The image above represents the product of the several tutorials I have gone through in the last few months since I discovered Blender, a free, open-source 3d design program. All told, this piece took about 90 minutes from start to finish. While there is a steep learning curve for the product, the weeks spent getting to this point are due more to the other things going on in my life – I’m not a graphic designer of any kind and have no formal training. I would estimate a combined total of fifteen hours reading and mucking around to get to the final model which I produced just this afternoon. While I do have a fairly capable computer (AMD Phenom, 6GB Ram, Radeon 5770), I think the earlier versions of Blender (v.2.48 for example) would run on most contemporary machines.
Check out the media below for an idea of the awesome capabilities of this program:
The image below represents most of the steps I took in learning this simple modeling the hand (excluding the basic materials tutorial product, i.e. a beach ball). The image below that is a screen-shot showing the armature (bones) of the simple hand in the Blender2.5 environment.
For those who are curious, I also spent a lot of my initial learning focusing on the liquid simulator and downloading the run-times necessary to use the Blender game-engine to export stand alone executable files – features I plan to have a lot of fun exploiting once I’m more capable with the basics.
Here are all the links to pieces necessary to run Blender:
Blender.org – rife with everything from the downloads to tons of tutorial and forums
Blender Cookie – nifty community site, haven’t explored this one too much yet
Python – open-source programming language – don’t worry you don’t need to know a damn thing about it, just download the correct version as per Blender.org
Blender N00b to pro Wikibook – excellent source for learning everything, I’ve just recently gotten around th going through the first few chapters in sequence
YouTube – Just search whatever it is you are looking for, sometimes it can be easier to comprehend than the writing in the Wikibook – just make sure to go high resolution so you can see what they’re doing!