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

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

by Oliver Villar

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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.


Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780133886276
Publisher: Pearson Education
Publication date: 10/03/2014
Series: Learning
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 719,794
File size: 12 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

Oliver Villar has been drawing since he was a kid. His interest in art led him to 3D, which he’s been studying since 2004. He used commercial 3D software before discovering Blender in 2008. Since then, he has used Blender professionally as a 3D designer and tutor. In 2010 he founded blendtuts.com, a Blender tutorials site. He is currently co-directing Luke’s Escape, a short, 3D-animated film made with Blender.

Table of Contents

Preface         xxiii

Acknowledgments         xxix

About the Author         xxxi

Learning Blender Ancillaries         xxxiii


Part I: The Basics of Blender         1

Chapter 1: What You Need to Know about Blender         3

What Is Blender?   3

Commercial Software versus Open-Source Software   4

The History of Blender   5

The Blender Foundation and the Blender Institute   7

The Blender Community   9

Summary   9

Exercises   10


Chapter 2: Blender Basics: The User Interface         11

Downloading and Installing Blender   11

Blender User Interface   12

Understanding the 3D View   13

Navigating the 3D View   17

Managing Areas 19

Editor Types   20

Selecting Objects   23

Using the 3D Cursor   24

Blender User Preferences   26

Summary   28

Exercises   28


Chapter 3: Your First Scene in Blender         29

Creating Objects   29

Moving, Rotating, and Scaling   30

Naming Objects and Datablocks   33

Interaction Modes   36

Applying Flat or Smooth Surfaces   37

Modifiers   38

Blender Render and Cycles   41

Materials   42

Turning on the Lights   44

Moving the Camera in Your Scene  45

Rendering   46

Summary   48

Exercises   48


Part II: Beginning a Project         49

Chapters 4: Project Overview         51

The Three Stages of a Project   51

Defining the Stages   53

A Character-Creation Plan   55

Summary   56

Exercises   56


Chapter 5: Character Design         57

Character Description   57

Designing the Character   60

Adding Color   66

Final Design   67

Character Reference Images   68

Other Design Methods  69

Summary   70

Exercises   70


Part III: Modeling in Blender         71

Chapter 6: Blender Modeling Tools         73

Working with Vertices, Edges, and Faces   73

Selecting Vertices, Edges, and Faces   74

Accessing Modeling Tools   74

Selections   75

Mesh Modeling Tools   78

LoopTools   94

Tips and Tricks   95

Summary   96

Exercises   96


Chapter 7: Character Modeling         97

What Is Mesh Topology?   97

Modeling Methods   99

Setting Up the Reference Planes   101

Modeling the Eyes   103

Modeling the Face   107

Modeling the Torso and Arms   116

Modeling the Legs   125

Modeling the Boots   127

Modeling the Hands   129

Modeling the Cap   133

Modeling the Hair   136

Modeling the Final Details   140

Summary   144

Exercises   144


Part IV: Unwrapping, Painting, and Shading         145

Chapter 8: Unwrapping and UVs in Blender         147

How Unwrapping and UVs Work   147

Unwrapping in Blender   148

Things to Consider before Unwrapping   155

Working with UVs in Blender  156

Unwrapping the Rest of the Character   162

Packing UVs   163

Summary  165

Exercises   166


Chapter 9: Painting Textures         167

Main Workflow   167

Painting in Blender   167

Creating the Base Texture   170

Texturing in 2D Image Editing Software  172

Seeing the Painted Character in Blender   176

Summary   177

Exercises   178


Chapter 10: Materials and Shaders         179

Understanding Materials   179

Shading Your Character with Blender Render   183

Shading Your Character with Cycles   197

Summary   205

Exercises   205


Part V: Bringing Your Character to Life         207

Chapter 11: Character Rigging         209

Understanding the Rigging Process   209

Working with Armatures   210

Rigging Your Character   215

Rig Organization   225

Skinning  228

Creating the Facial Rig  235

Creating Custom Shapes   241

Applying Final Touches to the Rig   242

Summary  243

Exercises   244


Chapter 12: Animating Your Character         245

Inserting Keyframes   245

Animation Editors  246

Animating a Walk Cycle   251

Summary   257

Exercises   257


Part VI: Getting the Final Result         259

Chapter 13: Camera Tracking in Blender         261

Understanding Camera Tracking   261

Things to Consider before Filming   262

The Movie Clip Editor   263

Tracking the Camera   264

Testing Camera Tracking   270

Summary   271

Exercises   271


Chapter 14: Lighting, Compositing, and Rendering         273

Lighting Your Scene   273

The Node Editor   275

Compositing Your Scene in Blender Render   281

Compositing Your Scene in Cycles   287

Rendering   290

Summary   292

Exercises   292


Chapter 15: Other Blender Features         293

Particles 293

Hair Simulation   293

Cloth Simulation   294

Rigid and Soft Bodies   294

Fluids Simulation   294

Fire and Smoke   295

Game Engine   295

Masking, Object Tracking, and Video Stabilization   295

Sculpting   295

Retopology   296

Maps Baking   296

Python Scripting   297

Summary   297


Index         299


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