Hobbies for the Sane: How to be a Blend-nerd

Crafted from my own handiwork - note that any abnormalities represent disfigurations of the artist and not faults in the program.

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:

Elf-head rendering done with Blender 2.5 - Source: Blender cookie

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.

Steps to the Blender hand - from simple house to simple person with multires/subdivision to hand with full armature and material.

Blender screen-shot with three different 3D view windows and the outline window. Half the time I spent learning the program was on all the different windows available and their manipulation.

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!


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