Blender 3D By Example - Second Edition

4.6 (5 reviews total)
By Oscar Baechler , Xury Greer
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    Editing a Viking Scene with a Basic 3D Workflow
About this book

Blender is a powerful 3D creation package that supports every aspect of the 3D pipeline. With this book, you'll learn about modeling, rigging, animation, rendering, and much more with the help of some interesting projects.

This practical guide, based on the Blender 2.83 LTS version, starts by helping you brush up on your basic Blender skills and getting you acquainted with the software toolset. You’ll use basic modeling tools to understand the simplest 3D workflow by customizing a Viking themed scene. You'll get a chance to see the 3D modeling process from start to finish by building a time machine based on provided concept art. You will design your first 2D character while exploring the capabilities of the new Grease Pencil tools. The book then guides you in creating a sleek modern kitchen scene using EEVEE, Blender’s new state-of-the-art rendering engine. As you advance, you'll explore a variety of 3D design techniques, such as sculpting, retopologizing, unwrapping, baking, painting, rigging, and animating to bring a baby dragon to life.

By the end of this book, you'll have learned how to work with Blender to create impressive computer graphics, art, design, and architecture, and you'll be able to use robust Blender tools for your design projects and video games.

Publication date:
May 2020


Editing a Viking Scene with a Basic 3D Workflow

In this chapter, you'll get your first taste of the 3D workflow. Now that we've covered some basic 3D terminology, we can learn the navigation controls, menus, and a few modeling tools. Whether you're new to 3D or you've used other 3D software before, this chapter will help you get an idea of how things are done in Blender 2.8.

Many of the 3D modeling concepts we're about to learn are interdependent on one another. It would be difficult and very slow to learn in order of the smallest features to the largest features. If we take things too slowly, you'll be so bored that you'll fall asleep before getting to do anything exciting, so we're going to keep things moving. If this chapter seems like it's going fast, don't worry; we will break down these concepts in more detail in subsequent...


Setting up the source files

For this project, you'll need the files from, which can be downloaded here: Download and unzip the folder. You should now have a directory called Blender3DByExample_Chapter02 that contains the starting project file and a folder that contains all of the texture files that are required:

Example of the unzipped directory

Blender saves projects in a proprietary format called .blend these files store everything you need for a 3D scene: models, animations, lights, you name it! .blend files can also include image textures, though most 3D artists choose to keep the texture files separate so that the .blend file will take up less room on the computer. For this chapter, the textures can be found inside the VikingScene_Textures folder, as you...


Using the Outliner to organize a scene

Welcome to your first Blender scene! We had a brief introduction to the user interface in Chapter 1, Introduction to 3D and the Blender User Interface, but now we can see it with our own eyes. The largest area of the UI is dedicated to the 3D Viewport (or just "Viewport" for short). You can see all of the 3D objects inside this area. This scene has been set to use the new Random Colors feature, which gives all of the objects false colors so that they are easier to identify in the Viewport, as shown in the following screenshot:

Objects in the VikingScene_Start.blend file with random colors

The random colors are helpful, but there is an even better way to discover the contents of a scene: the Outliner. The Outliner can be found in the top-right corner of the UI. Let's learn how to use it to our advantage.

We can look at the...


Navigating the 3D Viewport

3D navigation is essential when working on any project in Blender, so let's practice what we learned in the Basic 3D Navigation Controls section of Chapter 1, Introduction to 3D and the Blender User Interface, before learning one more very important navigation feature.

As we have already learned, Blender's 3D navigation controls are all about using the middle mouse button (MMB). Let's start by rotating the view:

  1. Move your mouse into the 3D Viewport.
  2. Press and hold the middle mouse button.
  3. Drag your mouse around to rotate the viewing angle.

Notice that the focal point of the view is focused on the Viking dummy in the center. When we rotate, our view always orbits around the current focal point. We'll see why this is important after we practice our other controls.

By default, Blender uses a Turntable style for Viewport rotations....

Using the Toolbar

In Blender 2.8, there is a new user-friendly Toolbar attached to the left-hand side of the 3D Viewport. The Toolbar provides an assortment of large icons, with each icon representing a tool. By default, the Toolbar is collapsed into a single column, but we can expand it to show the names of all of the tools. Let's expand the Toolbar now:

  1. Hover your mouse over the right-hand side edge of the Toolbar until your mouse turns into a double arrow.
  2. Left-click and drag to the right to expand the Toolbar, as shown in the following screenshot:
When the mouse is placed on the edge of the Toolbar, the cursor changes to the "Resize Horizontal" symbol

Now that the Toolbar has been expanded, let's learn about some of the tools.

The first tool in the Toolbar is the Select Box tool, which is highlighted in blue to indicate that it is active. When a tool...


Basic transformations in Object Mode

Before we can edit the Viking helmet in this project, we need to practice using the transformation tools. We already learned how to activate tools, and we know what the gizmos look like, so now it's time to stick some arrows in the dummy!

  1. Click on the Move tool in the Toolbar to activate it.
  2. Select the Arrow_01 object by clicking on it in the Outliner or in the 3D Viewport.
  3. Press the tilde ~ key to bring up the View pie menu.
  4. Choose the View Selected option to frame the arrow.
  5. Rotate the view with the middle mouse button so that we can see the dummy in the middle of the scene, as shown in the following screenshot:
The Arrow_01 object has been selected and the Dummy object is visible
  1. Left-click on the red axis arrow of the Move gizmo and drag it sideways toward the Dummy object.
  2. Next, click and drag the green axis arrow of the gizmo...

Editing the Viking helmet

Now that we've had some practice transforming objects, we're ready for the main event: editing the Viking helmet. This is the largest part of this chapter, so we'll break it down into a few small subsections, as follows:

  • Preparing to work on the helmet
  • Making changes to components in Edit Mode
  • Adding the nose guard
  • Adding the horns
  • Adding the studs
  • Returning to Object Mode to finish

We will begin by preparing to work on the helmet so that the rest of the objects in the scene don't get in the way.

Preparing to work on the helmet

Let's take a moment to prepare for working on the helmet. In a typical 3D workflow, we edit one object at a time. We can use a special view mode...


Rendering the final image

While we work in 3D, we tend to use low-quality preview settings for the Viewport because it's easier to see the polygons and it keeps our computers running fast while we work. So far, we have been working with low-quality preview settings, so our Viewport looks like this:

The low-quality preview of our scene

Now that we've finished making edits to the Viking scene, we can change a few settings to get a high-quality final image. A high-quality render needs a nice set of lights. Remember the Lights collection in the Outliner? Well, it's time to make it visible:

  1. Find the Lights collection in the Outliner.
  2. Click on the grayed-out eyeball icon to the right of the Lights collection.

Good we have some lights, but a bunch of ugly lines appeared in the Viewport. These lines are part of a feature called Overlays. Overlays include everything...



Wonderful! We've covered a lot of ground and you've edited your first model. We learned how to use the Outliner to organize the objects in the scene. We've built some familiarity with the 3D navigation controls. We also had a quick look at Blender's new Toolbar. Finally, we practiced basic transformations using 3D objects and components.

After doing all this, we edited a provided model with some of the most common modeling tools, such as extrude, and we learned how to select edge loops.

In the next chapter, we will learn how to start a project from scratch by making a time machine! We'll take what we learned while working on the Viking Helmet and expand on that knowledge using many more tools and workflows.

About the Authors
  • Oscar Baechler

    Oscar Baechler is a CG generalist, professor, painter, photographer, open source advocate, and community organizer who teaches at Lake Washington Institute of Technology. He's published a number of mobile games with a Blender pipeline and created animation for clients both big and small. Oscar runs the Seattle Blender User Group and Ballard Life Drawing Co-op and has presented on CGI at SIGGRAPH, LinuxFest Northwest, the Blender Conference, OSCON, Usenix LISA, SeaGL, SIX, WACC, and others.

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  • Xury Greer

    Xury is a digital media generalist and educator in the Greater Seattle Area. He earned his bachelor's degree in game design from Lake Washington Institute of Technology. He specializes in 3D characters, and technical art, and loves to share his knowledge. Xury is an avid member and Co-Organizer of the Seattle Blender User Group and aims to help others by teaching Blender, as well as other 3D content creation tools. He is always excited to get new users started on their digital media production journey.

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