Creators – Week 4

This week we continued with adding more props to our diorama. Of these the gaming chair was the most complex.

To make the five-footed design of chair base we started with a cylinder with twice as many sides and then, after placing an edge loop near the bottom, extruded every second face to form the feet. We then extruded these feet ends a second time and extruded a few more times to form a roughly spherical shape to represent coasters.

The chair seat was just a cube, scaled to the appropriate proportions and then the front and back faces extruded and scaled slightly to round out the shape. We duplicated the seat and moved and rotated it to form the chair back as well.

The arms were created by first duplicating the faces on the left and right of the chair seat, scaling them vertically and moving them up into position. The reason for doing this with copied faces was because it ensured they were perfectly aligned to the rest of the chair. These faces where then extruded with the “Extrude along face normals” command [Keystroke: Alt-E] to give them width. Finally we extruded the back faces of these two arms, down to the bottom of the chair back, by selecting them, going to a side view and using the Ctrl-Right Click command.

We also added a few more simple props. These were all based on cubes, scaled to size and shaped using inset, extrude and edge loops.

This is the final room, from a geometry perspective. We still need to give materials to the objects, light the scene and render a final image.

Files for this weeks work-in-progress model can be found on our Sharepoint site.

Creators – Week 3

After mostly doing a review of the basic functions of Blender in Weeks 1 and 2, we started our first real project this week; a diorama of a room populated with low-poly props, rended by an orthographic camera from an isometric perspective.

A screenshot of Blender showing the diorama as a work-in-progress.

Most of the time we use perspective cameras. With perspective cameras, like in the real world, things appear smaller the further away they are. An orthographic camera does not have that effect; things stay the same size no matter how far away they are. In the image above the right-hand pane shows the view from the orthographic camera while the left-land shows a standard perspective view. You can see how the cube shape is emphasised using the orthographic camera; it’s a stylistic choice.

We are also using an isometric view point. This is one where the camera is positioned approximately the same distance along each axis and looking back towards the origin. It’s a style of presentation that has been made popular in many games down the ages and again is a stylistic choice. Search Google Images for “game isometric” to see examples.

We learned how to split the Blender view by dragging from the bottom left corner with the mouse. This split view allows us to maintain the camera view on one screen while we actively edit on the other.

Blender Viewport Shading Options

We set some options for Viewport Shading to help understand the model as we build it. These are shown above. Shadow and cavity help emphasise edges and geometry. Switching “Color” to “Random” helps us quickly visually distinguish distinct object while we still don’t have separate materials assigned to them.

All the objects were built with the following techniques:

  1. Loop-cuts
  2. Edge and face loop selection, movement and scaling
  3. Inset
  4. Face duplication and separation (to create new objects)
  5. Bridge edge-loops

The first three of these are very familiar, but we can talk about the other two. A few places, such as around the hole in the wall cut for the window, we had a set of existing faces that could be repurposed to form the basis of another object, in that case the window itself. Duplication of faces is accomplished with the keystroke shift-d, followed by enter to confirm. The duplicates, already selected, can then be separated by pressing p and choosing “Selection”.

Bridging edge loops we used in two ways. In the first, we had faces on opposite sides of a box. Selecting them both and choosing “Bridge Edge Loops” from the “Edge” menu causes a hole to be punched out between these faces,. The original faces are removed and the internal edges of the new hole are filled in.

The second way we used it was to join two faces opposing each other across a gap. In this case the faces are again themselves removed and a solid connection between the faces original locations is created across the gap.

Next we are going to continue to model props within the room and, time permitting, assign materials and render a final image.

Files for this weeks work-in-progress model can be found on our Sharepoint site.

Explorers Session 2 2022

Huge crowd again on Saturday, thank you to all 73 Ninjas you turned to my group, hope you enjoyed it.

Here are the full notes from this session. Remember to look out on our website or Facebook page or check your email during the week as we will be letting you know whether the Coderdojo will be running this coming week, the 9th April.

Explorers Session 1 2022

So great to back in person again. It was great to see such a big crowd.

I am attaching the full notes from yesterdays game here

I have also put the full Scratch Game on the Scratch Website

On the last page of the notes you will see the log in details for the Explorers Group to access the game.

Looking forward to seeing you all next week.

Martha, Ruaidhrí and Dylan

Answers To Your Questions

We have had a few questions about our upcoming sessions which we are happy to answer, here are the answers to some of the most frequently asked questions.

Do I need to book a place?

No, we don’t ask anyone to book places, due to the generosity of Clarin College we have plenty of space for everyone.

How long are the sessions?

Generally, our sessions are two hours long, the Explorers group with the younger children usually finishes up a little earlier.

How do I decide which group I should join?

Ninjas usually start with the Explorers group and then move on to Advancers, then to Bodgers, then to Modellers and then finally Hackers. But if kids have some experience of coding or if they’re a little bit older they can start with one of the more advanced groups. I recommend speaking to the Mentors of the groups you are interested in joining and then trying one of them out for a while, you can always move to a different group if you are not happy.

What do I need to bring along?

A laptop if you have one, if not we have a limited number of loaner laptops available.

An extension lead, there may not be a plug within easy reach of your desk.

How much does it cost?

As all our Mentors at CoderDojo Athenry are volunteers and as Clarin College allow us use of the school free of charge all our sessions are completely free.

What can I do to help?

There are several ways to help out at CoderDojo Athenry:

  • By just coming along you are already helping us, as our main aim is to get kids interested in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) and to give kids who are interested in STEM somewhere to meet and hangout with kids with similar interests.
  • Help with mentoring, do you have any tech skills? If you have any experience with Scratch, Python or Blender you may be able to help with one of the existing groups or you may wish to start a new group covering some other type of technology.
  • Help with admin, we are always looking for help with running the Dojo.
  • Visits to CoderDojo Athenry, does you employer have a community outreach programme where they would be interested in visiting us? Do you know anyone working in a STEM related field who you think our Ninjas would be interested in hearing from?
  • Fundraising, do you know anyone who would be interested in sponsoring CoderDojo Athenry?

If you are interested in helping out talk to any of the Mentors.

CoderDojo Athenry Returns on 26 March 2022!

picture2022

CoderDojo Athenry is returning with our weekly sessions in Clarin College starting Saturday 26 March 2022.

Our sessions will take place between 1:00pm and 3:00pm.

We will run our regular Explorers, Advancers, Bodgers, Modellers and Hackers groups.

There is more information about the groups and everything else on our About page.

New members are always welcome. If you are aged between 7 and 17, just come along on the first day and fill out a registration form. Young people aged 12 and under have to be accompanied by a parent/guardian for the whole session.

And don’t forget, CoderDojo Athenry is run by volunteers and is completely free for participants — no membership fees, no weekly contributions.

You should bring a laptop if you have one, but we have some loaner laptops if you don’t.

Bodgers – A Look Back At 2020/2021

Hello everyone,

I would like to thank all the Bodgers who joined me this year. I really enjoyed the sessions and I’m really grateful to you all for your attention, patience and your willingness to help me and each other out.

It’s a pity we couldn’t get together for even one session but hopefully when CoderDojo Athenry gets back to in person sessions I can meet you all then. I would also like to invite you all to our first post-COVID pizza party (hopefully before Christmas).

I have put together a video of the games we made this year.

Special thanks to everyone who created levels for our Red Runner game. You can find a copy of the code and images for this game on Dropbox here: https://www.dropbox.com/sh/sj6hil242d3fxmk/AAAHPnEVjw5IGWqs_G3eTXkDa?dl=0.

Thanks also to Kevin who helped us get up and running.

Enjoy the summer and hopefully I’ll see you in the autumn.

Declan