For years I’ve been interested in 3d modeling and animation. Pixar is an example of a company that has made real art from ones and zeroes and I’ve always loved their aesthetic and dedication to story telling.

Years ago I used to play with a piece of software called Animation Master. In it, I could model things and put together three-dimensional scenes, and eventually do some animation. You can see the results (in relatively low resolution) here at my Desktop Studios.

But, there were limitations and life got in the way and one thing led to another and I didn’t do that anymore. Fast forward … twenty years. Jeez…

Now that I have time and opportunity, one of my goals was to learn another 3d modeling program that would allow me to pick that hobby back up again. Additionally, I wanted a piece of software that would allow me to create things that could be 3d printed as well. After checking out options (and cost), I settled on Blender. Blender has been improving rapidly over the last few years and the investment on the part of major investors and studios has helped accelerate that improvement.

I have fiddled with the software over the years, but it’s a reasonably complicated piece of software and the few hours I had here and there were not enough to learn enough and make it stick. I needed to take a class.

I just finished a class called Blender 2.8 The complete guide from beginner to pro from Udemy. It was 34 hours long and I completed it today. Usually I’d work on it for a few hours in the morning, mixed in with experimenting and trying things on my own to cement the teachings. It took me about 2.5 weeks, I think.

I even got this keen certificate!

Certificate of Completion

The class did a good job of introducing the basics of Blender and didn’t get too deep in the woods. It’s fair to say this software is still complicated. It’s got enough functionality to complete a high-quality animation. You can find some examples of professional-level animation made with Blender here.

So, the goal was to learn enough to walk before I can run (or walk quickly). The mid-term goal is/was to learn enough to start modeling things, potentially for 3d-printing. Then move on to creating 3d scenes, some small animations, etc. Basically, to add Blender to my toolbox of options to make things.

As a graduation task for myself, I wanted to find a 2-d image of an object, build a 3d model of that and add enough materials to call that project done. Here are a few images. The first is the original image, the second is a what’s called a low-poly (really, just low detail) version, then a higher detail version, then with materials:

I’m moderately happy with the results. The high polygon sculpting needs work. I need to learn a lot more about creating materials (the colors on the knife). But, on the whole, I was able to accomplish my goal of creating an object using Blender. Still lots of work to get the information firmly seated in my leaky brain. I already had to rewatch portions of the class to find a detail that I forgot, but there’s a good starting amount in the brain.

I’m happy to have accomplished this goal. It is, after all, part of the whole “Learn a Thing, Do a Thing, Teach a Thing” ethos. Not to say I’m ready to teach anyone anything about Blender, but at least I can make it do a bit of what it’s designed for and that means a new tool in my toolbox!

Categories: Make

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