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Blender 3D: Designing Objects

By Romain Caudron , Pierre-Armand Nicq , Enrico Valenza
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  1. Free Chapter
    1. Module 1
About this book
Blender is a powerful, stable tool with an integral workflow that will allow you to understand 3D creation with ease. With its integrated game engine and use of the Python language, it is an efficient choice for many productions, including 3D animated or live action films, architecture, research, and even game creation. Blender has an active community that contributes to expanding its functionalities. Today, it is used in many professional products and by many companies. Throughout Blender for Designers, you will create many types of complete projects using a step-by-step approach. Start by getting to know the modeling tools available in Blender to create a 3D robot toy, and discover more advanced techniques such as sculpting and retopology by creating an alien character. Move on in the second module to engage with the workflow used to create characters. Run through the process from modeling to the rendering stages, using the tools of the latest official release of Blender. The last module will teach you how to utilize the power of the Blender series to create a wide variety of materials, textures, and effects using the Cycles rendering engine. You will learn about node-based shader creation, and master Cycles through step-by-step, recipe-based advice. Start small by rendering the textures of stones and water, then scale things up to massive landscapes of mountains and oceans. This Learning Path combines some of the best that Packt has to offer in one complete, curated package. It includes content from the following Packt products: •Blender 3D By Example By Romain Caudron and Pierre-Armand Nicq •Blender 3D Cookbook By Enrico Valenza •Blender Cycles: Materials and Textures Cookbook - Third Edition By Enrico Valenza
Publication date:
November 2016
Publisher
Packt
ISBN
9781787127197

 

Part 1. Module 1

Blender 3D By Example

Design a complete workflow with Blender to create stunning 3D scenes and films step-by-step!

 

Chapter 1. Straight into Blender!

Welcome to the first chapter, in which you will start getting familiar with Blender.

Here, navigation within the interface will be presented. Its approach is atypical in comparison to other 3D software, such as Autodesk Maya® or Autodesk 3DS Max®, but once you get used to this, it will be extremely effective.

If you have had the opportunity to use Blender before, it is important to note that the interface went through changes during the evolution of the software (especially since version 2.5).

We will give you an idea of the possibilities that this wonderful free and open source software gives by presenting different workflows. You will learn some vocabulary and key concepts of 3D creation so that you will not to get lost during your learning.

Finally, you will have a brief introduction to the projects that we will carry out throughout this module.

Let's dive into the third dimension! The following topics will be covered in this chapter:

  • Learning some theory and vocabulary
  • Navigating the 3D viewport
  • How to set up preferences
  • Using keyboard shortcuts to save time

An overview of the 3D workflow

Before learning how to navigate the Blender interface, we will give you a short introduction to the 3D workflow.

The anatomy of a 3D scene

To start learning about Blender, you need to understand some basic concepts. Don't worry, there is no need to have special knowledge in mathematics or programming to create beautiful 3D objects; it only requires curiosity. Some artistic notions are a plus.

All 3D elements, which you will handle, will evolve in to a scene. There is a three-dimensional space with a coordinate system composed of three axes. In Blender, the x axis shows the width, y axis shows the depth, and the z axis shows the height. Some softwares use a different approach and reverses the y and z axes. These axes are color-coded, we advise you to remember them: the x axis in red, the y axis in green and the z axis in blue.

A scene may have the scale you want and you can adjust it according to your needs. This looks like a film set for a movie. A scene can be populated by one or more cameras, lights, models, rigs, and many other elements. You will have the control of their placement and their setup.

The anatomy of a 3D scene

A 3D scene looks like a film set.

A mesh is made of vertices, edges, and faces. The vertices are some points in the scene space that are placed at the end of the edges. They could be thought of as 3D points in space and the edges connect them. Connected together, the edges and the vertices form a face, also called a polygon. It is a geometric plane, which has several sides as its name suggests.

In 3D software, a polygon is constituted of at least three sides. It is often essential to favor four-sided polygons during modeling for a better result. You will have an opportunity to see this in more detail later.

Your actors and environments will be made of polygonal objects, or more commonly called as meshes. If you have played old 3D games, you've probably noticed the very angular outline of the characters; it was, in fact, due to a low count of polygons.

We must clarify that the orientation of the faces is important for your polygon object to be illuminated. Each face has a normal. This is a perpendicular vector that indicates the direction of the polygon. In order for the surface to be seen, it is necessary that the normals point to the outside of the model. Except in special cases where the interior of a polygonal object is empty and invisible. You will be able to create your actors and environment as if you were handling virtual clay to give them the desired shape.

The anatomy of a 3D scene

Anatomy of a 3D Mesh

To make your characters presentable, you will have to create their textures, which are 2D images that will be mapped to the 3D object. UV coordinates will be necessary in order to project the texture onto the mesh. Imagine an origami paper cube that you are going to unfold. This is roughly the same. These details are contained in a square space with the representation of the mesh laid flat. You can paint the texture of your model in your favorite software, even in Blender.

The anatomy of a 3D scene

This is the representation of the UV mapping process. The texture on the left is projected to the 3D model on the right.

After this, you can give the illusion of life to your virtual actors by animating them. For this, you will need to place animation keys spaced on the timeline. If you change the state of the object between two keyframes, you will get the illusion of movement—animation. To move the characters, there is a very interesting process that uses a bone system, mimicking the mechanism of a real skeleton. Your polygon object will be then attached to the skeleton with a weight assigned to the vertices on each bone, so if you animate the bones, the mesh components will follow them.

Once your characters, props, or environment are ready, you will be able to choose a focal length and an adequate framework for your camera.

In order to light your scene, the choice of the render engine will be important for the kind of lamps to use, but usually there are three types of lamps as used in cinema productions. You will have to place them carefully. There are directional lights, which behave like the sun and produce hard shadows. There are omnidirectional lights, which will allow you to simulate diffuse light, illuminating everything around it and casting soft shadows. There are also spots that will simulate a conical shape. As in the film industry or other imaging creation fields, good lighting is a must-have in order to sell the final picture. Lighting is an expressive and narrative element that can magnify your models, or make them irrelevant.

Once everything is in place, you are going to make a render. You will have a choice between a still image and an animated sequence. All the given parameters with the lights and materials will be calculated by the render engine. Some render engines offer an approach based on physics with rays that are launched from the camera. Cycles is a good example of this kind of engine and succeed in producing very realistic renders. Others will have a much simpler approach, but none less technically based on visible elements from the camera.

All of this is an overview of what you will be able to achieve while reading this module and following along with Blender.

What can you do with Blender?

In addition to being completely free and open source, Blender is a powerful tool that is stable and with an integral workflow that will allow you to understand your learning of 3D creation with ease. Software updates are very frequent; they fix bugs and, more importantly, add new features.

You will not feel alone as Blender has an active and passionate community around it. There are many sites providing tutorials, and an official documentation detailing the features of Blender.

You will be able to carry out everything you need in Blender, including things that are unusual for a 3D package such as concept art creation, sculpting, or digital postproduction, which we have not yet discussed, including compositing and video editing. This is particularly interesting in order to push the aesthetics of your future images and movies to another level.

It is also possible to make video games. Also, note that the Blender game engine is still largely unknown and underestimated. Although this aspect of the software is not as developed as other specialized game engines, it is possible to make good quality games without switching to another software.

You will realize that the possibilities are enormous, and you will be able to adjust your workflow to suit your needs and desires.

Software of this type could scare you by its unusual handling and its complexity, but you'll realize that once you have learned its basics, it is really intuitive in many ways.

Getting used to the navigation in Blender

Now that you have been introduced to the 3D workflow, you will learn how to navigate the Blender interface, starting with the 3D viewport.

An introduction to the navigation of the 3D Viewport

It is time to learn how to navigate in the Blender viewport. The viewport represents the 3D space, in which you will spend most of your time. As we previously said, it is defined by three axes (x, y, and z). Its main goal is to display the 3D scene from a certain point of view while you're working on it.

An introduction to the navigation of the 3D Viewport

The Blender 3D Viewport

When you are navigating through this, it will be as if you were a movie director but with special powers that allow you to film from any point of view.

The navigation is defined by three main actions: pan, orbit, and zoom. The pan action means that you will move horizontally or vertically according to your current point of view. If we connect that to our cameraman metaphor, it's like if you were moving laterally to the left, or to the right, or moving up or down with a camera crane.

By default, in Blender the shortcut to pan around is to press the Shift button and the Middle Mouse Button (MMB), and drag the mouse.

The orbit action means that you will rotate around the point that you are focusing on. For instance, imagine that you are filming a romantic scene of two actors and that you rotate around them in a circular manner. In this case, the couple will be the main focus. In a 3D scene, your main focus would be a 3D character, a light, or any other 3D object.

To orbit around in the Blender viewport, the default shortcut is to press the MMB and then drag the mouse.

The last action that we mentioned is zoom. The zoom action is straightforward. It is the action of moving our point of view closer to an element or further away from an element.

In Blender, you can zoom in by scrolling your mouse wheel up and zoom out by scrolling your mouse wheel down.

To gain time and precision, Blender proposes some predefined points of view. For instance, you can quickly go in a top view by pressing the numpad 7, you can also go in a front view by pressing the numpad 1, you can go in a side view by pressing the numpad 3, and last but not least, the numpad 0 allows you to go in Camera view, which represents the final render point of the view of your scene.

You can also press the numpad 5 in order to activate or deactivate the orthographic mode. The orthographic mode removes perspective. It is very useful if you want to be precise. It feels as if you were manipulating a blueprint of the 3D scene.

An introduction to the navigation of the 3D Viewport

The difference between Perspective (left) and Orthographic (right)

If you are lost, you can always look at the top left corner of the viewport in order to see in which view you are, and whether the orthographic mode is on or off.

Try to learn by heart all these shortcuts; you will use them a lot. With repetition, this will become a habit.

What are editors?

In Blender, the interface is divided into subpanels that we call editors; even the menu bar where you save your file is an editor. Each editor gives you access to tools categorized by their functionality. You have already used an editor, the 3D view. Now it's time to learn more about the editor's anatomy.

What are editors?

In this picture, you can see how Blender is divided into editors

The anatomy of an editor

There are 17 different editors in Blender and they all have the same base. An editor is composed of a Header, which is a menu that groups different options related to the editor. The first button of the header is to switch between other editors. For instance, you can replace the 3D view by the UV/Image Editor by clicking on it. You can easily change its place by right-clicking on it in an empty space and by choosing the Flip to Top/Bottom option.

The header can be hidden by selecting its top edge and by pulling it down. If you want to bring it back, press the little plus sign at the far right.

The anatomy of an editor

The header of the 3D viewport. The first button is for switching between editors, and also, we can choose between different options in the menu

In some editors, you can get access to hidden panels that give you other options. For instance, in the 3D view you can press the T key or the N key to toggle them on or off. As in the header, if a sub panel of an editor is hidden, you can click on the little plus sign to display it again.

Split, Join, and Detach

Blender offers you the possibility of creating editors where you want. To do this, you need to right-click on the border of an editor and select Split Area in order to choose where to separate them.

Split, Join, and Detach

Right-click on the border of an editor to split it into two editors

The current editor will then be split in two editors. Now you can switch to any other editor that you desire by clicking on the first button of the header bar. If you want to merge two editors into one, you can right-click on the border that separates them and select the Join Area button. You will then have to click on the editor that you want to erase by pointing the arrow on it.

Split, Join, and Detach

Use the Join Area option to join two editors together

You then have to choose which editor you want to remove by pointing and clicking on it.

Split, Join, and Detach

We are going to see another method of splitting editors that is nice. You can drag the top right corner of an editor and another editor will magically appear! If you want to join back two editors together, you will have to drag the top right corner in the direction of the editor that you want to remove. The last manipulation can be tricky at first, but with a little bit of practice, you will be able to do it closed eyes!

Split, Join, and Detach

The top right corner of an editor

If you have multiple monitors, it could be a great idea to detach some editors in a separated window. With this, you could gain space and won't be overwhelmed by a condensed interface. In order to do this, you will need to press the Shift key and drag the top right corner of the editor with the Left Mouse Button (LMB).

Some useful layout presets

Blender offers you many predefined layouts that depend on the context of your creation. For instance, you can select the Animation preset in order to have all the major animation tools, or you can use the UV Editing preset in order to prepare your texturing. To switch between the presets, go to the top of the interface (in the Info editor, near the Help menu) and click on the drop-down menu. If you want, you can add new presets by clicking on the plus sign or delete presets by clicking on the X button. If you want to rename a preset, simply enter a new name in the corresponding text field. The following screenshot shows the Layout presets drop-down menu:

Some useful layout presets

The layout presets drop-down menu

Setting up your preferences

When we start learning new software, it's good to know how to set up your preferences. Blender has a large number of options, but we will show you just the basic ones in order to change the default navigation style or to add new tools that we call add-ons in Blender.

An introduction to the Preferences window

The preferences window can be opened by navigating to the File menu and selecting the User Preferences option. If you want, you can use the Ctrl + Alt + U shortcut or the Cmd key and comma key on a Mac system.

There are seven tabs in this window as shown here:

An introduction to the Preferences window

The different tabs that compose the Preferences window

A nice thing that Blender offers is the ability to change its default theme. For this, you can go to the Themes tab and choose between different presets or even change the aspect of each interface elements.

Another useful setting to change is the number of undo that is 32 steps, by default. To change this number, go to the Editing tab and under the Undo label, slide the Steps to the desired value.

Customizing the default navigation style

We will now show you how to use a different style of navigation in the viewport. In many other 3D programs, such as Autodesk Maya®, you can use the Alt key in order to navigate in the 3D view. In order to activate this in Blender, navigate to the Input tab, and under the Mouse section, check the Emulate 3 Button Mouse option. Now if you want to use this navigation style in the viewport, you can press Alt and LMB to orbit around, Ctrl + Alt and the LMB to zoom, and Alt + Shift and the LMB to pan. Remember these shortcuts as they will be very useful when we enter the sculpting mode while using a pen tablet. The Emulate 3 Button Mouse checkbox is shown as follows:

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate 3 Button Mouse will be very useful when sculpting using a pen tablet

Another useful setting is the Emulate Numpad. It allows you to use the numeric keys that are above the QWERTY keys in addition to the numpad keys. This is very useful for changing the views if you have a laptop without a numpad, or if you want to improve your workflow speed.

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate Numpad allows you to use the numeric keys above the QWERTY keys in order to switch views or toggle the perspective on or off

Improving Blender with add-ons

If you want even more tools, you can install what is called as add-ons on your copy of Blender. Add-ons, also called Plugins or Scripts, are Python files with the .py extension. By default, Blender comes with many disabled add-ons ordered by category. We will now activate two very useful add-ons that will improve our speed while modeling. First, go to the Add-ons tab, and click on the Mesh button in the category list at the left. Here, you will see all the default mesh add-ons available. Click on the check-boxes at the left of the Mesh: F2 and Mesh: LoopTools subpanels in order to activate these add-ons. If you know the name of the add-on you want to activate, you can try to find it by typing its name in the search bar. There are many websites where you can download free add-ons, starting from the official Blender website. If you want to install a script, you can click on the Install from File button and you will be asked to select the corresponding Python file.

Note

The official Blender Add-ons Catalog

You can find it at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts.

The following screenshot shows the steps for activating the add-ons:

Improving Blender with add-ons

Steps for Add-ons activation

Note

Where are the add-ons on the hard-disk?

All the scripts are placed in the add-ons folder that is located wherever you have installed Blender on your hard disk. This folder will usually be at Your Installation Path\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.VersionNumber\scripts\addons.

If you find it easier, you can drop the Python files here instead of at the standard installation.

Don't forget to click on the Save User Settings button in order to save all your changes!

An introduction to the navigation of the 3D Viewport

It is time to learn how to navigate in the Blender viewport. The viewport represents the 3D space, in which you will spend most of your time. As we previously said, it is defined by three axes (x, y, and z). Its main goal is to display the 3D scene from a certain point of view while you're working on it.

An introduction to the navigation of the 3D Viewport

The Blender 3D Viewport

When you are navigating through this, it will be as if you were a movie director but with special powers that allow you to film from any point of view.

The navigation is defined by three main actions: pan, orbit, and zoom. The pan action means that you will move horizontally or vertically according to your current point of view. If we connect that to our cameraman metaphor, it's like if you were moving laterally to the left, or to the right, or moving up or down with a camera crane.

By default, in Blender the shortcut to pan around is to press the Shift button and the Middle Mouse Button (MMB), and drag the mouse.

The orbit action means that you will rotate around the point that you are focusing on. For instance, imagine that you are filming a romantic scene of two actors and that you rotate around them in a circular manner. In this case, the couple will be the main focus. In a 3D scene, your main focus would be a 3D character, a light, or any other 3D object.

To orbit around in the Blender viewport, the default shortcut is to press the MMB and then drag the mouse.

The last action that we mentioned is zoom. The zoom action is straightforward. It is the action of moving our point of view closer to an element or further away from an element.

In Blender, you can zoom in by scrolling your mouse wheel up and zoom out by scrolling your mouse wheel down.

To gain time and precision, Blender proposes some predefined points of view. For instance, you can quickly go in a top view by pressing the numpad 7, you can also go in a front view by pressing the numpad 1, you can go in a side view by pressing the numpad 3, and last but not least, the numpad 0 allows you to go in Camera view, which represents the final render point of the view of your scene.

You can also press the numpad 5 in order to activate or deactivate the orthographic mode. The orthographic mode removes perspective. It is very useful if you want to be precise. It feels as if you were manipulating a blueprint of the 3D scene.

An introduction to the navigation of the 3D Viewport

The difference between Perspective (left) and Orthographic (right)

If you are lost, you can always look at the top left corner of the viewport in order to see in which view you are, and whether the orthographic mode is on or off.

Try to learn by heart all these shortcuts; you will use them a lot. With repetition, this will become a habit.

What are editors?

In Blender, the interface is divided into subpanels that we call editors; even the menu bar where you save your file is an editor. Each editor gives you access to tools categorized by their functionality. You have already used an editor, the 3D view. Now it's time to learn more about the editor's anatomy.

What are editors?

In this picture, you can see how Blender is divided into editors

The anatomy of an editor

There are 17 different editors in Blender and they all have the same base. An editor is composed of a Header, which is a menu that groups different options related to the editor. The first button of the header is to switch between other editors. For instance, you can replace the 3D view by the UV/Image Editor by clicking on it. You can easily change its place by right-clicking on it in an empty space and by choosing the Flip to Top/Bottom option.

The header can be hidden by selecting its top edge and by pulling it down. If you want to bring it back, press the little plus sign at the far right.

The anatomy of an editor

The header of the 3D viewport. The first button is for switching between editors, and also, we can choose between different options in the menu

In some editors, you can get access to hidden panels that give you other options. For instance, in the 3D view you can press the T key or the N key to toggle them on or off. As in the header, if a sub panel of an editor is hidden, you can click on the little plus sign to display it again.

Split, Join, and Detach

Blender offers you the possibility of creating editors where you want. To do this, you need to right-click on the border of an editor and select Split Area in order to choose where to separate them.

Split, Join, and Detach

Right-click on the border of an editor to split it into two editors

The current editor will then be split in two editors. Now you can switch to any other editor that you desire by clicking on the first button of the header bar. If you want to merge two editors into one, you can right-click on the border that separates them and select the Join Area button. You will then have to click on the editor that you want to erase by pointing the arrow on it.

Split, Join, and Detach

Use the Join Area option to join two editors together

You then have to choose which editor you want to remove by pointing and clicking on it.

Split, Join, and Detach

We are going to see another method of splitting editors that is nice. You can drag the top right corner of an editor and another editor will magically appear! If you want to join back two editors together, you will have to drag the top right corner in the direction of the editor that you want to remove. The last manipulation can be tricky at first, but with a little bit of practice, you will be able to do it closed eyes!

Split, Join, and Detach

The top right corner of an editor

If you have multiple monitors, it could be a great idea to detach some editors in a separated window. With this, you could gain space and won't be overwhelmed by a condensed interface. In order to do this, you will need to press the Shift key and drag the top right corner of the editor with the Left Mouse Button (LMB).

Some useful layout presets

Blender offers you many predefined layouts that depend on the context of your creation. For instance, you can select the Animation preset in order to have all the major animation tools, or you can use the UV Editing preset in order to prepare your texturing. To switch between the presets, go to the top of the interface (in the Info editor, near the Help menu) and click on the drop-down menu. If you want, you can add new presets by clicking on the plus sign or delete presets by clicking on the X button. If you want to rename a preset, simply enter a new name in the corresponding text field. The following screenshot shows the Layout presets drop-down menu:

Some useful layout presets

The layout presets drop-down menu

Setting up your preferences

When we start learning new software, it's good to know how to set up your preferences. Blender has a large number of options, but we will show you just the basic ones in order to change the default navigation style or to add new tools that we call add-ons in Blender.

An introduction to the Preferences window

The preferences window can be opened by navigating to the File menu and selecting the User Preferences option. If you want, you can use the Ctrl + Alt + U shortcut or the Cmd key and comma key on a Mac system.

There are seven tabs in this window as shown here:

An introduction to the Preferences window

The different tabs that compose the Preferences window

A nice thing that Blender offers is the ability to change its default theme. For this, you can go to the Themes tab and choose between different presets or even change the aspect of each interface elements.

Another useful setting to change is the number of undo that is 32 steps, by default. To change this number, go to the Editing tab and under the Undo label, slide the Steps to the desired value.

Customizing the default navigation style

We will now show you how to use a different style of navigation in the viewport. In many other 3D programs, such as Autodesk Maya®, you can use the Alt key in order to navigate in the 3D view. In order to activate this in Blender, navigate to the Input tab, and under the Mouse section, check the Emulate 3 Button Mouse option. Now if you want to use this navigation style in the viewport, you can press Alt and LMB to orbit around, Ctrl + Alt and the LMB to zoom, and Alt + Shift and the LMB to pan. Remember these shortcuts as they will be very useful when we enter the sculpting mode while using a pen tablet. The Emulate 3 Button Mouse checkbox is shown as follows:

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate 3 Button Mouse will be very useful when sculpting using a pen tablet

Another useful setting is the Emulate Numpad. It allows you to use the numeric keys that are above the QWERTY keys in addition to the numpad keys. This is very useful for changing the views if you have a laptop without a numpad, or if you want to improve your workflow speed.

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate Numpad allows you to use the numeric keys above the QWERTY keys in order to switch views or toggle the perspective on or off

Improving Blender with add-ons

If you want even more tools, you can install what is called as add-ons on your copy of Blender. Add-ons, also called Plugins or Scripts, are Python files with the .py extension. By default, Blender comes with many disabled add-ons ordered by category. We will now activate two very useful add-ons that will improve our speed while modeling. First, go to the Add-ons tab, and click on the Mesh button in the category list at the left. Here, you will see all the default mesh add-ons available. Click on the check-boxes at the left of the Mesh: F2 and Mesh: LoopTools subpanels in order to activate these add-ons. If you know the name of the add-on you want to activate, you can try to find it by typing its name in the search bar. There are many websites where you can download free add-ons, starting from the official Blender website. If you want to install a script, you can click on the Install from File button and you will be asked to select the corresponding Python file.

Note

The official Blender Add-ons Catalog

You can find it at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts.

The following screenshot shows the steps for activating the add-ons:

Improving Blender with add-ons

Steps for Add-ons activation

Note

Where are the add-ons on the hard-disk?

All the scripts are placed in the add-ons folder that is located wherever you have installed Blender on your hard disk. This folder will usually be at Your Installation Path\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.VersionNumber\scripts\addons.

If you find it easier, you can drop the Python files here instead of at the standard installation.

Don't forget to click on the Save User Settings button in order to save all your changes!

What are editors?

In Blender, the interface is divided into subpanels that we call editors; even the menu bar where you save your file is an editor. Each editor gives you access to tools categorized by their functionality. You have already used an editor, the 3D view. Now it's time to learn more about the editor's anatomy.

What are editors?

In this picture, you can see how Blender is divided into editors

The anatomy of an editor

There are 17 different editors in Blender and they all have the same base. An editor is composed of a Header, which is a menu that groups different options related to the editor. The first button of the header is to switch between other editors. For instance, you can replace the 3D view by the UV/Image Editor by clicking on it. You can easily change its place by right-clicking on it in an empty space and by choosing the Flip to Top/Bottom option.

The header can be hidden by selecting its top edge and by pulling it down. If you want to bring it back, press the little plus sign at the far right.

The anatomy of an editor

The header of the 3D viewport. The first button is for switching between editors, and also, we can choose between different options in the menu

In some editors, you can get access to hidden panels that give you other options. For instance, in the 3D view you can press the T key or the N key to toggle them on or off. As in the header, if a sub panel of an editor is hidden, you can click on the little plus sign to display it again.

Split, Join, and Detach

Blender offers you the possibility of creating editors where you want. To do this, you need to right-click on the border of an editor and select Split Area in order to choose where to separate them.

Split, Join, and Detach

Right-click on the border of an editor to split it into two editors

The current editor will then be split in two editors. Now you can switch to any other editor that you desire by clicking on the first button of the header bar. If you want to merge two editors into one, you can right-click on the border that separates them and select the Join Area button. You will then have to click on the editor that you want to erase by pointing the arrow on it.

Split, Join, and Detach

Use the Join Area option to join two editors together

You then have to choose which editor you want to remove by pointing and clicking on it.

Split, Join, and Detach

We are going to see another method of splitting editors that is nice. You can drag the top right corner of an editor and another editor will magically appear! If you want to join back two editors together, you will have to drag the top right corner in the direction of the editor that you want to remove. The last manipulation can be tricky at first, but with a little bit of practice, you will be able to do it closed eyes!

Split, Join, and Detach

The top right corner of an editor

If you have multiple monitors, it could be a great idea to detach some editors in a separated window. With this, you could gain space and won't be overwhelmed by a condensed interface. In order to do this, you will need to press the Shift key and drag the top right corner of the editor with the Left Mouse Button (LMB).

Some useful layout presets

Blender offers you many predefined layouts that depend on the context of your creation. For instance, you can select the Animation preset in order to have all the major animation tools, or you can use the UV Editing preset in order to prepare your texturing. To switch between the presets, go to the top of the interface (in the Info editor, near the Help menu) and click on the drop-down menu. If you want, you can add new presets by clicking on the plus sign or delete presets by clicking on the X button. If you want to rename a preset, simply enter a new name in the corresponding text field. The following screenshot shows the Layout presets drop-down menu:

Some useful layout presets

The layout presets drop-down menu

Setting up your preferences

When we start learning new software, it's good to know how to set up your preferences. Blender has a large number of options, but we will show you just the basic ones in order to change the default navigation style or to add new tools that we call add-ons in Blender.

An introduction to the Preferences window

The preferences window can be opened by navigating to the File menu and selecting the User Preferences option. If you want, you can use the Ctrl + Alt + U shortcut or the Cmd key and comma key on a Mac system.

There are seven tabs in this window as shown here:

An introduction to the Preferences window

The different tabs that compose the Preferences window

A nice thing that Blender offers is the ability to change its default theme. For this, you can go to the Themes tab and choose between different presets or even change the aspect of each interface elements.

Another useful setting to change is the number of undo that is 32 steps, by default. To change this number, go to the Editing tab and under the Undo label, slide the Steps to the desired value.

Customizing the default navigation style

We will now show you how to use a different style of navigation in the viewport. In many other 3D programs, such as Autodesk Maya®, you can use the Alt key in order to navigate in the 3D view. In order to activate this in Blender, navigate to the Input tab, and under the Mouse section, check the Emulate 3 Button Mouse option. Now if you want to use this navigation style in the viewport, you can press Alt and LMB to orbit around, Ctrl + Alt and the LMB to zoom, and Alt + Shift and the LMB to pan. Remember these shortcuts as they will be very useful when we enter the sculpting mode while using a pen tablet. The Emulate 3 Button Mouse checkbox is shown as follows:

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate 3 Button Mouse will be very useful when sculpting using a pen tablet

Another useful setting is the Emulate Numpad. It allows you to use the numeric keys that are above the QWERTY keys in addition to the numpad keys. This is very useful for changing the views if you have a laptop without a numpad, or if you want to improve your workflow speed.

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate Numpad allows you to use the numeric keys above the QWERTY keys in order to switch views or toggle the perspective on or off

Improving Blender with add-ons

If you want even more tools, you can install what is called as add-ons on your copy of Blender. Add-ons, also called Plugins or Scripts, are Python files with the .py extension. By default, Blender comes with many disabled add-ons ordered by category. We will now activate two very useful add-ons that will improve our speed while modeling. First, go to the Add-ons tab, and click on the Mesh button in the category list at the left. Here, you will see all the default mesh add-ons available. Click on the check-boxes at the left of the Mesh: F2 and Mesh: LoopTools subpanels in order to activate these add-ons. If you know the name of the add-on you want to activate, you can try to find it by typing its name in the search bar. There are many websites where you can download free add-ons, starting from the official Blender website. If you want to install a script, you can click on the Install from File button and you will be asked to select the corresponding Python file.

Note

The official Blender Add-ons Catalog

You can find it at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts.

The following screenshot shows the steps for activating the add-ons:

Improving Blender with add-ons

Steps for Add-ons activation

Note

Where are the add-ons on the hard-disk?

All the scripts are placed in the add-ons folder that is located wherever you have installed Blender on your hard disk. This folder will usually be at Your Installation Path\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.VersionNumber\scripts\addons.

If you find it easier, you can drop the Python files here instead of at the standard installation.

Don't forget to click on the Save User Settings button in order to save all your changes!

The anatomy of an editor

There are 17 different editors in Blender and they all have the same base. An editor is composed of a Header, which is a menu that groups different options related to the editor. The first button of the header is to switch between other editors. For instance, you can replace the 3D view by the UV/Image Editor by clicking on it. You can easily change its place by right-clicking on it in an empty space and by choosing the Flip to Top/Bottom option.

The header can be hidden by selecting its top edge and by pulling it down. If you want to bring it back, press the little plus sign at the far right.

The anatomy of an editor

The header of the 3D viewport. The first button is for switching between editors, and also, we can choose between different options in the menu

In some editors, you can get access to hidden panels that give you other options. For instance, in the 3D view you can press the T key or the N key to toggle them on or off. As in the header, if a sub panel of an editor is hidden, you can click on the little plus sign to display it again.

Split, Join, and Detach

Blender offers you the possibility of creating editors where you want. To do this, you need to right-click on the border of an editor and select Split Area in order to choose where to separate them.

Split, Join, and Detach

Right-click on the border of an editor to split it into two editors

The current editor will then be split in two editors. Now you can switch to any other editor that you desire by clicking on the first button of the header bar. If you want to merge two editors into one, you can right-click on the border that separates them and select the Join Area button. You will then have to click on the editor that you want to erase by pointing the arrow on it.

Split, Join, and Detach

Use the Join Area option to join two editors together

You then have to choose which editor you want to remove by pointing and clicking on it.

Split, Join, and Detach

We are going to see another method of splitting editors that is nice. You can drag the top right corner of an editor and another editor will magically appear! If you want to join back two editors together, you will have to drag the top right corner in the direction of the editor that you want to remove. The last manipulation can be tricky at first, but with a little bit of practice, you will be able to do it closed eyes!

Split, Join, and Detach

The top right corner of an editor

If you have multiple monitors, it could be a great idea to detach some editors in a separated window. With this, you could gain space and won't be overwhelmed by a condensed interface. In order to do this, you will need to press the Shift key and drag the top right corner of the editor with the Left Mouse Button (LMB).

Some useful layout presets

Blender offers you many predefined layouts that depend on the context of your creation. For instance, you can select the Animation preset in order to have all the major animation tools, or you can use the UV Editing preset in order to prepare your texturing. To switch between the presets, go to the top of the interface (in the Info editor, near the Help menu) and click on the drop-down menu. If you want, you can add new presets by clicking on the plus sign or delete presets by clicking on the X button. If you want to rename a preset, simply enter a new name in the corresponding text field. The following screenshot shows the Layout presets drop-down menu:

Some useful layout presets

The layout presets drop-down menu

Setting up your preferences

When we start learning new software, it's good to know how to set up your preferences. Blender has a large number of options, but we will show you just the basic ones in order to change the default navigation style or to add new tools that we call add-ons in Blender.

An introduction to the Preferences window

The preferences window can be opened by navigating to the File menu and selecting the User Preferences option. If you want, you can use the Ctrl + Alt + U shortcut or the Cmd key and comma key on a Mac system.

There are seven tabs in this window as shown here:

An introduction to the Preferences window

The different tabs that compose the Preferences window

A nice thing that Blender offers is the ability to change its default theme. For this, you can go to the Themes tab and choose between different presets or even change the aspect of each interface elements.

Another useful setting to change is the number of undo that is 32 steps, by default. To change this number, go to the Editing tab and under the Undo label, slide the Steps to the desired value.

Customizing the default navigation style

We will now show you how to use a different style of navigation in the viewport. In many other 3D programs, such as Autodesk Maya®, you can use the Alt key in order to navigate in the 3D view. In order to activate this in Blender, navigate to the Input tab, and under the Mouse section, check the Emulate 3 Button Mouse option. Now if you want to use this navigation style in the viewport, you can press Alt and LMB to orbit around, Ctrl + Alt and the LMB to zoom, and Alt + Shift and the LMB to pan. Remember these shortcuts as they will be very useful when we enter the sculpting mode while using a pen tablet. The Emulate 3 Button Mouse checkbox is shown as follows:

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate 3 Button Mouse will be very useful when sculpting using a pen tablet

Another useful setting is the Emulate Numpad. It allows you to use the numeric keys that are above the QWERTY keys in addition to the numpad keys. This is very useful for changing the views if you have a laptop without a numpad, or if you want to improve your workflow speed.

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate Numpad allows you to use the numeric keys above the QWERTY keys in order to switch views or toggle the perspective on or off

Improving Blender with add-ons

If you want even more tools, you can install what is called as add-ons on your copy of Blender. Add-ons, also called Plugins or Scripts, are Python files with the .py extension. By default, Blender comes with many disabled add-ons ordered by category. We will now activate two very useful add-ons that will improve our speed while modeling. First, go to the Add-ons tab, and click on the Mesh button in the category list at the left. Here, you will see all the default mesh add-ons available. Click on the check-boxes at the left of the Mesh: F2 and Mesh: LoopTools subpanels in order to activate these add-ons. If you know the name of the add-on you want to activate, you can try to find it by typing its name in the search bar. There are many websites where you can download free add-ons, starting from the official Blender website. If you want to install a script, you can click on the Install from File button and you will be asked to select the corresponding Python file.

Note

The official Blender Add-ons Catalog

You can find it at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts.

The following screenshot shows the steps for activating the add-ons:

Improving Blender with add-ons

Steps for Add-ons activation

Note

Where are the add-ons on the hard-disk?

All the scripts are placed in the add-ons folder that is located wherever you have installed Blender on your hard disk. This folder will usually be at Your Installation Path\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.VersionNumber\scripts\addons.

If you find it easier, you can drop the Python files here instead of at the standard installation.

Don't forget to click on the Save User Settings button in order to save all your changes!

Split, Join, and Detach

Blender offers you the possibility of creating editors where you want. To do this, you need to right-click on the border of an editor and select Split Area in order to choose where to separate them.

Split, Join, and Detach

Right-click on the border of an editor to split it into two editors

The current editor will then be split in two editors. Now you can switch to any other editor that you desire by clicking on the first button of the header bar. If you want to merge two editors into one, you can right-click on the border that separates them and select the Join Area button. You will then have to click on the editor that you want to erase by pointing the arrow on it.

Split, Join, and Detach

Use the Join Area option to join two editors together

You then have to choose which editor you want to remove by pointing and clicking on it.

Split, Join, and Detach

We are going to see another method of splitting editors that is nice. You can drag the top right corner of an editor and another editor will magically appear! If you want to join back two editors together, you will have to drag the top right corner in the direction of the editor that you want to remove. The last manipulation can be tricky at first, but with a little bit of practice, you will be able to do it closed eyes!

Split, Join, and Detach

The top right corner of an editor

If you have multiple monitors, it could be a great idea to detach some editors in a separated window. With this, you could gain space and won't be overwhelmed by a condensed interface. In order to do this, you will need to press the Shift key and drag the top right corner of the editor with the Left Mouse Button (LMB).

Some useful layout presets

Blender offers you many predefined layouts that depend on the context of your creation. For instance, you can select the Animation preset in order to have all the major animation tools, or you can use the UV Editing preset in order to prepare your texturing. To switch between the presets, go to the top of the interface (in the Info editor, near the Help menu) and click on the drop-down menu. If you want, you can add new presets by clicking on the plus sign or delete presets by clicking on the X button. If you want to rename a preset, simply enter a new name in the corresponding text field. The following screenshot shows the Layout presets drop-down menu:

Some useful layout presets

The layout presets drop-down menu

Setting up your preferences

When we start learning new software, it's good to know how to set up your preferences. Blender has a large number of options, but we will show you just the basic ones in order to change the default navigation style or to add new tools that we call add-ons in Blender.

An introduction to the Preferences window

The preferences window can be opened by navigating to the File menu and selecting the User Preferences option. If you want, you can use the Ctrl + Alt + U shortcut or the Cmd key and comma key on a Mac system.

There are seven tabs in this window as shown here:

An introduction to the Preferences window

The different tabs that compose the Preferences window

A nice thing that Blender offers is the ability to change its default theme. For this, you can go to the Themes tab and choose between different presets or even change the aspect of each interface elements.

Another useful setting to change is the number of undo that is 32 steps, by default. To change this number, go to the Editing tab and under the Undo label, slide the Steps to the desired value.

Customizing the default navigation style

We will now show you how to use a different style of navigation in the viewport. In many other 3D programs, such as Autodesk Maya®, you can use the Alt key in order to navigate in the 3D view. In order to activate this in Blender, navigate to the Input tab, and under the Mouse section, check the Emulate 3 Button Mouse option. Now if you want to use this navigation style in the viewport, you can press Alt and LMB to orbit around, Ctrl + Alt and the LMB to zoom, and Alt + Shift and the LMB to pan. Remember these shortcuts as they will be very useful when we enter the sculpting mode while using a pen tablet. The Emulate 3 Button Mouse checkbox is shown as follows:

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate 3 Button Mouse will be very useful when sculpting using a pen tablet

Another useful setting is the Emulate Numpad. It allows you to use the numeric keys that are above the QWERTY keys in addition to the numpad keys. This is very useful for changing the views if you have a laptop without a numpad, or if you want to improve your workflow speed.

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate Numpad allows you to use the numeric keys above the QWERTY keys in order to switch views or toggle the perspective on or off

Improving Blender with add-ons

If you want even more tools, you can install what is called as add-ons on your copy of Blender. Add-ons, also called Plugins or Scripts, are Python files with the .py extension. By default, Blender comes with many disabled add-ons ordered by category. We will now activate two very useful add-ons that will improve our speed while modeling. First, go to the Add-ons tab, and click on the Mesh button in the category list at the left. Here, you will see all the default mesh add-ons available. Click on the check-boxes at the left of the Mesh: F2 and Mesh: LoopTools subpanels in order to activate these add-ons. If you know the name of the add-on you want to activate, you can try to find it by typing its name in the search bar. There are many websites where you can download free add-ons, starting from the official Blender website. If you want to install a script, you can click on the Install from File button and you will be asked to select the corresponding Python file.

Note

The official Blender Add-ons Catalog

You can find it at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts.

The following screenshot shows the steps for activating the add-ons:

Improving Blender with add-ons

Steps for Add-ons activation

Note

Where are the add-ons on the hard-disk?

All the scripts are placed in the add-ons folder that is located wherever you have installed Blender on your hard disk. This folder will usually be at Your Installation Path\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.VersionNumber\scripts\addons.

If you find it easier, you can drop the Python files here instead of at the standard installation.

Don't forget to click on the Save User Settings button in order to save all your changes!

Some useful layout presets

Blender offers you many predefined layouts that depend on the context of your creation. For instance, you can select the Animation preset in order to have all the major animation tools, or you can use the UV Editing preset in order to prepare your texturing. To switch between the presets, go to the top of the interface (in the Info editor, near the Help menu) and click on the drop-down menu. If you want, you can add new presets by clicking on the plus sign or delete presets by clicking on the X button. If you want to rename a preset, simply enter a new name in the corresponding text field. The following screenshot shows the Layout presets drop-down menu:

Some useful layout presets

The layout presets drop-down menu

Setting up your preferences

When we start learning new software, it's good to know how to set up your preferences. Blender has a large number of options, but we will show you just the basic ones in order to change the default navigation style or to add new tools that we call add-ons in Blender.

An introduction to the Preferences window

The preferences window can be opened by navigating to the File menu and selecting the User Preferences option. If you want, you can use the Ctrl + Alt + U shortcut or the Cmd key and comma key on a Mac system.

There are seven tabs in this window as shown here:

An introduction to the Preferences window

The different tabs that compose the Preferences window

A nice thing that Blender offers is the ability to change its default theme. For this, you can go to the Themes tab and choose between different presets or even change the aspect of each interface elements.

Another useful setting to change is the number of undo that is 32 steps, by default. To change this number, go to the Editing tab and under the Undo label, slide the Steps to the desired value.

Customizing the default navigation style

We will now show you how to use a different style of navigation in the viewport. In many other 3D programs, such as Autodesk Maya®, you can use the Alt key in order to navigate in the 3D view. In order to activate this in Blender, navigate to the Input tab, and under the Mouse section, check the Emulate 3 Button Mouse option. Now if you want to use this navigation style in the viewport, you can press Alt and LMB to orbit around, Ctrl + Alt and the LMB to zoom, and Alt + Shift and the LMB to pan. Remember these shortcuts as they will be very useful when we enter the sculpting mode while using a pen tablet. The Emulate 3 Button Mouse checkbox is shown as follows:

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate 3 Button Mouse will be very useful when sculpting using a pen tablet

Another useful setting is the Emulate Numpad. It allows you to use the numeric keys that are above the QWERTY keys in addition to the numpad keys. This is very useful for changing the views if you have a laptop without a numpad, or if you want to improve your workflow speed.

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate Numpad allows you to use the numeric keys above the QWERTY keys in order to switch views or toggle the perspective on or off

Improving Blender with add-ons

If you want even more tools, you can install what is called as add-ons on your copy of Blender. Add-ons, also called Plugins or Scripts, are Python files with the .py extension. By default, Blender comes with many disabled add-ons ordered by category. We will now activate two very useful add-ons that will improve our speed while modeling. First, go to the Add-ons tab, and click on the Mesh button in the category list at the left. Here, you will see all the default mesh add-ons available. Click on the check-boxes at the left of the Mesh: F2 and Mesh: LoopTools subpanels in order to activate these add-ons. If you know the name of the add-on you want to activate, you can try to find it by typing its name in the search bar. There are many websites where you can download free add-ons, starting from the official Blender website. If you want to install a script, you can click on the Install from File button and you will be asked to select the corresponding Python file.

Note

The official Blender Add-ons Catalog

You can find it at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts.

The following screenshot shows the steps for activating the add-ons:

Improving Blender with add-ons

Steps for Add-ons activation

Note

Where are the add-ons on the hard-disk?

All the scripts are placed in the add-ons folder that is located wherever you have installed Blender on your hard disk. This folder will usually be at Your Installation Path\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.VersionNumber\scripts\addons.

If you find it easier, you can drop the Python files here instead of at the standard installation.

Don't forget to click on the Save User Settings button in order to save all your changes!

Setting up your preferences

When we start learning new software, it's good to know how to set up your preferences. Blender has a large number of options, but we will show you just the basic ones in order to change the default navigation style or to add new tools that we call add-ons in Blender.

An introduction to the Preferences window

The preferences window can be opened by navigating to the File menu and selecting the User Preferences option. If you want, you can use the Ctrl + Alt + U shortcut or the Cmd key and comma key on a Mac system.

There are seven tabs in this window as shown here:

An introduction to the Preferences window

The different tabs that compose the Preferences window

A nice thing that Blender offers is the ability to change its default theme. For this, you can go to the Themes tab and choose between different presets or even change the aspect of each interface elements.

Another useful setting to change is the number of undo that is 32 steps, by default. To change this number, go to the Editing tab and under the Undo label, slide the Steps to the desired value.

Customizing the default navigation style

We will now show you how to use a different style of navigation in the viewport. In many other 3D programs, such as Autodesk Maya®, you can use the Alt key in order to navigate in the 3D view. In order to activate this in Blender, navigate to the Input tab, and under the Mouse section, check the Emulate 3 Button Mouse option. Now if you want to use this navigation style in the viewport, you can press Alt and LMB to orbit around, Ctrl + Alt and the LMB to zoom, and Alt + Shift and the LMB to pan. Remember these shortcuts as they will be very useful when we enter the sculpting mode while using a pen tablet. The Emulate 3 Button Mouse checkbox is shown as follows:

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate 3 Button Mouse will be very useful when sculpting using a pen tablet

Another useful setting is the Emulate Numpad. It allows you to use the numeric keys that are above the QWERTY keys in addition to the numpad keys. This is very useful for changing the views if you have a laptop without a numpad, or if you want to improve your workflow speed.

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate Numpad allows you to use the numeric keys above the QWERTY keys in order to switch views or toggle the perspective on or off

Improving Blender with add-ons

If you want even more tools, you can install what is called as add-ons on your copy of Blender. Add-ons, also called Plugins or Scripts, are Python files with the .py extension. By default, Blender comes with many disabled add-ons ordered by category. We will now activate two very useful add-ons that will improve our speed while modeling. First, go to the Add-ons tab, and click on the Mesh button in the category list at the left. Here, you will see all the default mesh add-ons available. Click on the check-boxes at the left of the Mesh: F2 and Mesh: LoopTools subpanels in order to activate these add-ons. If you know the name of the add-on you want to activate, you can try to find it by typing its name in the search bar. There are many websites where you can download free add-ons, starting from the official Blender website. If you want to install a script, you can click on the Install from File button and you will be asked to select the corresponding Python file.

Note

The official Blender Add-ons Catalog

You can find it at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts.

The following screenshot shows the steps for activating the add-ons:

Improving Blender with add-ons

Steps for Add-ons activation

Note

Where are the add-ons on the hard-disk?

All the scripts are placed in the add-ons folder that is located wherever you have installed Blender on your hard disk. This folder will usually be at Your Installation Path\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.VersionNumber\scripts\addons.

If you find it easier, you can drop the Python files here instead of at the standard installation.

Don't forget to click on the Save User Settings button in order to save all your changes!

An introduction to the Preferences window

The preferences window can be opened by navigating to the File menu and selecting the User Preferences option. If you want, you can use the Ctrl + Alt + U shortcut or the Cmd key and comma key on a Mac system.

There are seven tabs in this window as shown here:

An introduction to the Preferences window

The different tabs that compose the Preferences window

A nice thing that Blender offers is the ability to change its default theme. For this, you can go to the Themes tab and choose between different presets or even change the aspect of each interface elements.

Another useful setting to change is the number of undo that is 32 steps, by default. To change this number, go to the Editing tab and under the Undo label, slide the Steps to the desired value.

Customizing the default navigation style

We will now show you how to use a different style of navigation in the viewport. In many other 3D programs, such as Autodesk Maya®, you can use the Alt key in order to navigate in the 3D view. In order to activate this in Blender, navigate to the Input tab, and under the Mouse section, check the Emulate 3 Button Mouse option. Now if you want to use this navigation style in the viewport, you can press Alt and LMB to orbit around, Ctrl + Alt and the LMB to zoom, and Alt + Shift and the LMB to pan. Remember these shortcuts as they will be very useful when we enter the sculpting mode while using a pen tablet. The Emulate 3 Button Mouse checkbox is shown as follows:

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate 3 Button Mouse will be very useful when sculpting using a pen tablet

Another useful setting is the Emulate Numpad. It allows you to use the numeric keys that are above the QWERTY keys in addition to the numpad keys. This is very useful for changing the views if you have a laptop without a numpad, or if you want to improve your workflow speed.

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate Numpad allows you to use the numeric keys above the QWERTY keys in order to switch views or toggle the perspective on or off

Improving Blender with add-ons

If you want even more tools, you can install what is called as add-ons on your copy of Blender. Add-ons, also called Plugins or Scripts, are Python files with the .py extension. By default, Blender comes with many disabled add-ons ordered by category. We will now activate two very useful add-ons that will improve our speed while modeling. First, go to the Add-ons tab, and click on the Mesh button in the category list at the left. Here, you will see all the default mesh add-ons available. Click on the check-boxes at the left of the Mesh: F2 and Mesh: LoopTools subpanels in order to activate these add-ons. If you know the name of the add-on you want to activate, you can try to find it by typing its name in the search bar. There are many websites where you can download free add-ons, starting from the official Blender website. If you want to install a script, you can click on the Install from File button and you will be asked to select the corresponding Python file.

Note

The official Blender Add-ons Catalog

You can find it at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts.

The following screenshot shows the steps for activating the add-ons:

Improving Blender with add-ons

Steps for Add-ons activation

Note

Where are the add-ons on the hard-disk?

All the scripts are placed in the add-ons folder that is located wherever you have installed Blender on your hard disk. This folder will usually be at Your Installation Path\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.VersionNumber\scripts\addons.

If you find it easier, you can drop the Python files here instead of at the standard installation.

Don't forget to click on the Save User Settings button in order to save all your changes!

Customizing the default navigation style

We will now show you how to use a different style of navigation in the viewport. In many other 3D programs, such as Autodesk Maya®, you can use the Alt key in order to navigate in the 3D view. In order to activate this in Blender, navigate to the Input tab, and under the Mouse section, check the Emulate 3 Button Mouse option. Now if you want to use this navigation style in the viewport, you can press Alt and LMB to orbit around, Ctrl + Alt and the LMB to zoom, and Alt + Shift and the LMB to pan. Remember these shortcuts as they will be very useful when we enter the sculpting mode while using a pen tablet. The Emulate 3 Button Mouse checkbox is shown as follows:

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate 3 Button Mouse will be very useful when sculpting using a pen tablet

Another useful setting is the Emulate Numpad. It allows you to use the numeric keys that are above the QWERTY keys in addition to the numpad keys. This is very useful for changing the views if you have a laptop without a numpad, or if you want to improve your workflow speed.

Customizing the default navigation style

The Emulate Numpad allows you to use the numeric keys above the QWERTY keys in order to switch views or toggle the perspective on or off

Improving Blender with add-ons

If you want even more tools, you can install what is called as add-ons on your copy of Blender. Add-ons, also called Plugins or Scripts, are Python files with the .py extension. By default, Blender comes with many disabled add-ons ordered by category. We will now activate two very useful add-ons that will improve our speed while modeling. First, go to the Add-ons tab, and click on the Mesh button in the category list at the left. Here, you will see all the default mesh add-ons available. Click on the check-boxes at the left of the Mesh: F2 and Mesh: LoopTools subpanels in order to activate these add-ons. If you know the name of the add-on you want to activate, you can try to find it by typing its name in the search bar. There are many websites where you can download free add-ons, starting from the official Blender website. If you want to install a script, you can click on the Install from File button and you will be asked to select the corresponding Python file.

Note

The official Blender Add-ons Catalog

You can find it at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts.

The following screenshot shows the steps for activating the add-ons:

Improving Blender with add-ons

Steps for Add-ons activation

Note

Where are the add-ons on the hard-disk?

All the scripts are placed in the add-ons folder that is located wherever you have installed Blender on your hard disk. This folder will usually be at Your Installation Path\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.VersionNumber\scripts\addons.

If you find it easier, you can drop the Python files here instead of at the standard installation.

Don't forget to click on the Save User Settings button in order to save all your changes!

Improving Blender with add-ons

If you want even more tools, you can install what is called as add-ons on your copy of Blender. Add-ons, also called Plugins or Scripts, are Python files with the .py extension. By default, Blender comes with many disabled add-ons ordered by category. We will now activate two very useful add-ons that will improve our speed while modeling. First, go to the Add-ons tab, and click on the Mesh button in the category list at the left. Here, you will see all the default mesh add-ons available. Click on the check-boxes at the left of the Mesh: F2 and Mesh: LoopTools subpanels in order to activate these add-ons. If you know the name of the add-on you want to activate, you can try to find it by typing its name in the search bar. There are many websites where you can download free add-ons, starting from the official Blender website. If you want to install a script, you can click on the Install from File button and you will be asked to select the corresponding Python file.

Note

The official Blender Add-ons Catalog

You can find it at http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Extensions:2.6/Py/Scripts.

The following screenshot shows the steps for activating the add-ons:

Improving Blender with add-ons

Steps for Add-ons activation

Note

Where are the add-ons on the hard-disk?

All the scripts are placed in the add-ons folder that is located wherever you have installed Blender on your hard disk. This folder will usually be at Your Installation Path\Blender Foundation\Blender\2.VersionNumber\scripts\addons.

If you find it easier, you can drop the Python files here instead of at the standard installation.

Don't forget to click on the Save User Settings button in order to save all your changes!

A brief introduction to the projects

You will now be introduced to the fun projects that we will do together during each of the later chapters. You will need practice to improve your skills.

The Robot Toy

In this project, you will follow step by step the modeling of a little Robot Toy, starting from a simple cube primitive. This old school mechanic robot will make you re-live your childhood. The goal of this chapter is to teach you the modeling process in Blender. You will gain a good overview of the main modeling tools, such as extrude or loop cut. On the other hand, you will discover what a good workflow is by creating your model according to a reference.

The Alien Character

This project will be exciting! We think you will have enough experience to start learning how to create your own alien character using the sculpting tools of Blender. During the project, you will encounter a new modeling process by creating a base mesh for sculpting. After this, you will understand how to retopologize and keep the details of that sculpt. It will be divided into two parts: the sculpting and the retopology process.

The Haunted House

The Haunted House is a nice but scary little house in the middle of the Pennsylvania...Booooohhhhhhhoooohhh! The legend says that it is haunted by thousands of spectrums. In this project, divided into three parts, you will start by modeling the house and its environment while discovering new modeling techniques, such as the array modifier. After completing the modeling, you will learn how to use the powerful Blender texturing and UV tools in order to add colors to your meshes. Finally, you will use the Cycles nodal editor in order to create materials with the textures previously made. After reading the corresponding chapters, you will have a good understanding of how a full 3D scene is constructed and how to organize yourself for such a big task.

The Rat Cowboy

The Rat Cowboy and the story of the holes in the cheese will be your first animated sequence. It will be a nice starting point to learn more about rigging and animation. The Rat will face a piece of cheese pinched under a rat trap, and he will unsheathe his gun to shoot the cheese. The Gruyère cheese is born. In order to produce a polished final shot, you will learn some compositing tricks and how to render the sequence with Cycles.

The Robot Toy

In this project, you will follow step by step the modeling of a little Robot Toy, starting from a simple cube primitive. This old school mechanic robot will make you re-live your childhood. The goal of this chapter is to teach you the modeling process in Blender. You will gain a good overview of the main modeling tools, such as extrude or loop cut. On the other hand, you will discover what a good workflow is by creating your model according to a reference.

The Alien Character

This project will be exciting! We think you will have enough experience to start learning how to create your own alien character using the sculpting tools of Blender. During the project, you will encounter a new modeling process by creating a base mesh for sculpting. After this, you will understand how to retopologize and keep the details of that sculpt. It will be divided into two parts: the sculpting and the retopology process.

The Haunted House

The Haunted House is a nice but scary little house in the middle of the Pennsylvania...Booooohhhhhhhoooohhh! The legend says that it is haunted by thousands of spectrums. In this project, divided into three parts, you will start by modeling the house and its environment while discovering new modeling techniques, such as the array modifier. After completing the modeling, you will learn how to use the powerful Blender texturing and UV tools in order to add colors to your meshes. Finally, you will use the Cycles nodal editor in order to create materials with the textures previously made. After reading the corresponding chapters, you will have a good understanding of how a full 3D scene is constructed and how to organize yourself for such a big task.

The Rat Cowboy

The Rat Cowboy and the story of the holes in the cheese will be your first animated sequence. It will be a nice starting point to learn more about rigging and animation. The Rat will face a piece of cheese pinched under a rat trap, and he will unsheathe his gun to shoot the cheese. The Gruyère cheese is born. In order to produce a polished final shot, you will learn some compositing tricks and how to render the sequence with Cycles.

The Alien Character

This project will be exciting! We think you will have enough experience to start learning how to create your own alien character using the sculpting tools of Blender. During the project, you will encounter a new modeling process by creating a base mesh for sculpting. After this, you will understand how to retopologize and keep the details of that sculpt. It will be divided into two parts: the sculpting and the retopology process.

The Haunted House

The Haunted House is a nice but scary little house in the middle of the Pennsylvania...Booooohhhhhhhoooohhh! The legend says that it is haunted by thousands of spectrums. In this project, divided into three parts, you will start by modeling the house and its environment while discovering new modeling techniques, such as the array modifier. After completing the modeling, you will learn how to use the powerful Blender texturing and UV tools in order to add colors to your meshes. Finally, you will use the Cycles nodal editor in order to create materials with the textures previously made. After reading the corresponding chapters, you will have a good understanding of how a full 3D scene is constructed and how to organize yourself for such a big task.

The Rat Cowboy

The Rat Cowboy and the story of the holes in the cheese will be your first animated sequence. It will be a nice starting point to learn more about rigging and animation. The Rat will face a piece of cheese pinched under a rat trap, and he will unsheathe his gun to shoot the cheese. The Gruyère cheese is born. In order to produce a polished final shot, you will learn some compositing tricks and how to render the sequence with Cycles.

The Haunted House

The Haunted House is a nice but scary little house in the middle of the Pennsylvania...Booooohhhhhhhoooohhh! The legend says that it is haunted by thousands of spectrums. In this project, divided into three parts, you will start by modeling the house and its environment while discovering new modeling techniques, such as the array modifier. After completing the modeling, you will learn how to use the powerful Blender texturing and UV tools in order to add colors to your meshes. Finally, you will use the Cycles nodal editor in order to create materials with the textures previously made. After reading the corresponding chapters, you will have a good understanding of how a full 3D scene is constructed and how to organize yourself for such a big task.

The Rat Cowboy

The Rat Cowboy and the story of the holes in the cheese will be your first animated sequence. It will be a nice starting point to learn more about rigging and animation. The Rat will face a piece of cheese pinched under a rat trap, and he will unsheathe his gun to shoot the cheese. The Gruyère cheese is born. In order to produce a polished final shot, you will learn some compositing tricks and how to render the sequence with Cycles.

The Rat Cowboy

The Rat Cowboy and the story of the holes in the cheese will be your first animated sequence. It will be a nice starting point to learn more about rigging and animation. The Rat will face a piece of cheese pinched under a rat trap, and he will unsheathe his gun to shoot the cheese. The Gruyère cheese is born. In order to produce a polished final shot, you will learn some compositing tricks and how to render the sequence with Cycles.

Summary

In this chapter, you have learned the steps behind 3D creations. You know what a mesh is and what it is composed of. Then you have been introduced to navigation in Blender by manipulating the 3D viewport and going through the user preference menu. In the later sections, you configured some preferences and extended Blender by activating some add-ons.

You are now ready to start the 3D modeling of our Robot Toy project.

 

Chapter 2. Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object

In this chapter, we will start our first project in order to discover the fundamental modeling tools of Blender. We will create a little robot that is inspired by vintage toys with a drawing image reference. You will learn polygonal modeling workflow, which will be useful for your future 3D productions. The head will be created with a simple cylindrical primitive that we will modify to give it the right shape. Then, in the same way, starting from a primitive, we will model the rest of the body, always with a good topology in mind. Indeed, we are going to maximize the number of quads (polygons with four faces) and organize them so that they best fit the shape of each part. In the end, we will do a quick render with the Blender internal render engine. Without further ado, let's enter the marvelous world of 3D modeling! In this chapter, we will cover the following topics:

  • Adding and editing objects
  • Using the basic modeling tools
  • Understanding the basic modifiers (such as mirror and subsurface)
  • Modeling with a proper topology
  • Creating a quick preview with Blender Internal

In the following screenshot, on the right, you can see the 3D robot modeled using a sketch, shown on the left as a reference, with Krita, which is another open source tool for 2D art:

Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object

Let's start the modeling of our robot toy

We will now start the modeling of the robot toy by adding the first object to the scene. The robot will be modeled from a simple cylinder.

Preparing the workflow by adding an image reference

In order to start the modeling of the robot, let's have a look at the following procedure:

  1. We will add the robot image reference in a new UV/Image Editor.
  2. After dividing the view and selecting the right editor (by clicking on the RMB on the edge of an editor and selecting Split Area), go to the UV/Image Editor header and select Open Image to choose the corresponding reference in the file browser.
  3. To pan or zoom in this editor, use the same shortcuts as the 3D view. This reference will serve as a guide during the modeling process. Refer to this in order to get the main shape right, but don't rely on its details.

Adding the head primitive

When you start modeling an object, you need to start with a basic 3D shape that is close to the shape you want to model. In our case, we will use a cylindrical primitive to start modeling the head. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. First we will need to remove the 3D cube that is placed by default in any Blender starting file. The cube is selected if it has an orange outline. If this isn't the case, you can right-click on it. This is the main selection method in Blender. If you want to select or unselect all the objects present in the 3D view, you can press the A (All) key.
  2. You can now remove the selected cube by pressing the X key or the Delete key. It's now time to add the cylindrical primitive.
  3. All the primitives are going to spawn at the 3D Cursor location. We will ensure that the cursor is at the center of the scene by pressing Shift + C.
  4. We can now use the Shift + A shortcut, and select Mesh | Cylinder to create the primitive at the center of the scene.
  5. Our new object has too many details, so we will decrease the number of vertices in the left 3D view panel. If you can't see this panel, press the T key. At the bottom of this, you can see the preferences of the currently active tool (the mesh creation, in our case), and you can change the number of vertices of our cylinder to 16.
  6. We will now set the 3D view focus on the newly created object by pressing the dot numpad key or by selecting View | View Selected in the 3D view header.

    Note

    About naming shortcuts

    Most of the shortcuts correspond to the first letter of the tool's name. For instance, the Grab tool can be activated by the G key and the Scale tool can be selected by the S key.

    If you want to explore all Blender's shortcuts, visit http://www.shortcutsheaven.com/.

    Adding the head primitive

    The cylinder located at the cursor position (center of the world) that we will use as a base for the head of the robot.

The Edit Mode versus the Object Mode

Currently, we cannot access the components (vertices, edges, and faces) of our cylinder because we are in the Object Mode. This mode allows you to do basic things on objects such as moving, rotating, or scaling them. Let's perform the following set of steps:

  1. If you want to edit an object, you need to use the Edit Mode. To switch between these modes, press the Tab key or go to the Modes drop-down menu in the 3D view header while any object is selected. In the Edit Mode, you can choose the type of components to select by pressing Ctrl + Tab or by selecting the component type in the 3D view header.
  2. Let's go into the Face Mode and select the top face of the cylinder by right-clicking on it. As you can see, in Blender, faces (or polygons) are represented by a little square in the middle.
  3. Now you can go into the orthographic front view (the 3 numpad key and 5 numpad key for perspective/orthographic views respectively), and use the z axis of the Gizmo tool to move the selected face a little bit down.

    Note

    In Blender, we don't encourage you to use gizmos as there is a much faster method to move, rotate, or scale your selection. To move a selection, press the G (Grab) key and, if you want to constrain your move to a certain axis, press the corresponding X, Y, or Z keys. You can even hide the Gizmo tool by pressing Ctrl + Space.

    The Edit Mode versus the Object Mode

    The top face moved down in the Edit Mode with the z axis of the Gizmo tool or by pressing the G + Z shortcut.

Using the basic modeling tools

In the following, you will learn the powerful usage of the main modeling tools of Blender, such as the Extrusion, Bevel, or Loop Cut tool, while creating your little robot toy.

Modeling the head

We will now use the basic modeling tools in order to form the shape of the head. As you may have understood, we are going to add new geometry gradually to approximate the shape in 3D. One of the useful tools is called Extrusion.

Note

What is an extrusion?

This is the process of creating new geometry by extending (and optionally transforming) selected components.

Modeling the head
  1. While the top face of the cylinder is selected in the Edit Mode, we will press the E key in order to create a new geometry from that face. Then, we will need to position and validate the extrusion.
  2. We now have two choices in order to confirm the extrusion. If you want, you can move the extruded geometry, and after this, press LMB in order to validate its position. The other choice is to press RMB, in order to place the extruded geometry at the same position as that of the selected component(s). In our case, we will place the extrusion just over the selected face.
  3. We can now scale our extrusion by pressing the S key, and repeat the process of extruding the top face and scaling it three times in order to have a bell shape. We can always go back by pressing Ctrl + Z and redo these steps.
  4. We can also go into the Edge component mode (Ctrl + Tab), and select the edge loops that came from the different extrusions by placing the mouse pointer over them and pressing Alt and RMB.
  5. After this, we can move them along the volume by tapping the G key twice.
    Modeling the head

    Shaping the head with extrusions.

    Note

    What is an Edge Loop?

    An Edge Loop is a set of edges that are connected together and form a loop. You can also get face loops to follow the same principle but with faces. They are essential to construct the shape of an object.

    Modeling the head

Modeling the antenna

In order to create the antenna, we will start from the head and detach it later. Follow these steps to create the antenna:

  1. In the head Edit Mode, we will select the top face and extrude it a little bit to make the base of the antenna.
  2. Then we will make an inset from the top face of the base by pressing the I key.

    Note

    What is an inset?

    An inset allows you to add some padding on a face:

    Modeling the antenna
  3. With the inner face of the inset selected, we are going to repeat the process one more time (extrusion + inset).
    Modeling the antenna

    The different steps to model the base of the antenna. A succession of insets and extrusions.

  4. After this, we will add the stem of the antenna by moving the cursor to the top of the antenna's base, selecting the top face, pressing Shift + S, and selecting Cursor to Selected.
  5. Now we can add a cylinder in the Object Mode that will pop up on the cursor. This cylinder will represent the stem, so scale it accordingly and end it with some extrusions that you will form in a sphere shape by scaling them and following the same process as that of head modeling.
  6. You can also select the top part of the stem and use the smooth option (by pressing the W key and selecting Smooth) to relax the geometry.
    Modeling the antenna

    The stem with the different extrusions that we have shaped like a sphere with the Smooth tool

  7. We now have an N-Gon at the top of the stem. An N-Gon is a polygon that has more than four edges. It is considered a bad practice to have these kinds of polygons in a 3D object. We are going to solve this by going into the top view (the 7 numpad key) and by doing a small inset on the object in order to maintain the border.
  8. After this, we will connect some vertices together in order to have only quads (polygons that have four sides).
  9. Then, we select the two opposite vertical vertices by right-clicking on the first one and pressing Shift and right-clicking on the second one. Pressing Shift and invoking any selection method allows you to add new items to your current selection.
  10. After this, we join them to a new edge with the J key (to connect the vertex path tool) to separate the N-Gon into two equal parts.
  11. Now we ought to select the two opposite horizontal vertices and join them to form a cross. If you look closely, we haven't resolved the N-Gon problem yet, because we have four more of them.
  12. As we can't leave them in the mesh, we are going to repeat the process by joining the other facing vertices in order to have only quads. If you want, you can also use the Knife tool in order to cut in the geometry by pressing K. With the knife we will have to click on the vertices that we want to connect together and when we finish, we can press the Return key in order to validate.
  13. At this point, we can use the LoopTool add-on that we installed in the first chapter. We can select the four middle faces (in Face Mode) and use the LoopTool circle option (press W then select LoopTool | Circle). This allows us to form a circle with the selected components.
  14. It's time to detach the antenna. In order to do this, we select the loop at the base of the antenna (press RMB and Alt) and press V to rip the loop. Blender will give us the choice of moving the ripped part, but we won't. So we cancel the move by clicking the RMB.
  15. Now, we will detach the geometry of the antenna to form a new object. First we deselect all the components (A), then we move our mouse pointer over the antenna and press L to select the linked geometry.
  16. After pressing the P key and choosing Selection in the pop-up menu, the selected part will be separated to form another object.
    Modeling the antenna

    N-Gon correction with the Join tool and the Knife

  17. We will have to clear three N-Gons: one at the bottom and at the top of the head, and one at the top of the base of the antenna. We have decided to resolve them with the previously explained method.

An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

We will now smooth the geometry of the robot head and the antenna using the following steps:

  1. First we go to the left 3D view panel (T), and with both objects selected in the Object Mode, we click the Smooth button under Shading. This will create a blend between the faces but not round our objects. In order to round our geometry, we will need to use a modifier called Subdivision Surface.
  2. Let's go into the Properties editor and select the adjustable wrench. Then, we choose a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Add Modifier drop-down menu. All we need to do now is repeat the process with each object.

    Note

    What is a modifier?

    A modifier is a tool that applies to the entire object. You can push new modifiers on the modifier stack of the object where the top modifier will take effect before the bottom one. You can also reorganize their order using the up and down arrows. You may hide a modifier using the Eye button. If you want to collapse a modifier, use the left-hand side horizontal arrow. You can also apply the behavior of the modifier with the Apply button. Always save your work before doing this.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

    The stack of three object modifiers. The Subdivision Surface applies over the Mirror and the Bevel modifier.

  3. As you may have seen, the subdivision divides all the polygons by four and tries to do an interpolation by smoothing them. If you want more divisions, you can increase the View slider under Subdivisions.
  4. The shape looks better but needs to be sharp at some points. In order to do this, we will maintain a border by adding edge loops with Ctrl + R. The LoopCut tool is very useful; it allows us to add edge loops where we want and as many as we want.

    Note

    About the LoopCut tool

    To add an edge loop, use the Ctrl + R shortcut and move your mouse cursor perpendicular to where you want to add a new edge loop. You will see a preview of the new cuts. You can add multiple loops at the same time by scrolling your mouse wheel or by pressing the + or keys. After you have validated the cuts, you will need to position them and validate their location by left-clicking or right-clicking. The later will center the cuts.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier
  5. We can also sharpen the edges by selecting them and using the Bevel tool. Remember that the nearer the edge loops are, the sharper the result will be.

    Note

    About the Bevel tool

    The Bevel tool allows you to split one edge into multiple edges. When you activate it with Ctrl + B, you can choose the number of splits that you want by scrolling your mouse wheel or by pressing the + or keys. You can also decrease the speed of the tool by pressing the Shift key. As always, you can validate your placement by left-clicking or cancel it by right-clicking.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

Improving the head shape

Let's select the head and go into the Edit Mode.

  1. From the front view, we will now select the central edge loop. One way to do this is to use the wireframe mode by pressing the Z key. This mode allows us to see through the mesh and the selected components that are behind it.
  2. We can now use the Box Selection tool with the B key in order to draw a rectangle area around the vertices that we want to select. If you want, you can hide the antenna and the stem by selecting them and pressing H (Hide). The Bevel tool will help you to create a thin base in the middle of the head. This bevel will be maintained with two new cuts. To do this, we can do an extrusion without moving it (cancel the move with RMB).
  3. We can now scale the newly extruded faces on the x axis using the S + X shortcut. The thickness is added by selecting the inner face loop and extruding it at the same place.
  4. In order to push the extrusion according to the normals, we use the Alt + S shortcut.
  5. We will also have to maintain the shape of the head by adding multiple edge loops (with Ctrl + R, for instance).

    Note

    Save your work!

    After all the work you've done, it's very important to save it! To write your blend file to your hard disk, go to the File menu and press the Save option or use the Ctrl + S shortcut. You can now choose which directory you want to place it in. A nice trick is to press the + or key to add or remove one unit from the name of your file.

    Improving the head shape

    The head shape without the antenna.

  6. You can unhide the antenna and the stem in the Object Mode by pressing Shift + H.

Modeling the thunderbolts

It's now time to start modeling the thunderbolts; let's have a look at the following steps:

  1. We will start by going into the Side Orthographic view (the 3 numpad key) and by placing the cursor next to the head with a simple left-click.
  2. Then we will add a plane and in the Edit Mode we will remove all the vertices with the X key.
  3. In the Edit Mode, we are going create a chain of vertices that matches the thunderbolt shape of the image reference.
  4. Pressing Ctrl and LMB, we will add new vertices and create the silhouette of the thunderbolt.
  5. In order to close the shape, we select the first and last vertices and press the F key to fill them with an edge.
  6. If you want to add more details to the shape, select two connected vertices and with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R), place a new vertex in the middle of both the connected vertices.
  7. We can then select all the vertices (A) and fill the shape with an N-Gon (F) that we are going to resolve later.
  8. We can now add an inset (I) in order to keep an outline.
  9. After we've done this, we will have to clean the mesh by replacing the N-Gon with quads using the join tool (J) or the knife tool (K). If you have one triangle or N-Gon, it's not a problem for now as it could be solved later.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The thunderbolt shape.

  10. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode.
  11. We will have to sharpen the spikes using tight bevels.
  12. Of course, we will have to clean the mesh by removing the N-Gons.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    Maintaining the spikes with bevels.

  13. It's now time to extrude the whole thunderbolt by selecting all the faces (A). You may get a lighting error with black faces. It means that the normals are pointing inward and can't catch the light. You can verify this by opening the right panel of the viewport (N) and, under Normals, you can check the face icon. If the normals are not pointing outward, then you will need to recalculate their direction by selecting all the components and pressing the Ctrl + N shortcut.
  14. We can now select the inner faces on the outside of the thunderbolt with either Shift + RMB or using the C key, which allows you to paint and select the components that you want according to the current view. With these faces selected we can create a small inner extrusion, and maintain the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The finished thunderbolt with a view 2 Subdivision Surface.

  15. In order to mirror the thunderbolt on the other side of the head, we will use a Mirror modifier with the head as the center of a pivot. Place and rotate the thunderbolts according to the image reference.

    Note

    The Mirror modifier

    This is an easy way to make a symmetry from your 3D model. The basic symmetry is based on the positioning of the pivot point and the x axis. All of these are configurable by changing the axis. It is strongly advised you use the Clipping option if you want to weld the components that are on the symmetry axis of your geometry. By doing this, you will avoid holes. With the Mirror Object option, you can choose to base the symmetry axis on the pivot point of another object in your scene.

  16. The last thing we may want to do at this stage is to correctly name our objects in the outline editor that is situated in the top-right corner of the interface by default.

    Note

    The outliner

    The outliner displays a list of all the entities that make up the current scene. When you select an object in the 3D view, it will be highlighted in the outliner and conversely. You can rename any item in the list by double-clicking on its name. The outliner also gives you control of the visibility of any object with the Eye icon button. The mouse cursor button can be toggled on or off to allow the selection of the corresponding object in the viewport.

    Modeling the thunderbolts

Modeling the eyes

It's time to finish the head of our robot by adding a pair of eyes on it. This is done with the following steps:

  1. In the Edit Mode of the head, we select the edge that is roughly positioned at the eye location.
  2. We use a bevel to add more geometry.
  3. It is now possible to slide the top and bottom edges of the bevel according to the volume by selecting them in the Edge Mode and pressing G twice to form an ellipsoidal shape.
  4. After this, we can use the F key to fill the eye. It will remove the two vertical edges that come from the bevel.
  5. Now we can do a series of insets and extrusions to pop out the eye.
  6. Applying the same method to the other side, we will add a little cartoon effect.
  7. As always, we now need to clear the geometry by removing N-Gons using the knife.
    Modeling the eyes

Modeling the chest

It is time to model the chest. The following steps will help you do so:

  1. Now we put the 3D cursor at the center of the space (Shift + S), then we add a box (Shift + A) for the base shape of the chest.
  2. We can adjust the position under the head (G + Z) in the front view, and switch to the Edit Mode to start the modeling.
  3. It is much faster to work with the symmetry, so we are going to cut the cube at its center with an edge loop (Ctrl + R). We select all the vertices on the left-hand side with the box select tool (Ctrl + B) in the wireframe shading mode (Z) and we delete them (X).
  4. In the object mode (Tab), we add a mirror modifier to work with symmetry.
  5. More polygons can be added to create the basic shape of the chest. We, therefore, add two vertical edge loops (Ctrl + R and scroll the mouse wheel up) from the side view and slide these on the y axis (S + Y).
  6. Next, we move the polygon situated at the center of the chest from the side view (G + X) and add another vertical edge loop from the front view.
  7. In the orthographic (5) front view (1), and with Wireframe (Z) Shading activated, we can easily work the shape by moving (G) and rotating (R) the selected vertices (refer to 2 and 3 in the following screenshot). Then we move the top face up a little (G + Z).
  8. We can see that our central edge loop is not very well aligned in the front view. Therefore, we select and replace it by applying a zero scale on the x axis (S + X + 0 on the numeric keypad), which perfectly aligns our selected vertices.
  9. In order to have a less angular shape, we are going to activate the edge mode and select the edges at the top and bottom of the chest (press Shift + Alt and the LMB) to finally do a bevel (Ctrl + B) (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  10. To balance the polygon flow of the mesh, we add a horizontal edge loop to the center (Ctrl + R) that we will extend with the Scale tool on the y axis (S+Y) (refer to 6 in the following screenshot). The goal is to use the maximum area of the drawing as a reference. Always remember to check the silhouette of your object.
  11. For a more curved shape, we will use Proportional Editing that can be activated by the small circle icon located at the header of the 3D view.
  12. The Proportional Editing tool will help us to shrink the side of the bust. Be careful to check the behavior of the clipping option of the mirror modifier for the vertices located on the axis of symmetry. They don't have to be merged at the center. To smooth the model, we will add a Subdivision Surface modifier and will check the Smooth Shading option in the Transform panel (T) in order to remove the flat aspect of the polygons.
    Modeling the chest

    Note

    The Proportional Editing tool

    This allows you to change the shape of an object in the Edit Mode in a smooth manner. It acts like a magnet for unselected components that are inside a circle of influence that you can adjust by scrolling the mouse wheel. This is perfect when you want to move a set of components and when the geometry is too compact.

    The Connected option allows you to limit the scope to the geometry connected to the selection.

    The Falloff option offers a series of attenuation curve profiles.

  13. With some bevels and additional edge loops, we will just sharpen some curves (refer to 7 and 8 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the chest
  14. To flatten the top a little, we will select the highest faces and scale them on the Z axis with the Proportional Editing tool turned on. (S+Z and O).
    Modeling the chest
  15. From the bottom view, we use the Knife Topology tool (K) to change the organization of our vertices, edges, and faces (refer to 9 and 10 in the preceding screenshot). The process of arranging the components in the order that they best fit the shape is called "searching for a good topology". An easy way to grasp good topology is to remember that the edge loops are going to wrap around the object you want to create. Another thing that we already talked about is using only quads because they are easier to manage.
  16. We form a loop to allow a better subdivision of the surface. Other edge loops can be added again horizontally and vertically to add details.
  17. Then we switch to Face Mode and select six faces on the side of the bust in order to round them off with the LoopTools Circle feature (press W and select LoopTool | Circle) (refer to 11 in the following screenshot). We can choose the influence of this tool at the bottom of the left panel (T). A value of 80 percent will best fit here.
  18. Then we adjust the angle of these faces with a rotation on the X axis (R + X). To quickly select polygons, we advise you to use the Circle Select (press C and the LMB) tool, which is used like a brush.
  19. We do a small inset (I) to sharpen the geometry at the location of the shoulders.
  20. We continue to move some vertices (G) here and there to gradually round the shape, and we adjust sets of vertices by rotating them (R). It is important to always navigate around your object to have the correct silhouette from different points of view. This is the essence of 3D modeling.
    Modeling the chest
  21. If you want more sharp edges, you can add a few edge loops (Ctrl + R) around them. Remember to use the smoothness parameter of the LoopCut tool (a value ranging from 0 to 1) in the left panel (T).

Modeling the neck

Still working on the bust in the Edit Mode, we will again flatten the top part of the bust and more precisely the area.

  1. We start with the neck by selecting six polygons and scaling them on the z axis (S + Z + 0 on the numeric keypad).
  2. These faces will be arranged in a circle with the LoopTool Circle (by pressing W and selecting LoopTools | Circle) (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the neck
  3. Then we make a very light extrusion (E) to hold the lower part of the neck.
  4. Afterwards, we continue with another extrusion that penetrates in to the head.
  5. In the Wireframe Shading mode, we remove the nonvisible face that is inside the head, which is useless.
  6. Then we add two loops cuts (Ctrl + R and press MMB) (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot) that we will divide into thinner edge loops with a slight bevel (Ctrl + B). These newly created face loops will be extruded (E) and scaled on the x and y axes (S + Shift + Z) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. As always, we will maintain the shape by adding edge loops with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
  8. We end with a small extrusion (E) at the bottom to get the neck demarcation.

Modeling the torso

We will now work on the torso, which shares essentially the same modeling techniques as the neck. This will be done as follows:

  1. We now snap the cursor on a vertex that lies on the symmetry axis of the lower part of the chest by opening the Snap floating menu with Shift + S. We select the fourth option.
  2. We add a new cylinder (Shift + A) with 16 vertices (the number of vertices could be changed in the left panel by pressing T). By choosing this number of vertices, we get a cylinder that can be mirrored at its center and that has enough faces. We place the cylinder under the chest and we remove the top face that is not visible.
  3. Next, we select the top edge loop and we change its scale on the x axis (S + X) and the bottom one on the y axis (S + Y).
  4. We add two edge loops (Ctrl + R), add a bevel (Ctrl + B) to each of them, and finally, extrude (E) them inside (refer to the neck section).
  5. We will round the lower part of the torso with a series of extrusions.
    Modeling the torso
  6. To get a smooth surface, we again need a Subdivision Surface modifier with the Smooth Face Shading option (Left panel: T).
  7. We sharpen the edges with some edge loops (Ctrl + R).
  8. Then, we clear our topology by solving the N-Gon with the same technique that we've used for the head.

Modeling the buttons

If you have followed the techniques used previously, the buttons are quite easy to make. The following steps are used to create the buttons:

  1. We add a cylinder (with 16 vertices again), which we adjust in size and rotation with the Scaling (S) and Rotating tool (R). You can have a Free Rotation in all axes by pressing the R key twice. Don't forget this tool; it is very useful for aligning objects from a certain point of view!
  2. We define the shape with a bevel at the top and an inward and outward extrusion.
  3. We sharpen the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R) and the Bevel tool (Ctrl +B).
  4. The basic shape of one button can be achieved with only these tools (Extrusion, Bevel, and LoopCut).
  5. In the Object Mode, we duplicate this with the Duplicate Linked tool (Alt + D).

    Note

    The Duplicate Object (Shift + D) and the Duplicate Linked (Alt + D) tools

    Modeling the buttons

    These both duplicate objects or components. The Duplicate Linked tool creates an instance of the object while in the Object Mode. The mesh data are connected. It means that, in the Edit Mode, any change of geometry will be reflected on the linked objects. However, the transformations done in the Object Mode are not reflected. If you want to break the link between two linked objects, press U (in the Object Mode) – Make Single UserObject & Data.

  6. We will add a mirror modifier on each button. In the Mirror Object option, we select the torso. It will serve as the origin for the symmetry.

Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling the head

We will now use the basic modeling tools in order to form the shape of the head. As you may have understood, we are going to add new geometry gradually to approximate the shape in 3D. One of the useful tools is called Extrusion.

Note

What is an extrusion?

This is the process of creating new geometry by extending (and optionally transforming) selected components.

Modeling the head
  1. While the top face of the cylinder is selected in the Edit Mode, we will press the E key in order to create a new geometry from that face. Then, we will need to position and validate the extrusion.
  2. We now have two choices in order to confirm the extrusion. If you want, you can move the extruded geometry, and after this, press LMB in order to validate its position. The other choice is to press RMB, in order to place the extruded geometry at the same position as that of the selected component(s). In our case, we will place the extrusion just over the selected face.
  3. We can now scale our extrusion by pressing the S key, and repeat the process of extruding the top face and scaling it three times in order to have a bell shape. We can always go back by pressing Ctrl + Z and redo these steps.
  4. We can also go into the Edge component mode (Ctrl + Tab), and select the edge loops that came from the different extrusions by placing the mouse pointer over them and pressing Alt and RMB.
  5. After this, we can move them along the volume by tapping the G key twice.
    Modeling the head

    Shaping the head with extrusions.

    Note

    What is an Edge Loop?

    An Edge Loop is a set of edges that are connected together and form a loop. You can also get face loops to follow the same principle but with faces. They are essential to construct the shape of an object.

    Modeling the head

Modeling the antenna

In order to create the antenna, we will start from the head and detach it later. Follow these steps to create the antenna:

  1. In the head Edit Mode, we will select the top face and extrude it a little bit to make the base of the antenna.
  2. Then we will make an inset from the top face of the base by pressing the I key.

    Note

    What is an inset?

    An inset allows you to add some padding on a face:

    Modeling the antenna
  3. With the inner face of the inset selected, we are going to repeat the process one more time (extrusion + inset).
    Modeling the antenna

    The different steps to model the base of the antenna. A succession of insets and extrusions.

  4. After this, we will add the stem of the antenna by moving the cursor to the top of the antenna's base, selecting the top face, pressing Shift + S, and selecting Cursor to Selected.
  5. Now we can add a cylinder in the Object Mode that will pop up on the cursor. This cylinder will represent the stem, so scale it accordingly and end it with some extrusions that you will form in a sphere shape by scaling them and following the same process as that of head modeling.
  6. You can also select the top part of the stem and use the smooth option (by pressing the W key and selecting Smooth) to relax the geometry.
    Modeling the antenna

    The stem with the different extrusions that we have shaped like a sphere with the Smooth tool

  7. We now have an N-Gon at the top of the stem. An N-Gon is a polygon that has more than four edges. It is considered a bad practice to have these kinds of polygons in a 3D object. We are going to solve this by going into the top view (the 7 numpad key) and by doing a small inset on the object in order to maintain the border.
  8. After this, we will connect some vertices together in order to have only quads (polygons that have four sides).
  9. Then, we select the two opposite vertical vertices by right-clicking on the first one and pressing Shift and right-clicking on the second one. Pressing Shift and invoking any selection method allows you to add new items to your current selection.
  10. After this, we join them to a new edge with the J key (to connect the vertex path tool) to separate the N-Gon into two equal parts.
  11. Now we ought to select the two opposite horizontal vertices and join them to form a cross. If you look closely, we haven't resolved the N-Gon problem yet, because we have four more of them.
  12. As we can't leave them in the mesh, we are going to repeat the process by joining the other facing vertices in order to have only quads. If you want, you can also use the Knife tool in order to cut in the geometry by pressing K. With the knife we will have to click on the vertices that we want to connect together and when we finish, we can press the Return key in order to validate.
  13. At this point, we can use the LoopTool add-on that we installed in the first chapter. We can select the four middle faces (in Face Mode) and use the LoopTool circle option (press W then select LoopTool | Circle). This allows us to form a circle with the selected components.
  14. It's time to detach the antenna. In order to do this, we select the loop at the base of the antenna (press RMB and Alt) and press V to rip the loop. Blender will give us the choice of moving the ripped part, but we won't. So we cancel the move by clicking the RMB.
  15. Now, we will detach the geometry of the antenna to form a new object. First we deselect all the components (A), then we move our mouse pointer over the antenna and press L to select the linked geometry.
  16. After pressing the P key and choosing Selection in the pop-up menu, the selected part will be separated to form another object.
    Modeling the antenna

    N-Gon correction with the Join tool and the Knife

  17. We will have to clear three N-Gons: one at the bottom and at the top of the head, and one at the top of the base of the antenna. We have decided to resolve them with the previously explained method.

An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

We will now smooth the geometry of the robot head and the antenna using the following steps:

  1. First we go to the left 3D view panel (T), and with both objects selected in the Object Mode, we click the Smooth button under Shading. This will create a blend between the faces but not round our objects. In order to round our geometry, we will need to use a modifier called Subdivision Surface.
  2. Let's go into the Properties editor and select the adjustable wrench. Then, we choose a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Add Modifier drop-down menu. All we need to do now is repeat the process with each object.

    Note

    What is a modifier?

    A modifier is a tool that applies to the entire object. You can push new modifiers on the modifier stack of the object where the top modifier will take effect before the bottom one. You can also reorganize their order using the up and down arrows. You may hide a modifier using the Eye button. If you want to collapse a modifier, use the left-hand side horizontal arrow. You can also apply the behavior of the modifier with the Apply button. Always save your work before doing this.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

    The stack of three object modifiers. The Subdivision Surface applies over the Mirror and the Bevel modifier.

  3. As you may have seen, the subdivision divides all the polygons by four and tries to do an interpolation by smoothing them. If you want more divisions, you can increase the View slider under Subdivisions.
  4. The shape looks better but needs to be sharp at some points. In order to do this, we will maintain a border by adding edge loops with Ctrl + R. The LoopCut tool is very useful; it allows us to add edge loops where we want and as many as we want.

    Note

    About the LoopCut tool

    To add an edge loop, use the Ctrl + R shortcut and move your mouse cursor perpendicular to where you want to add a new edge loop. You will see a preview of the new cuts. You can add multiple loops at the same time by scrolling your mouse wheel or by pressing the + or keys. After you have validated the cuts, you will need to position them and validate their location by left-clicking or right-clicking. The later will center the cuts.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier
  5. We can also sharpen the edges by selecting them and using the Bevel tool. Remember that the nearer the edge loops are, the sharper the result will be.

    Note

    About the Bevel tool

    The Bevel tool allows you to split one edge into multiple edges. When you activate it with Ctrl + B, you can choose the number of splits that you want by scrolling your mouse wheel or by pressing the + or keys. You can also decrease the speed of the tool by pressing the Shift key. As always, you can validate your placement by left-clicking or cancel it by right-clicking.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

Improving the head shape

Let's select the head and go into the Edit Mode.

  1. From the front view, we will now select the central edge loop. One way to do this is to use the wireframe mode by pressing the Z key. This mode allows us to see through the mesh and the selected components that are behind it.
  2. We can now use the Box Selection tool with the B key in order to draw a rectangle area around the vertices that we want to select. If you want, you can hide the antenna and the stem by selecting them and pressing H (Hide). The Bevel tool will help you to create a thin base in the middle of the head. This bevel will be maintained with two new cuts. To do this, we can do an extrusion without moving it (cancel the move with RMB).
  3. We can now scale the newly extruded faces on the x axis using the S + X shortcut. The thickness is added by selecting the inner face loop and extruding it at the same place.
  4. In order to push the extrusion according to the normals, we use the Alt + S shortcut.
  5. We will also have to maintain the shape of the head by adding multiple edge loops (with Ctrl + R, for instance).

    Note

    Save your work!

    After all the work you've done, it's very important to save it! To write your blend file to your hard disk, go to the File menu and press the Save option or use the Ctrl + S shortcut. You can now choose which directory you want to place it in. A nice trick is to press the + or key to add or remove one unit from the name of your file.

    Improving the head shape

    The head shape without the antenna.

  6. You can unhide the antenna and the stem in the Object Mode by pressing Shift + H.

Modeling the thunderbolts

It's now time to start modeling the thunderbolts; let's have a look at the following steps:

  1. We will start by going into the Side Orthographic view (the 3 numpad key) and by placing the cursor next to the head with a simple left-click.
  2. Then we will add a plane and in the Edit Mode we will remove all the vertices with the X key.
  3. In the Edit Mode, we are going create a chain of vertices that matches the thunderbolt shape of the image reference.
  4. Pressing Ctrl and LMB, we will add new vertices and create the silhouette of the thunderbolt.
  5. In order to close the shape, we select the first and last vertices and press the F key to fill them with an edge.
  6. If you want to add more details to the shape, select two connected vertices and with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R), place a new vertex in the middle of both the connected vertices.
  7. We can then select all the vertices (A) and fill the shape with an N-Gon (F) that we are going to resolve later.
  8. We can now add an inset (I) in order to keep an outline.
  9. After we've done this, we will have to clean the mesh by replacing the N-Gon with quads using the join tool (J) or the knife tool (K). If you have one triangle or N-Gon, it's not a problem for now as it could be solved later.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The thunderbolt shape.

  10. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode.
  11. We will have to sharpen the spikes using tight bevels.
  12. Of course, we will have to clean the mesh by removing the N-Gons.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    Maintaining the spikes with bevels.

  13. It's now time to extrude the whole thunderbolt by selecting all the faces (A). You may get a lighting error with black faces. It means that the normals are pointing inward and can't catch the light. You can verify this by opening the right panel of the viewport (N) and, under Normals, you can check the face icon. If the normals are not pointing outward, then you will need to recalculate their direction by selecting all the components and pressing the Ctrl + N shortcut.
  14. We can now select the inner faces on the outside of the thunderbolt with either Shift + RMB or using the C key, which allows you to paint and select the components that you want according to the current view. With these faces selected we can create a small inner extrusion, and maintain the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The finished thunderbolt with a view 2 Subdivision Surface.

  15. In order to mirror the thunderbolt on the other side of the head, we will use a Mirror modifier with the head as the center of a pivot. Place and rotate the thunderbolts according to the image reference.

    Note

    The Mirror modifier

    This is an easy way to make a symmetry from your 3D model. The basic symmetry is based on the positioning of the pivot point and the x axis. All of these are configurable by changing the axis. It is strongly advised you use the Clipping option if you want to weld the components that are on the symmetry axis of your geometry. By doing this, you will avoid holes. With the Mirror Object option, you can choose to base the symmetry axis on the pivot point of another object in your scene.

  16. The last thing we may want to do at this stage is to correctly name our objects in the outline editor that is situated in the top-right corner of the interface by default.

    Note

    The outliner

    The outliner displays a list of all the entities that make up the current scene. When you select an object in the 3D view, it will be highlighted in the outliner and conversely. You can rename any item in the list by double-clicking on its name. The outliner also gives you control of the visibility of any object with the Eye icon button. The mouse cursor button can be toggled on or off to allow the selection of the corresponding object in the viewport.

    Modeling the thunderbolts

Modeling the eyes

It's time to finish the head of our robot by adding a pair of eyes on it. This is done with the following steps:

  1. In the Edit Mode of the head, we select the edge that is roughly positioned at the eye location.
  2. We use a bevel to add more geometry.
  3. It is now possible to slide the top and bottom edges of the bevel according to the volume by selecting them in the Edge Mode and pressing G twice to form an ellipsoidal shape.
  4. After this, we can use the F key to fill the eye. It will remove the two vertical edges that come from the bevel.
  5. Now we can do a series of insets and extrusions to pop out the eye.
  6. Applying the same method to the other side, we will add a little cartoon effect.
  7. As always, we now need to clear the geometry by removing N-Gons using the knife.
    Modeling the eyes

Modeling the chest

It is time to model the chest. The following steps will help you do so:

  1. Now we put the 3D cursor at the center of the space (Shift + S), then we add a box (Shift + A) for the base shape of the chest.
  2. We can adjust the position under the head (G + Z) in the front view, and switch to the Edit Mode to start the modeling.
  3. It is much faster to work with the symmetry, so we are going to cut the cube at its center with an edge loop (Ctrl + R). We select all the vertices on the left-hand side with the box select tool (Ctrl + B) in the wireframe shading mode (Z) and we delete them (X).
  4. In the object mode (Tab), we add a mirror modifier to work with symmetry.
  5. More polygons can be added to create the basic shape of the chest. We, therefore, add two vertical edge loops (Ctrl + R and scroll the mouse wheel up) from the side view and slide these on the y axis (S + Y).
  6. Next, we move the polygon situated at the center of the chest from the side view (G + X) and add another vertical edge loop from the front view.
  7. In the orthographic (5) front view (1), and with Wireframe (Z) Shading activated, we can easily work the shape by moving (G) and rotating (R) the selected vertices (refer to 2 and 3 in the following screenshot). Then we move the top face up a little (G + Z).
  8. We can see that our central edge loop is not very well aligned in the front view. Therefore, we select and replace it by applying a zero scale on the x axis (S + X + 0 on the numeric keypad), which perfectly aligns our selected vertices.
  9. In order to have a less angular shape, we are going to activate the edge mode and select the edges at the top and bottom of the chest (press Shift + Alt and the LMB) to finally do a bevel (Ctrl + B) (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  10. To balance the polygon flow of the mesh, we add a horizontal edge loop to the center (Ctrl + R) that we will extend with the Scale tool on the y axis (S+Y) (refer to 6 in the following screenshot). The goal is to use the maximum area of the drawing as a reference. Always remember to check the silhouette of your object.
  11. For a more curved shape, we will use Proportional Editing that can be activated by the small circle icon located at the header of the 3D view.
  12. The Proportional Editing tool will help us to shrink the side of the bust. Be careful to check the behavior of the clipping option of the mirror modifier for the vertices located on the axis of symmetry. They don't have to be merged at the center. To smooth the model, we will add a Subdivision Surface modifier and will check the Smooth Shading option in the Transform panel (T) in order to remove the flat aspect of the polygons.
    Modeling the chest

    Note

    The Proportional Editing tool

    This allows you to change the shape of an object in the Edit Mode in a smooth manner. It acts like a magnet for unselected components that are inside a circle of influence that you can adjust by scrolling the mouse wheel. This is perfect when you want to move a set of components and when the geometry is too compact.

    The Connected option allows you to limit the scope to the geometry connected to the selection.

    The Falloff option offers a series of attenuation curve profiles.

  13. With some bevels and additional edge loops, we will just sharpen some curves (refer to 7 and 8 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the chest
  14. To flatten the top a little, we will select the highest faces and scale them on the Z axis with the Proportional Editing tool turned on. (S+Z and O).
    Modeling the chest
  15. From the bottom view, we use the Knife Topology tool (K) to change the organization of our vertices, edges, and faces (refer to 9 and 10 in the preceding screenshot). The process of arranging the components in the order that they best fit the shape is called "searching for a good topology". An easy way to grasp good topology is to remember that the edge loops are going to wrap around the object you want to create. Another thing that we already talked about is using only quads because they are easier to manage.
  16. We form a loop to allow a better subdivision of the surface. Other edge loops can be added again horizontally and vertically to add details.
  17. Then we switch to Face Mode and select six faces on the side of the bust in order to round them off with the LoopTools Circle feature (press W and select LoopTool | Circle) (refer to 11 in the following screenshot). We can choose the influence of this tool at the bottom of the left panel (T). A value of 80 percent will best fit here.
  18. Then we adjust the angle of these faces with a rotation on the X axis (R + X). To quickly select polygons, we advise you to use the Circle Select (press C and the LMB) tool, which is used like a brush.
  19. We do a small inset (I) to sharpen the geometry at the location of the shoulders.
  20. We continue to move some vertices (G) here and there to gradually round the shape, and we adjust sets of vertices by rotating them (R). It is important to always navigate around your object to have the correct silhouette from different points of view. This is the essence of 3D modeling.
    Modeling the chest
  21. If you want more sharp edges, you can add a few edge loops (Ctrl + R) around them. Remember to use the smoothness parameter of the LoopCut tool (a value ranging from 0 to 1) in the left panel (T).

Modeling the neck

Still working on the bust in the Edit Mode, we will again flatten the top part of the bust and more precisely the area.

  1. We start with the neck by selecting six polygons and scaling them on the z axis (S + Z + 0 on the numeric keypad).
  2. These faces will be arranged in a circle with the LoopTool Circle (by pressing W and selecting LoopTools | Circle) (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the neck
  3. Then we make a very light extrusion (E) to hold the lower part of the neck.
  4. Afterwards, we continue with another extrusion that penetrates in to the head.
  5. In the Wireframe Shading mode, we remove the nonvisible face that is inside the head, which is useless.
  6. Then we add two loops cuts (Ctrl + R and press MMB) (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot) that we will divide into thinner edge loops with a slight bevel (Ctrl + B). These newly created face loops will be extruded (E) and scaled on the x and y axes (S + Shift + Z) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. As always, we will maintain the shape by adding edge loops with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
  8. We end with a small extrusion (E) at the bottom to get the neck demarcation.

Modeling the torso

We will now work on the torso, which shares essentially the same modeling techniques as the neck. This will be done as follows:

  1. We now snap the cursor on a vertex that lies on the symmetry axis of the lower part of the chest by opening the Snap floating menu with Shift + S. We select the fourth option.
  2. We add a new cylinder (Shift + A) with 16 vertices (the number of vertices could be changed in the left panel by pressing T). By choosing this number of vertices, we get a cylinder that can be mirrored at its center and that has enough faces. We place the cylinder under the chest and we remove the top face that is not visible.
  3. Next, we select the top edge loop and we change its scale on the x axis (S + X) and the bottom one on the y axis (S + Y).
  4. We add two edge loops (Ctrl + R), add a bevel (Ctrl + B) to each of them, and finally, extrude (E) them inside (refer to the neck section).
  5. We will round the lower part of the torso with a series of extrusions.
    Modeling the torso
  6. To get a smooth surface, we again need a Subdivision Surface modifier with the Smooth Face Shading option (Left panel: T).
  7. We sharpen the edges with some edge loops (Ctrl + R).
  8. Then, we clear our topology by solving the N-Gon with the same technique that we've used for the head.

Modeling the buttons

If you have followed the techniques used previously, the buttons are quite easy to make. The following steps are used to create the buttons:

  1. We add a cylinder (with 16 vertices again), which we adjust in size and rotation with the Scaling (S) and Rotating tool (R). You can have a Free Rotation in all axes by pressing the R key twice. Don't forget this tool; it is very useful for aligning objects from a certain point of view!
  2. We define the shape with a bevel at the top and an inward and outward extrusion.
  3. We sharpen the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R) and the Bevel tool (Ctrl +B).
  4. The basic shape of one button can be achieved with only these tools (Extrusion, Bevel, and LoopCut).
  5. In the Object Mode, we duplicate this with the Duplicate Linked tool (Alt + D).

    Note

    The Duplicate Object (Shift + D) and the Duplicate Linked (Alt + D) tools

    Modeling the buttons

    These both duplicate objects or components. The Duplicate Linked tool creates an instance of the object while in the Object Mode. The mesh data are connected. It means that, in the Edit Mode, any change of geometry will be reflected on the linked objects. However, the transformations done in the Object Mode are not reflected. If you want to break the link between two linked objects, press U (in the Object Mode) – Make Single UserObject & Data.

  6. We will add a mirror modifier on each button. In the Mirror Object option, we select the torso. It will serve as the origin for the symmetry.

Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling the antenna

In order to create the antenna, we will start from the head and detach it later. Follow these steps to create the antenna:

  1. In the head Edit Mode, we will select the top face and extrude it a little bit to make the base of the antenna.
  2. Then we will make an inset from the top face of the base by pressing the I key.

    Note

    What is an inset?

    An inset allows you to add some padding on a face:

    Modeling the antenna
  3. With the inner face of the inset selected, we are going to repeat the process one more time (extrusion + inset).
    Modeling the antenna

    The different steps to model the base of the antenna. A succession of insets and extrusions.

  4. After this, we will add the stem of the antenna by moving the cursor to the top of the antenna's base, selecting the top face, pressing Shift + S, and selecting Cursor to Selected.
  5. Now we can add a cylinder in the Object Mode that will pop up on the cursor. This cylinder will represent the stem, so scale it accordingly and end it with some extrusions that you will form in a sphere shape by scaling them and following the same process as that of head modeling.
  6. You can also select the top part of the stem and use the smooth option (by pressing the W key and selecting Smooth) to relax the geometry.
    Modeling the antenna

    The stem with the different extrusions that we have shaped like a sphere with the Smooth tool

  7. We now have an N-Gon at the top of the stem. An N-Gon is a polygon that has more than four edges. It is considered a bad practice to have these kinds of polygons in a 3D object. We are going to solve this by going into the top view (the 7 numpad key) and by doing a small inset on the object in order to maintain the border.
  8. After this, we will connect some vertices together in order to have only quads (polygons that have four sides).
  9. Then, we select the two opposite vertical vertices by right-clicking on the first one and pressing Shift and right-clicking on the second one. Pressing Shift and invoking any selection method allows you to add new items to your current selection.
  10. After this, we join them to a new edge with the J key (to connect the vertex path tool) to separate the N-Gon into two equal parts.
  11. Now we ought to select the two opposite horizontal vertices and join them to form a cross. If you look closely, we haven't resolved the N-Gon problem yet, because we have four more of them.
  12. As we can't leave them in the mesh, we are going to repeat the process by joining the other facing vertices in order to have only quads. If you want, you can also use the Knife tool in order to cut in the geometry by pressing K. With the knife we will have to click on the vertices that we want to connect together and when we finish, we can press the Return key in order to validate.
  13. At this point, we can use the LoopTool add-on that we installed in the first chapter. We can select the four middle faces (in Face Mode) and use the LoopTool circle option (press W then select LoopTool | Circle). This allows us to form a circle with the selected components.
  14. It's time to detach the antenna. In order to do this, we select the loop at the base of the antenna (press RMB and Alt) and press V to rip the loop. Blender will give us the choice of moving the ripped part, but we won't. So we cancel the move by clicking the RMB.
  15. Now, we will detach the geometry of the antenna to form a new object. First we deselect all the components (A), then we move our mouse pointer over the antenna and press L to select the linked geometry.
  16. After pressing the P key and choosing Selection in the pop-up menu, the selected part will be separated to form another object.
    Modeling the antenna

    N-Gon correction with the Join tool and the Knife

  17. We will have to clear three N-Gons: one at the bottom and at the top of the head, and one at the top of the base of the antenna. We have decided to resolve them with the previously explained method.

An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

We will now smooth the geometry of the robot head and the antenna using the following steps:

  1. First we go to the left 3D view panel (T), and with both objects selected in the Object Mode, we click the Smooth button under Shading. This will create a blend between the faces but not round our objects. In order to round our geometry, we will need to use a modifier called Subdivision Surface.
  2. Let's go into the Properties editor and select the adjustable wrench. Then, we choose a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Add Modifier drop-down menu. All we need to do now is repeat the process with each object.

    Note

    What is a modifier?

    A modifier is a tool that applies to the entire object. You can push new modifiers on the modifier stack of the object where the top modifier will take effect before the bottom one. You can also reorganize their order using the up and down arrows. You may hide a modifier using the Eye button. If you want to collapse a modifier, use the left-hand side horizontal arrow. You can also apply the behavior of the modifier with the Apply button. Always save your work before doing this.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

    The stack of three object modifiers. The Subdivision Surface applies over the Mirror and the Bevel modifier.

  3. As you may have seen, the subdivision divides all the polygons by four and tries to do an interpolation by smoothing them. If you want more divisions, you can increase the View slider under Subdivisions.
  4. The shape looks better but needs to be sharp at some points. In order to do this, we will maintain a border by adding edge loops with Ctrl + R. The LoopCut tool is very useful; it allows us to add edge loops where we want and as many as we want.

    Note

    About the LoopCut tool

    To add an edge loop, use the Ctrl + R shortcut and move your mouse cursor perpendicular to where you want to add a new edge loop. You will see a preview of the new cuts. You can add multiple loops at the same time by scrolling your mouse wheel or by pressing the + or keys. After you have validated the cuts, you will need to position them and validate their location by left-clicking or right-clicking. The later will center the cuts.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier
  5. We can also sharpen the edges by selecting them and using the Bevel tool. Remember that the nearer the edge loops are, the sharper the result will be.

    Note

    About the Bevel tool

    The Bevel tool allows you to split one edge into multiple edges. When you activate it with Ctrl + B, you can choose the number of splits that you want by scrolling your mouse wheel or by pressing the + or keys. You can also decrease the speed of the tool by pressing the Shift key. As always, you can validate your placement by left-clicking or cancel it by right-clicking.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

Improving the head shape

Let's select the head and go into the Edit Mode.

  1. From the front view, we will now select the central edge loop. One way to do this is to use the wireframe mode by pressing the Z key. This mode allows us to see through the mesh and the selected components that are behind it.
  2. We can now use the Box Selection tool with the B key in order to draw a rectangle area around the vertices that we want to select. If you want, you can hide the antenna and the stem by selecting them and pressing H (Hide). The Bevel tool will help you to create a thin base in the middle of the head. This bevel will be maintained with two new cuts. To do this, we can do an extrusion without moving it (cancel the move with RMB).
  3. We can now scale the newly extruded faces on the x axis using the S + X shortcut. The thickness is added by selecting the inner face loop and extruding it at the same place.
  4. In order to push the extrusion according to the normals, we use the Alt + S shortcut.
  5. We will also have to maintain the shape of the head by adding multiple edge loops (with Ctrl + R, for instance).

    Note

    Save your work!

    After all the work you've done, it's very important to save it! To write your blend file to your hard disk, go to the File menu and press the Save option or use the Ctrl + S shortcut. You can now choose which directory you want to place it in. A nice trick is to press the + or key to add or remove one unit from the name of your file.

    Improving the head shape

    The head shape without the antenna.

  6. You can unhide the antenna and the stem in the Object Mode by pressing Shift + H.

Modeling the thunderbolts

It's now time to start modeling the thunderbolts; let's have a look at the following steps:

  1. We will start by going into the Side Orthographic view (the 3 numpad key) and by placing the cursor next to the head with a simple left-click.
  2. Then we will add a plane and in the Edit Mode we will remove all the vertices with the X key.
  3. In the Edit Mode, we are going create a chain of vertices that matches the thunderbolt shape of the image reference.
  4. Pressing Ctrl and LMB, we will add new vertices and create the silhouette of the thunderbolt.
  5. In order to close the shape, we select the first and last vertices and press the F key to fill them with an edge.
  6. If you want to add more details to the shape, select two connected vertices and with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R), place a new vertex in the middle of both the connected vertices.
  7. We can then select all the vertices (A) and fill the shape with an N-Gon (F) that we are going to resolve later.
  8. We can now add an inset (I) in order to keep an outline.
  9. After we've done this, we will have to clean the mesh by replacing the N-Gon with quads using the join tool (J) or the knife tool (K). If you have one triangle or N-Gon, it's not a problem for now as it could be solved later.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The thunderbolt shape.

  10. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode.
  11. We will have to sharpen the spikes using tight bevels.
  12. Of course, we will have to clean the mesh by removing the N-Gons.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    Maintaining the spikes with bevels.

  13. It's now time to extrude the whole thunderbolt by selecting all the faces (A). You may get a lighting error with black faces. It means that the normals are pointing inward and can't catch the light. You can verify this by opening the right panel of the viewport (N) and, under Normals, you can check the face icon. If the normals are not pointing outward, then you will need to recalculate their direction by selecting all the components and pressing the Ctrl + N shortcut.
  14. We can now select the inner faces on the outside of the thunderbolt with either Shift + RMB or using the C key, which allows you to paint and select the components that you want according to the current view. With these faces selected we can create a small inner extrusion, and maintain the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The finished thunderbolt with a view 2 Subdivision Surface.

  15. In order to mirror the thunderbolt on the other side of the head, we will use a Mirror modifier with the head as the center of a pivot. Place and rotate the thunderbolts according to the image reference.

    Note

    The Mirror modifier

    This is an easy way to make a symmetry from your 3D model. The basic symmetry is based on the positioning of the pivot point and the x axis. All of these are configurable by changing the axis. It is strongly advised you use the Clipping option if you want to weld the components that are on the symmetry axis of your geometry. By doing this, you will avoid holes. With the Mirror Object option, you can choose to base the symmetry axis on the pivot point of another object in your scene.

  16. The last thing we may want to do at this stage is to correctly name our objects in the outline editor that is situated in the top-right corner of the interface by default.

    Note

    The outliner

    The outliner displays a list of all the entities that make up the current scene. When you select an object in the 3D view, it will be highlighted in the outliner and conversely. You can rename any item in the list by double-clicking on its name. The outliner also gives you control of the visibility of any object with the Eye icon button. The mouse cursor button can be toggled on or off to allow the selection of the corresponding object in the viewport.

    Modeling the thunderbolts

Modeling the eyes

It's time to finish the head of our robot by adding a pair of eyes on it. This is done with the following steps:

  1. In the Edit Mode of the head, we select the edge that is roughly positioned at the eye location.
  2. We use a bevel to add more geometry.
  3. It is now possible to slide the top and bottom edges of the bevel according to the volume by selecting them in the Edge Mode and pressing G twice to form an ellipsoidal shape.
  4. After this, we can use the F key to fill the eye. It will remove the two vertical edges that come from the bevel.
  5. Now we can do a series of insets and extrusions to pop out the eye.
  6. Applying the same method to the other side, we will add a little cartoon effect.
  7. As always, we now need to clear the geometry by removing N-Gons using the knife.
    Modeling the eyes

Modeling the chest

It is time to model the chest. The following steps will help you do so:

  1. Now we put the 3D cursor at the center of the space (Shift + S), then we add a box (Shift + A) for the base shape of the chest.
  2. We can adjust the position under the head (G + Z) in the front view, and switch to the Edit Mode to start the modeling.
  3. It is much faster to work with the symmetry, so we are going to cut the cube at its center with an edge loop (Ctrl + R). We select all the vertices on the left-hand side with the box select tool (Ctrl + B) in the wireframe shading mode (Z) and we delete them (X).
  4. In the object mode (Tab), we add a mirror modifier to work with symmetry.
  5. More polygons can be added to create the basic shape of the chest. We, therefore, add two vertical edge loops (Ctrl + R and scroll the mouse wheel up) from the side view and slide these on the y axis (S + Y).
  6. Next, we move the polygon situated at the center of the chest from the side view (G + X) and add another vertical edge loop from the front view.
  7. In the orthographic (5) front view (1), and with Wireframe (Z) Shading activated, we can easily work the shape by moving (G) and rotating (R) the selected vertices (refer to 2 and 3 in the following screenshot). Then we move the top face up a little (G + Z).
  8. We can see that our central edge loop is not very well aligned in the front view. Therefore, we select and replace it by applying a zero scale on the x axis (S + X + 0 on the numeric keypad), which perfectly aligns our selected vertices.
  9. In order to have a less angular shape, we are going to activate the edge mode and select the edges at the top and bottom of the chest (press Shift + Alt and the LMB) to finally do a bevel (Ctrl + B) (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  10. To balance the polygon flow of the mesh, we add a horizontal edge loop to the center (Ctrl + R) that we will extend with the Scale tool on the y axis (S+Y) (refer to 6 in the following screenshot). The goal is to use the maximum area of the drawing as a reference. Always remember to check the silhouette of your object.
  11. For a more curved shape, we will use Proportional Editing that can be activated by the small circle icon located at the header of the 3D view.
  12. The Proportional Editing tool will help us to shrink the side of the bust. Be careful to check the behavior of the clipping option of the mirror modifier for the vertices located on the axis of symmetry. They don't have to be merged at the center. To smooth the model, we will add a Subdivision Surface modifier and will check the Smooth Shading option in the Transform panel (T) in order to remove the flat aspect of the polygons.
    Modeling the chest

    Note

    The Proportional Editing tool

    This allows you to change the shape of an object in the Edit Mode in a smooth manner. It acts like a magnet for unselected components that are inside a circle of influence that you can adjust by scrolling the mouse wheel. This is perfect when you want to move a set of components and when the geometry is too compact.

    The Connected option allows you to limit the scope to the geometry connected to the selection.

    The Falloff option offers a series of attenuation curve profiles.

  13. With some bevels and additional edge loops, we will just sharpen some curves (refer to 7 and 8 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the chest
  14. To flatten the top a little, we will select the highest faces and scale them on the Z axis with the Proportional Editing tool turned on. (S+Z and O).
    Modeling the chest
  15. From the bottom view, we use the Knife Topology tool (K) to change the organization of our vertices, edges, and faces (refer to 9 and 10 in the preceding screenshot). The process of arranging the components in the order that they best fit the shape is called "searching for a good topology". An easy way to grasp good topology is to remember that the edge loops are going to wrap around the object you want to create. Another thing that we already talked about is using only quads because they are easier to manage.
  16. We form a loop to allow a better subdivision of the surface. Other edge loops can be added again horizontally and vertically to add details.
  17. Then we switch to Face Mode and select six faces on the side of the bust in order to round them off with the LoopTools Circle feature (press W and select LoopTool | Circle) (refer to 11 in the following screenshot). We can choose the influence of this tool at the bottom of the left panel (T). A value of 80 percent will best fit here.
  18. Then we adjust the angle of these faces with a rotation on the X axis (R + X). To quickly select polygons, we advise you to use the Circle Select (press C and the LMB) tool, which is used like a brush.
  19. We do a small inset (I) to sharpen the geometry at the location of the shoulders.
  20. We continue to move some vertices (G) here and there to gradually round the shape, and we adjust sets of vertices by rotating them (R). It is important to always navigate around your object to have the correct silhouette from different points of view. This is the essence of 3D modeling.
    Modeling the chest
  21. If you want more sharp edges, you can add a few edge loops (Ctrl + R) around them. Remember to use the smoothness parameter of the LoopCut tool (a value ranging from 0 to 1) in the left panel (T).

Modeling the neck

Still working on the bust in the Edit Mode, we will again flatten the top part of the bust and more precisely the area.

  1. We start with the neck by selecting six polygons and scaling them on the z axis (S + Z + 0 on the numeric keypad).
  2. These faces will be arranged in a circle with the LoopTool Circle (by pressing W and selecting LoopTools | Circle) (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the neck
  3. Then we make a very light extrusion (E) to hold the lower part of the neck.
  4. Afterwards, we continue with another extrusion that penetrates in to the head.
  5. In the Wireframe Shading mode, we remove the nonvisible face that is inside the head, which is useless.
  6. Then we add two loops cuts (Ctrl + R and press MMB) (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot) that we will divide into thinner edge loops with a slight bevel (Ctrl + B). These newly created face loops will be extruded (E) and scaled on the x and y axes (S + Shift + Z) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. As always, we will maintain the shape by adding edge loops with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
  8. We end with a small extrusion (E) at the bottom to get the neck demarcation.

Modeling the torso

We will now work on the torso, which shares essentially the same modeling techniques as the neck. This will be done as follows:

  1. We now snap the cursor on a vertex that lies on the symmetry axis of the lower part of the chest by opening the Snap floating menu with Shift + S. We select the fourth option.
  2. We add a new cylinder (Shift + A) with 16 vertices (the number of vertices could be changed in the left panel by pressing T). By choosing this number of vertices, we get a cylinder that can be mirrored at its center and that has enough faces. We place the cylinder under the chest and we remove the top face that is not visible.
  3. Next, we select the top edge loop and we change its scale on the x axis (S + X) and the bottom one on the y axis (S + Y).
  4. We add two edge loops (Ctrl + R), add a bevel (Ctrl + B) to each of them, and finally, extrude (E) them inside (refer to the neck section).
  5. We will round the lower part of the torso with a series of extrusions.
    Modeling the torso
  6. To get a smooth surface, we again need a Subdivision Surface modifier with the Smooth Face Shading option (Left panel: T).
  7. We sharpen the edges with some edge loops (Ctrl + R).
  8. Then, we clear our topology by solving the N-Gon with the same technique that we've used for the head.

Modeling the buttons

If you have followed the techniques used previously, the buttons are quite easy to make. The following steps are used to create the buttons:

  1. We add a cylinder (with 16 vertices again), which we adjust in size and rotation with the Scaling (S) and Rotating tool (R). You can have a Free Rotation in all axes by pressing the R key twice. Don't forget this tool; it is very useful for aligning objects from a certain point of view!
  2. We define the shape with a bevel at the top and an inward and outward extrusion.
  3. We sharpen the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R) and the Bevel tool (Ctrl +B).
  4. The basic shape of one button can be achieved with only these tools (Extrusion, Bevel, and LoopCut).
  5. In the Object Mode, we duplicate this with the Duplicate Linked tool (Alt + D).

    Note

    The Duplicate Object (Shift + D) and the Duplicate Linked (Alt + D) tools

    Modeling the buttons

    These both duplicate objects or components. The Duplicate Linked tool creates an instance of the object while in the Object Mode. The mesh data are connected. It means that, in the Edit Mode, any change of geometry will be reflected on the linked objects. However, the transformations done in the Object Mode are not reflected. If you want to break the link between two linked objects, press U (in the Object Mode) – Make Single UserObject & Data.

  6. We will add a mirror modifier on each button. In the Mirror Object option, we select the torso. It will serve as the origin for the symmetry.

Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

We will now smooth the geometry of the robot head and the antenna using the following steps:

  1. First we go to the left 3D view panel (T), and with both objects selected in the Object Mode, we click the Smooth button under Shading. This will create a blend between the faces but not round our objects. In order to round our geometry, we will need to use a modifier called Subdivision Surface.
  2. Let's go into the Properties editor and select the adjustable wrench. Then, we choose a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Add Modifier drop-down menu. All we need to do now is repeat the process with each object.

    Note

    What is a modifier?

    A modifier is a tool that applies to the entire object. You can push new modifiers on the modifier stack of the object where the top modifier will take effect before the bottom one. You can also reorganize their order using the up and down arrows. You may hide a modifier using the Eye button. If you want to collapse a modifier, use the left-hand side horizontal arrow. You can also apply the behavior of the modifier with the Apply button. Always save your work before doing this.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

    The stack of three object modifiers. The Subdivision Surface applies over the Mirror and the Bevel modifier.

  3. As you may have seen, the subdivision divides all the polygons by four and tries to do an interpolation by smoothing them. If you want more divisions, you can increase the View slider under Subdivisions.
  4. The shape looks better but needs to be sharp at some points. In order to do this, we will maintain a border by adding edge loops with Ctrl + R. The LoopCut tool is very useful; it allows us to add edge loops where we want and as many as we want.

    Note

    About the LoopCut tool

    To add an edge loop, use the Ctrl + R shortcut and move your mouse cursor perpendicular to where you want to add a new edge loop. You will see a preview of the new cuts. You can add multiple loops at the same time by scrolling your mouse wheel or by pressing the + or keys. After you have validated the cuts, you will need to position them and validate their location by left-clicking or right-clicking. The later will center the cuts.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier
  5. We can also sharpen the edges by selecting them and using the Bevel tool. Remember that the nearer the edge loops are, the sharper the result will be.

    Note

    About the Bevel tool

    The Bevel tool allows you to split one edge into multiple edges. When you activate it with Ctrl + B, you can choose the number of splits that you want by scrolling your mouse wheel or by pressing the + or keys. You can also decrease the speed of the tool by pressing the Shift key. As always, you can validate your placement by left-clicking or cancel it by right-clicking.

    An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier

Improving the head shape

Let's select the head and go into the Edit Mode.

  1. From the front view, we will now select the central edge loop. One way to do this is to use the wireframe mode by pressing the Z key. This mode allows us to see through the mesh and the selected components that are behind it.
  2. We can now use the Box Selection tool with the B key in order to draw a rectangle area around the vertices that we want to select. If you want, you can hide the antenna and the stem by selecting them and pressing H (Hide). The Bevel tool will help you to create a thin base in the middle of the head. This bevel will be maintained with two new cuts. To do this, we can do an extrusion without moving it (cancel the move with RMB).
  3. We can now scale the newly extruded faces on the x axis using the S + X shortcut. The thickness is added by selecting the inner face loop and extruding it at the same place.
  4. In order to push the extrusion according to the normals, we use the Alt + S shortcut.
  5. We will also have to maintain the shape of the head by adding multiple edge loops (with Ctrl + R, for instance).

    Note

    Save your work!

    After all the work you've done, it's very important to save it! To write your blend file to your hard disk, go to the File menu and press the Save option or use the Ctrl + S shortcut. You can now choose which directory you want to place it in. A nice trick is to press the + or key to add or remove one unit from the name of your file.

    Improving the head shape

    The head shape without the antenna.

  6. You can unhide the antenna and the stem in the Object Mode by pressing Shift + H.

Modeling the thunderbolts

It's now time to start modeling the thunderbolts; let's have a look at the following steps:

  1. We will start by going into the Side Orthographic view (the 3 numpad key) and by placing the cursor next to the head with a simple left-click.
  2. Then we will add a plane and in the Edit Mode we will remove all the vertices with the X key.
  3. In the Edit Mode, we are going create a chain of vertices that matches the thunderbolt shape of the image reference.
  4. Pressing Ctrl and LMB, we will add new vertices and create the silhouette of the thunderbolt.
  5. In order to close the shape, we select the first and last vertices and press the F key to fill them with an edge.
  6. If you want to add more details to the shape, select two connected vertices and with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R), place a new vertex in the middle of both the connected vertices.
  7. We can then select all the vertices (A) and fill the shape with an N-Gon (F) that we are going to resolve later.
  8. We can now add an inset (I) in order to keep an outline.
  9. After we've done this, we will have to clean the mesh by replacing the N-Gon with quads using the join tool (J) or the knife tool (K). If you have one triangle or N-Gon, it's not a problem for now as it could be solved later.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The thunderbolt shape.

  10. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode.
  11. We will have to sharpen the spikes using tight bevels.
  12. Of course, we will have to clean the mesh by removing the N-Gons.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    Maintaining the spikes with bevels.

  13. It's now time to extrude the whole thunderbolt by selecting all the faces (A). You may get a lighting error with black faces. It means that the normals are pointing inward and can't catch the light. You can verify this by opening the right panel of the viewport (N) and, under Normals, you can check the face icon. If the normals are not pointing outward, then you will need to recalculate their direction by selecting all the components and pressing the Ctrl + N shortcut.
  14. We can now select the inner faces on the outside of the thunderbolt with either Shift + RMB or using the C key, which allows you to paint and select the components that you want according to the current view. With these faces selected we can create a small inner extrusion, and maintain the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The finished thunderbolt with a view 2 Subdivision Surface.

  15. In order to mirror the thunderbolt on the other side of the head, we will use a Mirror modifier with the head as the center of a pivot. Place and rotate the thunderbolts according to the image reference.

    Note

    The Mirror modifier

    This is an easy way to make a symmetry from your 3D model. The basic symmetry is based on the positioning of the pivot point and the x axis. All of these are configurable by changing the axis. It is strongly advised you use the Clipping option if you want to weld the components that are on the symmetry axis of your geometry. By doing this, you will avoid holes. With the Mirror Object option, you can choose to base the symmetry axis on the pivot point of another object in your scene.

  16. The last thing we may want to do at this stage is to correctly name our objects in the outline editor that is situated in the top-right corner of the interface by default.

    Note

    The outliner

    The outliner displays a list of all the entities that make up the current scene. When you select an object in the 3D view, it will be highlighted in the outliner and conversely. You can rename any item in the list by double-clicking on its name. The outliner also gives you control of the visibility of any object with the Eye icon button. The mouse cursor button can be toggled on or off to allow the selection of the corresponding object in the viewport.

    Modeling the thunderbolts

Modeling the eyes

It's time to finish the head of our robot by adding a pair of eyes on it. This is done with the following steps:

  1. In the Edit Mode of the head, we select the edge that is roughly positioned at the eye location.
  2. We use a bevel to add more geometry.
  3. It is now possible to slide the top and bottom edges of the bevel according to the volume by selecting them in the Edge Mode and pressing G twice to form an ellipsoidal shape.
  4. After this, we can use the F key to fill the eye. It will remove the two vertical edges that come from the bevel.
  5. Now we can do a series of insets and extrusions to pop out the eye.
  6. Applying the same method to the other side, we will add a little cartoon effect.
  7. As always, we now need to clear the geometry by removing N-Gons using the knife.
    Modeling the eyes

Modeling the chest

It is time to model the chest. The following steps will help you do so:

  1. Now we put the 3D cursor at the center of the space (Shift + S), then we add a box (Shift + A) for the base shape of the chest.
  2. We can adjust the position under the head (G + Z) in the front view, and switch to the Edit Mode to start the modeling.
  3. It is much faster to work with the symmetry, so we are going to cut the cube at its center with an edge loop (Ctrl + R). We select all the vertices on the left-hand side with the box select tool (Ctrl + B) in the wireframe shading mode (Z) and we delete them (X).
  4. In the object mode (Tab), we add a mirror modifier to work with symmetry.
  5. More polygons can be added to create the basic shape of the chest. We, therefore, add two vertical edge loops (Ctrl + R and scroll the mouse wheel up) from the side view and slide these on the y axis (S + Y).
  6. Next, we move the polygon situated at the center of the chest from the side view (G + X) and add another vertical edge loop from the front view.
  7. In the orthographic (5) front view (1), and with Wireframe (Z) Shading activated, we can easily work the shape by moving (G) and rotating (R) the selected vertices (refer to 2 and 3 in the following screenshot). Then we move the top face up a little (G + Z).
  8. We can see that our central edge loop is not very well aligned in the front view. Therefore, we select and replace it by applying a zero scale on the x axis (S + X + 0 on the numeric keypad), which perfectly aligns our selected vertices.
  9. In order to have a less angular shape, we are going to activate the edge mode and select the edges at the top and bottom of the chest (press Shift + Alt and the LMB) to finally do a bevel (Ctrl + B) (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  10. To balance the polygon flow of the mesh, we add a horizontal edge loop to the center (Ctrl + R) that we will extend with the Scale tool on the y axis (S+Y) (refer to 6 in the following screenshot). The goal is to use the maximum area of the drawing as a reference. Always remember to check the silhouette of your object.
  11. For a more curved shape, we will use Proportional Editing that can be activated by the small circle icon located at the header of the 3D view.
  12. The Proportional Editing tool will help us to shrink the side of the bust. Be careful to check the behavior of the clipping option of the mirror modifier for the vertices located on the axis of symmetry. They don't have to be merged at the center. To smooth the model, we will add a Subdivision Surface modifier and will check the Smooth Shading option in the Transform panel (T) in order to remove the flat aspect of the polygons.
    Modeling the chest

    Note

    The Proportional Editing tool

    This allows you to change the shape of an object in the Edit Mode in a smooth manner. It acts like a magnet for unselected components that are inside a circle of influence that you can adjust by scrolling the mouse wheel. This is perfect when you want to move a set of components and when the geometry is too compact.

    The Connected option allows you to limit the scope to the geometry connected to the selection.

    The Falloff option offers a series of attenuation curve profiles.

  13. With some bevels and additional edge loops, we will just sharpen some curves (refer to 7 and 8 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the chest
  14. To flatten the top a little, we will select the highest faces and scale them on the Z axis with the Proportional Editing tool turned on. (S+Z and O).
    Modeling the chest
  15. From the bottom view, we use the Knife Topology tool (K) to change the organization of our vertices, edges, and faces (refer to 9 and 10 in the preceding screenshot). The process of arranging the components in the order that they best fit the shape is called "searching for a good topology". An easy way to grasp good topology is to remember that the edge loops are going to wrap around the object you want to create. Another thing that we already talked about is using only quads because they are easier to manage.
  16. We form a loop to allow a better subdivision of the surface. Other edge loops can be added again horizontally and vertically to add details.
  17. Then we switch to Face Mode and select six faces on the side of the bust in order to round them off with the LoopTools Circle feature (press W and select LoopTool | Circle) (refer to 11 in the following screenshot). We can choose the influence of this tool at the bottom of the left panel (T). A value of 80 percent will best fit here.
  18. Then we adjust the angle of these faces with a rotation on the X axis (R + X). To quickly select polygons, we advise you to use the Circle Select (press C and the LMB) tool, which is used like a brush.
  19. We do a small inset (I) to sharpen the geometry at the location of the shoulders.
  20. We continue to move some vertices (G) here and there to gradually round the shape, and we adjust sets of vertices by rotating them (R). It is important to always navigate around your object to have the correct silhouette from different points of view. This is the essence of 3D modeling.
    Modeling the chest
  21. If you want more sharp edges, you can add a few edge loops (Ctrl + R) around them. Remember to use the smoothness parameter of the LoopCut tool (a value ranging from 0 to 1) in the left panel (T).

Modeling the neck

Still working on the bust in the Edit Mode, we will again flatten the top part of the bust and more precisely the area.

  1. We start with the neck by selecting six polygons and scaling them on the z axis (S + Z + 0 on the numeric keypad).
  2. These faces will be arranged in a circle with the LoopTool Circle (by pressing W and selecting LoopTools | Circle) (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the neck
  3. Then we make a very light extrusion (E) to hold the lower part of the neck.
  4. Afterwards, we continue with another extrusion that penetrates in to the head.
  5. In the Wireframe Shading mode, we remove the nonvisible face that is inside the head, which is useless.
  6. Then we add two loops cuts (Ctrl + R and press MMB) (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot) that we will divide into thinner edge loops with a slight bevel (Ctrl + B). These newly created face loops will be extruded (E) and scaled on the x and y axes (S + Shift + Z) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. As always, we will maintain the shape by adding edge loops with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
  8. We end with a small extrusion (E) at the bottom to get the neck demarcation.

Modeling the torso

We will now work on the torso, which shares essentially the same modeling techniques as the neck. This will be done as follows:

  1. We now snap the cursor on a vertex that lies on the symmetry axis of the lower part of the chest by opening the Snap floating menu with Shift + S. We select the fourth option.
  2. We add a new cylinder (Shift + A) with 16 vertices (the number of vertices could be changed in the left panel by pressing T). By choosing this number of vertices, we get a cylinder that can be mirrored at its center and that has enough faces. We place the cylinder under the chest and we remove the top face that is not visible.
  3. Next, we select the top edge loop and we change its scale on the x axis (S + X) and the bottom one on the y axis (S + Y).
  4. We add two edge loops (Ctrl + R), add a bevel (Ctrl + B) to each of them, and finally, extrude (E) them inside (refer to the neck section).
  5. We will round the lower part of the torso with a series of extrusions.
    Modeling the torso
  6. To get a smooth surface, we again need a Subdivision Surface modifier with the Smooth Face Shading option (Left panel: T).
  7. We sharpen the edges with some edge loops (Ctrl + R).
  8. Then, we clear our topology by solving the N-Gon with the same technique that we've used for the head.

Modeling the buttons

If you have followed the techniques used previously, the buttons are quite easy to make. The following steps are used to create the buttons:

  1. We add a cylinder (with 16 vertices again), which we adjust in size and rotation with the Scaling (S) and Rotating tool (R). You can have a Free Rotation in all axes by pressing the R key twice. Don't forget this tool; it is very useful for aligning objects from a certain point of view!
  2. We define the shape with a bevel at the top and an inward and outward extrusion.
  3. We sharpen the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R) and the Bevel tool (Ctrl +B).
  4. The basic shape of one button can be achieved with only these tools (Extrusion, Bevel, and LoopCut).
  5. In the Object Mode, we duplicate this with the Duplicate Linked tool (Alt + D).

    Note

    The Duplicate Object (Shift + D) and the Duplicate Linked (Alt + D) tools

    Modeling the buttons

    These both duplicate objects or components. The Duplicate Linked tool creates an instance of the object while in the Object Mode. The mesh data are connected. It means that, in the Edit Mode, any change of geometry will be reflected on the linked objects. However, the transformations done in the Object Mode are not reflected. If you want to break the link between two linked objects, press U (in the Object Mode) – Make Single UserObject & Data.

  6. We will add a mirror modifier on each button. In the Mirror Object option, we select the torso. It will serve as the origin for the symmetry.

Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Improving the head shape

Let's select the head and go into the Edit Mode.

  1. From the front view, we will now select the central edge loop. One way to do this is to use the wireframe mode by pressing the Z key. This mode allows us to see through the mesh and the selected components that are behind it.
  2. We can now use the Box Selection tool with the B key in order to draw a rectangle area around the vertices that we want to select. If you want, you can hide the antenna and the stem by selecting them and pressing H (Hide). The Bevel tool will help you to create a thin base in the middle of the head. This bevel will be maintained with two new cuts. To do this, we can do an extrusion without moving it (cancel the move with RMB).
  3. We can now scale the newly extruded faces on the x axis using the S + X shortcut. The thickness is added by selecting the inner face loop and extruding it at the same place.
  4. In order to push the extrusion according to the normals, we use the Alt + S shortcut.
  5. We will also have to maintain the shape of the head by adding multiple edge loops (with Ctrl + R, for instance).

    Note

    Save your work!

    After all the work you've done, it's very important to save it! To write your blend file to your hard disk, go to the File menu and press the Save option or use the Ctrl + S shortcut. You can now choose which directory you want to place it in. A nice trick is to press the + or key to add or remove one unit from the name of your file.

    Improving the head shape

    The head shape without the antenna.

  6. You can unhide the antenna and the stem in the Object Mode by pressing Shift + H.
Modeling the thunderbolts

It's now time to start modeling the thunderbolts; let's have a look at the following steps:

  1. We will start by going into the Side Orthographic view (the 3 numpad key) and by placing the cursor next to the head with a simple left-click.
  2. Then we will add a plane and in the Edit Mode we will remove all the vertices with the X key.
  3. In the Edit Mode, we are going create a chain of vertices that matches the thunderbolt shape of the image reference.
  4. Pressing Ctrl and LMB, we will add new vertices and create the silhouette of the thunderbolt.
  5. In order to close the shape, we select the first and last vertices and press the F key to fill them with an edge.
  6. If you want to add more details to the shape, select two connected vertices and with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R), place a new vertex in the middle of both the connected vertices.
  7. We can then select all the vertices (A) and fill the shape with an N-Gon (F) that we are going to resolve later.
  8. We can now add an inset (I) in order to keep an outline.
  9. After we've done this, we will have to clean the mesh by replacing the N-Gon with quads using the join tool (J) or the knife tool (K). If you have one triangle or N-Gon, it's not a problem for now as it could be solved later.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The thunderbolt shape.

  10. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode.
  11. We will have to sharpen the spikes using tight bevels.
  12. Of course, we will have to clean the mesh by removing the N-Gons.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    Maintaining the spikes with bevels.

  13. It's now time to extrude the whole thunderbolt by selecting all the faces (A). You may get a lighting error with black faces. It means that the normals are pointing inward and can't catch the light. You can verify this by opening the right panel of the viewport (N) and, under Normals, you can check the face icon. If the normals are not pointing outward, then you will need to recalculate their direction by selecting all the components and pressing the Ctrl + N shortcut.
  14. We can now select the inner faces on the outside of the thunderbolt with either Shift + RMB or using the C key, which allows you to paint and select the components that you want according to the current view. With these faces selected we can create a small inner extrusion, and maintain the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The finished thunderbolt with a view 2 Subdivision Surface.

  15. In order to mirror the thunderbolt on the other side of the head, we will use a Mirror modifier with the head as the center of a pivot. Place and rotate the thunderbolts according to the image reference.

    Note

    The Mirror modifier

    This is an easy way to make a symmetry from your 3D model. The basic symmetry is based on the positioning of the pivot point and the x axis. All of these are configurable by changing the axis. It is strongly advised you use the Clipping option if you want to weld the components that are on the symmetry axis of your geometry. By doing this, you will avoid holes. With the Mirror Object option, you can choose to base the symmetry axis on the pivot point of another object in your scene.

  16. The last thing we may want to do at this stage is to correctly name our objects in the outline editor that is situated in the top-right corner of the interface by default.

    Note

    The outliner

    The outliner displays a list of all the entities that make up the current scene. When you select an object in the 3D view, it will be highlighted in the outliner and conversely. You can rename any item in the list by double-clicking on its name. The outliner also gives you control of the visibility of any object with the Eye icon button. The mouse cursor button can be toggled on or off to allow the selection of the corresponding object in the viewport.

    Modeling the thunderbolts
Modeling the eyes

It's time to finish the head of our robot by adding a pair of eyes on it. This is done with the following steps:

  1. In the Edit Mode of the head, we select the edge that is roughly positioned at the eye location.
  2. We use a bevel to add more geometry.
  3. It is now possible to slide the top and bottom edges of the bevel according to the volume by selecting them in the Edge Mode and pressing G twice to form an ellipsoidal shape.
  4. After this, we can use the F key to fill the eye. It will remove the two vertical edges that come from the bevel.
  5. Now we can do a series of insets and extrusions to pop out the eye.
  6. Applying the same method to the other side, we will add a little cartoon effect.
  7. As always, we now need to clear the geometry by removing N-Gons using the knife.
    Modeling the eyes
Modeling the chest

It is time to model the chest. The following steps will help you do so:

  1. Now we put the 3D cursor at the center of the space (Shift + S), then we add a box (Shift + A) for the base shape of the chest.
  2. We can adjust the position under the head (G + Z) in the front view, and switch to the Edit Mode to start the modeling.
  3. It is much faster to work with the symmetry, so we are going to cut the cube at its center with an edge loop (Ctrl + R). We select all the vertices on the left-hand side with the box select tool (Ctrl + B) in the wireframe shading mode (Z) and we delete them (X).
  4. In the object mode (Tab), we add a mirror modifier to work with symmetry.
  5. More polygons can be added to create the basic shape of the chest. We, therefore, add two vertical edge loops (Ctrl + R and scroll the mouse wheel up) from the side view and slide these on the y axis (S + Y).
  6. Next, we move the polygon situated at the center of the chest from the side view (G + X) and add another vertical edge loop from the front view.
  7. In the orthographic (5) front view (1), and with Wireframe (Z) Shading activated, we can easily work the shape by moving (G) and rotating (R) the selected vertices (refer to 2 and 3 in the following screenshot). Then we move the top face up a little (G + Z).
  8. We can see that our central edge loop is not very well aligned in the front view. Therefore, we select and replace it by applying a zero scale on the x axis (S + X + 0 on the numeric keypad), which perfectly aligns our selected vertices.
  9. In order to have a less angular shape, we are going to activate the edge mode and select the edges at the top and bottom of the chest (press Shift + Alt and the LMB) to finally do a bevel (Ctrl + B) (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  10. To balance the polygon flow of the mesh, we add a horizontal edge loop to the center (Ctrl + R) that we will extend with the Scale tool on the y axis (S+Y) (refer to 6 in the following screenshot). The goal is to use the maximum area of the drawing as a reference. Always remember to check the silhouette of your object.
  11. For a more curved shape, we will use Proportional Editing that can be activated by the small circle icon located at the header of the 3D view.
  12. The Proportional Editing tool will help us to shrink the side of the bust. Be careful to check the behavior of the clipping option of the mirror modifier for the vertices located on the axis of symmetry. They don't have to be merged at the center. To smooth the model, we will add a Subdivision Surface modifier and will check the Smooth Shading option in the Transform panel (T) in order to remove the flat aspect of the polygons.
    Modeling the chest

    Note

    The Proportional Editing tool

    This allows you to change the shape of an object in the Edit Mode in a smooth manner. It acts like a magnet for unselected components that are inside a circle of influence that you can adjust by scrolling the mouse wheel. This is perfect when you want to move a set of components and when the geometry is too compact.

    The Connected option allows you to limit the scope to the geometry connected to the selection.

    The Falloff option offers a series of attenuation curve profiles.

  13. With some bevels and additional edge loops, we will just sharpen some curves (refer to 7 and 8 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the chest
  14. To flatten the top a little, we will select the highest faces and scale them on the Z axis with the Proportional Editing tool turned on. (S+Z and O).
    Modeling the chest
  15. From the bottom view, we use the Knife Topology tool (K) to change the organization of our vertices, edges, and faces (refer to 9 and 10 in the preceding screenshot). The process of arranging the components in the order that they best fit the shape is called "searching for a good topology". An easy way to grasp good topology is to remember that the edge loops are going to wrap around the object you want to create. Another thing that we already talked about is using only quads because they are easier to manage.
  16. We form a loop to allow a better subdivision of the surface. Other edge loops can be added again horizontally and vertically to add details.
  17. Then we switch to Face Mode and select six faces on the side of the bust in order to round them off with the LoopTools Circle feature (press W and select LoopTool | Circle) (refer to 11 in the following screenshot). We can choose the influence of this tool at the bottom of the left panel (T). A value of 80 percent will best fit here.
  18. Then we adjust the angle of these faces with a rotation on the X axis (R + X). To quickly select polygons, we advise you to use the Circle Select (press C and the LMB) tool, which is used like a brush.
  19. We do a small inset (I) to sharpen the geometry at the location of the shoulders.
  20. We continue to move some vertices (G) here and there to gradually round the shape, and we adjust sets of vertices by rotating them (R). It is important to always navigate around your object to have the correct silhouette from different points of view. This is the essence of 3D modeling.
    Modeling the chest
  21. If you want more sharp edges, you can add a few edge loops (Ctrl + R) around them. Remember to use the smoothness parameter of the LoopCut tool (a value ranging from 0 to 1) in the left panel (T).
Modeling the neck

Still working on the bust in the Edit Mode, we will again flatten the top part of the bust and more precisely the area.

  1. We start with the neck by selecting six polygons and scaling them on the z axis (S + Z + 0 on the numeric keypad).
  2. These faces will be arranged in a circle with the LoopTool Circle (by pressing W and selecting LoopTools | Circle) (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the neck
  3. Then we make a very light extrusion (E) to hold the lower part of the neck.
  4. Afterwards, we continue with another extrusion that penetrates in to the head.
  5. In the Wireframe Shading mode, we remove the nonvisible face that is inside the head, which is useless.
  6. Then we add two loops cuts (Ctrl + R and press MMB) (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot) that we will divide into thinner edge loops with a slight bevel (Ctrl + B). These newly created face loops will be extruded (E) and scaled on the x and y axes (S + Shift + Z) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. As always, we will maintain the shape by adding edge loops with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
  8. We end with a small extrusion (E) at the bottom to get the neck demarcation.
Modeling the torso

We will now work on the torso, which shares essentially the same modeling techniques as the neck. This will be done as follows:

  1. We now snap the cursor on a vertex that lies on the symmetry axis of the lower part of the chest by opening the Snap floating menu with Shift + S. We select the fourth option.
  2. We add a new cylinder (Shift + A) with 16 vertices (the number of vertices could be changed in the left panel by pressing T). By choosing this number of vertices, we get a cylinder that can be mirrored at its center and that has enough faces. We place the cylinder under the chest and we remove the top face that is not visible.
  3. Next, we select the top edge loop and we change its scale on the x axis (S + X) and the bottom one on the y axis (S + Y).
  4. We add two edge loops (Ctrl + R), add a bevel (Ctrl + B) to each of them, and finally, extrude (E) them inside (refer to the neck section).
  5. We will round the lower part of the torso with a series of extrusions.
    Modeling the torso
  6. To get a smooth surface, we again need a Subdivision Surface modifier with the Smooth Face Shading option (Left panel: T).
  7. We sharpen the edges with some edge loops (Ctrl + R).
  8. Then, we clear our topology by solving the N-Gon with the same technique that we've used for the head.
Modeling the buttons

If you have followed the techniques used previously, the buttons are quite easy to make. The following steps are used to create the buttons:

  1. We add a cylinder (with 16 vertices again), which we adjust in size and rotation with the Scaling (S) and Rotating tool (R). You can have a Free Rotation in all axes by pressing the R key twice. Don't forget this tool; it is very useful for aligning objects from a certain point of view!
  2. We define the shape with a bevel at the top and an inward and outward extrusion.
  3. We sharpen the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R) and the Bevel tool (Ctrl +B).
  4. The basic shape of one button can be achieved with only these tools (Extrusion, Bevel, and LoopCut).
  5. In the Object Mode, we duplicate this with the Duplicate Linked tool (Alt + D).

    Note

    The Duplicate Object (Shift + D) and the Duplicate Linked (Alt + D) tools

    Modeling the buttons

    These both duplicate objects or components. The Duplicate Linked tool creates an instance of the object while in the Object Mode. The mesh data are connected. It means that, in the Edit Mode, any change of geometry will be reflected on the linked objects. However, the transformations done in the Object Mode are not reflected. If you want to break the link between two linked objects, press U (in the Object Mode) – Make Single UserObject & Data.

  6. We will add a mirror modifier on each button. In the Mirror Object option, we select the torso. It will serve as the origin for the symmetry.
Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling the thunderbolts

It's now time to start modeling the thunderbolts; let's have a look at the following steps:

  1. We will start by going into the Side Orthographic view (the 3 numpad key) and by placing the cursor next to the head with a simple left-click.
  2. Then we will add a plane and in the Edit Mode we will remove all the vertices with the X key.
  3. In the Edit Mode, we are going create a chain of vertices that matches the thunderbolt shape of the image reference.
  4. Pressing Ctrl and LMB, we will add new vertices and create the silhouette of the thunderbolt.
  5. In order to close the shape, we select the first and last vertices and press the F key to fill them with an edge.
  6. If you want to add more details to the shape, select two connected vertices and with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R), place a new vertex in the middle of both the connected vertices.
  7. We can then select all the vertices (A) and fill the shape with an N-Gon (F) that we are going to resolve later.
  8. We can now add an inset (I) in order to keep an outline.
  9. After we've done this, we will have to clean the mesh by replacing the N-Gon with quads using the join tool (J) or the knife tool (K). If you have one triangle or N-Gon, it's not a problem for now as it could be solved later.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The thunderbolt shape.

  10. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode.
  11. We will have to sharpen the spikes using tight bevels.
  12. Of course, we will have to clean the mesh by removing the N-Gons.
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    Maintaining the spikes with bevels.

  13. It's now time to extrude the whole thunderbolt by selecting all the faces (A). You may get a lighting error with black faces. It means that the normals are pointing inward and can't catch the light. You can verify this by opening the right panel of the viewport (N) and, under Normals, you can check the face icon. If the normals are not pointing outward, then you will need to recalculate their direction by selecting all the components and pressing the Ctrl + N shortcut.
  14. We can now select the inner faces on the outside of the thunderbolt with either Shift + RMB or using the C key, which allows you to paint and select the components that you want according to the current view. With these faces selected we can create a small inner extrusion, and maintain the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
    Modeling the thunderbolts

    The finished thunderbolt with a view 2 Subdivision Surface.

  15. In order to mirror the thunderbolt on the other side of the head, we will use a Mirror modifier with the head as the center of a pivot. Place and rotate the thunderbolts according to the image reference.

    Note

    The Mirror modifier

    This is an easy way to make a symmetry from your 3D model. The basic symmetry is based on the positioning of the pivot point and the x axis. All of these are configurable by changing the axis. It is strongly advised you use the Clipping option if you want to weld the components that are on the symmetry axis of your geometry. By doing this, you will avoid holes. With the Mirror Object option, you can choose to base the symmetry axis on the pivot point of another object in your scene.

  16. The last thing we may want to do at this stage is to correctly name our objects in the outline editor that is situated in the top-right corner of the interface by default.

    Note

    The outliner

    The outliner displays a list of all the entities that make up the current scene. When you select an object in the 3D view, it will be highlighted in the outliner and conversely. You can rename any item in the list by double-clicking on its name. The outliner also gives you control of the visibility of any object with the Eye icon button. The mouse cursor button can be toggled on or off to allow the selection of the corresponding object in the viewport.

    Modeling the thunderbolts

Modeling the eyes

It's time to finish the head of our robot by adding a pair of eyes on it. This is done with the following steps:

  1. In the Edit Mode of the head, we select the edge that is roughly positioned at the eye location.
  2. We use a bevel to add more geometry.
  3. It is now possible to slide the top and bottom edges of the bevel according to the volume by selecting them in the Edge Mode and pressing G twice to form an ellipsoidal shape.
  4. After this, we can use the F key to fill the eye. It will remove the two vertical edges that come from the bevel.
  5. Now we can do a series of insets and extrusions to pop out the eye.
  6. Applying the same method to the other side, we will add a little cartoon effect.
  7. As always, we now need to clear the geometry by removing N-Gons using the knife.
    Modeling the eyes

Modeling the chest

It is time to model the chest. The following steps will help you do so:

  1. Now we put the 3D cursor at the center of the space (Shift + S), then we add a box (Shift + A) for the base shape of the chest.
  2. We can adjust the position under the head (G + Z) in the front view, and switch to the Edit Mode to start the modeling.
  3. It is much faster to work with the symmetry, so we are going to cut the cube at its center with an edge loop (Ctrl + R). We select all the vertices on the left-hand side with the box select tool (Ctrl + B) in the wireframe shading mode (Z) and we delete them (X).
  4. In the object mode (Tab), we add a mirror modifier to work with symmetry.
  5. More polygons can be added to create the basic shape of the chest. We, therefore, add two vertical edge loops (Ctrl + R and scroll the mouse wheel up) from the side view and slide these on the y axis (S + Y).
  6. Next, we move the polygon situated at the center of the chest from the side view (G + X) and add another vertical edge loop from the front view.
  7. In the orthographic (5) front view (1), and with Wireframe (Z) Shading activated, we can easily work the shape by moving (G) and rotating (R) the selected vertices (refer to 2 and 3 in the following screenshot). Then we move the top face up a little (G + Z).
  8. We can see that our central edge loop is not very well aligned in the front view. Therefore, we select and replace it by applying a zero scale on the x axis (S + X + 0 on the numeric keypad), which perfectly aligns our selected vertices.
  9. In order to have a less angular shape, we are going to activate the edge mode and select the edges at the top and bottom of the chest (press Shift + Alt and the LMB) to finally do a bevel (Ctrl + B) (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  10. To balance the polygon flow of the mesh, we add a horizontal edge loop to the center (Ctrl + R) that we will extend with the Scale tool on the y axis (S+Y) (refer to 6 in the following screenshot). The goal is to use the maximum area of the drawing as a reference. Always remember to check the silhouette of your object.
  11. For a more curved shape, we will use Proportional Editing that can be activated by the small circle icon located at the header of the 3D view.
  12. The Proportional Editing tool will help us to shrink the side of the bust. Be careful to check the behavior of the clipping option of the mirror modifier for the vertices located on the axis of symmetry. They don't have to be merged at the center. To smooth the model, we will add a Subdivision Surface modifier and will check the Smooth Shading option in the Transform panel (T) in order to remove the flat aspect of the polygons.
    Modeling the chest

    Note

    The Proportional Editing tool

    This allows you to change the shape of an object in the Edit Mode in a smooth manner. It acts like a magnet for unselected components that are inside a circle of influence that you can adjust by scrolling the mouse wheel. This is perfect when you want to move a set of components and when the geometry is too compact.

    The Connected option allows you to limit the scope to the geometry connected to the selection.

    The Falloff option offers a series of attenuation curve profiles.

  13. With some bevels and additional edge loops, we will just sharpen some curves (refer to 7 and 8 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the chest
  14. To flatten the top a little, we will select the highest faces and scale them on the Z axis with the Proportional Editing tool turned on. (S+Z and O).
    Modeling the chest
  15. From the bottom view, we use the Knife Topology tool (K) to change the organization of our vertices, edges, and faces (refer to 9 and 10 in the preceding screenshot). The process of arranging the components in the order that they best fit the shape is called "searching for a good topology". An easy way to grasp good topology is to remember that the edge loops are going to wrap around the object you want to create. Another thing that we already talked about is using only quads because they are easier to manage.
  16. We form a loop to allow a better subdivision of the surface. Other edge loops can be added again horizontally and vertically to add details.
  17. Then we switch to Face Mode and select six faces on the side of the bust in order to round them off with the LoopTools Circle feature (press W and select LoopTool | Circle) (refer to 11 in the following screenshot). We can choose the influence of this tool at the bottom of the left panel (T). A value of 80 percent will best fit here.
  18. Then we adjust the angle of these faces with a rotation on the X axis (R + X). To quickly select polygons, we advise you to use the Circle Select (press C and the LMB) tool, which is used like a brush.
  19. We do a small inset (I) to sharpen the geometry at the location of the shoulders.
  20. We continue to move some vertices (G) here and there to gradually round the shape, and we adjust sets of vertices by rotating them (R). It is important to always navigate around your object to have the correct silhouette from different points of view. This is the essence of 3D modeling.
    Modeling the chest
  21. If you want more sharp edges, you can add a few edge loops (Ctrl + R) around them. Remember to use the smoothness parameter of the LoopCut tool (a value ranging from 0 to 1) in the left panel (T).

Modeling the neck

Still working on the bust in the Edit Mode, we will again flatten the top part of the bust and more precisely the area.

  1. We start with the neck by selecting six polygons and scaling them on the z axis (S + Z + 0 on the numeric keypad).
  2. These faces will be arranged in a circle with the LoopTool Circle (by pressing W and selecting LoopTools | Circle) (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the neck
  3. Then we make a very light extrusion (E) to hold the lower part of the neck.
  4. Afterwards, we continue with another extrusion that penetrates in to the head.
  5. In the Wireframe Shading mode, we remove the nonvisible face that is inside the head, which is useless.
  6. Then we add two loops cuts (Ctrl + R and press MMB) (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot) that we will divide into thinner edge loops with a slight bevel (Ctrl + B). These newly created face loops will be extruded (E) and scaled on the x and y axes (S + Shift + Z) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. As always, we will maintain the shape by adding edge loops with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
  8. We end with a small extrusion (E) at the bottom to get the neck demarcation.

Modeling the torso

We will now work on the torso, which shares essentially the same modeling techniques as the neck. This will be done as follows:

  1. We now snap the cursor on a vertex that lies on the symmetry axis of the lower part of the chest by opening the Snap floating menu with Shift + S. We select the fourth option.
  2. We add a new cylinder (Shift + A) with 16 vertices (the number of vertices could be changed in the left panel by pressing T). By choosing this number of vertices, we get a cylinder that can be mirrored at its center and that has enough faces. We place the cylinder under the chest and we remove the top face that is not visible.
  3. Next, we select the top edge loop and we change its scale on the x axis (S + X) and the bottom one on the y axis (S + Y).
  4. We add two edge loops (Ctrl + R), add a bevel (Ctrl + B) to each of them, and finally, extrude (E) them inside (refer to the neck section).
  5. We will round the lower part of the torso with a series of extrusions.
    Modeling the torso
  6. To get a smooth surface, we again need a Subdivision Surface modifier with the Smooth Face Shading option (Left panel: T).
  7. We sharpen the edges with some edge loops (Ctrl + R).
  8. Then, we clear our topology by solving the N-Gon with the same technique that we've used for the head.

Modeling the buttons

If you have followed the techniques used previously, the buttons are quite easy to make. The following steps are used to create the buttons:

  1. We add a cylinder (with 16 vertices again), which we adjust in size and rotation with the Scaling (S) and Rotating tool (R). You can have a Free Rotation in all axes by pressing the R key twice. Don't forget this tool; it is very useful for aligning objects from a certain point of view!
  2. We define the shape with a bevel at the top and an inward and outward extrusion.
  3. We sharpen the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R) and the Bevel tool (Ctrl +B).
  4. The basic shape of one button can be achieved with only these tools (Extrusion, Bevel, and LoopCut).
  5. In the Object Mode, we duplicate this with the Duplicate Linked tool (Alt + D).

    Note

    The Duplicate Object (Shift + D) and the Duplicate Linked (Alt + D) tools

    Modeling the buttons

    These both duplicate objects or components. The Duplicate Linked tool creates an instance of the object while in the Object Mode. The mesh data are connected. It means that, in the Edit Mode, any change of geometry will be reflected on the linked objects. However, the transformations done in the Object Mode are not reflected. If you want to break the link between two linked objects, press U (in the Object Mode) – Make Single UserObject & Data.

  6. We will add a mirror modifier on each button. In the Mirror Object option, we select the torso. It will serve as the origin for the symmetry.

Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling the eyes

It's time to finish the head of our robot by adding a pair of eyes on it. This is done with the following steps:

  1. In the Edit Mode of the head, we select the edge that is roughly positioned at the eye location.
  2. We use a bevel to add more geometry.
  3. It is now possible to slide the top and bottom edges of the bevel according to the volume by selecting them in the Edge Mode and pressing G twice to form an ellipsoidal shape.
  4. After this, we can use the F key to fill the eye. It will remove the two vertical edges that come from the bevel.
  5. Now we can do a series of insets and extrusions to pop out the eye.
  6. Applying the same method to the other side, we will add a little cartoon effect.
  7. As always, we now need to clear the geometry by removing N-Gons using the knife.
    Modeling the eyes

Modeling the chest

It is time to model the chest. The following steps will help you do so:

  1. Now we put the 3D cursor at the center of the space (Shift + S), then we add a box (Shift + A) for the base shape of the chest.
  2. We can adjust the position under the head (G + Z) in the front view, and switch to the Edit Mode to start the modeling.
  3. It is much faster to work with the symmetry, so we are going to cut the cube at its center with an edge loop (Ctrl + R). We select all the vertices on the left-hand side with the box select tool (Ctrl + B) in the wireframe shading mode (Z) and we delete them (X).
  4. In the object mode (Tab), we add a mirror modifier to work with symmetry.
  5. More polygons can be added to create the basic shape of the chest. We, therefore, add two vertical edge loops (Ctrl + R and scroll the mouse wheel up) from the side view and slide these on the y axis (S + Y).
  6. Next, we move the polygon situated at the center of the chest from the side view (G + X) and add another vertical edge loop from the front view.
  7. In the orthographic (5) front view (1), and with Wireframe (Z) Shading activated, we can easily work the shape by moving (G) and rotating (R) the selected vertices (refer to 2 and 3 in the following screenshot). Then we move the top face up a little (G + Z).
  8. We can see that our central edge loop is not very well aligned in the front view. Therefore, we select and replace it by applying a zero scale on the x axis (S + X + 0 on the numeric keypad), which perfectly aligns our selected vertices.
  9. In order to have a less angular shape, we are going to activate the edge mode and select the edges at the top and bottom of the chest (press Shift + Alt and the LMB) to finally do a bevel (Ctrl + B) (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  10. To balance the polygon flow of the mesh, we add a horizontal edge loop to the center (Ctrl + R) that we will extend with the Scale tool on the y axis (S+Y) (refer to 6 in the following screenshot). The goal is to use the maximum area of the drawing as a reference. Always remember to check the silhouette of your object.
  11. For a more curved shape, we will use Proportional Editing that can be activated by the small circle icon located at the header of the 3D view.
  12. The Proportional Editing tool will help us to shrink the side of the bust. Be careful to check the behavior of the clipping option of the mirror modifier for the vertices located on the axis of symmetry. They don't have to be merged at the center. To smooth the model, we will add a Subdivision Surface modifier and will check the Smooth Shading option in the Transform panel (T) in order to remove the flat aspect of the polygons.
    Modeling the chest

    Note

    The Proportional Editing tool

    This allows you to change the shape of an object in the Edit Mode in a smooth manner. It acts like a magnet for unselected components that are inside a circle of influence that you can adjust by scrolling the mouse wheel. This is perfect when you want to move a set of components and when the geometry is too compact.

    The Connected option allows you to limit the scope to the geometry connected to the selection.

    The Falloff option offers a series of attenuation curve profiles.

  13. With some bevels and additional edge loops, we will just sharpen some curves (refer to 7 and 8 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the chest
  14. To flatten the top a little, we will select the highest faces and scale them on the Z axis with the Proportional Editing tool turned on. (S+Z and O).
    Modeling the chest
  15. From the bottom view, we use the Knife Topology tool (K) to change the organization of our vertices, edges, and faces (refer to 9 and 10 in the preceding screenshot). The process of arranging the components in the order that they best fit the shape is called "searching for a good topology". An easy way to grasp good topology is to remember that the edge loops are going to wrap around the object you want to create. Another thing that we already talked about is using only quads because they are easier to manage.
  16. We form a loop to allow a better subdivision of the surface. Other edge loops can be added again horizontally and vertically to add details.
  17. Then we switch to Face Mode and select six faces on the side of the bust in order to round them off with the LoopTools Circle feature (press W and select LoopTool | Circle) (refer to 11 in the following screenshot). We can choose the influence of this tool at the bottom of the left panel (T). A value of 80 percent will best fit here.
  18. Then we adjust the angle of these faces with a rotation on the X axis (R + X). To quickly select polygons, we advise you to use the Circle Select (press C and the LMB) tool, which is used like a brush.
  19. We do a small inset (I) to sharpen the geometry at the location of the shoulders.
  20. We continue to move some vertices (G) here and there to gradually round the shape, and we adjust sets of vertices by rotating them (R). It is important to always navigate around your object to have the correct silhouette from different points of view. This is the essence of 3D modeling.
    Modeling the chest
  21. If you want more sharp edges, you can add a few edge loops (Ctrl + R) around them. Remember to use the smoothness parameter of the LoopCut tool (a value ranging from 0 to 1) in the left panel (T).

Modeling the neck

Still working on the bust in the Edit Mode, we will again flatten the top part of the bust and more precisely the area.

  1. We start with the neck by selecting six polygons and scaling them on the z axis (S + Z + 0 on the numeric keypad).
  2. These faces will be arranged in a circle with the LoopTool Circle (by pressing W and selecting LoopTools | Circle) (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the neck
  3. Then we make a very light extrusion (E) to hold the lower part of the neck.
  4. Afterwards, we continue with another extrusion that penetrates in to the head.
  5. In the Wireframe Shading mode, we remove the nonvisible face that is inside the head, which is useless.
  6. Then we add two loops cuts (Ctrl + R and press MMB) (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot) that we will divide into thinner edge loops with a slight bevel (Ctrl + B). These newly created face loops will be extruded (E) and scaled on the x and y axes (S + Shift + Z) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. As always, we will maintain the shape by adding edge loops with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
  8. We end with a small extrusion (E) at the bottom to get the neck demarcation.

Modeling the torso

We will now work on the torso, which shares essentially the same modeling techniques as the neck. This will be done as follows:

  1. We now snap the cursor on a vertex that lies on the symmetry axis of the lower part of the chest by opening the Snap floating menu with Shift + S. We select the fourth option.
  2. We add a new cylinder (Shift + A) with 16 vertices (the number of vertices could be changed in the left panel by pressing T). By choosing this number of vertices, we get a cylinder that can be mirrored at its center and that has enough faces. We place the cylinder under the chest and we remove the top face that is not visible.
  3. Next, we select the top edge loop and we change its scale on the x axis (S + X) and the bottom one on the y axis (S + Y).
  4. We add two edge loops (Ctrl + R), add a bevel (Ctrl + B) to each of them, and finally, extrude (E) them inside (refer to the neck section).
  5. We will round the lower part of the torso with a series of extrusions.
    Modeling the torso
  6. To get a smooth surface, we again need a Subdivision Surface modifier with the Smooth Face Shading option (Left panel: T).
  7. We sharpen the edges with some edge loops (Ctrl + R).
  8. Then, we clear our topology by solving the N-Gon with the same technique that we've used for the head.

Modeling the buttons

If you have followed the techniques used previously, the buttons are quite easy to make. The following steps are used to create the buttons:

  1. We add a cylinder (with 16 vertices again), which we adjust in size and rotation with the Scaling (S) and Rotating tool (R). You can have a Free Rotation in all axes by pressing the R key twice. Don't forget this tool; it is very useful for aligning objects from a certain point of view!
  2. We define the shape with a bevel at the top and an inward and outward extrusion.
  3. We sharpen the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R) and the Bevel tool (Ctrl +B).
  4. The basic shape of one button can be achieved with only these tools (Extrusion, Bevel, and LoopCut).
  5. In the Object Mode, we duplicate this with the Duplicate Linked tool (Alt + D).

    Note

    The Duplicate Object (Shift + D) and the Duplicate Linked (Alt + D) tools

    Modeling the buttons

    These both duplicate objects or components. The Duplicate Linked tool creates an instance of the object while in the Object Mode. The mesh data are connected. It means that, in the Edit Mode, any change of geometry will be reflected on the linked objects. However, the transformations done in the Object Mode are not reflected. If you want to break the link between two linked objects, press U (in the Object Mode) – Make Single UserObject & Data.

  6. We will add a mirror modifier on each button. In the Mirror Object option, we select the torso. It will serve as the origin for the symmetry.

Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling the chest

It is time to model the chest. The following steps will help you do so:

  1. Now we put the 3D cursor at the center of the space (Shift + S), then we add a box (Shift + A) for the base shape of the chest.
  2. We can adjust the position under the head (G + Z) in the front view, and switch to the Edit Mode to start the modeling.
  3. It is much faster to work with the symmetry, so we are going to cut the cube at its center with an edge loop (Ctrl + R). We select all the vertices on the left-hand side with the box select tool (Ctrl + B) in the wireframe shading mode (Z) and we delete them (X).
  4. In the object mode (Tab), we add a mirror modifier to work with symmetry.
  5. More polygons can be added to create the basic shape of the chest. We, therefore, add two vertical edge loops (Ctrl + R and scroll the mouse wheel up) from the side view and slide these on the y axis (S + Y).
  6. Next, we move the polygon situated at the center of the chest from the side view (G + X) and add another vertical edge loop from the front view.
  7. In the orthographic (5) front view (1), and with Wireframe (Z) Shading activated, we can easily work the shape by moving (G) and rotating (R) the selected vertices (refer to 2 and 3 in the following screenshot). Then we move the top face up a little (G + Z).
  8. We can see that our central edge loop is not very well aligned in the front view. Therefore, we select and replace it by applying a zero scale on the x axis (S + X + 0 on the numeric keypad), which perfectly aligns our selected vertices.
  9. In order to have a less angular shape, we are going to activate the edge mode and select the edges at the top and bottom of the chest (press Shift + Alt and the LMB) to finally do a bevel (Ctrl + B) (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  10. To balance the polygon flow of the mesh, we add a horizontal edge loop to the center (Ctrl + R) that we will extend with the Scale tool on the y axis (S+Y) (refer to 6 in the following screenshot). The goal is to use the maximum area of the drawing as a reference. Always remember to check the silhouette of your object.
  11. For a more curved shape, we will use Proportional Editing that can be activated by the small circle icon located at the header of the 3D view.
  12. The Proportional Editing tool will help us to shrink the side of the bust. Be careful to check the behavior of the clipping option of the mirror modifier for the vertices located on the axis of symmetry. They don't have to be merged at the center. To smooth the model, we will add a Subdivision Surface modifier and will check the Smooth Shading option in the Transform panel (T) in order to remove the flat aspect of the polygons.
    Modeling the chest

    Note

    The Proportional Editing tool

    This allows you to change the shape of an object in the Edit Mode in a smooth manner. It acts like a magnet for unselected components that are inside a circle of influence that you can adjust by scrolling the mouse wheel. This is perfect when you want to move a set of components and when the geometry is too compact.

    The Connected option allows you to limit the scope to the geometry connected to the selection.

    The Falloff option offers a series of attenuation curve profiles.

  13. With some bevels and additional edge loops, we will just sharpen some curves (refer to 7 and 8 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the chest
  14. To flatten the top a little, we will select the highest faces and scale them on the Z axis with the Proportional Editing tool turned on. (S+Z and O).
    Modeling the chest
  15. From the bottom view, we use the Knife Topology tool (K) to change the organization of our vertices, edges, and faces (refer to 9 and 10 in the preceding screenshot). The process of arranging the components in the order that they best fit the shape is called "searching for a good topology". An easy way to grasp good topology is to remember that the edge loops are going to wrap around the object you want to create. Another thing that we already talked about is using only quads because they are easier to manage.
  16. We form a loop to allow a better subdivision of the surface. Other edge loops can be added again horizontally and vertically to add details.
  17. Then we switch to Face Mode and select six faces on the side of the bust in order to round them off with the LoopTools Circle feature (press W and select LoopTool | Circle) (refer to 11 in the following screenshot). We can choose the influence of this tool at the bottom of the left panel (T). A value of 80 percent will best fit here.
  18. Then we adjust the angle of these faces with a rotation on the X axis (R + X). To quickly select polygons, we advise you to use the Circle Select (press C and the LMB) tool, which is used like a brush.
  19. We do a small inset (I) to sharpen the geometry at the location of the shoulders.
  20. We continue to move some vertices (G) here and there to gradually round the shape, and we adjust sets of vertices by rotating them (R). It is important to always navigate around your object to have the correct silhouette from different points of view. This is the essence of 3D modeling.
    Modeling the chest
  21. If you want more sharp edges, you can add a few edge loops (Ctrl + R) around them. Remember to use the smoothness parameter of the LoopCut tool (a value ranging from 0 to 1) in the left panel (T).

Modeling the neck

Still working on the bust in the Edit Mode, we will again flatten the top part of the bust and more precisely the area.

  1. We start with the neck by selecting six polygons and scaling them on the z axis (S + Z + 0 on the numeric keypad).
  2. These faces will be arranged in a circle with the LoopTool Circle (by pressing W and selecting LoopTools | Circle) (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the neck
  3. Then we make a very light extrusion (E) to hold the lower part of the neck.
  4. Afterwards, we continue with another extrusion that penetrates in to the head.
  5. In the Wireframe Shading mode, we remove the nonvisible face that is inside the head, which is useless.
  6. Then we add two loops cuts (Ctrl + R and press MMB) (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot) that we will divide into thinner edge loops with a slight bevel (Ctrl + B). These newly created face loops will be extruded (E) and scaled on the x and y axes (S + Shift + Z) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. As always, we will maintain the shape by adding edge loops with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
  8. We end with a small extrusion (E) at the bottom to get the neck demarcation.

Modeling the torso

We will now work on the torso, which shares essentially the same modeling techniques as the neck. This will be done as follows:

  1. We now snap the cursor on a vertex that lies on the symmetry axis of the lower part of the chest by opening the Snap floating menu with Shift + S. We select the fourth option.
  2. We add a new cylinder (Shift + A) with 16 vertices (the number of vertices could be changed in the left panel by pressing T). By choosing this number of vertices, we get a cylinder that can be mirrored at its center and that has enough faces. We place the cylinder under the chest and we remove the top face that is not visible.
  3. Next, we select the top edge loop and we change its scale on the x axis (S + X) and the bottom one on the y axis (S + Y).
  4. We add two edge loops (Ctrl + R), add a bevel (Ctrl + B) to each of them, and finally, extrude (E) them inside (refer to the neck section).
  5. We will round the lower part of the torso with a series of extrusions.
    Modeling the torso
  6. To get a smooth surface, we again need a Subdivision Surface modifier with the Smooth Face Shading option (Left panel: T).
  7. We sharpen the edges with some edge loops (Ctrl + R).
  8. Then, we clear our topology by solving the N-Gon with the same technique that we've used for the head.

Modeling the buttons

If you have followed the techniques used previously, the buttons are quite easy to make. The following steps are used to create the buttons:

  1. We add a cylinder (with 16 vertices again), which we adjust in size and rotation with the Scaling (S) and Rotating tool (R). You can have a Free Rotation in all axes by pressing the R key twice. Don't forget this tool; it is very useful for aligning objects from a certain point of view!
  2. We define the shape with a bevel at the top and an inward and outward extrusion.
  3. We sharpen the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R) and the Bevel tool (Ctrl +B).
  4. The basic shape of one button can be achieved with only these tools (Extrusion, Bevel, and LoopCut).
  5. In the Object Mode, we duplicate this with the Duplicate Linked tool (Alt + D).

    Note

    The Duplicate Object (Shift + D) and the Duplicate Linked (Alt + D) tools

    Modeling the buttons

    These both duplicate objects or components. The Duplicate Linked tool creates an instance of the object while in the Object Mode. The mesh data are connected. It means that, in the Edit Mode, any change of geometry will be reflected on the linked objects. However, the transformations done in the Object Mode are not reflected. If you want to break the link between two linked objects, press U (in the Object Mode) – Make Single UserObject & Data.

  6. We will add a mirror modifier on each button. In the Mirror Object option, we select the torso. It will serve as the origin for the symmetry.

Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling the neck

Still working on the bust in the Edit Mode, we will again flatten the top part of the bust and more precisely the area.

  1. We start with the neck by selecting six polygons and scaling them on the z axis (S + Z + 0 on the numeric keypad).
  2. These faces will be arranged in a circle with the LoopTool Circle (by pressing W and selecting LoopTools | Circle) (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the neck
  3. Then we make a very light extrusion (E) to hold the lower part of the neck.
  4. Afterwards, we continue with another extrusion that penetrates in to the head.
  5. In the Wireframe Shading mode, we remove the nonvisible face that is inside the head, which is useless.
  6. Then we add two loops cuts (Ctrl + R and press MMB) (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot) that we will divide into thinner edge loops with a slight bevel (Ctrl + B). These newly created face loops will be extruded (E) and scaled on the x and y axes (S + Shift + Z) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. As always, we will maintain the shape by adding edge loops with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
  8. We end with a small extrusion (E) at the bottom to get the neck demarcation.

Modeling the torso

We will now work on the torso, which shares essentially the same modeling techniques as the neck. This will be done as follows:

  1. We now snap the cursor on a vertex that lies on the symmetry axis of the lower part of the chest by opening the Snap floating menu with Shift + S. We select the fourth option.
  2. We add a new cylinder (Shift + A) with 16 vertices (the number of vertices could be changed in the left panel by pressing T). By choosing this number of vertices, we get a cylinder that can be mirrored at its center and that has enough faces. We place the cylinder under the chest and we remove the top face that is not visible.
  3. Next, we select the top edge loop and we change its scale on the x axis (S + X) and the bottom one on the y axis (S + Y).
  4. We add two edge loops (Ctrl + R), add a bevel (Ctrl + B) to each of them, and finally, extrude (E) them inside (refer to the neck section).
  5. We will round the lower part of the torso with a series of extrusions.
    Modeling the torso
  6. To get a smooth surface, we again need a Subdivision Surface modifier with the Smooth Face Shading option (Left panel: T).
  7. We sharpen the edges with some edge loops (Ctrl + R).
  8. Then, we clear our topology by solving the N-Gon with the same technique that we've used for the head.

Modeling the buttons

If you have followed the techniques used previously, the buttons are quite easy to make. The following steps are used to create the buttons:

  1. We add a cylinder (with 16 vertices again), which we adjust in size and rotation with the Scaling (S) and Rotating tool (R). You can have a Free Rotation in all axes by pressing the R key twice. Don't forget this tool; it is very useful for aligning objects from a certain point of view!
  2. We define the shape with a bevel at the top and an inward and outward extrusion.
  3. We sharpen the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R) and the Bevel tool (Ctrl +B).
  4. The basic shape of one button can be achieved with only these tools (Extrusion, Bevel, and LoopCut).
  5. In the Object Mode, we duplicate this with the Duplicate Linked tool (Alt + D).

    Note

    The Duplicate Object (Shift + D) and the Duplicate Linked (Alt + D) tools

    Modeling the buttons

    These both duplicate objects or components. The Duplicate Linked tool creates an instance of the object while in the Object Mode. The mesh data are connected. It means that, in the Edit Mode, any change of geometry will be reflected on the linked objects. However, the transformations done in the Object Mode are not reflected. If you want to break the link between two linked objects, press U (in the Object Mode) – Make Single UserObject & Data.

  6. We will add a mirror modifier on each button. In the Mirror Object option, we select the torso. It will serve as the origin for the symmetry.

Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling the torso

We will now work on the torso, which shares essentially the same modeling techniques as the neck. This will be done as follows:

  1. We now snap the cursor on a vertex that lies on the symmetry axis of the lower part of the chest by opening the Snap floating menu with Shift + S. We select the fourth option.
  2. We add a new cylinder (Shift + A) with 16 vertices (the number of vertices could be changed in the left panel by pressing T). By choosing this number of vertices, we get a cylinder that can be mirrored at its center and that has enough faces. We place the cylinder under the chest and we remove the top face that is not visible.
  3. Next, we select the top edge loop and we change its scale on the x axis (S + X) and the bottom one on the y axis (S + Y).
  4. We add two edge loops (Ctrl + R), add a bevel (Ctrl + B) to each of them, and finally, extrude (E) them inside (refer to the neck section).
  5. We will round the lower part of the torso with a series of extrusions.
    Modeling the torso
  6. To get a smooth surface, we again need a Subdivision Surface modifier with the Smooth Face Shading option (Left panel: T).
  7. We sharpen the edges with some edge loops (Ctrl + R).
  8. Then, we clear our topology by solving the N-Gon with the same technique that we've used for the head.

Modeling the buttons

If you have followed the techniques used previously, the buttons are quite easy to make. The following steps are used to create the buttons:

  1. We add a cylinder (with 16 vertices again), which we adjust in size and rotation with the Scaling (S) and Rotating tool (R). You can have a Free Rotation in all axes by pressing the R key twice. Don't forget this tool; it is very useful for aligning objects from a certain point of view!
  2. We define the shape with a bevel at the top and an inward and outward extrusion.
  3. We sharpen the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R) and the Bevel tool (Ctrl +B).
  4. The basic shape of one button can be achieved with only these tools (Extrusion, Bevel, and LoopCut).
  5. In the Object Mode, we duplicate this with the Duplicate Linked tool (Alt + D).

    Note

    The Duplicate Object (Shift + D) and the Duplicate Linked (Alt + D) tools

    Modeling the buttons

    These both duplicate objects or components. The Duplicate Linked tool creates an instance of the object while in the Object Mode. The mesh data are connected. It means that, in the Edit Mode, any change of geometry will be reflected on the linked objects. However, the transformations done in the Object Mode are not reflected. If you want to break the link between two linked objects, press U (in the Object Mode) – Make Single UserObject & Data.

  6. We will add a mirror modifier on each button. In the Mirror Object option, we select the torso. It will serve as the origin for the symmetry.

Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling the buttons

If you have followed the techniques used previously, the buttons are quite easy to make. The following steps are used to create the buttons:

  1. We add a cylinder (with 16 vertices again), which we adjust in size and rotation with the Scaling (S) and Rotating tool (R). You can have a Free Rotation in all axes by pressing the R key twice. Don't forget this tool; it is very useful for aligning objects from a certain point of view!
  2. We define the shape with a bevel at the top and an inward and outward extrusion.
  3. We sharpen the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R) and the Bevel tool (Ctrl +B).
  4. The basic shape of one button can be achieved with only these tools (Extrusion, Bevel, and LoopCut).
  5. In the Object Mode, we duplicate this with the Duplicate Linked tool (Alt + D).

    Note

    The Duplicate Object (Shift + D) and the Duplicate Linked (Alt + D) tools

    Modeling the buttons

    These both duplicate objects or components. The Duplicate Linked tool creates an instance of the object while in the Object Mode. The mesh data are connected. It means that, in the Edit Mode, any change of geometry will be reflected on the linked objects. However, the transformations done in the Object Mode are not reflected. If you want to break the link between two linked objects, press U (in the Object Mode) – Make Single UserObject & Data.

  6. We will add a mirror modifier on each button. In the Mirror Object option, we select the torso. It will serve as the origin for the symmetry.

Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling the fork

Now that we have finished the body, we will model the fork that covers the wheel, with the following steps:

  1. In order to do this, we place the cursor to the right in the front orthographic view and add a cylinder (Shift + A).
  2. In the Active tool options, we change the Cap Fill Type to Nothing. Our cylinder will have holes at the bottom and at the top.
  3. Then we scale it in the Object Mode and rotate it with the R key, always in the front view for greater precision.
  4. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier and apply Smooth Shading.
  5. As always, we will maintain the shape with edge loops in the Edit Mode.
  6. We select the outer edge loop and, pressing Ctrl and LMB, we extrude the fork in a twisted arch manner. This is the same tool that was used for the thunderbolt creation.
  7. The last edge loop should be flattened on the x axis. To do this, we select it and press the S + X and 0 numpad key shortcut to constrain our scaling on the x axis and give it a value of 0.
    Modeling the fork

    Flattening the last (inner) edge loop.

  8. We will mirror the half fork to the other side using a mirror modifier. But if we do it right now, we will have a problem with pivot point placement. We have to move the pivot of our object to the same location as our body. To do this, we select the body and using the Shift + S command, we select the fourth option, Cursor to Selected (Note that, in any floating menu, you can choose the option that you want by typing the corresponding key on your numpad).
  9. Now that the cursor is placed at the pivot point of the body, we will map the origin (also called pivot) of our fork by selecting it and going to the Object menu in the 3D view header and selecting Transform | Origin to 3D Cursor. You can also get a pop-up menu with the same options as that of the Transform menu with the Ctrl + Alt + Shift + C shortcut (one of the longest in Blender's history). Our origin is at the same location as that of the body.
  10. Now, we apply the rotation by pressing Ctrl + A and selecting Rotation. Applying the rotation is important here because we changed it in the Object Mode.
  11. We can now safely add a Mirror modifier.
  12. At this point, we will add a temporary cylinder that will represent the wheel. This will help us to correctly place the fork.
  13. If you want to adjust the thickness of the fork tube, use the Alt + S shortcut to push the polygons along the normals.
    Modeling the fork

    The fork in the Edit Mode, with its mirror modifier and the temporary wheel.

    Note

    About the origin/pivot

    The origin, also called the pivot, is represented with a small origin circle in Blender. It determines the center of the mass of an object. Any rotation or scale modifications will take the origin into account by default. You can change the way these transformations work by using the Pivot Point drop-down menu in the 3D View header (next to the Shading drop-down menu).

    Modeling the fork

We will revisit the fork later. It's now time to create protections that cover it.

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling protections for the fork

In order to model this piece, we go inside the view by pressing the 3 numpad key and perform the following set of operations:

  1. We add a plane, and in the Edit Mode, do an inset.
  2. After this, we add a loop cut in the middle with Ctrl + R and scale it on the z axis by pressing S + Z.
  3. With the two outer vertices of the top selected, we do a scale constrained on the x axis. This will give us a pointed shape.
  4. After this, we do a bevel of the center edge loop and add loop cuts horizontally and vertically.
  5. We will then round the lower part of the shape. While the two middle edge loops are selected, we go inside the orthographic view and, with Proportional Editing (O) using a sphere curve, we move the vertices back to round the shape.
  6. We can now place the piece near the fork in the Object Mode and, with the wireframe shading activated (Z) in the Edit Mode, we can adapt its silhouette by following the fork shape.
  7. It's now time to use Smooth shading and the Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. We will add a new modifier that will add thickness to the object as if we were extruding it entirely. This modifier is called the Solidify modifier. You can tweak its Thickness slider to change the amount of thickness that you want. This modifier will be placed under the Subdivision Surface in order to be applied to it. If you now go into the Edit Mode, you will see that it has added a new geometry.
  8. You can maintain the newly added thickness with loop cuts.
  9. We added some details on the side using the Inset tool and by extruding the created faces.
  10. We will now combine protections with the fork. To do this, we first select the protection and then the fork, and by pressing Ctrl + J we will join them in one mesh. As a result, the protection is mirrored because it is inside an object that has a mirror modifier. Note that, if you reverse the order of selection, you will join the fork in the protection. That's not what we want.
  11. Going back to the fork, we can add decorations to it by adding two edge loops near the top.
  12. We can extrude the face loop between these edge loops and scale them according to the normals with E and Alt + S.
  13. Of course, we can sharpen the edges with the LoopCut tool.
    Modeling protections for the fork

    The process of modeling the protections and the final result with the fork.

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).
Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling the main wheel

We will start modeling the wheel with the temporary cylinder that we have placed in the fork section. There are many methods to do this. We will do this here with the same tools that we introduced to you before.

Modeling the main wheel
  1. We will resize the wheel by enlarging it on the y and z axes (press S + Shift + X). When you press Shift and click on any axis during a transformation (rotation, scale, or grab), it will remove the constraint on that axis.
  2. We then place our cylinder at the center of the forks.
  3. Before you enter the Edit Mode, consider applying the rotation and the scale (press Ctrl + A and select Scale and Rotate) to avoid unpleasant surprises.
  4. In the Edit Mode, we add an edge loop at the center (Ctrl + R) and remove the faces on the left-hand side (press X and select Delete faces).
  5. Then we can add a mirror modifier with the clipping option activated.
  6. In the Edges Mode, we add several loop cuts using a Bevel (press Ctrl + B and scroll the mouse wheel up) on the outer edge of the wheel (refer to 2 in the following screenshot), then a succession of insets and extrusions to form the side of the wheel. To work more easily on this, we will enter the Local Mode by pressing the slash key (/). This is like hiding all the other objects. If you want to leave the Local Mode, press the slash key again.
  7. A Subdivision Surface can be added.
  8. The N-Gon will also be transformed in quads on the side with the Vertex Connect Path (J) (refer to 4 in the preceding screenshot).
  9. We will round the wheel by adding an edge loop to the center of it from the front view.
  10. After this, we will add some grooves. For this, we will add five edge loops vertically on the front of the wheel (refer to 6 in the preceding screenshot). We will set the smoothness option to 1 in the last active tool panel in order to place the grooves without destroying the curve profile of the wheel.
  11. Then we add a Bevel (Ctrl + B) and push its resulting faces by doing an Extrude (E) with a scale based on the normals (Alt + S).
  12. Then we accentuate every stripe with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R).

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Modeling the arm

The arm is composed of four objects: the shoulder, the articulation ball, the arm, and the wheel. We will review the previous techniques by always focusing on the topology. Let's begin with the shoulder.

Modeling the arm
  1. We will start with the arm articulation. For this, we simply add a cylinder that will be placed at the right shoulder location (refer to 1 in the preceding screenshot). It must be correctly oriented with a rotation (R) and flattened in the Object Mode with the Scale tool (S). When doing this, remember to constrain on the correct axis of transformation. To do these manipulations, it is better to be in orthographic view. Whenever we transform an object in the Object Mode, we don't forget to apply these transformations (Ctrl + A).
  2. Then, we do a series of extrusions (E) in the Local Mode (/) and remove the face that enters the chest and thus will not be visible. Avoiding polygons that are not displayed is a good practice. Not doing this might lead to wastage of your computer resources and this is especially true for complex scenes with many polygons.
  3. We can add details by digging a face loop (extrude and scale on the normals with Alt + S), which can be created with two edge loops (refer to 2 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. We add a Subdivision Subsurface modifier and we apply Smooth Shading.
  5. Then we extrude the tip that will hold the articulation ball. This extrusion will be flattened on the x axis (S + X + 0 numpad key) (refer to 3 in the preceding screenshot).
  6. We add a sphere by placing the cursor in the middle of the last edge loop right at the tip of the articulation (press Shift + S and select Cursor to Selected).
  7. The cursor is in the right place within the Object Mode, so we add a UV sphere (Shift + A). We lower the number of segments to 16 and the number of rings to 8 in the last active tool panel.
  8. We add a Subdivision Surface and apply a Smooth Shading.
  9. We can delete the two vertices that are located on either side of the sphere as they will be hidden by other objects (press X and select Delete vertices).
  10. We place the cursor at the center of the sphere and add a cube.
  11. We need to resize the cube and then, in the Edit Mode, we move the top and bottom faces on the z axis (G + Z) to set the height of the arm (refer to 4 in the following screenshot).
  12. With the bottom face selected, we make a scale on the Y axis (refer to 5 in the following screenshot).
  13. We select the external edge of the top face and slightly move it on the x axis (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  14. We add an edge loop to the center (refer to 7 in the preceding screenshot) in the side view and round the shape by slightly moving it upwards.
  15. Then, we add a vertical edge loop in the front view in order to add the needed geometry for the protection of the wheel with an extrusion (refer to 8 in the preceding screenshot).
  16. We now select the two right faces from the bottom view (Ctrl + 7).
  17. We scale the faces slightly.
  18. We will round the profile of the arm by selecting the middle edge loop and by pushing it along the normals (Alt + S).
  19. It's time to add our lovely Subdivision Subsurface modifier and remove the flat shading. As always, we will maintain the sharp angles with a couple of edge loops.
  20. We will then select the four inner faces of the hand and do an inset. This will create a face loop delimiting the inner part of the hand. These inner faces will then be extruded inward in order to create the hole that will keep the wheel.
  21. We will then do an inset of the external faces of the arm.
  22. These faces will then be extruded to create a small thickness.
  23. It's now time to add the cylinder primitive of the hand.
  24. We place it at the right location and change its size. As always, we will apply the transformation (Ctrl + A).
    Modeling the arm
  25. It will be easier to model the wheel with a mirror modifier. So we will cut the cylinder into two equal parts (Ctrl + R), and we will remove the left side of it to add the Mirror modifier with the clipping option checked on.
  26. With multiples insets and extrusions, we then construct the wheel while in the Local view (/) (refer to 18 in the following screenshot).
    Modeling the arm
  27. We will again use the subsurface modifier with the Smooth Shading option.
  28. After we have shaped the silhouette of the wheel, we will add asymmetric details on its left-hand side by applying the mirror modifier. Add a hole here with your best friends: the Inset and Extrude tools.
  29. We will then fix the hand to encapsulate the wheel in it with precision. For this, we will use Proportional Editing.
  30. Maybe you've seen that there are bad tensions in the right-angle form of the hand and the arm due to the Subdivision Surface modifier. These kind of artifacts warns you of a bad topology. So we will, of course, find a way to correct this. To do this, we use the Knife tool (K) and we cut by following the hand outline (refer to 16 in the preceding screenshot).
  31. We can use the Merge tool (press Alt + M and select At center) in order to merge the two vertices that are part of the newly created triangle.
  32. We will also close the newly created N-Gon with the Vertex Connect Path tool (J).
  33. The Bevel tool will be useful to maintain the inner border of the hand.
  34. We will now mirror the arm, its clip, and its wheel in the Object Mode with the mirror modifier using the chest as the mirror object.
  35. You can always push your modeling further by adjusting the transformation of each part and by adding details with the tools that we have introduced you to (such as the LoopCut tool, Extrude, and Scale along the normals).

All the parts of the robot are done now! Congratulation!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

We will now select the camera of our scene, and in a new 3D editor, we will see through it. To do so, we'll perform the following set of steps:

  1. We will split the 3D view, and in the newly created editor (which should be 3D view), we will press the 0 numpad key.
  2. We can move or rotate the camera like a normal object. Notice that the camera is shaped like a triangle. This represents the field of the view of your camera. If you want to place your camera while navigating around the robot, you can press the Ctrl + 0 shortcut.
  3. Now that our camera is correctly placed (that is, focusing on our robot), we can try to render the scene. We will do a very basic render by activating Ambient Occlusion in the Additive Mode. This option is located under the World icon button in the Properties editor. You just need to check the corresponding check box.
  4. In order to do a render, we will press the F12 key or go to the Camera icon button in the Properties editor and press the big Render button. Blender will automatically switch your current 3D View to a UV/Image Editor that will show you the calculated image. You can, of course, switch it back to a 3D view as we showed you in the first chapter.
    Using Blender Internal to render our Robot Toy

You've now completed the Robot Toy project!

Summary

In this chapter, you learned to use the main modeling tools in Blender. You will keep learning about the other ways of modeling in the next chapters. Polygons can be seen as virtual clay. There are some rules to follow, but as soon as you know them, you will be free to model everything you wish

 

Chapter 3. Alien Character – Base Mesh Creation and Sculpting

In this chapter, you will discover a new way of modeling 3D objects with the powerful sculpting tools of Blender.

We will start with an overview of the sculpting process including brush settings and how to optimize the viewport. We will then create a base mesh with an amazing tool that Blender offers called the Skin modifier, which follows the concept art of an alien character.

Afterwards, we will sculpt the character using the tools that we had previously introduced and learn more about their usage in the different cases that are required for our character.

As sculpting is an artistic process, you will also learn about proportions and anatomy.

Let's jump to another planet! This chapter will cover the following topics:

  • Understanding the sculpting process
  • Optimizing the viewport
  • Learning about and using brushes
  • Creating a base mesh with the Skin modifier
  • Using Dyntopo
  • Understanding the basics of anatomy and proportions

You will start the sculpting of the following alien character (shown on the right) using a sketch as a reference (shown on the left). This is done with Krita (an open source tool for 2D art).

Alien Character – Base Mesh Creation and Sculpting

Understanding the sculpting process

Before starting to sculpt our alien, we will take some time to understand what this means and what the advantages are of using this modeling method. We will then give an overview of the basic tools that Blender has to offer.

An introduction to sculpting

Before the introduction of sculpting in the 3D world, there was only the polygonal modeling method (the method that we've used in the second chapter) that takes more time when creating organic shapes. The goal of sculpting is to have more freedom while modeling. The process looks a little bit like real sculpting art, but in this case we sculpt over a 3D mesh (our digital clay). When sculpting in Blender, we use brushes as tools that act on the mesh. There are many brushes that have different behaviors such as digging, moving, or pinching.

Choosing sculpting over poly modeling

Sculpting allows us to think more about the shape of the object and less about its technical part, such as its topology. So, the goal of this method is to really concentrate on the design part of the object. We won't see the vertices, edges, or polygons. The technique is more efficient when the goal is to reach an organic object. When you model with the tools that we have previously shown to you (the poly modeling method) you need to keep the topology in mind while researching the shape, and it is even more complicated when you have finer details. So what if we want to have a good topology with a sculpture? We have to do a retopology, but you'll see this in the next chapter

Using a pen tablet

When we modeled the Robot Toy in the previous chapter, we used a mouse. While we are sculpting, it's pretty hard to use a mouse because it is not precise according to the process. This is why we use a pen tablet that gives the sensibility needed to get the right shape. It takes some time to get used to this, but with practice you will have more control over your sculpture.

In order to navigate with the pen tablet in the 3D viewport, go to the User Preferences panel (Ctrl + Alt + U) and check the Emulate 3 Button mouse option. We will now be able to use the Alt key to navigate. Refer to Chapter 1, Straight into Blender! for more precise details.

It's also a good thing to check the Emulate Numpad option in order to be able to switch views with the keys that are above the QWERTY keys.

Using a pen tablet

A pen tablet with its stylus

The sculpt mode

In order to access all the tools needed for sculpting we need to go into the Sculpt Mode. The Sculpt Mode won't let us access the components of our mesh as in the Edit Mode, and we also won't be able to apply transformations on our objects as in the Object Mode. To switch to the Sculpt Mode, we select it in the drop-down menu located in the header of the viewport. As you can see, it is in the same place as the Edit Mode and the Object Mode.

Optimizing the viewport

Sculpting usually takes more resources than poly modeling because the number of polygons will quickly increase each time you want to add details. This is why we need to activate some settings that will boost our viewport. This is done as follows:

  1. The first setting that we will check is located under the System tab in the User Preferences window (Ctrl + Alt + U) and it is called VBOs. It is used by OpenGL (the rendering API used by Blender) to better organize the data displayed on the screen.
  2. In the Options tab, under the Options subpanel in the left panel of the viewport (in the Sculpt Mode), we will activate the Fast Navigate option.
  3. We will also ensure that the Double Sided option is turned off. To do this, we can use a nice little add-on called Sculpt Tool. After the add-on is installed, on the Sculpt tab of the left panel of the viewport we now have the Double Sided Off option. Note that you can always access any option by pressing the Space key in the viewport and by typing the name of the tool that you want.
  4. Later, when we sculpt our objects, we don't want to have something else other than our objects in the viewport. So we will deactivate the grid, the gizmos, and any other viewport information that we don't need.
  5. In order to do this, we will go to the right panel of the viewport. We can open this by pressing the N key, and under the Display subpanel we will check the Only Render option.
  6. By checking this option, we will simply deactivate all the options that are below the Only Render option, such as Outline Selected that consumes a lot of resources of the viewport. Remember this option as we will toggle it on or off depending on our needs.

Using a pen tablet

When we modeled the Robot Toy in the previous chapter, we used a mouse. While we are sculpting, it's pretty hard to use a mouse because it is not precise according to the process. This is why we use a pen tablet that gives the sensibility needed to get the right shape. It takes some time to get used to this, but with practice you will have more control over your sculpture.

In order to navigate with the pen tablet in the 3D viewport, go to the User Preferences panel (Ctrl + Alt + U) and check the Emulate 3 Button mouse option. We will now be able to use the Alt key to navigate. Refer to Chapter 1, Straight into Blender! for more precise details.

It's also a good thing to check the Emulate Numpad option in order to be able to switch views with the keys that are above the QWERTY keys.

Using a pen tablet

A pen tablet with its stylus

The sculpt mode

In order to access all the tools needed for sculpting we need to go into the Sculpt Mode. The Sculpt Mode won't let us access the components of our mesh as in the Edit Mode, and we also won't be able to apply transformations on our objects as in the Object Mode. To switch to the Sculpt Mode, we select it in the drop-down menu located in the header of the viewport. As you can see, it is in the same place as the Edit Mode and the Object Mode.

Optimizing the viewport

Sculpting usually takes more resources than poly modeling because the number of polygons will quickly increase each time you want to add details. This is why we need to activate some settings that will boost our viewport. This is done as follows:

  1. The first setting that we will check is located under the System tab in the User Preferences window (Ctrl + Alt + U) and it is called VBOs. It is used by OpenGL (the rendering API used by Blender) to better organize the data displayed on the screen.
  2. In the Options tab, under the Options subpanel in the left panel of the viewport (in the Sculpt Mode), we will activate the Fast Navigate option.
  3. We will also ensure that the Double Sided option is turned off. To do this, we can use a nice little add-on called Sculpt Tool. After the add-on is installed, on the Sculpt tab of the left panel of the viewport we now have the Double Sided Off option. Note that you can always access any option by pressing the Space key in the viewport and by typing the name of the tool that you want.
  4. Later, when we sculpt our objects, we don't want to have something else other than our objects in the viewport. So we will deactivate the grid, the gizmos, and any other viewport information that we don't need.
  5. In order to do this, we will go to the right panel of the viewport. We can open this by pressing the N key, and under the Display subpanel we will check the Only Render option.
  6. By checking this option, we will simply deactivate all the options that are below the Only Render option, such as Outline Selected that consumes a lot of resources of the viewport. Remember this option as we will toggle it on or off depending on our needs.

The sculpt mode

In order to access all the tools needed for sculpting we need to go into the Sculpt Mode. The Sculpt Mode won't let us access the components of our mesh as in the Edit Mode, and we also won't be able to apply transformations on our objects as in the Object Mode. To switch to the Sculpt Mode, we select it in the drop-down menu located in the header of the viewport. As you can see, it is in the same place as the Edit Mode and the Object Mode.

Optimizing the viewport

Sculpting usually takes more resources than poly modeling because the number of polygons will quickly increase each time you want to add details. This is why we need to activate some settings that will boost our viewport. This is done as follows:

  1. The first setting that we will check is located under the System tab in the User Preferences window (Ctrl + Alt + U) and it is called VBOs. It is used by OpenGL (the rendering API used by Blender) to better organize the data displayed on the screen.
  2. In the Options tab, under the Options subpanel in the left panel of the viewport (in the Sculpt Mode), we will activate the Fast Navigate option.
  3. We will also ensure that the Double Sided option is turned off. To do this, we can use a nice little add-on called Sculpt Tool. After the add-on is installed, on the Sculpt tab of the left panel of the viewport we now have the Double Sided Off option. Note that you can always access any option by pressing the Space key in the viewport and by typing the name of the tool that you want.
  4. Later, when we sculpt our objects, we don't want to have something else other than our objects in the viewport. So we will deactivate the grid, the gizmos, and any other viewport information that we don't need.
  5. In order to do this, we will go to the right panel of the viewport. We can open this by pressing the N key, and under the Display subpanel we will check the Only Render option.
  6. By checking this option, we will simply deactivate all the options that are below the Only Render option, such as Outline Selected that consumes a lot of resources of the viewport. Remember this option as we will toggle it on or off depending on our needs.

Optimizing the viewport

Sculpting usually takes more resources than poly modeling because the number of polygons will quickly increase each time you want to add details. This is why we need to activate some settings that will boost our viewport. This is done as follows:

  1. The first setting that we will check is located under the System tab in the User Preferences window (Ctrl + Alt + U) and it is called VBOs. It is used by OpenGL (the rendering API used by Blender) to better organize the data displayed on the screen.
  2. In the Options tab, under the Options subpanel in the left panel of the viewport (in the Sculpt Mode), we will activate the Fast Navigate option.
  3. We will also ensure that the Double Sided option is turned off. To do this, we can use a nice little add-on called Sculpt Tool. After the add-on is installed, on the Sculpt tab of the left panel of the viewport we now have the Double Sided Off option. Note that you can always access any option by pressing the Space key in the viewport and by typing the name of the tool that you want.
  4. Later, when we sculpt our objects, we don't want to have something else other than our objects in the viewport. So we will deactivate the grid, the gizmos, and any other viewport information that we don't need.
  5. In order to do this, we will go to the right panel of the viewport. We can open this by pressing the N key, and under the Display subpanel we will check the Only Render option.
  6. By checking this option, we will simply deactivate all the options that are below the Only Render option, such as Outline Selected that consumes a lot of resources of the viewport. Remember this option as we will toggle it on or off depending on our needs.

Anatomy of a brush

As previously mentioned, we will use a lot of brushes that behave differently in order to sculpt our alien. In this section, we will take our hands over the settings that are shared between all the brushes with the Sculpt/Draw brush as an example. Let's perform the following set of steps:

  1. In order to do our experimentation, we will use a Cube primitive. In the Object Mode, we place our cursor at the center of the scene (Shift + C) and we add a Cube (Shift + A). Note that you can use the one placed by default in any new scene if you want.
  2. The Cube has a low polygonal resolution so we will have to subdivide it by going in to the Edit Mode, select all its components, and use the Subdivide Smooth option under the Specials menu (the W key). We will repeat this action six times in order to have a good density of polygons.
  3. In the Sculpt Mode, we will then select the Standard brush (if not already selected) in the left panel of the 3D viewport by clicking on the brush icon button under the Tools tab (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
  4. We can now draw on the subdivided cube. As you can see, it pushes the geometry. This is because our brush has the Add option activated by default. If we want to go deeper, we will need to switch to the Subtract mode. The Subtract option simply reverses the behavior of the brush. Both the options are placed under the Brush subpanel in the Tools tab (refer to 2 and 3 in the following screenshot). It's not very convenient to click on buttons in order to do such a simple manipulation, so we encourage you to use the Ctrl key while sculpting on your mesh to switch between these modes.
  5. As you may have seen, we are not really precise because of the size of our brush.
  6. In order to change the size, we will use the corresponding slider under the brush icon called Radius (refer to 4 in the following screenshot ). We can (and recommend this to you) use the F key as a shortcut.
  7. Now that we have more control over the size of our brush, we will change its Strength under the Radius slider (refer to 5 in the following screenshot). We can use the Shift + F key as a shortcut. As you can see, on the right-hand side of both sliders (Strength and Radius), there is a little icon that allow us to use the pen tablet sensitivity in order to dynamically change these options. We will only use this for the Strength option, so when we lightly press on the pen tablet, we will have less strength than if we were pressing it harder.
    Anatomy of a brush

    Brush options

  8. Another interesting thing that we can set for our brushes is Texture (also called an alpha). An alpha is usually a black and white image that is useful while adding details such as skin pores or patterns to an object. When an alpha is added to a brush, the black pixels will remove the brush behavior during sculpting. To import an alpha, we will first need to go in the Textures subpanel of the Properties panel (on the far left of the interface, by default) and click on the third icon (a checker pattern) (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
  9. We can now add a new texture, and under the Image subpanel, we can open an image. We can now go under the Textures subpanel of the Tools tab in order to select our newly imported texture (refer to 2 in the following screenshot).
  10. If we want, we can also change the repetition of our alpha by changing the X, Y, and Z size sliders (refer to 3 in the following screenshot).
    Anatomy of a brush

    Adding a Texture (alpha) to our brush

  11. The last setting that we will test is the Curve profile of our brush. The curve of the brush is located under the Curve subpanel in the Tools tab. Changing the curve profile allows us to change the behavior of the brush. For instance, with our current brush, Sculpt/Draw, if we click on the last icon (the flat curve) under the curve, we can see that the brush is harder while sculpting over our cube.
  12. To understand this setting better, imagine that this is half of the profile of a real brush (see the following screenshot). We can select each point that composes the curve and move it to change the curve profile. We can also add a new point on the curve by clicking anywhere on it. When a point is selected, we can remove it by clicking on the X button. This curve is called a Bezier curve, so we can also change the smoothness of a point using the Tool icon and choosing the handle type that we want.
    Anatomy of a brush

    A modified curve of a brush.

Dyntopo versus the Multires modifier

In order to test our brush settings, we subdivided our cube by hand but it's not practical while sculpting an object because we didn't have enough control over the subdivision. In order to have control over our mesh, Blender gives us two main methods, the Multires (a.k.a. Multiresolution) modifier and Dyntopo.

First touch with the Multires modifier

The Multires modifier is added to the modifier stack of an object and allows us to maintain subdivision levels of sculpture. For instance, we can sculpt at a low level (with a low resolution), and the details will be transferred to the higher levels and vice versa. We will test it right now! This is done as follows:

  1. We will first create a new Blender file (by navigating to File | New) and then with the default cube selected, we will go to the Properties panel in order to add a Multires modifier.
  2. We will subdivide our cube six times with the Subdivide button (refer to 1 in the following screenshot). If we were using a Subdivision surface modifier, our cube will be rounder. To test this out, we can go into the sculpt mode and start sculpting our cube with the Draw brush.
  3. We can now move between the different subdivision levels with the Sculpt slider of the Multires modifier (refer to 2 in the following screenshot). As you can see, we don't lose our sculpted information while changing levels, we are just changing the amount of details of the object. Of course, when you are at a lower level, you won't have as much detail as at the higher levels. The goal of all of this is to give you the possibility of changing the main shape of your sculpture at a low resolution without overwhelming yourself with all the details that you have sculpted at the higher levels. So don't try to add details too early in order to get the shape right and progressively increase the subdivisions.
    First touch with the Multires modifier

    The Multires modifier with an example of three different levels of subdivisions

First touch with Dyntopo

The Dyntopo method will generate details according to the amount that we choose. The geometry will be subdivided when we sculpt an object and will be located where we have placed our mouse pointer. We will be using this method for our alien soon, so let's test this to get used to it:

  1. We will first create a new Blender file (by navigating to File | New).
  2. The cube is a little bit low in resolution, so we will subdivide it twice with the Subdivide Smooth option (the W key).
  3. In the Tools tab, under the Dyntopo subpanel, we can activate Dyntopo by clicking on the Enable Dyntopo button. Our cube will now be converted to triangles (this is not a problem because remember, while sculpting an object, we don't care about its topology, we care about its shape). If you want to look at the wireframe of the object, use the Z key or simply go into the Edit Mode.
  4. By default, we are in Relative Details as you can see in the second drop-down menu. This option means that the amount of detail will be proportional to the distance of your working camera view. If we sculpt near the object, the amount of detail will be much more important than if we sculpt far from the object.
  5. This method is nice, but there is another method that allows us to control the amount of detail without caring about our distance from the object. This is the constant details option (we will use this one for the alien). We can change from Relative details to Constant Details in the Sculpt details drop-down menu.
    First touch with Dyntopo

    The Dyntopo settings

  6. As you can see, we now have the detail size slider expressed by a percentage that allows us to change the amount of detail that our brush will generate on our mesh. With a small percentage, we will have finer details and vice versa.
    First touch with Dyntopo

    A Dyntopo mesh with different levels of sculpted details.

Dyntopo versus the Multires modifier

In order to test our brush settings, we subdivided our cube by hand but it's not practical while sculpting an object because we didn't have enough control over the subdivision. In order to have control over our mesh, Blender gives us two main methods, the Multires (a.k.a. Multiresolution) modifier and Dyntopo.

First touch with the Multires modifier

The Multires modifier is added to the modifier stack of an object and allows us to maintain subdivision levels of sculpture. For instance, we can sculpt at a low level (with a low resolution), and the details will be transferred to the higher levels and vice versa. We will test it right now! This is done as follows:

  1. We will first create a new Blender file (by navigating to File | New) and then with the default cube selected, we will go to the Properties panel in order to add a Multires modifier.
  2. We will subdivide our cube six times with the Subdivide button (refer to 1 in the following screenshot). If we were using a Subdivision surface modifier, our cube will be rounder. To test this out, we can go into the sculpt mode and start sculpting our cube with the Draw brush.
  3. We can now move between the different subdivision levels with the Sculpt slider of the Multires modifier (refer to 2 in the following screenshot). As you can see, we don't lose our sculpted information while changing levels, we are just changing the amount of details of the object. Of course, when you are at a lower level, you won't have as much detail as at the higher levels. The goal of all of this is to give you the possibility of changing the main shape of your sculpture at a low resolution without overwhelming yourself with all the details that you have sculpted at the higher levels. So don't try to add details too early in order to get the shape right and progressively increase the subdivisions.
    First touch with the Multires modifier

    The Multires modifier with an example of three different levels of subdivisions

First touch with Dyntopo

The Dyntopo method will generate details according to the amount that we choose. The geometry will be subdivided when we sculpt an object and will be located where we have placed our mouse pointer. We will be using this method for our alien soon, so let's test this to get used to it:

  1. We will first create a new Blender file (by navigating to File | New).
  2. The cube is a little bit low in resolution, so we will subdivide it twice with the Subdivide Smooth option (the W key).
  3. In the Tools tab, under the Dyntopo subpanel, we can activate Dyntopo by clicking on the Enable Dyntopo button. Our cube will now be converted to triangles (this is not a problem because remember, while sculpting an object, we don't care about its topology, we care about its shape). If you want to look at the wireframe of the object, use the Z key or simply go into the Edit Mode.
  4. By default, we are in Relative Details as you can see in the second drop-down menu. This option means that the amount of detail will be proportional to the distance of your working camera view. If we sculpt near the object, the amount of detail will be much more important than if we sculpt far from the object.
  5. This method is nice, but there is another method that allows us to control the amount of detail without caring about our distance from the object. This is the constant details option (we will use this one for the alien). We can change from Relative details to Constant Details in the Sculpt details drop-down menu.
    First touch with Dyntopo

    The Dyntopo settings

  6. As you can see, we now have the detail size slider expressed by a percentage that allows us to change the amount of detail that our brush will generate on our mesh. With a small percentage, we will have finer details and vice versa.
    First touch with Dyntopo

    A Dyntopo mesh with different levels of sculpted details.

First touch with the Multires modifier

The Multires modifier is added to the modifier stack of an object and allows us to maintain subdivision levels of sculpture. For instance, we can sculpt at a low level (with a low resolution), and the details will be transferred to the higher levels and vice versa. We will test it right now! This is done as follows:

  1. We will first create a new Blender file (by navigating to File | New) and then with the default cube selected, we will go to the Properties panel in order to add a Multires modifier.
  2. We will subdivide our cube six times with the Subdivide button (refer to 1 in the following screenshot). If we were using a Subdivision surface modifier, our cube will be rounder. To test this out, we can go into the sculpt mode and start sculpting our cube with the Draw brush.
  3. We can now move between the different subdivision levels with the Sculpt slider of the Multires modifier (refer to 2 in the following screenshot). As you can see, we don't lose our sculpted information while changing levels, we are just changing the amount of details of the object. Of course, when you are at a lower level, you won't have as much detail as at the higher levels. The goal of all of this is to give you the possibility of changing the main shape of your sculpture at a low resolution without overwhelming yourself with all the details that you have sculpted at the higher levels. So don't try to add details too early in order to get the shape right and progressively increase the subdivisions.
    First touch with the Multires modifier

    The Multires modifier with an example of three different levels of subdivisions

First touch with Dyntopo

The Dyntopo method will generate details according to the amount that we choose. The geometry will be subdivided when we sculpt an object and will be located where we have placed our mouse pointer. We will be using this method for our alien soon, so let's test this to get used to it:

  1. We will first create a new Blender file (by navigating to File | New).
  2. The cube is a little bit low in resolution, so we will subdivide it twice with the Subdivide Smooth option (the W key).
  3. In the Tools tab, under the Dyntopo subpanel, we can activate Dyntopo by clicking on the Enable Dyntopo button. Our cube will now be converted to triangles (this is not a problem because remember, while sculpting an object, we don't care about its topology, we care about its shape). If you want to look at the wireframe of the object, use the Z key or simply go into the Edit Mode.
  4. By default, we are in Relative Details as you can see in the second drop-down menu. This option means that the amount of detail will be proportional to the distance of your working camera view. If we sculpt near the object, the amount of detail will be much more important than if we sculpt far from the object.
  5. This method is nice, but there is another method that allows us to control the amount of detail without caring about our distance from the object. This is the constant details option (we will use this one for the alien). We can change from Relative details to Constant Details in the Sculpt details drop-down menu.
    First touch with Dyntopo

    The Dyntopo settings

  6. As you can see, we now have the detail size slider expressed by a percentage that allows us to change the amount of detail that our brush will generate on our mesh. With a small percentage, we will have finer details and vice versa.
    First touch with Dyntopo

    A Dyntopo mesh with different levels of sculpted details.

First touch with Dyntopo

The Dyntopo method will generate details according to the amount that we choose. The geometry will be subdivided when we sculpt an object and will be located where we have placed our mouse pointer. We will be using this method for our alien soon, so let's test this to get used to it:

  1. We will first create a new Blender file (by navigating to File | New).
  2. The cube is a little bit low in resolution, so we will subdivide it twice with the Subdivide Smooth option (the W key).
  3. In the Tools tab, under the Dyntopo subpanel, we can activate Dyntopo by clicking on the Enable Dyntopo button. Our cube will now be converted to triangles (this is not a problem because remember, while sculpting an object, we don't care about its topology, we care about its shape). If you want to look at the wireframe of the object, use the Z key or simply go into the Edit Mode.
  4. By default, we are in Relative Details as you can see in the second drop-down menu. This option means that the amount of detail will be proportional to the distance of your working camera view. If we sculpt near the object, the amount of detail will be much more important than if we sculpt far from the object.
  5. This method is nice, but there is another method that allows us to control the amount of detail without caring about our distance from the object. This is the constant details option (we will use this one for the alien). We can change from Relative details to Constant Details in the Sculpt details drop-down menu.
    First touch with Dyntopo

    The Dyntopo settings

  6. As you can see, we now have the detail size slider expressed by a percentage that allows us to change the amount of detail that our brush will generate on our mesh. With a small percentage, we will have finer details and vice versa.
    First touch with Dyntopo

    A Dyntopo mesh with different levels of sculpted details.

Creating a base mesh with the Skin modifier

Before we sculpt our alien, we need to have a base mesh that has roughly its proportions. If you want, you can use the methods that you've learned in the previous chapter in order to model it, but here we are going to use a cool modifier that Blender has to offer: the Skin modifier. Its goal is to create a geometry around each vertex. We can simply extrude some vertices as if we were doing a real wire armature, and the Skin modifier will add volume around it. For each vertex, we have control over the volume size. Let's start our base mesh:

  1. We will start by entering in to the Edit Mode of our default cube. Then we will select all the vertices (A) and merge them to a sole vertex at the center (press Alt + M and click on the center). We now have our root vertex that will be the pelvis of our alien.
  2. It's now time to add a Skin modifier to our object in the modifier stack. As you can see, our vertex is controlling a new geometry around it. The geometry is low, so we will add a Subdivision surface modifier on top of the Skin modifier in order to have a smoother look. As you may have seen, the vertex has a red circle around it. This means that it is the root of our armature.
  3. We can now extrude our vertex (E) on the Z axis in order to start the torso of our alien.
  4. Now we will add a Mirror modifier with the Clipping option turned on. This modifier needs to be placed before the Skin and Subdivision Surface modifier (use the up and down arrows to move it to the first place). Ensure that the vertices that are on the symmetry axis are merged.
  5. We can now select the top vertex (the base of the neck) and extrude it by pressing Ctrl and LMB to the right in order to create the shoulder. Be careful with the position of your vertex as the topology generated could be bad. Always try to move your vertices a little bit in order to see whether you can't have a better topology.
  6. We will now change the size of the volume that has been generated around the shoulder vertex. To do this, we will use the Ctrl + A shortcut and we move our mouse to adjust it.
  7. We will then extrude the arm. In order to give a more dynamic shape, we will bend it at the elbow. We then adjust its size. At this point, it is very important to match the proportions of the concept. Proportions means the length and size of the different members with respect to each other. If you need to constrain the size or change the volume on a certain axis, you can press Ctrl + A + X, Y, or Z.
  8. Let's extrude the long neck of our alien.
  9. It's now time to add the legs of our alien. We will do this by extruding the pelvis vertex at a 45 degree angle (press Ctrl and LMB). Then we extrude the leg and adjust its profile by changing the size of the different vertices (Ctrl + A). As we did for the arm, we will bend the leg a little bit at the knee location. Note that the pelvis vertex should be always marked as the root of the armature. If this is not the case, select it and in the Skin modifier, press the Mark Root button.
  10. The foot will be then extruded and resized. We can create the heel by simply extruding the ankle vertex to the back. The ankle vertex needs to be marked as Loose in order to have a nice transition with the front and the heel of the foot. To do this, we select it and use the Mark Loose button in the Skin modifier.
  11. It's now time to create the hand by extruding the wrist vertex. From the new vertex, we will extrude three fingers that will be rescaled appropriately. Note that the thumb is at a 45 degree angle from the other fingers. To add a more dynamic feeling to the hand, we will slightly bend the fingers inwards.
  12. We will then extrude the base of the neck. From the newly created vertex, we can extrude the head vertex that will then be the base for the chin and the cranium.
    Creating a base mesh with the Skin modifier

    The steps of the base mesh creation with the Skin modifier.

  13. We can now apply all our modifiers from the top to the bottom of the stack.
  14. If we enter in the Edit Mode, we can see that some parts are very dense. This is why we are going to remove some edge loops from certain parts such as the fingers. However, rather than doing this for both sides of the model, we are going to split the mesh in two and add a mirror modifier. To do this, we first need to ensure that there is a symmetry axis in the middle of our mesh. If this not the case, you can use the knife tool (K) to create it. Then we can delete half of our model and add a mirror modifier as we did in the previous chapter. We can now select some edge loops where there is a lot of condensed geometry by pressing Shift + Alt and the RMB, and by pressing X we can delete them (delete the edge loops, not the vertices or faces).
    Creating a base mesh with the Skin modifier

    Removing some edge loops of the dense parts.

  15. The base mesh is now ready to be sculpted.
    Creating a base mesh with the Skin modifier

    The final base mesh

Visual preparation

While sculpting, it's nice to use Matcap. It is simply an image that will be projected on your mesh in the viewport and that looks like a material. For instance, you can use a Matcap that reminds you of clay. Let's begin with our sculpting:

  1. To set up a Matcap for our mesh, we will have to set up the default material of our mesh in the Properties panel under the Material tab (refer to 1 in the following screenshot). Note that if you can't see a material, you can press the New button.
  2. Now we will check the Shadeless option under the Shading subpanel (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
    Visual preparation

    Creation of a new material with the Shadeless option.

  3. As we have said before, a Matcap is an image, so we will import our image as the texture of our material. To do this, we go to the Texture tab (refer to 3 in the following screenshot) and we add a new texture by clicking on the New button. In the image subpanel, we will click on the Open button (refer to 4 in the following screenshot) and we choose our Matcap image.
  4. A Matcap is mapped to a mesh according to its normals, so in the Mapping subpanel change the Coordinates from UV to Normals (refer to 5 in the following screenshot). We will also adjust the size of our projection by decreasing the X, Y, and Z size sliders to 0.95 (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Visual preparation

    Setting the Matcap image texture for our material

  5. In order to see our Matcap in the viewport, we will replace the Multitexture display mode with GLSL in the right panel of the 3D view (N) under the Shading subpanel.
  6. Last but not least, we will go into the Shading mode under Texture Viewport using the corresponding drop-down menu in the 3D view header. You can also use the Alt + Z shortcut to quickly switch to this mode. Our Matcap is now perfectly set up!
    Visual preparation

    Setting the GLSL display mode in the right panel of the viewport (N).

Visual preparation

While sculpting, it's nice to use Matcap. It is simply an image that will be projected on your mesh in the viewport and that looks like a material. For instance, you can use a Matcap that reminds you of clay. Let's begin with our sculpting:

  1. To set up a Matcap for our mesh, we will have to set up the default material of our mesh in the Properties panel under the Material tab (refer to 1 in the following screenshot). Note that if you can't see a material, you can press the New button.
  2. Now we will check the Shadeless option under the Shading subpanel (refer to 1 in the following screenshot).
    Visual preparation

    Creation of a new material with the Shadeless option.

  3. As we have said before, a Matcap is an image, so we will import our image as the texture of our material. To do this, we go to the Texture tab (refer to 3 in the following screenshot) and we add a new texture by clicking on the New button. In the image subpanel, we will click on the Open button (refer to 4 in the following screenshot) and we choose our Matcap image.
  4. A Matcap is mapped to a mesh according to its normals, so in the Mapping subpanel change the Coordinates from UV to Normals (refer to 5 in the following screenshot). We will also adjust the size of our projection by decreasing the X, Y, and Z size sliders to 0.95 (refer to 6 in the following screenshot).
    Visual preparation

    Setting the Matcap image texture for our material

  5. In order to see our Matcap in the viewport, we will replace the Multitexture display mode with GLSL in the right panel of the 3D view (N) under the Shading subpanel.
  6. Last but not least, we will go into the Shading mode under Texture Viewport using the corresponding drop-down menu in the 3D view header. You can also use the Alt + Z shortcut to quickly switch to this mode. Our Matcap is now perfectly set up!
    Visual preparation

    Setting the GLSL display mode in the right panel of the viewport (N).

An introduction to artistic anatomy

Before continuing with the alien creation, some basic knowledge of anatomy can be very useful. It is a basic discipline for a character artist. Don't worry, we will clarify the concerned parts of the body for each step with illustrations.

Of course it is an alien, so we can accept the fact that we don't always have to respect human anatomy for specific parts. He has a huge head, only two fingers and a thumb, and very different feet. His humanoid appearance imposes some anatomical likelihood. This is especially useful if you plan to animate it later on. Improving your knowledge of this topic will help you to understand the movements and postures better.

In the early 16th century, Leonardo Da Vinci was one of the first artists who tried to understand the human anatomy. While religious obscurantism prohibited the examination of corpses, he dared to defy this. By dissection and observation, he did many illustrations detailing the positioning of muscles, joints, nerves, and organs.

It won't be necessary in our case to know the scientific names by heart. It's rather important to know and understand their general forms. Overall, it's more about the comprehension of human body mechanisms.

Note

Many good books treat this subject. For more information, you can have a look at these websites:

Sculpting the body

We are continuing the modeling of our alien using Dyntopo as we had previously mentioned. This will allow the creation of the antennae very easily while they are not yet present in the base mesh.

The following is the preparation of our environment before sculpting:

  1. We will set the optimizing options that were previously explained.
  2. We can adjust the lens parameter in the right panel of the 3D viewport (N). A high value lessens the focal deformations.
  3. We must check the mirror options in the left panel of the 3D viewport (T) to Symmetry/Lock by choosing the axis of symmetry. It is very important in order to save time.
  4. We will then activate the Dyntopo option in the left panel of the viewport. A detail size of around 25 percent is enough to start. It depends on the size of your model.

For a better understanding, we are going to start sculpting by adding details by iteration.

The head

We start defining the jaw and chin with the Clay Strips brush (refer to 1 in the following screenshot). It is unnecessary to have too many details for the moment. While sculpting, always remember to define the main shapes (the volumes) and then gradually move towards the details.

We then accentuate the delimitation between the jaw and neck without exaggeration. A strength of 0.5 is enough.

Note

The Clay Strips brush

The Clay Strips brush is a very useful brush to define muscles, dig or add polygons in a straight direction with pretty sharp outlines. It is the equivalent of the Clay Buildup in Zbrush.

The head
The head
  1. In order to dig into the polygons, we press Ctrl while sculpting. It allows us to switch to the Subtract mode on the fly.
  2. Then we slightly smooth the added geometry with the Smooth brush for a better blend of the created shape. You need to remember to smooth the shape very often in order to avoid having something too grainy.

    Note

    The Smooth brush

    This is often a very useful brush. It allows you to soften and smooth your shapes. This brush is so useful that there is a special shortcut that you absolutely need to know. Hold the Shift key while sculpting in order to use it. It works while using any brush. When you use it over a big density of polygons, it will be harder to smooth your shape, so it will be mainly useful before working on the details.

    The head
  3. Now that the jaw is sketched, we will go to the side view. Then we have to adjust the silhouette of the neck, as well as the skull with the Grab brush. Our alien has a very curved neck.
  4. We will adjust the shape of our model little by little by turning it around. It's very important to observe your model from different points of view.

    Do not hesitate a moment to look at the reference sketch and position the alien in a very similar pose. You can also create a new 3D view editor to keep an eye on the view of your choice (in our case, we've used the orthographic side view).

    Note

    The Grab brush

    This is often a very useful brush when you start a new model. It works a little bit in the same way that the Proportional Editing tool does. If you have any difficulties using it, you can go to the Curve options in the left panel of the viewport and modify the curve to decrease its profile.

    The head

In our case, we are going to use a very soft curve for the Smooth brush.

The head
  1. Again, we will take the Clay Strips brush to keep going on the face of the alien in order to dig the orbits and accentuate the eyebrows by adding matter (refer to 2 and 3 in the previous screenshot). Be careful to not add too much volume at this place. Do not hesitate to decrease the strength (Shift + F) of your brush, if necessary.
    The head
  2. We will also start to sketch the nose and the mouth (refer to 3 in the previous screenshot). Before detailing the lips, we need to start adding some new volume. We form a rounded edge created by the maxilla and the jaw. Remember that the front of a set of teeth has almost a semi-cylindrical shape. It's easier to create the mouth rounded volume from the bottom view.
  3. Once this is done, we can start sketching the opening of the mouth with the Crease brush, which allows us to draw a mined line. Consider the fact that the geometry is dynamic, so don't hesitate to add some resolution and pinch your shapes in order to make them more accentuated.

    Note

    The Crease brush

    This brush will allow you to draw lines by digging or adding some volume to your shapes while being pinched. It is perfect to accentuate muscles and make them well visible. It is the equivalent of the Dam Standard in Zbrush.

    The head
  4. We will again use the Clay Strips brush in order to give some volume to the lips.

    Remember to leave a little gap between the lower lip and the top lip. The top lip is a little bit more forward than the lower lip from a profile view.

  5. In the face view (refer to 5 in the previous screenshot), we will go back to the Object Mode (Tab) and place the 3D cursor where we want the eye at the middle of the orbit. It doesn't matter if the orbit is not completely dug.
  6. We will add UVSphere (Shift + A). We will resize this with the Scale Tool (S), and we will position it (G) in the front view (1) just as in the side view (3). For a good placement of the eye, looking at the wireframe can be helpful. You only need to go to the Object Data tab and then to the Group in the Properties editor, and check the Wire and Draw all Edges option.
  7. Then, we can sculpt around the eyelids with the Clay Strips brush by being careful to accentuate the outside and inside corner (the lacrimale caruncle) (refer to 7 in the following screenshot).
  8. In order to accentuate the eyes, let's pinch the upper and lower eyelids with the Crease brush (refer to 8 in the following screenshot).
    The head

    Finding a good position of the eye is not an easy task. You can move the facial structure with the Grab brush if you have problems. The top eyelid must be slightly forward. Conceptually, the eyes are inordinately big, so be careful that they don't touch each other.

  9. Now that the face begins to take shape, we will continue with the neck. We adjust the shape a little bit more with the Grab brush, then we start sculpting the muscles and bones of the neck. We carve the clavicles with the Clay Strips brush.
  10. Then we will move on the sterno-mastoid muscles. It is a muscle group that starts from the mastoid near the ear and attaches to the sternum and the clavicle. We keep working with the Clay Strips brush (refer to 9 and 10 in the following screenshot).
  11. In the side view, we can polish the silhouette of the neck with the Grab brush (refer to 11 in the following screenshot).
    The head

Now let's refine the face:

  1. We will come back to the mouth by adding some volume to accentuate the circular muscles around the mouth. Be careful to adjust the level details of Dyntopo to around 10 percent (refer to 13 in the following screenshot). As you may have seen, when you are sculpting an object, you don't directly get the shape that you want, so you always need to go back and forth over the different parts.
    The head
  2. This brings us to accentuating the wrinkles that make the junction with the cheeks.
  3. Then we will go and pinch the upper lips with the Pinch/Magnify brush. The lower lip doesn't need to be as pinched like the upper one. Again, you can increase the level detail of Dyntopo to around 7%.

    Note

    The Pinch/Magnify brush

    This brush allow us to pinch the polygons outwards or inwards (in the Subtract mode). It is perfect in our case to detail the lips, the wrinkles, or accentuate the contour of muscles. It is often used to get a cartoon style or for a hard surface modeling where you need to sculpt angular surfaces.

    The head
    The head
  4. We will take a moment to turn the head, including the top view (16); then we adjust the round shape of the skull with the Grab brush.
  5. Now, it's time to add the antennae (refer to 17 in the following image). For this, we are going to use the Snake Hook brush with a Dyntopo level detail of around 14%. The difficulty will be to find a good point of view of the head because we can't move the view while extracting the geometry with the Snake Hook brush. We must be positioned on the side in order to be able to extract the matter from a little area on the top of the forehead and stretch it outwards in a good direction. Do not hesitate to make several tries if this does not suit you. You can always adjust the size of the brush and the level of detail.
    The head

    Note

    Undo while being in the Sculpt Mode

    Unfortunately, the Undo function of Blender is not very optimized for the moment in the Sculpt Mode. It can be very slow, so do not use it too often. In many cases, you can probably quickly fix your mistakes without Undo.

    The Snake Hook brush

    This is very useful to sculpt horns or tentacles. This brush is more interesting with Dyntopo. The problem with a mesh that uses a Multires modifier is that topology problems quickly appear with a lack of geometry. As long as the topology is dynamic, we can easily create an arm, a leg, or anything else. We can extend this as long as we wish the shape of our model to be.

    The head
  6. Once the antennae are sculpted, we will add some polygons with the Clay Strips brush, then we will smooth them with the Smooth brush. We will magnify the extremity with the Inflate/Deflate brush (refer to 18 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. We will end this by digging forward a little bit with the Clay Strips brush in order to break the rounded shape.

    Note

    The Inflate/Deflate brush

    This brush will allow you to inflate volumes by pushing the polygons in the normal's direction, or the inverse in the opposite direction in the Subtract mode. It can be very useful for meshes with closely spaced surfaces that are difficult to sculpt. This gives a very fast volume that makes it much more comfortable for sculpting.

    The head

So our little alien has now its telepathy organs. We are going to sculpt the torso.

The torso

We will start the torso by sketching the pectoralis major muscle:

  1. We will start by smoothing the surface and adding enough details.
  2. With the Clay Strips brush, we will dig the dividing lines with the clavicle and the shoulder. (refer to 19 in the following screenshot).
  3. Then gradually, we will add some volume accentuating the muscle fibers. The brush strokes start from the bottom of the shoulder at the clip with the biceps and go to the center of the chest (refer to 20 in the following screenshot). Get used to guiding your brush movements in the direction of the muscle.
    The torso
  4. Once the pectoral is sculpted, we will slightly accentuate the bottom of the chest and the abs with very light touches of the Clay Strip brush. This is to suggest forms rather than showing them (refer to 21 in the preceding screenshot).
  5. We will then work on the back part of the alien. It is a complex part of the body. So we will start to draw the muscles (refer to 22 and 23 in the following screenshots) to gain visibility with the Crease brush. We can soften and smooth the muscle shapes. Then we will accentuate the spine with the Pinch/Magnify brush.
    The torso
  6. Now we will sculpt the buttocks. Avoid putting too much volume here. Turn the model around and observe the side view a moment, if necessary adjust the silhouette. Remember to draw a pinch line to accentuate the bottom of the buttocks with the Pinch/Magnify brush. This forms a fold between the buttock and the thigh (refer to 24 in the following screenshot).
  7. We will add a few folds to show that it is a combination.
  8. We will use the Pinch brush to accentuate the lower abdomen and pelvic bones (refer to 25 in the following screenshot). Unless you desire a different sexual orientation for our alien, feel free to add some volume to his crotch, it brings a little more realism. Don't be shy.
    The torso

    Note

    The Clay brush

    This brush allows you to add planar relief with a few soft edges. It is quite close to the Clay Strip brush that you already know but with a less sharp effect. It adds volume by raising with a low intensity. It is very good to refine organic shapes with precision.

    The torso

The arms

Now, let's start the arms. We can see in the drawing that they are pretty fine and not very muscular. His hands have two fingers and a thumb.

We won't need a lot of muscle details. We will be just interested in the major forms.

Let's begin the process:

  1. We will start by digging the part between the shoulder and the biceps with the Clay brush (refer to 26 in the following screenshot). This accentuates the shoulders.
  2. We will smooth a little, and then add some volume to the biceps (refer to 27 in the following screenshot). Slightly, we mark the outline of the muscles with the Crease brush and adjust the shape with the Grab brush.
    The arms
  3. Then we will work on the triceps that is located at the back of the arm. It is a muscle connected to the deltoid and covers the entire rear portion of the upper arm. We give it some volume by drawing the muscle fibers with some touches of the Clay Strips brush.
  4. The forearm is a complex area of human anatomy. It is usually quite difficult to sculpt. It consists of several muscles that twist to ensure the mobility of the hand and the fingers. For our alien, we simplified it by lessening the muscle visibility. With the Clay Strips brush, we will draw the long supinator that emerges because it forms the junction with the end of the biceps (refer to 28 in the preceding screenshot) near the elbow. We will then add some volume to the elbow.
  5. We will start from the elbow, and we mark a slight stroke of the Clay Strips brush in the direction of the wrist.
  6. The wrist is reinforced by slightly accentuating the bones on the sides of the upper part.
  7. We go and dig and slightly flatten the lower part of the wrist. (Refer to 30 in the following screenshot.)

The hand is also a fairly complex part of the body. We will not detail the anatomy here. We will try to focus on the main forms that compose it. Observe your own hands for better understanding of the forms.

The arms

Now, we will begin forming gristle on the upper part of the hand with the Clay Strips brush.

  1. We have placed a bit of volume to the different phalanges in order to accentuate them. (Refer to 29 in the preceding screenshot.)
  2. There is some skin between the two fingers and between the index finger and thumb that we will dig. This skin allows the flexibility and elasticity of finger movements.
  3. We will take the Crease brush and mark the lower part of the phalanges where the folds of fingers will be.
  4. We will keep working with the Crease brush and draw the lines of the hands. The three main lines are enough to give the appearance of a palm (refer to 30 in the preceding screenshot).

The legs

We continue our sculpture with the legs. We can see that he has quite muscular thighs. The feet have a dynamic style that reflects the legs of a rabbit.

  1. As with other parts of the body previously created, we will adjust the silhouette of the legs with the Grab brush before detailing the shapes.
  2. We will slightly dig a line from the hip to the inside of the thigh that allows us to accentuate the adductor muscles (refer to the following screenshot).
    The legs
  3. Now it is time to use the Mask brush that will be only shown without our Matcap activated, that's why you can't see the Matcap in the following screenshots. The boots are up to the knees and have a window over the calves (refer screenshot 34). It is necessary to have enough polygons in order to get the mask contour sharp.
  4. In order to highlight the edges of boots, we will reverse the mask with the shortcut Ctrl + I (refer to 35).
    The legs

    Note

    The Mask brush

    This is a quite special brush. It allows us to mask an area of the mesh. It means that this area stays unchanged when any other brush is used as long as it is masked. Thus, we can create shapes that would be impossible to do otherwise. The uses are many. It is very useful for extruding surfaces.

    The legs
    The legs
  5. With the Grab brush, we will pull the polygons at the edge of the masking. Then we slightly raise them (refer to screenshot 36).
  6. We increase the level of detail to enhance the edges of the boots. We mark the separation with the Flatten/Contrast brush. We need to zoom enough and adjust the brush size (F) accordingly.

    Note

    The Flatten/Contrast brush

    In the Flatten mode, this brush allows us to smooth over a surface while digging slightly, or otherwise in the Contrast mode, it greatly increases the height of the relief. These two very different functions make it an even more interesting brush.

    The legs

By using the same technique, we can sculpt the collar in the neck area.

The belt

The belt needs to be treated separately because it's not about sculpting. We are going to use more the traditional tools that we saw in the previous chapter. But as you'll see, it is very interesting to mix the different techniques that you've learned in this chapter with polygonal modeling tools. That's why we are going to use the Grab brush in order to wrap the belt around his waist.

The belt

We will start the modeling of the belt with a primitive circle. After this, we will then place our cursor at the center of the character in the Object Mode from the top view in order to add a new circle with 32 vertices.

  1. In the Edit Mode (Tab), and with the Wireframe option of Viewport Shading on, we will adjust the size of the circle by scaling on the Y axis (S + Y). We then rotate it a little bit in order to match with the shape of the alien (refer to 39 in the preceding screenshot).
  2. We will then extrude the circle to form the height and the thickness of the belt. As we said before, we can now use the Grab brush (in the Sculpt Mode) in order to stick the belt to the waist. In our case, it's as if we were using the Proportional Editing tool (refer to 40 of the preceding screenshot).
  3. Then we will go back to the Edit Mode in order to add more resolution with the Loop Cut tool (Ctrl + R). We will also place a loop cut in the middle of the belt on which we will add a little Bevel (Ctrl + B).
  4. In the middle of the bevel, we will add a new edge loop that we will scale along the normals (Alt + S) (refer to 41 in the preceding screenshot).
  5. We can now switch back to the Sculpt Mode, and with the X symmetry option off, we can move the right-hand side down a little with the Grab brush.
    The belt

Now that we've finished the belt, it's now time to add the belt buckle as follows:

  1. In the Object Mode, we will add a new plane.
  2. Then we will go in the Edit Mode (Tab) and add a horizontal and a vertical edge loop (Ctrl + R).
  3. We will then resize these edge loops so that they form a diamond shape (refer to 42 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. It's now time to add a Subdivision Surface modifier.
  5. We will then add some edge loops on both sides in order to maintain the diamond shape.
  6. In order to add thickness to the buckle, we will do some extrusions of the whole geometry (A and E). As always, we will maintain the shape with the Loop Cut tool (Ctrl + R).
  7. We will also scale the front polygons of the buckle.
  8. Finally, we can place our belt buckle at the right place in the Object Mode.

There you go! Our little alien is ready for crazy galactic adventures!

The belt

A render of the final alien sculpt with Blender Internal Renderer

Sculpting the body

We are continuing the modeling of our alien using Dyntopo as we had previously mentioned. This will allow the creation of the antennae very easily while they are not yet present in the base mesh.

The following is the preparation of our environment before sculpting:

  1. We will set the optimizing options that were previously explained.
  2. We can adjust the lens parameter in the right panel of the 3D viewport (N). A high value lessens the focal deformations.
  3. We must check the mirror options in the left panel of the 3D viewport (T) to Symmetry/Lock by choosing the axis of symmetry. It is very important in order to save time.
  4. We will then activate the Dyntopo option in the left panel of the viewport. A detail size of around 25 percent is enough to start. It depends on the size of your model.

For a better understanding, we are going to start sculpting by adding details by iteration.

The head

We start defining the jaw and chin with the Clay Strips brush (refer to 1 in the following screenshot). It is unnecessary to have too many details for the moment. While sculpting, always remember to define the main shapes (the volumes) and then gradually move towards the details.

We then accentuate the delimitation between the jaw and neck without exaggeration. A strength of 0.5 is enough.

Note

The Clay Strips brush

The Clay Strips brush is a very useful brush to define muscles, dig or add polygons in a straight direction with pretty sharp outlines. It is the equivalent of the Clay Buildup in Zbrush.

The head
The head
  1. In order to dig into the polygons, we press Ctrl while sculpting. It allows us to switch to the Subtract mode on the fly.
  2. Then we slightly smooth the added geometry with the Smooth brush for a better blend of the created shape. You need to remember to smooth the shape very often in order to avoid having something too grainy.

    Note

    The Smooth brush

    This is often a very useful brush. It allows you to soften and smooth your shapes. This brush is so useful that there is a special shortcut that you absolutely need to know. Hold the Shift key while sculpting in order to use it. It works while using any brush. When you use it over a big density of polygons, it will be harder to smooth your shape, so it will be mainly useful before working on the details.

    The head
  3. Now that the jaw is sketched, we will go to the side view. Then we have to adjust the silhouette of the neck, as well as the skull with the Grab brush. Our alien has a very curved neck.
  4. We will adjust the shape of our model little by little by turning it around. It's very important to observe your model from different points of view.

    Do not hesitate a moment to look at the reference sketch and position the alien in a very similar pose. You can also create a new 3D view editor to keep an eye on the view of your choice (in our case, we've used the orthographic side view).

    Note

    The Grab brush

    This is often a very useful brush when you start a new model. It works a little bit in the same way that the Proportional Editing tool does. If you have any difficulties using it, you can go to the Curve options in the left panel of the viewport and modify the curve to decrease its profile.

    The head

In our case, we are going to use a very soft curve for the Smooth brush.

The head
  1. Again, we will take the Clay Strips brush to keep going on the face of the alien in order to dig the orbits and accentuate the eyebrows by adding matter (refer to 2 and 3 in the previous screenshot). Be careful to not add too much volume at this place. Do not hesitate to decrease the strength (Shift + F) of your brush, if necessary.
    The head
  2. We will also start to sketch the nose and the mouth (refer to 3 in the previous screenshot). Before detailing the lips, we need to start adding some new volume. We form a rounded edge created by the maxilla and the jaw. Remember that the front of a set of teeth has almost a semi-cylindrical shape. It's easier to create the mouth rounded volume from the bottom view.
  3. Once this is done, we can start sketching the opening of the mouth with the Crease brush, which allows us to draw a mined line. Consider the fact that the geometry is dynamic, so don't hesitate to add some resolution and pinch your shapes in order to make them more accentuated.

    Note

    The Crease brush

    This brush will allow you to draw lines by digging or adding some volume to your shapes while being pinched. It is perfect to accentuate muscles and make them well visible. It is the equivalent of the Dam Standard in Zbrush.

    The head
  4. We will again use the Clay Strips brush in order to give some volume to the lips.

    Remember to leave a little gap between the lower lip and the top lip. The top lip is a little bit more forward than the lower lip from a profile view.

  5. In the face view (refer to 5 in the previous screenshot), we will go back to the Object Mode (Tab) and place the 3D cursor where we want the eye at the middle of the orbit. It doesn't matter if the orbit is not completely dug.
  6. We will add UVSphere (Shift + A). We will resize this with the Scale Tool (S), and we will position it (G) in the front view (1) just as in the side view (3). For a good placement of the eye, looking at the wireframe can be helpful. You only need to go to the Object Data tab and then to the Group in the Properties editor, and check the Wire and Draw all Edges option.
  7. Then, we can sculpt around the eyelids with the Clay Strips brush by being careful to accentuate the outside and inside corner (the lacrimale caruncle) (refer to 7 in the following screenshot).
  8. In order to accentuate the eyes, let's pinch the upper and lower eyelids with the Crease brush (refer to 8 in the following screenshot).
    The head

    Finding a good position of the eye is not an easy task. You can move the facial structure with the Grab brush if you have problems. The top eyelid must be slightly forward. Conceptually, the eyes are inordinately big, so be careful that they don't touch each other.

  9. Now that the face begins to take shape, we will continue with the neck. We adjust the shape a little bit more with the Grab brush, then we start sculpting the muscles and bones of the neck. We carve the clavicles with the Clay Strips brush.
  10. Then we will move on the sterno-mastoid muscles. It is a muscle group that starts from the mastoid near the ear and attaches to the sternum and the clavicle. We keep working with the Clay Strips brush (refer to 9 and 10 in the following screenshot).
  11. In the side view, we can polish the silhouette of the neck with the Grab brush (refer to 11 in the following screenshot).
    The head

Now let's refine the face:

  1. We will come back to the mouth by adding some volume to accentuate the circular muscles around the mouth. Be careful to adjust the level details of Dyntopo to around 10 percent (refer to 13 in the following screenshot). As you may have seen, when you are sculpting an object, you don't directly get the shape that you want, so you always need to go back and forth over the different parts.
    The head
  2. This brings us to accentuating the wrinkles that make the junction with the cheeks.
  3. Then we will go and pinch the upper lips with the Pinch/Magnify brush. The lower lip doesn't need to be as pinched like the upper one. Again, you can increase the level detail of Dyntopo to around 7%.

    Note

    The Pinch/Magnify brush

    This brush allow us to pinch the polygons outwards or inwards (in the Subtract mode). It is perfect in our case to detail the lips, the wrinkles, or accentuate the contour of muscles. It is often used to get a cartoon style or for a hard surface modeling where you need to sculpt angular surfaces.

    The head
    The head
  4. We will take a moment to turn the head, including the top view (16); then we adjust the round shape of the skull with the Grab brush.
  5. Now, it's time to add the antennae (refer to 17 in the following image). For this, we are going to use the Snake Hook brush with a Dyntopo level detail of around 14%. The difficulty will be to find a good point of view of the head because we can't move the view while extracting the geometry with the Snake Hook brush. We must be positioned on the side in order to be able to extract the matter from a little area on the top of the forehead and stretch it outwards in a good direction. Do not hesitate to make several tries if this does not suit you. You can always adjust the size of the brush and the level of detail.
    The head

    Note

    Undo while being in the Sculpt Mode

    Unfortunately, the Undo function of Blender is not very optimized for the moment in the Sculpt Mode. It can be very slow, so do not use it too often. In many cases, you can probably quickly fix your mistakes without Undo.

    The Snake Hook brush

    This is very useful to sculpt horns or tentacles. This brush is more interesting with Dyntopo. The problem with a mesh that uses a Multires modifier is that topology problems quickly appear with a lack of geometry. As long as the topology is dynamic, we can easily create an arm, a leg, or anything else. We can extend this as long as we wish the shape of our model to be.

    The head
  6. Once the antennae are sculpted, we will add some polygons with the Clay Strips brush, then we will smooth them with the Smooth brush. We will magnify the extremity with the Inflate/Deflate brush (refer to 18 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. We will end this by digging forward a little bit with the Clay Strips brush in order to break the rounded shape.

    Note

    The Inflate/Deflate brush

    This brush will allow you to inflate volumes by pushing the polygons in the normal's direction, or the inverse in the opposite direction in the Subtract mode. It can be very useful for meshes with closely spaced surfaces that are difficult to sculpt. This gives a very fast volume that makes it much more comfortable for sculpting.

    The head

So our little alien has now its telepathy organs. We are going to sculpt the torso.

The torso

We will start the torso by sketching the pectoralis major muscle:

  1. We will start by smoothing the surface and adding enough details.
  2. With the Clay Strips brush, we will dig the dividing lines with the clavicle and the shoulder. (refer to 19 in the following screenshot).
  3. Then gradually, we will add some volume accentuating the muscle fibers. The brush strokes start from the bottom of the shoulder at the clip with the biceps and go to the center of the chest (refer to 20 in the following screenshot). Get used to guiding your brush movements in the direction of the muscle.
    The torso
  4. Once the pectoral is sculpted, we will slightly accentuate the bottom of the chest and the abs with very light touches of the Clay Strip brush. This is to suggest forms rather than showing them (refer to 21 in the preceding screenshot).
  5. We will then work on the back part of the alien. It is a complex part of the body. So we will start to draw the muscles (refer to 22 and 23 in the following screenshots) to gain visibility with the Crease brush. We can soften and smooth the muscle shapes. Then we will accentuate the spine with the Pinch/Magnify brush.
    The torso
  6. Now we will sculpt the buttocks. Avoid putting too much volume here. Turn the model around and observe the side view a moment, if necessary adjust the silhouette. Remember to draw a pinch line to accentuate the bottom of the buttocks with the Pinch/Magnify brush. This forms a fold between the buttock and the thigh (refer to 24 in the following screenshot).
  7. We will add a few folds to show that it is a combination.
  8. We will use the Pinch brush to accentuate the lower abdomen and pelvic bones (refer to 25 in the following screenshot). Unless you desire a different sexual orientation for our alien, feel free to add some volume to his crotch, it brings a little more realism. Don't be shy.
    The torso

    Note

    The Clay brush

    This brush allows you to add planar relief with a few soft edges. It is quite close to the Clay Strip brush that you already know but with a less sharp effect. It adds volume by raising with a low intensity. It is very good to refine organic shapes with precision.

    The torso

The arms

Now, let's start the arms. We can see in the drawing that they are pretty fine and not very muscular. His hands have two fingers and a thumb.

We won't need a lot of muscle details. We will be just interested in the major forms.

Let's begin the process:

  1. We will start by digging the part between the shoulder and the biceps with the Clay brush (refer to 26 in the following screenshot). This accentuates the shoulders.
  2. We will smooth a little, and then add some volume to the biceps (refer to 27 in the following screenshot). Slightly, we mark the outline of the muscles with the Crease brush and adjust the shape with the Grab brush.
    The arms
  3. Then we will work on the triceps that is located at the back of the arm. It is a muscle connected to the deltoid and covers the entire rear portion of the upper arm. We give it some volume by drawing the muscle fibers with some touches of the Clay Strips brush.
  4. The forearm is a complex area of human anatomy. It is usually quite difficult to sculpt. It consists of several muscles that twist to ensure the mobility of the hand and the fingers. For our alien, we simplified it by lessening the muscle visibility. With the Clay Strips brush, we will draw the long supinator that emerges because it forms the junction with the end of the biceps (refer to 28 in the preceding screenshot) near the elbow. We will then add some volume to the elbow.
  5. We will start from the elbow, and we mark a slight stroke of the Clay Strips brush in the direction of the wrist.
  6. The wrist is reinforced by slightly accentuating the bones on the sides of the upper part.
  7. We go and dig and slightly flatten the lower part of the wrist. (Refer to 30 in the following screenshot.)

The hand is also a fairly complex part of the body. We will not detail the anatomy here. We will try to focus on the main forms that compose it. Observe your own hands for better understanding of the forms.

The arms

Now, we will begin forming gristle on the upper part of the hand with the Clay Strips brush.

  1. We have placed a bit of volume to the different phalanges in order to accentuate them. (Refer to 29 in the preceding screenshot.)
  2. There is some skin between the two fingers and between the index finger and thumb that we will dig. This skin allows the flexibility and elasticity of finger movements.
  3. We will take the Crease brush and mark the lower part of the phalanges where the folds of fingers will be.
  4. We will keep working with the Crease brush and draw the lines of the hands. The three main lines are enough to give the appearance of a palm (refer to 30 in the preceding screenshot).

The legs

We continue our sculpture with the legs. We can see that he has quite muscular thighs. The feet have a dynamic style that reflects the legs of a rabbit.

  1. As with other parts of the body previously created, we will adjust the silhouette of the legs with the Grab brush before detailing the shapes.
  2. We will slightly dig a line from the hip to the inside of the thigh that allows us to accentuate the adductor muscles (refer to the following screenshot).
    The legs
  3. Now it is time to use the Mask brush that will be only shown without our Matcap activated, that's why you can't see the Matcap in the following screenshots. The boots are up to the knees and have a window over the calves (refer screenshot 34). It is necessary to have enough polygons in order to get the mask contour sharp.
  4. In order to highlight the edges of boots, we will reverse the mask with the shortcut Ctrl + I (refer to 35).
    The legs

    Note

    The Mask brush

    This is a quite special brush. It allows us to mask an area of the mesh. It means that this area stays unchanged when any other brush is used as long as it is masked. Thus, we can create shapes that would be impossible to do otherwise. The uses are many. It is very useful for extruding surfaces.

    The legs
    The legs
  5. With the Grab brush, we will pull the polygons at the edge of the masking. Then we slightly raise them (refer to screenshot 36).
  6. We increase the level of detail to enhance the edges of the boots. We mark the separation with the Flatten/Contrast brush. We need to zoom enough and adjust the brush size (F) accordingly.

    Note

    The Flatten/Contrast brush

    In the Flatten mode, this brush allows us to smooth over a surface while digging slightly, or otherwise in the Contrast mode, it greatly increases the height of the relief. These two very different functions make it an even more interesting brush.

    The legs

By using the same technique, we can sculpt the collar in the neck area.

The belt

The belt needs to be treated separately because it's not about sculpting. We are going to use more the traditional tools that we saw in the previous chapter. But as you'll see, it is very interesting to mix the different techniques that you've learned in this chapter with polygonal modeling tools. That's why we are going to use the Grab brush in order to wrap the belt around his waist.

The belt

We will start the modeling of the belt with a primitive circle. After this, we will then place our cursor at the center of the character in the Object Mode from the top view in order to add a new circle with 32 vertices.

  1. In the Edit Mode (Tab), and with the Wireframe option of Viewport Shading on, we will adjust the size of the circle by scaling on the Y axis (S + Y). We then rotate it a little bit in order to match with the shape of the alien (refer to 39 in the preceding screenshot).
  2. We will then extrude the circle to form the height and the thickness of the belt. As we said before, we can now use the Grab brush (in the Sculpt Mode) in order to stick the belt to the waist. In our case, it's as if we were using the Proportional Editing tool (refer to 40 of the preceding screenshot).
  3. Then we will go back to the Edit Mode in order to add more resolution with the Loop Cut tool (Ctrl + R). We will also place a loop cut in the middle of the belt on which we will add a little Bevel (Ctrl + B).
  4. In the middle of the bevel, we will add a new edge loop that we will scale along the normals (Alt + S) (refer to 41 in the preceding screenshot).
  5. We can now switch back to the Sculpt Mode, and with the X symmetry option off, we can move the right-hand side down a little with the Grab brush.
    The belt

Now that we've finished the belt, it's now time to add the belt buckle as follows:

  1. In the Object Mode, we will add a new plane.
  2. Then we will go in the Edit Mode (Tab) and add a horizontal and a vertical edge loop (Ctrl + R).
  3. We will then resize these edge loops so that they form a diamond shape (refer to 42 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. It's now time to add a Subdivision Surface modifier.
  5. We will then add some edge loops on both sides in order to maintain the diamond shape.
  6. In order to add thickness to the buckle, we will do some extrusions of the whole geometry (A and E). As always, we will maintain the shape with the Loop Cut tool (Ctrl + R).
  7. We will also scale the front polygons of the buckle.
  8. Finally, we can place our belt buckle at the right place in the Object Mode.

There you go! Our little alien is ready for crazy galactic adventures!

The belt

A render of the final alien sculpt with Blender Internal Renderer

The head

We start defining the jaw and chin with the Clay Strips brush (refer to 1 in the following screenshot). It is unnecessary to have too many details for the moment. While sculpting, always remember to define the main shapes (the volumes) and then gradually move towards the details.

We then accentuate the delimitation between the jaw and neck without exaggeration. A strength of 0.5 is enough.

Note

The Clay Strips brush

The Clay Strips brush is a very useful brush to define muscles, dig or add polygons in a straight direction with pretty sharp outlines. It is the equivalent of the Clay Buildup in Zbrush.

The head
The head
  1. In order to dig into the polygons, we press Ctrl while sculpting. It allows us to switch to the Subtract mode on the fly.
  2. Then we slightly smooth the added geometry with the Smooth brush for a better blend of the created shape. You need to remember to smooth the shape very often in order to avoid having something too grainy.

    Note

    The Smooth brush

    This is often a very useful brush. It allows you to soften and smooth your shapes. This brush is so useful that there is a special shortcut that you absolutely need to know. Hold the Shift key while sculpting in order to use it. It works while using any brush. When you use it over a big density of polygons, it will be harder to smooth your shape, so it will be mainly useful before working on the details.

    The head
  3. Now that the jaw is sketched, we will go to the side view. Then we have to adjust the silhouette of the neck, as well as the skull with the Grab brush. Our alien has a very curved neck.
  4. We will adjust the shape of our model little by little by turning it around. It's very important to observe your model from different points of view.

    Do not hesitate a moment to look at the reference sketch and position the alien in a very similar pose. You can also create a new 3D view editor to keep an eye on the view of your choice (in our case, we've used the orthographic side view).

    Note

    The Grab brush

    This is often a very useful brush when you start a new model. It works a little bit in the same way that the Proportional Editing tool does. If you have any difficulties using it, you can go to the Curve options in the left panel of the viewport and modify the curve to decrease its profile.

    The head

In our case, we are going to use a very soft curve for the Smooth brush.

The head
  1. Again, we will take the Clay Strips brush to keep going on the face of the alien in order to dig the orbits and accentuate the eyebrows by adding matter (refer to 2 and 3 in the previous screenshot). Be careful to not add too much volume at this place. Do not hesitate to decrease the strength (Shift + F) of your brush, if necessary.
    The head
  2. We will also start to sketch the nose and the mouth (refer to 3 in the previous screenshot). Before detailing the lips, we need to start adding some new volume. We form a rounded edge created by the maxilla and the jaw. Remember that the front of a set of teeth has almost a semi-cylindrical shape. It's easier to create the mouth rounded volume from the bottom view.
  3. Once this is done, we can start sketching the opening of the mouth with the Crease brush, which allows us to draw a mined line. Consider the fact that the geometry is dynamic, so don't hesitate to add some resolution and pinch your shapes in order to make them more accentuated.

    Note

    The Crease brush

    This brush will allow you to draw lines by digging or adding some volume to your shapes while being pinched. It is perfect to accentuate muscles and make them well visible. It is the equivalent of the Dam Standard in Zbrush.

    The head
  4. We will again use the Clay Strips brush in order to give some volume to the lips.

    Remember to leave a little gap between the lower lip and the top lip. The top lip is a little bit more forward than the lower lip from a profile view.

  5. In the face view (refer to 5 in the previous screenshot), we will go back to the Object Mode (Tab) and place the 3D cursor where we want the eye at the middle of the orbit. It doesn't matter if the orbit is not completely dug.
  6. We will add UVSphere (Shift + A). We will resize this with the Scale Tool (S), and we will position it (G) in the front view (1) just as in the side view (3). For a good placement of the eye, looking at the wireframe can be helpful. You only need to go to the Object Data tab and then to the Group in the Properties editor, and check the Wire and Draw all Edges option.
  7. Then, we can sculpt around the eyelids with the Clay Strips brush by being careful to accentuate the outside and inside corner (the lacrimale caruncle) (refer to 7 in the following screenshot).
  8. In order to accentuate the eyes, let's pinch the upper and lower eyelids with the Crease brush (refer to 8 in the following screenshot).
    The head

    Finding a good position of the eye is not an easy task. You can move the facial structure with the Grab brush if you have problems. The top eyelid must be slightly forward. Conceptually, the eyes are inordinately big, so be careful that they don't touch each other.

  9. Now that the face begins to take shape, we will continue with the neck. We adjust the shape a little bit more with the Grab brush, then we start sculpting the muscles and bones of the neck. We carve the clavicles with the Clay Strips brush.
  10. Then we will move on the sterno-mastoid muscles. It is a muscle group that starts from the mastoid near the ear and attaches to the sternum and the clavicle. We keep working with the Clay Strips brush (refer to 9 and 10 in the following screenshot).
  11. In the side view, we can polish the silhouette of the neck with the Grab brush (refer to 11 in the following screenshot).
    The head

Now let's refine the face:

  1. We will come back to the mouth by adding some volume to accentuate the circular muscles around the mouth. Be careful to adjust the level details of Dyntopo to around 10 percent (refer to 13 in the following screenshot). As you may have seen, when you are sculpting an object, you don't directly get the shape that you want, so you always need to go back and forth over the different parts.
    The head
  2. This brings us to accentuating the wrinkles that make the junction with the cheeks.
  3. Then we will go and pinch the upper lips with the Pinch/Magnify brush. The lower lip doesn't need to be as pinched like the upper one. Again, you can increase the level detail of Dyntopo to around 7%.

    Note

    The Pinch/Magnify brush

    This brush allow us to pinch the polygons outwards or inwards (in the Subtract mode). It is perfect in our case to detail the lips, the wrinkles, or accentuate the contour of muscles. It is often used to get a cartoon style or for a hard surface modeling where you need to sculpt angular surfaces.

    The head
    The head
  4. We will take a moment to turn the head, including the top view (16); then we adjust the round shape of the skull with the Grab brush.
  5. Now, it's time to add the antennae (refer to 17 in the following image). For this, we are going to use the Snake Hook brush with a Dyntopo level detail of around 14%. The difficulty will be to find a good point of view of the head because we can't move the view while extracting the geometry with the Snake Hook brush. We must be positioned on the side in order to be able to extract the matter from a little area on the top of the forehead and stretch it outwards in a good direction. Do not hesitate to make several tries if this does not suit you. You can always adjust the size of the brush and the level of detail.
    The head

    Note

    Undo while being in the Sculpt Mode

    Unfortunately, the Undo function of Blender is not very optimized for the moment in the Sculpt Mode. It can be very slow, so do not use it too often. In many cases, you can probably quickly fix your mistakes without Undo.

    The Snake Hook brush

    This is very useful to sculpt horns or tentacles. This brush is more interesting with Dyntopo. The problem with a mesh that uses a Multires modifier is that topology problems quickly appear with a lack of geometry. As long as the topology is dynamic, we can easily create an arm, a leg, or anything else. We can extend this as long as we wish the shape of our model to be.

    The head
  6. Once the antennae are sculpted, we will add some polygons with the Clay Strips brush, then we will smooth them with the Smooth brush. We will magnify the extremity with the Inflate/Deflate brush (refer to 18 in the preceding screenshot).
  7. We will end this by digging forward a little bit with the Clay Strips brush in order to break the rounded shape.

    Note

    The Inflate/Deflate brush

    This brush will allow you to inflate volumes by pushing the polygons in the normal's direction, or the inverse in the opposite direction in the Subtract mode. It can be very useful for meshes with closely spaced surfaces that are difficult to sculpt. This gives a very fast volume that makes it much more comfortable for sculpting.

    The head

So our little alien has now its telepathy organs. We are going to sculpt the torso.

The torso

We will start the torso by sketching the pectoralis major muscle:

  1. We will start by smoothing the surface and adding enough details.
  2. With the Clay Strips brush, we will dig the dividing lines with the clavicle and the shoulder. (refer to 19 in the following screenshot).
  3. Then gradually, we will add some volume accentuating the muscle fibers. The brush strokes start from the bottom of the shoulder at the clip with the biceps and go to the center of the chest (refer to 20 in the following screenshot). Get used to guiding your brush movements in the direction of the muscle.
    The torso
  4. Once the pectoral is sculpted, we will slightly accentuate the bottom of the chest and the abs with very light touches of the Clay Strip brush. This is to suggest forms rather than showing them (refer to 21 in the preceding screenshot).
  5. We will then work on the back part of the alien. It is a complex part of the body. So we will start to draw the muscles (refer to 22 and 23 in the following screenshots) to gain visibility with the Crease brush. We can soften and smooth the muscle shapes. Then we will accentuate the spine with the Pinch/Magnify brush.
    The torso
  6. Now we will sculpt the buttocks. Avoid putting too much volume here. Turn the model around and observe the side view a moment, if necessary adjust the silhouette. Remember to draw a pinch line to accentuate the bottom of the buttocks with the Pinch/Magnify brush. This forms a fold between the buttock and the thigh (refer to 24 in the following screenshot).
  7. We will add a few folds to show that it is a combination.
  8. We will use the Pinch brush to accentuate the lower abdomen and pelvic bones (refer to 25 in the following screenshot). Unless you desire a different sexual orientation for our alien, feel free to add some volume to his crotch, it brings a little more realism. Don't be shy.
    The torso

    Note

    The Clay brush

    This brush allows you to add planar relief with a few soft edges. It is quite close to the Clay Strip brush that you already know but with a less sharp effect. It adds volume by raising with a low intensity. It is very good to refine organic shapes with precision.

    The torso

The arms

Now, let's start the arms. We can see in the drawing that they are pretty fine and not very muscular. His hands have two fingers and a thumb.

We won't need a lot of muscle details. We will be just interested in the major forms.

Let's begin the process:

  1. We will start by digging the part between the shoulder and the biceps with the Clay brush (refer to 26 in the following screenshot). This accentuates the shoulders.
  2. We will smooth a little, and then add some volume to the biceps (refer to 27 in the following screenshot). Slightly, we mark the outline of the muscles with the Crease brush and adjust the shape with the Grab brush.
    The arms
  3. Then we will work on the triceps that is located at the back of the arm. It is a muscle connected to the deltoid and covers the entire rear portion of the upper arm. We give it some volume by drawing the muscle fibers with some touches of the Clay Strips brush.
  4. The forearm is a complex area of human anatomy. It is usually quite difficult to sculpt. It consists of several muscles that twist to ensure the mobility of the hand and the fingers. For our alien, we simplified it by lessening the muscle visibility. With the Clay Strips brush, we will draw the long supinator that emerges because it forms the junction with the end of the biceps (refer to 28 in the preceding screenshot) near the elbow. We will then add some volume to the elbow.
  5. We will start from the elbow, and we mark a slight stroke of the Clay Strips brush in the direction of the wrist.
  6. The wrist is reinforced by slightly accentuating the bones on the sides of the upper part.
  7. We go and dig and slightly flatten the lower part of the wrist. (Refer to 30 in the following screenshot.)

The hand is also a fairly complex part of the body. We will not detail the anatomy here. We will try to focus on the main forms that compose it. Observe your own hands for better understanding of the forms.

The arms

Now, we will begin forming gristle on the upper part of the hand with the Clay Strips brush.

  1. We have placed a bit of volume to the different phalanges in order to accentuate them. (Refer to 29 in the preceding screenshot.)
  2. There is some skin between the two fingers and between the index finger and thumb that we will dig. This skin allows the flexibility and elasticity of finger movements.
  3. We will take the Crease brush and mark the lower part of the phalanges where the folds of fingers will be.
  4. We will keep working with the Crease brush and draw the lines of the hands. The three main lines are enough to give the appearance of a palm (refer to 30 in the preceding screenshot).

The legs

We continue our sculpture with the legs. We can see that he has quite muscular thighs. The feet have a dynamic style that reflects the legs of a rabbit.

  1. As with other parts of the body previously created, we will adjust the silhouette of the legs with the Grab brush before detailing the shapes.
  2. We will slightly dig a line from the hip to the inside of the thigh that allows us to accentuate the adductor muscles (refer to the following screenshot).
    The legs
  3. Now it is time to use the Mask brush that will be only shown without our Matcap activated, that's why you can't see the Matcap in the following screenshots. The boots are up to the knees and have a window over the calves (refer screenshot 34). It is necessary to have enough polygons in order to get the mask contour sharp.
  4. In order to highlight the edges of boots, we will reverse the mask with the shortcut Ctrl + I (refer to 35).
    The legs

    Note

    The Mask brush

    This is a quite special brush. It allows us to mask an area of the mesh. It means that this area stays unchanged when any other brush is used as long as it is masked. Thus, we can create shapes that would be impossible to do otherwise. The uses are many. It is very useful for extruding surfaces.

    The legs
    The legs
  5. With the Grab brush, we will pull the polygons at the edge of the masking. Then we slightly raise them (refer to screenshot 36).
  6. We increase the level of detail to enhance the edges of the boots. We mark the separation with the Flatten/Contrast brush. We need to zoom enough and adjust the brush size (F) accordingly.

    Note

    The Flatten/Contrast brush

    In the Flatten mode, this brush allows us to smooth over a surface while digging slightly, or otherwise in the Contrast mode, it greatly increases the height of the relief. These two very different functions make it an even more interesting brush.

    The legs

By using the same technique, we can sculpt the collar in the neck area.

The belt

The belt needs to be treated separately because it's not about sculpting. We are going to use more the traditional tools that we saw in the previous chapter. But as you'll see, it is very interesting to mix the different techniques that you've learned in this chapter with polygonal modeling tools. That's why we are going to use the Grab brush in order to wrap the belt around his waist.

The belt

We will start the modeling of the belt with a primitive circle. After this, we will then place our cursor at the center of the character in the Object Mode from the top view in order to add a new circle with 32 vertices.

  1. In the Edit Mode (Tab), and with the Wireframe option of Viewport Shading on, we will adjust the size of the circle by scaling on the Y axis (S + Y). We then rotate it a little bit in order to match with the shape of the alien (refer to 39 in the preceding screenshot).
  2. We will then extrude the circle to form the height and the thickness of the belt. As we said before, we can now use the Grab brush (in the Sculpt Mode) in order to stick the belt to the waist. In our case, it's as if we were using the Proportional Editing tool (refer to 40 of the preceding screenshot).
  3. Then we will go back to the Edit Mode in order to add more resolution with the Loop Cut tool (Ctrl + R). We will also place a loop cut in the middle of the belt on which we will add a little Bevel (Ctrl + B).
  4. In the middle of the bevel, we will add a new edge loop that we will scale along the normals (Alt + S) (refer to 41 in the preceding screenshot).
  5. We can now switch back to the Sculpt Mode, and with the X symmetry option off, we can move the right-hand side down a little with the Grab brush.
    The belt

Now that we've finished the belt, it's now time to add the belt buckle as follows:

  1. In the Object Mode, we will add a new plane.
  2. Then we will go in the Edit Mode (Tab) and add a horizontal and a vertical edge loop (Ctrl + R).
  3. We will then resize these edge loops so that they form a diamond shape (refer to 42 in the preceding screenshot).
  4. It's now time to add a Subdivision Surface modifier.
  5. We will then add some edge loops on both sides in order to maintain the diamond shape.
  6. In order to add thickness to the buckle, we will do some extrusions of the whole geometry (A and E). As always, we will maintain the shape with the Loop Cut tool (Ctrl + R).
  7. We will also scale the front polygons of the buckle.
  8. Finally, we can place our belt buckle at the right place in the Object Mode.

There you go! Our little alien is ready for crazy galactic adventures!

The belt

A render of the final alien sculpt with Blender Internal Renderer

The torso

We will start the torso by sketching the pectoralis major muscle:

  1. We will start by smoothing the surface and adding enough details.
  2. With the Clay Strips brush, we will dig the dividing lines with the clavicle and the shoulder. (refer to 19 in the following screenshot).
  3. Then gradually, we will add some volume accentuating the muscle fibers. The brush strokes start from the bottom of the shoulder at the clip with the biceps and go to the center of the chest (refer to 20 in the following screenshot). Get used to guiding your brush movements in the direction of the muscle.
    The torso
  4. Once the pectoral is sculpted, we will slightly accentuate the bottom of the chest and the abs with very light touches of the Clay Strip brush. This is to suggest forms rather than showing them (refer to 21 in the preceding screenshot).
  5. We will then work on the back part of the alien. It is a complex part of the body. So we will start to draw the muscles (refer to 22 and 23 in the following screenshots) to gain visibility with the Crease brush. We can soften and smooth the muscle shapes. Then we will accentuate the spine with the Pinch/Magnify brush.
    The torso
  6. Now we will sculpt the buttocks. Avoid putting too much volume here. Turn the model around and observe the side view a moment, if necessary adjust the silhouette. Remember to draw a pinch line to accentuate the bottom of the buttocks with the Pinch/Magnify brush. This forms a fold between the buttock and the thigh (refer to 24 in the following screenshot).
  7. We will add a few folds to show that it is a combination.
  8. We will use the Pinch brush to accentuate the lower abdomen and pelvic bones (refer to 25 in the following screenshot). Unless you desire a different sexual orientation for our alien, feel free to add some volume to his crotch, it brings a little more realism. Don't be shy.
    The torso

    Note

    The Clay brush

    This brush allows you to add planar relief with a few soft edges. It is quite close to the Clay Strip brush that you already know but with a less sharp effect. It adds volume by raising with a low intensity. It is very good to refine organic shapes with precision.

    The torso

The arms

Now, let's start the