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Learning Blender: A Hands-On Guide to Creating 3D Animated Characters

Book Description

Create Amazing 3D Characters with Blender: From Design and Modeling to Video Compositing

Learning Blender walks you through every step of creating an outstanding animated character with the free, open source, 3D software Blender, and then compositing it in a real video using a professional workflow. This is the only Blender tutorial to take you from preproduction to final result, and it’s perfect for both 3D novices and those who’ve used other 3D Software.

Focusing on Blender 2.71 and above, 3D-professional Oliver Villar explains all the basics, including Blender’s interface, controls, and how to manipulate objects. Once you’ve mastered the fundamentals, you’ll follow a realistic 3D workflow through a complete project.

You’ll find chapters on every aspect of the character creation: design, modeling, unwrapping, texturing, shading, rigging, and animation. Once your character is ready and animated, you’ll learn how to integrate it into a real video using camera tracking techniques, lighting, and compositing. Each skillset is taught hands on, and available online video tutorials (more than 5 hours) will guide you through Blender’s trickier tasks.

By the time you’re done, you’ll understand how the whole process fits together, and how to use Blender to create outstanding characters for all media. You’ll also build strong Blender skills you can apply in any 3D project, whether it involves characters or not.

Learn How To

  • Master Blender’s innovative user interface, navigation, and selection techniques

  • Create your first scene with Blender and get comfortable with its core tools

  • Prepare for projects so they’ll go as smoothly as possible

  • Use modeling tools to create a 3D character

  • Bring your character to life with color, textures, and materials

  • Create your character’s skeleton and make it walk

  • Make the most of Blender’s Camera Tracking tools

  • Add lights to your 3D scene

  • Render with Blender Internal or the powerful new Cycles render engine

  • Composite your 3D character into a real video

  • Switch to Blender from 3ds Max, Maya, or XSI

  • Register your book at informit.com/register to access all of this book’s production files, plus bonus video tutorials, and a useful Blender keyboard shortcut reference.

    Table of Contents

    1. About This eBook
    2. Title Page
    3. Copyright Page
    4. Praise for Learning Blender
    5. Dedication Page
    6. Contents at a Glance
    7. Contents
    8. Preface
      1. Welcome!
      2. Switching from Other 3D Software
      3. How to Use This Book
      4. Supplemental Material
    9. Acknowledgments
    10. About the Author
    11. Learning Blender Ancillaries
    12. I: The Basics of Blender
      1. 1. What You Need to Know about Blender
        1. What Is Blender?
        2. Commercial Software versus Open-Source Software
          1. Commercial Software
          2. Open-Source Software
        3. The History of Blender
        4. The Blender Foundation and the Blender Institute
        5. The Blender Community
        6. Summary
        7. Exercises
      2. 2. Blender Basics: The User Interface
        1. Downloading and Installing Blender
        2. Blender User Interface
        3. Understanding the 3D View
        4. Navigating the 3D View
        5. Managing Areas
        6. Editor Types
        7. Selecting Objects
        8. Using the 3D Cursor
        9. Blender User Preferences
        10. Summary
        11. Exercises
      3. 3. Your First Scene in Blender
        1. Creating Objects
        2. Moving, Rotating, and Scaling
          1. Using Manipulators (Basic Mode)
          2. Using Keyboard Shortcuts (Advanced Mode)
          3. Arranging the Objects in Your Scene
        3. Naming Objects and Datablocks
          1. Renaming Objects
          2. Managing Datablocks
          3. Naming Your Scene’s Objects
        4. Interaction Modes
        5. Applying Flat or Smooth Surfaces
        6. Modifiers
          1. Adding Modifiers
          2. Adding a Subdivision Surface Modifier to Your Scene
        7. Blender Render and Cycles
        8. Materials
          1. Blender Render Materials
          2. Cycles Materials
          3. Adding Materials to Your Scene
        9. Turning on the Lights
          1. Light Options in Blender Render
          2. Lights Options in Cycles
          3. Adding Lights to Your Scene
        10. Moving the Camera in Your Scene
        11. Rendering
          1. Rendering in Blender Render
          2. Rendering in Cycles
          3. Saving and Loading Your .blend File
          4. Launching and Saving the Render
        12. Summary
        13. Exercises
    13. II: Beginning a Project
      1. 4. Project Overview
        1. The Three Stages of a Project
          1. Preproduction
          2. Production
          3. Postproduction
        2. Defining the Stages
          1. A Film without Visual Effects
          2. A Visual Effects Film
          3. An Animated Film
          4. A Photograph
        3. A Character-Creation Plan
          1. Preproduction
          2. Production
          3. Postproduction
        4. Summary
        5. Exercises
      2. 5. Character Design
        1. Character Description
          1. Personality
          2. Context
          3. Style
          4. Appearance
        2. Designing the Character
          1. Silhouettes
          2. Base Design
          3. Designing the Head
          4. Adding Details
          5. Refining the Design
        3. Adding Color
        4. Final Design
        5. Character Reference Images
        6. Other Design Methods
        7. Summary
        8. Exercises
    14. III: Modeling in Blender
      1. 6. Blender Modeling Tools
        1. Working with Vertices, Edges, and Faces
          1. Selecting Vertices, Edges, and Faces
          2. Accessing Modeling Tools
        2. Selections
          1. Shortest Path
          2. Proportional Editing
          3. Linked Selection
          4. Loops and Rings
          5. Grow and Shrink Selection
          6. Limit Selection to Visible
          7. Other Selection Methods
        3. Mesh Modeling Tools
          1. Bevel
          2. Bisect
          3. Bridge Edge Loops
          4. Connect
          5. Delete and Dissolve
          6. Duplicate
          7. Extrude
          8. Fill and Grid Fill
          9. Inset
          10. Join
          11. Knife
          12. Loop Cut and Slide
          13. Make Edge/Face
          14. Merge
          15. Remove Doubles
          16. Rip and Rip Fill
          17. Screw
          18. Separate
          19. Shrink/Flatten
          20. Slide
          21. Solidify
          22. Spin
          23. Split
          24. Subdivide
        4. LoopTools
        5. Tips and Tricks
          1. AutoMerge
          2. Hide and Reveal
          3. Snapping
        6. Summary
        7. Exercises
      2. 7. Character Modeling
        1. What Is Mesh Topology?
        2. Modeling Methods
          1. Box Modeling
          2. Poly to Poly
          3. Sculpt and Retopologize
          4. Modifiers
          5. The Best Method!
        3. Setting Up the Reference Planes
        4. Modeling the Eyes
          1. Creating an Eyeball
          2. Using Lattices to Deform the Eyeballs
          3. Mirroring and Adjusting the Eyes
        5. Modeling the Face
          1. Studying the Face’s Topology
          2. Blocking the Face’s Basic Shape
          3. Defining the Face’s Shapes
          4. Defining the Eyes, Mouth, and Nose
          5. Adding Ears
          6. Building the Inside of the Mouth
        6. Modeling the Torso and Arms
          1. Modeling the Basic Shapes for the Torso and Arms
          2. Defining the Arms and Torso
          3. Detailing the Backpack and Jacket
          4. Finishing the Belt and Adding a Neck to the Jacket
        7. Modeling the Legs
        8. Modeling the Boots
        9. Modeling the Hands
          1. Building the Basic Hand Shape
          2. Adding the Fingers and Wrist
        10. Modeling the Cap
          1. Creating the Base of the Cap
          2. Adding Details to the Cap
        11. Modeling the Hair
          1. Shaping Locks of Hair
          2. Adding Natural Details to the Hair
        12. Modeling the Final Details
          1. Eyebrows
          2. Communicator
          3. Badges
          4. Teeth and Tongue
          5. Other Clothing Details
        13. Summary
        14. Exercises
    15. IV: Unwrapping, Painting, and Shading
      1. 8. Unwrapping and UVs in Blender
        1. How Unwrapping and UVs Work
        2. Unwrapping in Blender
          1. The UV/Image Editor
          2. Navigating the UV/Image Editor
          3. Accessing the Unwrapping Menus
          4. UV Mapping Tools
          5. Seams
        3. Things to Consider before Unwrapping
        4. Working with UVs in Blender
          1. Marking the Seams
          2. Creating and Displaying a UV Test Grid
          3. Unwrapping Jim’s Face
          4. Live Unwrap
          5. Adjusting UVs
          6. Separating and Connecting UVs
          7. The Finished Face’s UVs
        5. Unwrapping the Rest of the Character
        6. Packing UVs
        7. Summary
        8. Exercises
      2. 9. Painting Textures
        1. Main Workflow
        2. Painting in Blender
          1. Texture Paint Mode
          2. Preparing to Paint
          3. Limitations of Blender’s Texture Paint
        3. Creating the Base Texture
          1. Placing Texture Elements
          2. Saving Your Image
          3. Packing Your Images
        4. Texturing in 2D Image Editing Software
          1. Exporting the UVs as an Image
          2. Loading the UVs and Base Elements
          3. Adding Base Colors
          4. Adding Details
          5. Applying the Final Touches
        5. Seeing the Painted Character in Blender
        6. Summary
        7. Exercises
      3. 10. Materials and Shaders
        1. Understanding Materials
          1. Applying Materials
          2. How Materials Work
          3. Masks and Layers
          4. Channels
          5. Blender Render Materials
          6. Cycles Materials
          7. Procedural Textures
        2. Shading Your Character with Blender Render
          1. Blender Render Materials
          2. Textures in Blender Render
          3. Shading Jim in Blender Render
          4. Render Tests
        3. Shading Your Character with Cycles
          1. Using Cycles Materials
          2. Basic Shaders
          3. Mix and Add Shaders
          4. Loading Textures
          5. Shading Jim in Cycles
          6. Render Tests
        4. Summary
        5. Exercises
    16. V: Bringing Your Character to Life
      1. 11. Character Rigging
        1. Understanding the Rigging Process
          1. Parts of the Rig
          2. Rigging Process
        2. Working with Armatures
          1. Manipulating Bones
          2. Object, Edit, and Pose Modes
          3. Adding Constraints
        3. Rigging Your Character
          1. Basic Skeleton
          2. Rigging the Eyes
          3. Rigging the Legs
          4. Rigging the Torso and Head
          5. Rigging the Arm
          6. Rigging the Hand
          7. Mirroring the Rig
        4. Rig Organization
          1. Bone Groups
          2. Bone Layers
        5. Skinning
          1. Setting Up Models
          2. Selecting Deformer Bones
          3. Armature Modifier
          4. Weight Painting
          5. Weight Values
          6. Mirroring Weights
          7. Objects That Don’t Need Weights
          8. Posing Jim
        6. Creating the Facial Rig
          1. Modeling Shape Keys
          2. Creating the Face Rig
          3. Using Drivers to Control the Face Shape Keys
        7. Creating Custom Shapes
        8. Applying Final Touches to the Rig
        9. Summary
        10. Exercises
      2. 12. Animating Your Character
        1. Inserting Keyframes
          1. Adding Keyframes Manually
          2. Automatic Keyframing
          3. Using Keying Sets
          4. Animating Properties in the Menus
        2. Animation Editors
          1. Timeline
          2. Dope Sheet
          3. Graph Editor
          4. NLA (Non-Linear Animation) Editor
          5. Common Controls and Tips
        3. Animating a Walk Cycle
          1. Creating an Action
          2. Creating the Poses for the Walk Cycle
          3. Animation Timing
          4. Repeating the Animation
          5. Walking along a Path
        4. Summary
        5. Exercises
    17. VI: Getting the Final Result
      1. 13. Camera Tracking in Blender
        1. Understanding Camera Tracking
        2. Things to Consider before Filming
        3. The Movie Clip Editor
        4. Tracking the Camera
          1. Loading Your Footage
          2. Anatomy of a Marker
          3. Tracking Features in the Footage
          4. Camera Settings
          5. Solving Camera Motion
          6. Making Adjustments
        5. Testing Camera Tracking
        6. Summary
        7. Exercises
      2. 14. Lighting, Compositing, and Rendering
        1. Lighting Your Scene
          1. Analyzing the Real Footage
          2. Creating Lights That Match the Footage
        2. The Node Editor
          1. Compositing Methods
          2. Understanding Nodes
          3. Anatomy of a Node
          4. Using the Node Editor
          5. Result Preview
        3. Compositing Your Scene in Blender Render
          1. Setting Up the Scene
          2. Setting Up Render Layers
          3. Node Compositing
        4. Compositing Your Scene in Cycles
          1. Setting Up the Scene
          2. Setting Up Render Layers
          3. Node Compositing
        5. Rendering
          1. Render Settings
          2. Output
          3. Final Rendering Results
        6. Summary
        7. Exercises
      3. 15. Other Blender Features
        1. Particles
        2. Hair Simulation
        3. Cloth Simulation
        4. Rigid and Soft Bodies
        5. Fluids Simulation
        6. Fire and Smoke
        7. Game Engine
        8. Masking, Object Tracking, and Video Stabilization
        9. Sculpting
        10. Retopology
        11. Maps Baking
        12. Python Scripting
        13. Summary
    18. Index