Modellers – Weeks 5 & 6

We completed our dioramas with materials and lights and rendered the final images. Some people chose their own colours and some used a palette generator (see: to choose a complimentary set of colours to provide a harmonious look for our scene.

We used the Cycles rendered and turned on the denoising options, which automatically remove any graininess from the resulting render, to give us a high-quality output in a reasonable timeframe.

We then built a simple model of an articulated desk lamp. Built as a single mesh and composed of simple primitive objects, all starting as cylinders or cubes, we developed it initially in a completely linear vertical configuration.

We then created vertex groups for each distinct portion of the lamp and assigned those parts of the lamp to those vertex groups. From the bottom up, these groups were:

  • base
  • pivot
  • upperarm
  • elbow
  • lowerarm
  • wrist
  • shade

We then added a spot light to represent the lamp’s bulb.

Next we generated a new armature. In edit mode, we scaled the initial bone until it was just the size of the base vertically and called it base, the name matching that of the vertex group in the lamp model. We then extruded the tip of this bone vertically to the centre of the first hinge pin in the model. This bone was named pivot again matching the name of the corresponding vertex group. We repeated this until there was a bone, named for the corresponding vertex group, across each section of the model.

We then returned to edit mode and, selecting first the armature and then shift-selecting the model, we used Parent | Armature Deform from the object menu to associated them together. The mesh became a child of the armature. Selecting the armature and changing to Pose mode, we were able to see how rotating the bones allowed us to move the model in a simple and non-destructive way.

We then wanted to move the light with the armature as well, as it currently remained in space where we’d located it originally. To do this we selected the spotlight object and added an object constraint tying it to the the shade bone in the armature, as shown below. This moved the light, so we needed to reposition and rotate it again to get it in the correct location.

The final step was adding an inverse kinematic control bone into the rig. Moving an inverse kinematic (IK) bone automatically moves all connected bones to try to follow the movement of the control bone. In the armature, in edit mode, we added a single bone and located it near the rim of the lamp shade. We called it “control” and, selecting it and then the shade bone, used Armature | Parent | Make | Keep Offset to join them.

We then switched to pose mode. Once in pose mode, we could add an IK constraint to the control bone as shown below. All defaults here are fine in this case.

Then we saw that moving this bone in Pose mode caused the rest of the lamp to follow, however some parts of the lamp were moving in ways we didn’t want. The final step was to place some IK limits on certain bones in the Bone Properties Panel. For the base we locked x, y and z because we didn’t want it to rotate at all:

For pivot and shade, we locked then in x and z, this will allow them to turn around their own axis but not bend over. For all the others we locked them in y and z allowing them to bend over corresponding to the way they were pinned in the model.

Files for these final models can be found on our Sharepoint site.

Modellers – 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.

Modelers – Build and Rig a Basic Humanoid Character – Week 15

This week we continued with our super-simple rigged humanoid character. We texture painted the character, animated them, added a rigged camera and finally rendered everything to video.

Here are the video instructions:

Here’s a link to the folder where we store all our files . You’ll find a new file in there called humanoid_wip2.blend, containing everything we did this week.

Modelers – Build and Rig a Basic Humanoid Character – Week 14

This week we build a super-simple humanoid character mesh using metaballs, a new modelling technique. We then rigged the character for animation with a simple armature.

Here are the video instructions:

Here’s a link to the folder where we store all our files . You’ll find a new file in there called humanoid_wip.blend, containing everything we did this week.

As an aside, my wife and I were playing with this character. Here’s what we did:

  1. Exported the mesh as an FBX (Select the mesh, File|Export|FBX and choose “export selected”)
  2. Loaded that FBX file into
  3. In Mixamo, identified the key parts of the body and allowed it to process
  4. Attached a breakdancer mo-cap to the model
  5. Exported it again from Mixamo
  6. Imported it back into Blender (File|Import|FBX)
  7. Added some props (a hat and glasses) and made sure to add them to the head vertex group
  8. Texture painted the character
  9. Added some basic props, a ground, some cardboard and graffiti walls
  10. Animated the camera a little
  11. Imagined the music in our heads… 🙂

Hopefully you might be encouraged to try something like this yourself!

Modelers – Free-for-All Modelling – Week 12

This week we did things differently and had a free-for-all session where we all built items to put into a collectively sitting room. We shared some 3D scanned humans to allow for proper scaling of items in our world. The screenshot below shows “Bettina” sitting on an ottoman in my pretty empty room waiting for everyone else’s creations to arrive. We’ll continue this next week.

Here’s a link to the folder where we store all our files . You’ll find a new file in there called Sitting Room.blend, containing everything I made this week.

Modelers – Coin Pile Part 3 – Week 8

This week we finished our animation by texturing the plane to look like a tabletop and adding a background image of a desert island.

We also saw how to add an add-on to Blender, namely Lily Surface Scraper.

Here are the video instructions:

Here’s a link to the finished animation:

Here’s a link to the folder where we store all our files . You’ll find a new file in there called dubloon_wip3.blend, containing everything we did this week.