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There are several ways to make your Blender experience better. Firstly, you can make the 3d viewport look nicer. Start by going into the user preferences. Go to the system tab, and add a multisample to the window draw method. This will make your 3d viewport have more detail.

Another way to enhance your experience is by adding a theme to the user interface. There is a specific tab in the user preferences menu for themes. There are preset themes that you can try out, or you can download a new one. You can even make your own theme and save it.

The next thing that you can do is add some add-ons. The add-ons tab contains many features that you can use to make your life easier. If you install a test build of Blender, you can try out test add-ons by checking off the testing checkbox. These add-ons can be used for anything from stair-building, to making medieval walls.

A simple trick that makes everything easier for me is one tiny checkbox in the interface tab. The “rotate around selection” check box activates a feature that rotates you viewport based on what you are selecting. This helps when you are modeling and looking at multiple views.

Hope these tips help out.

Happy Blending,

Nick Bobryk

Blender is always changing. There is a new release almost every month. If you miss a release, you could be missing a vital tool in your 3d toolkit. That is why you need to keep up with the latest news and releases. First, you can check Blender.org frequently. The latest releases are on that website first.

Also, you can download the latest build on the same website. The latest builds are not as stable as the official releases, but you can get a sneak peek at the new features in order to stay ahead of the game, and master the techniques used with the new stuff.

Graphicall.org has many builds for different aspects of 3d imaging. There are builds for the latest features, and builds for old discontinued add-ons.

You can keep up with the developers by reading the developer meeting notes on Blendernation.org. The developer meetings are every week, so you can get a weekly update on what is happening with the development of the new release of Blender.

Blender Nation has a RSS feed. You can access it on their website. This way you can access it with RSS enabled devices, instead of frequenting the website.

Happy Blending,

Nick bobryk

There is a powerful physics engine in Blender. It is very accurate when you use the right settings. There are basic settings for a broad variety of object types. The types of objects include no-collision, static, rigid body, dynamic, soft body, occlusion, sensor, navigation mesh, and character. You can select from all of these types and experiment with them in order to see what they do. If you want more information about them, you can go to wiki.blender.org.

The most important part of the physics engine is the logic bricks. The logic bricks are used to create games. There are three types of bricks including sensors, controllers, and actuators. Sensors are the triggers of actions. They can be anything from a keyboard press, to a mouse click, to a touch sensor.

Those sensors are then fed into controllers. The controller is basically a logic gate. There are multiple types of logic gates. The two basic ones are AND and OR. If you have an AND controller, the actuator will activate if the sensor is activated. Of you are using an OR sensor, the actuator will activate if the sensor is not activated.

The actuator is an effect that the sensor causes. The effect can be anything. It can be a simple motion of an object, or the camera tracking a character.

With all of these logic bricks working together, you can create a complex game without knowing how to code.

Happy Blending,

Nick Bobryk

Lighting is a key aspect of 3d imaging. You can create lighting using the traditional lamps to make a basic light scene. The addition of the Cycles rendering engine added more lighting choices and more customization to make your render look more realistic.

The first way to light a scene in Cycles is mesh lighting. Basically, you can take any shape and turn it into a light emitter. This makes lighting so much easier. You can model the shape of a light bulb, and then make it emit light. The result is a realistic light bulb emitting light on the scene.

Another way to light a scene with Cycles is environment lighting. There is a sky texture that you can add to the scene in order to get realistic global lighting based on the time of day, and turbidity in the air.

Another form of environment lighting is an environment map in the form of a high dynamic range (HDR) map.

An HDR map is a picture taken of a mirror ball in an environment. When you import this image into Blender, you get realistic lighting that looks exactly like the area you have the environment map of.

If you are feeling lazy, you can add environment lighting through a solid color. Just set it to white with a low strength, and you have basic environment lighting.

Happy Blending,

Nick Bobryk

There is a monopoly on texture creating programs. Adobe basically owns the entire market. Adobe Photoshop is perfect if you want to create your own textures and geometry maps. There is no other program that does it as well. The only problem with this program, is that it is very expensive. If only there was an alternative to it.

I am happy to say that there is an alternative to Adobe Photoshop. It is called Gimp. This is a free alternative for texture creation. There are several brushes that you can use to create textures for terrain or object details.

It has a similar interface to Photoshop, however you get your money’s worth. It looks cheap, however it is very effective. You can do pretty much anything with it.

It has the basic layer system like Photoshop, and it is easy to arrange your work in a productive manner.

Gimp is good for compositing images as well. There are many color correction tools that you can use to tweak your final render to make it pop.

If you are on a budget, Gimp is a good program to use.

Happy Blending,

Nick Bobryk

Realistic texturing involves many images all working together to create a material. Crazybump is a tool that creates all of these images using just one reference image. First you need to download a texture that you want to use on your object. This texture should be seamless, however it doesn’t need to be.

Once you have an image, you need to upload it to Crazybump, and it will tell you to wait. Once it is done calculating the texture, it will spit out a bunch of images and show you what they would look like on an object.

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The images that it spits out are very useful. One of these is a normal map. This image gives an object fake geometry. This fake geometry adds some realism to your materials. There is also a separate displacement map if you want to add real geometry to the object.

Another image that it creates is the specularity map. This image is used to calculate where on the object there is glossiness. If you are using cycles, you can hook this up as the factor amount of a glossy shader to make realistic light bounces.

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The final image that it creates is an occlusion map. This image is used to create fake shadows. When you use a normal map to create fake geometry, you will lack shadows that the object creates. This image can fill in those empty shadows that are missing and add to the realism without creating geometry.

Crazybump is definitely worth buying.

Happy Blending,

Nick Bobryk

 

There are many sources that are rich with information on how to use Blender. The first place for technical information about it’s features is the wiki.

Wiki.blender.org explains every aspect of Blender in great detail. It provides technical information on every slider for every add-on in every version of Blender. The wiki is kept up to date by the Blender Foundation itself. When a new feature is added to Blender, content is created on the wiki to support the users.

Another great source for learning is Blenderguru.com. This website is run by Andrew Price. He creates amazingly detailed video tutorials. They cover every aspect of rendering, and he even creates text versions of his tutorials on the same page if you only want to read instead of watching an hour-long video.

Andrew Price offers other tutorials that you have to pay for. An example of one of these is the Nature Academy. This is a series of tutorials that explain how to create realistic nature scenes in Blender. This series is very useful, and as soon as I have extra money, I am going to purchase it myself because it is definitely worth it.

Another great source of Blender tutorials is Blendernation.com. When they find a good tutorial on any random website, they will write a post about it. This is useful because it opens up your source of knowledge to many websites because Blender Nation does the looking for you.

As always, practicing and experimenting with Blender leads to the best learning, and nothing else can beat that.

Happy Blending,

Nick Bobryk

There is a recent add-on that was created for the physics engine within Blender (Blender Game Engine). This add-on is called cell fracture. This add-on’s job is specific but very useful. It takes any object you create, and shatters it into pieces.

This can be used to create bullets breaking through glass, glasses shattering on the ground, or anything else you can imagine. The destruction is ridiculously fun to play around with, especially if you enjoy blowing things up.

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The interface is fairly simple to deal with. First, you have to enable the add-on. Go into the user preferences add-ons tab and check the box next to Cell Fracture. Save user preferences so that it is enabled every time you start the program.

The only difference that enabling this add-on creates is the cell fracture button in your tools panel. Click this button and a window pops up with a bunch of settings. The most important setting is the point source. This is what you set up to calculate the fracture pieces. Set it to “grease pencil”.

You will need to draw on the object with the grease pencil exactly what you want to break for this to work, but it is the most reliable way to make cell fracture do what you want.

The only other important setting is the source amount. This is the amount of pieces you want. I usually set it to 500 for a nice and realistic fracture.

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This add-on is useful in many ways, and there will be many renders using it due to it’s reliability and ease of use.

Happy Blending,

Nick Bobryk

There is a very good way to get recognized in the Blender community show off your CG skills. You can get recognized very easily by entering and winning competitions. Many websites host competitions.

 One of the harder competitions to win would be the ones hosted by BlenderGuru.com. The competitions have over 200 submissions, and many of them are amazing. The competitions do not run too frequently, but when they do, they offer about a month to make something surrounding a specific theme. There are also prizes to this competition. The last competition offered the following:

  1. 300€ credit for the RenderFlow renderfarm (new sponsor!)
  2. $250 for a charity of your choice
  3. Any item from the Blender e-Shop
  4. A permanent spot in the Winner’s Hall of Fame

Another host of competitions is Blendernation.com. Some of my favorite competitions are the ones where they give you a weekend to work on a strange theme. An example of this would be making anything using only 20 cubes and nothing else. It got very abstract and crazy, and all of the submissions were creative and visually pleasing.

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If you are a tutorial creator, you should look at tutorial competitions. Several Blender tutorial websites host competitions where you make a tutorial video. The prize for these competitions is getting your tutorial published on a popular website.

These competitions are a good idea if you want to make friends in the community, and you might even find some freelance work this way.

Happy Blending,

Nick Bobryk

Back in the day, Blender Internal engine supported this thing called subsurface scattering. Subsurface scattering is used for objects that have a tiny bit of translucency to them. Skin is the main material that subsurface scattering is used for.

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You can emulate the light refractions from blood vessels, pores, muscles and the epidermis using this feature. The Blender Internal engine made this feature available to Blender users, but it was very complex.

Now, the Blender Foundation has released a subsurface scattering shader for Cycles. This option is available as of Blender 2.67. The release candidate is available now on the Blender website. This feature is only available with CPU rendering. Your render will be slower, but you can get this amazing feature with amazing realism.

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To use this, you have to switch to CPU rendering, and add a subsurface scattering shader to your material. You can keep it there for a nice effect, but if you want to do anything realistic, you have to put more work into it.

There are a couple of settings that make it an amazing feature. First is the size setting. Size in this case is the softness of the material. The higher the size amount, the more it scatters.

Next is the radius. There are 3 radius settings. They represent red, blue, and green. This indicates how much of each color is scattered. If you raise the red amount, the light that is scattered within the object’s surface will look redder.

This is a fun shader to play with, but until it is available with GPU rendering, I will not be using it too often.

Happy Blending,

Nick Bobryk