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Blender For Dummies®

Book Description

So you’ve heard about Blender, the free 3D animation software. You really want to know more about the features of Blender, where to get it, and how to use it. You’re in luck! It’s all in Blender For Dummies, including Blender software on the bonus DVD.

Because there’s a lot to learn about Blender, you’ll be glad this book takes it step by step. First, you’ll learn to install Blender 2.48 and think the Blender way. Then you’ll start creating 3D objects and setting them in motion with animations and rigging. Soon you’ll be texturing with Blender, rendering with Blender, and sharing your creations. You’ll learn how to:

  • Create almost anything with meshes, save time with the Mirror modifier, and use Blender’s secret weapon, Dupliverts

  • Understand texture mapping, know when to use which type of lamp, and use radiosity in animation

  • Work with curves and surfaces, and add color, shades, texture, and reflections

  • Rig your characters for animation with shape keys, hooks, and armatures, and understand kinematics

  • Navigate in three dimensions

  • Make your animations more believable, and let Blender do the animating for you

  • Use the video sequence editor

  • Export, render, composite, and edit for output

You’ll even get tips on common problems new Blender users face and how to avoid them. Blender For Dummies will have you creating eye-popping 3D animations before you know it!

Note: CD-ROM/DVD and other supplementary materials are not included as part of eBook file.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
  2. About the Author
  3. Author's Acknowledgments
  4. Publisher's Acknowledgments
  5. Introduction
    1. About This Book
    2. Foolish Assumptions
    3. How This Book Is Organized
      1. Part I: Wrapping Your Brain around Blender
      2. Part II: Creating Detailed 3D Scenes
      3. Part III: Get Animated!
      4. Part IV: Sharing Your Work with the World
      5. Part V: The Part of Tens
    4. Icons Used in This Book
    5. Conventions Used in This Book
    6. Where to Go from Here
  6. I. Wrapping Your Brain Around Blender
    1. 1. Discovering Blender
      1. 1.1. Getting to Know Blender
      2. 1.2. Discovering Blender's History
      3. 1.3. Making Open Movies and Games
      4. 1.4. Getting to Know the Interface
        1. 1.4.1. Fast to use versus fast to learn
        2. 1.4.2. The Blender non-blocking interface
    2. 2. Understanding How Blender Thinks
      1. 2.1. Looking at Window Types
        1. 2.1.1. Understanding the Buttons window
        2. 2.1.2. Working with screens
        3. 2.1.3. Setting user preferences
          1. 2.1.3.1. View & Controls
          2. 2.1.3.2. Edit Methods
          3. 2.1.3.3. Language & Font
          4. 2.1.3.4. Themes
          5. 2.1.3.5. Auto Save
          6. 2.1.3.6. System & OpenGL
          7. 2.1.3.7. File Paths
      2. 2.2. Navigating in Three Dimensions
        1. 2.2.1. Orbiting, panning, and zooming the 3D view
        2. 2.2.2. Changing views
          1. 2.2.2.1. The View menu
          2. 2.2.2.2. Behold the power of the numeric keypad!
          3. 2.2.2.3. Ways to See Your 3D Scene
        3. 2.2.3. Selecting objects
        4. 2.2.4. Taking advantage of the 3D cursor
    3. 3. Getting Your Hands Dirty Working in Blender
      1. 3.1. Grabbing, Scaling, and Rotating
      2. 3.2. Differentiating between Coordinate Systems
      3. 3.3. Transforming an Object by Using the 3D Manipulator
        1. 3.3.1. Switching manipulator modes
        2. 3.3.2. Using the manipulator
      4. 3.4. Saving Time by Using Hotkeys
        1. 3.4.1. G, S, and R: Transforming with hotkeys
        2. 3.4.2. Hotkeys and coordinate systems
        3. 3.4.3. Using gestures to work faster
        4. 3.4.4. Numerical input
        5. 3.4.5. The Transform Properties floating window
    4. 4. Working in Edit Mode and Object Mode
      1. 4.1. Making Changes Using Edit Mode
        1. 4.1.1. Distinguishing between Object mode and Edit mode
        2. 4.1.2. Selecting vertices, edges, and faces
        3. 4.1.3. Blender's #1 modeling tool: Extrude
      2. 4.2. Adding to a Scene
        1. 4.2.1. Getting to know the toolbox that lives in your spacebar
        2. 4.2.2. Adding objects
        3. 4.2.3. Meet Suzanne, the Blender monkey
        4. 4.2.4. Joining and separating objects
        5. 4.2.5. Creating duplicates and links
        6. 4.2.6. Discovering parents, children, and groups
        7. 4.2.7. Saving, opening, and appending
  7. II. Creating Detailed 3D Scenes
    1. 5. Creating Anything You Can Imagine with Meshes
      1. 5.1. Pushing Vertices
      2. 5.2. Working with Loops and Rings
      3. 5.3. Simplifying Your Life as a Modeler with Modifiers
        1. 5.3.1. Doing half the work (and still looking good!) with the Mirror modifier
        2. 5.3.2. Smoothing things out with the Subsurf modifier
        3. 5.3.3. Using the power of Arrays
      4. 5.4. Sculpting Multi-Resolution Meshes
        1. 5.4.1. Sculpt panel
          1. 5.4.1.1. Brush types
          2. 5.4.1.2. Brush controls
          3. 5.4.1.3. Axis-related controls
        2. 5.4.2. Brush panel
        3. 5.4.3. Texture panel
    2. 6. Using Blender's Non-Mesh Primitives
      1. 6.1. Using Curves and Surfaces
        1. 6.1.1. Understanding the different types of curves
        2. 6.1.2. Working with curves
          1. 6.1.2.1. Editing Bézier curves
          2. 6.1.2.2. Editing NURBS curves and surfaces
        3. 6.1.3. Understanding the strengths and limitations of Blender's surfaces
      2. 6.2. Using Meta Objects
        1. 6.2.1. Meta-wha?
        2. 6.2.2. What meta objects are useful for
      3. 6.3. Adding Text
        1. 6.3.1. Adding and editing text
          1. 6.3.1.1. Working with text frames
          2. 6.3.1.2. Controlling text appearance
        2. 6.3.2. Changing fonts
        3. 6.3.3. Deforming text with a curve
        4. 6.3.4. Converting to curves and meshes
    3. 7. Changing that Boring Gray Default Material
      1. 7.1. Playing with Materials
        1. 7.1.1. Changing colors
        2. 7.1.2. Adjusting shader values
        3. 7.1.3. Reflection and transparency
        4. 7.1.4. Assigning multiple materials to different parts of a mesh
      2. 7.2. Coloring Vertices with Vertex Paint
    4. 8. Giving Models Texture
      1. 8.1. Adding Textures
      2. 8.2. Using Procedural Textures
        1. 8.2.1. Distorted Noise
        2. 8.2.2. Voronoi
        3. 8.2.3. Musgrave
        4. 8.2.4. Noise
        5. 8.2.5. Blend
        6. 8.2.6. Magic
        7. 8.2.7. Wood
        8. 8.2.8. Stucci
        9. 8.2.9. Marble
        10. 8.2.10. Clouds
        11. 8.2.11. EnvMap
      3. 8.3. Understanding Texture Mapping
      4. 8.4. Unwrapping a Mesh
      5. 8.5. Painting Textures Directly on a Mesh
      6. 8.6. Baking Texture Maps from Your Mesh
      7. 8.7. Using UV Textures
    5. 9. Lighting and Environment
      1. 9.1. Lighting a Scene
        1. 9.1.1. Knowing when to use which type of lamp
          1. 9.1.1.1. Universal lamp options
          2. 9.1.1.2. Light-specific options
            1. 9.1.1.2.1. Sun
            2. 9.1.1.2.2. Spot
            3. 9.1.1.2.3. Area
      2. 9.2. Lighting for Speedy Renders
        1. 9.2.1. Three-point lighting in Blender
        2. 9.2.2. Creating a "fake" Area light with buffered Spots
        3. 9.2.3. Outdoor lighting
      3. 9.3. Setting Up the World
        1. 9.3.1. Changing to something other than bright blue
        2. 9.3.2. Understanding ambient occlusion
        3. 9.3.3. Mist, stars, and sky textures
          1. 9.3.3.1. Mist
          2. 9.3.3.2. Stars
          3. 9.3.3.3. Sky Textures
  8. III. Get Animated!
    1. 10. Animating Objects
      1. 10.1. Working with Animation Curves
        1. 10.1.1. Inserting keys
        2. 10.1.2. Editing motion curves
      2. 10.2. Using Constraints Effectively
        1. 10.2.1. The all-powerful Empty!
        2. 10.2.2. Copying the movement of another object
          1. 10.2.2.1. Copy location, scale, and rotation
          2. 10.2.2.2. The Child Of constraint
        3. 10.2.3. Putting limits on an object
        4. 10.2.4. Tracking the motion of another object
    2. 11. Rigging: The Art of Building an Animatable Puppet
      1. 11.1. Creating Shape Keys
        1. 11.1.1. Creating new shapes
        2. 11.1.2. Mixing shapes
        3. 11.1.3. Knowing where shape keys are helpful
      2. 11.2. Adding Hooks
        1. 11.2.1. Creating new hooks
        2. 11.2.2. Knowing where hooks are helpful
      3. 11.3. Using Armatures: Skeletons in the Mesh
        1. 11.3.1. Editing armatures
          1. 11.3.1.1. Parenting bones
          2. 11.3.1.2. Armature panels in the Editing buttons
        2. 11.3.2. Putting skin on your skeleton
          1. 11.3.2.1. Quick and dirty skinning with envelopes
          2. 11.3.2.2. Assigning weights to vertices
      4. 11.4. Bringing It All Together in a Single Rig
        1. 11.4.1. Taking advantage of parenting and constraints
        2. 11.4.2. Understanding the difference between inverse kinematics and forward kinematics
        3. 11.4.3. Making the rig more user-friendly
    3. 12. Animating Object Deformations
      1. 12.1. Working with the Action Editor
      2. 12.2. Animating Shape Keys
      3. 12.3. Animating with Armatures
        1. 12.3.1. Principles of animation worth remembering
        2. 12.3.2. Making sense of quaternions (or, "Why are there four rotation curves?!")
        3. 12.3.3. Copying mirrored poses
        4. 12.3.4. Seeing the big picture with ghosting
        5. 12.3.5. Visualizing motion with bone paths
      4. 12.4. Doing Non-Linear Animation
        1. 12.4.1. Mixing actions to create complex animation
        2. 12.4.2. Taking advantage of looped animation
    4. 13. Letting Blender Do the Work for You
      1. 13.1. Using Particles in Blender
        1. 13.1.1. Knowing what particle systems are good for
        2. 13.1.2. Using forces and deflectors
        3. 13.1.3. Using particles for hair and fur
      2. 13.2. Giving Objects Some Jiggle and Bounce
      3. 13.3. Dropping Objects in a Scene with Rigid Body Dynamics
      4. 13.4. Simulating Cloth
      5. 13.5. Splashing Fluids in Your Scene
  9. IV. Sharing Your Work with the World
    1. 14. Exporting and Rendering Scenes
      1. 14.1. Exporting to External Formats
      2. 14.2. Rendering a Scene
        1. 14.2.1. Creating a still image
        2. 14.2.2. Creating a finished animation
        3. 14.2.3. Creating a sequence of still images for editing or compositing
    2. 15. Compositing and Editing
      1. 15.1. Working with the Video Sequence Editor
        1. 15.1.1. Adding and editing strips
        2. 15.1.2. Adding effects
        3. 15.1.3. Rendering from the Video Sequence Editor
      2. 15.2. Working with the Node-Based Compositor
        1. 15.2.1. Understanding the benefits of rendering in passes
        2. 15.2.2. Working with nodes
          1. 15.2.2.1. Input
          2. 15.2.2.2. Output
          3. 15.2.2.3. Color
          4. 15.2.2.4. Vector
          5. 15.2.2.5. Filter
          6. 15.2.2.6. Converter
          7. 15.2.2.7. Matte
          8. 15.2.2.8. Distort
          9. 15.2.2.9. Group
          10. 15.2.2.10. Dynamic
        3. 15.2.3. Rendering from the Node Compositor
  10. V. The Part of Tens
    1. 16. Ten Problems for New Users in Blender (and Ways around Them)
      1. 16.1. Auto Saves and Session Recovery Don't Work
      2. 16.2. Blender's Interface Is Weird or Glitchy
      3. 16.3. A Notorious "Black Stripe" Appears on Models
      4. 16.4. Objects Go Missing
      5. 16.5. Python Not Found
      6. 16.6. Edge Loop Select Doesn't Work
      7. 16.7. A Background Image Disappears
      8. 16.8. There's a Limit to Zooming
      9. 16.9. Lost Simulation Data
      10. 16.10. Blender Doesn't Create Faces as Expected
    2. 17. Ten Tips for Working More Effectively in Blender
      1. 17.1. Use Blender's Tooltips
      2. 17.2. Constantly Check Models from Different Views
      3. 17.3. Lock a Camera to an Animated Character
      4. 17.4. Occlude Background Geometry in Edit Mode
      5. 17.5. Name EVERYTHING (Organize Your Projects)
      6. 17.6. Use Layers Effectively
      7. 17.7. Do Low-Resolution Test Renders
      8. 17.8. Mind Your Mouse
      9. 17.9. Turn on Passepartout for Your Camera
      10. 17.10. Have Fun, but Take Breaks
  11. A. About the CD
    1. A.1. System Requirements
    2. A.2. Using the CD
    3. A.3. What You'll Find on the CD
      1. A.3.1. Author-created material
      2. A.3.2. Big Buck Bunny
      3. A.3.3. Blender
      4. A.3.4. VLC
    4. A.4. Troubleshooting
    5. A.5. Customer Care