. Save your file as a PNG
    2. In Blender, go to the world tab of the properties panel and click on the more options button (circle icon) to the right of color
    3. Select "Environment Texture"
    4. Select your image with the "Open" button and press "Open Image"
    5. Adjust settings as needed

If you have changed render engines, most materials should automatically work in the new engine - though they may display differently. ALWAYS press a grey "Use Nodes" button, if it is there.

Working with Image Textures

Camera

To enter or exit from the view of the active camera, press "0" in the numberpad or use the camera icon. Switch to camera view image is missing in the top right of the 3D view window

  1. Line up your subject in the 3D window a little zoomed out from where you actually want the camera view to be (use the scroll wheel or 3D window navigation tools Window navigation image is missing as necessary) Adjust view for camera image is missing
  2. In the View menu, go to "Align View → Align Active Camera to View Align camera command image is missing
  3. Select the camera (in Object mode) and make adjustments using the transform tool as needed Adjust camera image is missing
Coming soon

Rendering

Rendering is the animation term for outputting image(s) and/or video. Depending on the amount of complexity in a file (and the amount of calculating required to create the final frames) rendering is often very time consuming. Due to the level of variation between files, there is not one set of "perfect" render settings. Some render settings will also vary between the different render engines.

For a reasonable level of quality/speed, try the following settings as a starting point:

Evee is a realtime engine and renders very quickly - if speed is more important than realism, use Evee.

  1. In the Render tab Render properties icon image is missing of the properties panel, set the Engine to "Eevee" (you may also want to use render shading → Z)
  2. In the Output tab Output properties icon image is missing of the properties panel:
    1. Set the resolution to 1280 (X) by 720 (Y) at 100%
    2. Change the start and end frames to the length of your animation if necessary
    3. Under "Output", choose an output location that is easy to find. DO NOT use the tmp folder!
    4. Save your file (CMD+S)

Depending on the level of complexity, Cycles can take a long time to render but it also can be incredibly accurate. If realism is more important than speed (and you have the time), use Cycles.

  1. In the Render tab REnder properties icon image is missing of the properties panel:
    1. Change the render engine to Cycles
    2. Change "Path Tracing" to "Branched Path Tracing"
    3. Increase samples and subsamples as necessary
    4. Click on the menu icon next to "Light Paths" and choose "Full Global Illumination"
  2. In the Output tab Output properties icon image is missing of the properties panel:
    1. Set the resolution to 1280 (X) by 720 (Y) at 75% (if you have time, up it to 100%)
    2. Change the start and end frames to the length of your animation if necessary
    3. Under "Output", choose an output location that is easy to find. DO NOT use the tmp folder!
    4. Save your file (CMD+S)

Always render a single test image before rendering the entire sequence, to make sure your settings work:

  1. Use the shortcut fn+F12 (on the mac extended keyboard, the function key is between the delete key and the numberpad) or in the top menu, go to "Render → Render Image" Render single image is missing
  2. When the render is finished, if you want to save the render, at the top menu of the render window, go to "Image → Save As"
    1. Choose an easy to find location for the render
    2. Name the render as needed
    3. Press "Save As Image"
  3. Close out of the render window to return to the workspace
  4. Adjust render settings and repeat if necessary

Always render an image sequence before rendering to video! If something goes wrong or you run out of time, you can easily continue rendering from where Blender left off - without losing any frames:

  1. In "Output" tab of the properties panel, choose an image format
    • PNG for most cases
    • Multilayer EXR - only if you are doing compositing (3D Graphics II)
  2. Use the shortcut control+fn+F12 (on the mac extended keyboard, the function key is between the delete key and the numberpad) or in the top menu, go to "Render → Render Animation" Render properties icon image is missing
  3. When the rendering is finished, close out of the render window to return to the workspace
  4. If your render was interrupted, change the starting frame number in the "Output" tab of the properties panel to the next frame that needs to be rendered and repeat these steps

Only after rendering the image sequence, should you render to video - otherwise you risk losing the render progress if something goes wrong or you run out of time:

Video rendering is incredibly fast when rendering an image sequence - since Blender is just stitching together already rendered images.

  1. Open a new Blender file (this prevents old data from interfering with the video render AND stops the video from interfering with future changes to your original file)
    • If opening Blender, select "Video Editing" under "New File" in the splash window
    • If Blender is already open, go to "File → New → Video Editing"
  2. In the Sequencer's menu, go to "Add → Image/Sequence"
    1. Select the render directory through the file tree on the left
    2. Select all of the rendered frames
      • "A" selects all files in the directory
      • Use "B" to enable box select (to select a smaller range)"
      • Shift-click to deselect a single file
    3. Press "Add Image Strip"
  3. Press the spacebar to play and pause the animation
  4. In the Output tab of the properties panel:
    1. Change the resolution to 1280 x 720 at 100% (or whatever dimensions you had set originally)
    2. Set an easy to find output location
    3. Change the start/end frames to match your sequence if the values are different
    4. Set the file format to "AVI JPEG"
  5. Use the shortcut control+fn+F12 (on the mac extended keyboard, the function key is between the delete key and the numberpad) or in the top menu, go to "Render → Render Animation"
  6. Close out of the render window to return to the workspace
  7. Use Finder to find your video and make sure that it plays as expected