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Shaping the outline of the mouth

Deleting the center vertex (which is hidden behind the Obejct Center marker).

This plane will become the edge of the mouth. We'll extrude it out and add some more vertices. But first, we need to make a hole in the plane.

  • In Edit Mode, delete the center vertex (RMB Template-RMB.png to select, X to delete). It's tough to see, since the Object Center of the plane (indicated by the filled pink circle) is directly on top of it. Click RMB Template-RMB.png on top of the Object Center, and the center vertex behind it should become selected. Then you can delete it with X.

Mirrored plane with center vertex deleted.

It looks like the plane is no longer mirrored. In fact, it still is, you just can't see it. By deleting that center vertex, we've also deleted the faces that contained the deleted vertex. It turns out that in our simple plane, the center vertex we just deleted was a part of all the faces. As a result, when we deleted the center vertex the faces were deleted as well. Note that the edges around the outside are still there. In the following steps, we'll be making more faces from those outside edges.

Moving middle vertex.
  • Select the middle vertex on the right side with RMB Template-RMB.png.
  • Move the middle-right vertex out 2 units or so in the X direction:
    • G to enter Grab mode
    • X to constrain the motion in the X direction
    • 2 to move 2 units to the right, as in Moving the middle vertex. This demonstrates that you can type in exact numbers for any particular transform.
    • LMB Template-LMB.png (or ↵ Enter) to confirm.


Moving the vertex was the first transform we've done so far, and it was a grab (also called move or translate) transform. The following transform commands are EXTREMELY IMPORTANT:


G to grab.


R to rotate.


S to scale.

These transforms all work pretty much the same way:

Standard transform

  • Enter a transform mode by using one of the following:
    • G for grab
    • R for rotate
    • S for scale
  • Move the mouse
  • LMB Template-LMB.png to confirm
  • RMB Template-RMB.png or Esc to cancel

Modify a transform

You can modify a transform while in transform mode, usually either to constrain the transform along an axis or to make the transform easier to make. While in transform mode, use one of these modifiers:

  • X to constrain to the X axis
  • Y to constrain to the Y axis
  • Z to constrain to the Z axis
  • Hold MMB Template-MMB.png, move the mouse to highlight the axis you want to transform along, let go of MMB Template-MMB.png and continue the transform.
  • Hold Ctrl to snap the transform to the grid.
  • Hold ⇧ Shift to slow down the transform for fine control

Other notes on transformations

By default, the center of transformation is the center of the selected object[s]. But for some transforms, when you start the transform it matters where the mouse is at in relation to the center of transformation.

For example, after pressing S for a scale transform, moving the mouse pointer towards the object center will decrease the size, and moving the mouse pointer away from the object center will increase it. If your mouse cursor is very close to the object center when you hit S, your mouse movements will have a large effect on the scaling. If your mouse cursor is far away from the object center when you hit S, your mouse movements will have less of an effect. The same thing goes for rotating: the closer the mouse pointer is to the center of rotation, the more of an effect your mouse motions will have while rotating.

Be careful: If, while scaling, you move the mouse cursor across the object center, you effectively flip the object. If you are scaling some vertices on just part of an object, strange things can happen if they get flipped.

If all of this transform business seems confusing and way too complicated, don't worry about memorizing it all for now. As you get more practice, you'll see how incredibly efficient all these transform options can be.

Extruding the mouth

Pivot center menu.

Before we move on, make sure that the Pivot Center is set to Median Point. This is the default setting, but double check it just in case.

The Pivot Center sets not only the center of rotation when pressing the R key, but also the center of scaling when using the S key. If it's set to something else (like 3D Cursor) then the results of your scaling will not look the same as these screenshots.

Make sure that once you select the pivot center, you move the mouse cursor back to the 3D View. If your mouse cursor is in the button window when you try to select and extrude vertices, the hot keys WILL NOT WORK as advertised. Hot keys only affect the active window, and that's the window your mouse cursor is in when you type the hot key. The same hot key can have different effects (or no effect at all) depending on where your mouse cursor is when you type the hot key.

Scaling the first extrusion.

Now let's form more of the mouth.

  • Select all vertices in the mesh with A.
  • Enter Extrude mode (E>>Only Edges).
  • Extrude Mode automatically puts you in Grab mode. Move the mouse up, down, left and right to see what Extrude does.
  • Switch to Scale mode by pressing S. Note: It matters where the mouse cursor is when you press S.
  • Scale up the extruded vertices by moving the mouse away from the Object Center so it looks something like Scaling the first extrusion
  • LMB Template-LMB.png to confirm the scaling.


E to enter Extrude Mode

Common menu choices are "Only Edges" or "Region".

Grab mode is automatically entered. Optional: use S to switch to Scale mode or R to switch to Rotate mode).

LMB Template-LMB.png to confirm the extrude.
RMB Template-RMB.png to cancel the extrude.

The newly extruded vertices remain selected after you exit Extrude mode.

This was the first extrusion we've done so far. Along with selecting and transforming, extruding is one of the most common actions when modeling in 3D. When you enter Extrude mode, new vertices are created directly on top of the vertices you had selected to extrude, and Grab mode is activated. Here, we didn't want Grab mode so we switched to Scale mode instead. A useful thing to remember is that the newly extruded vertices remain selected when you exit Extrude mode.

Extruding creates vertices on top of the vertices you selected to extrude, even if you cancel the extrude with RMB Template-RMB.png. This can be a source of trouble for new users. If you want to get rid of those extra vertices, undo the extrude with CtrlZ. If it's been a while since you extruded and Undo won't work, use W>>Remove Doubles. This merges all vertices that are directly on top of each other.

After two more extrusions.
  • Repeat the extrusion and scaling two more times (for a total of three) by using:
  • E>>Only Edges to extrude
  • S to scale
  • LMB Template-LMB.png to confirm.

The result should look something like After two more extrusions.

Loop cutting the mouth

Setting up the first loop cut. Note purple line indicating which edges will be cut.
After the second loop cut. Yellow vertices were just created from the loop cut.

The Extrude tool, which we just used, is typically used to create additional vertices while expanding the mesh. There's a different type tool to use if we want to add more vertices but don't want to expand the mesh any more: the Loop Cut. To make a Loop Cut,

  • Enter Loop Cut mode with CtrlR
  • You'll see a purple line which shows approximately where the cut will be made.
  • Move the mouse around until you see the purple line as in Setting up the first loop cut.
  • LMB Template-LMB.png to confirm the selected loop.
  • Move the mouse around to see that you can place the new cut, indicated by the sliding yellow vertices, anywhere you'd like. However, we want the cut to be exactly in the middle of the loop.
  • MMB Template-MMB.png to make the cut exactly in the middle of the loop.
  • Make another loop cut on the bottom as well, to end up with something like After the second loop cut.
  • If the Loop Cutting is not working correctly, make sure that 'Mirror Vgroups' is not selected by default.

Manipulating the 3D View

The 3D Cursor

The 3D cursor is a handy tool. It acts as a reference point for transforms and determines where new objects are placed.

LMB Template-LMB.png to position the cursor
⇧ ShiftS for the Snap menu

The 3D-cursor.

More info: Doc:2.4/Manual/3D interaction/Transform Control/Pivot Point/3D Cursor

Important: Use MMB Template-MMB.png to rotate the view around and get just the right angle.

When you want to be precise about moving some vertices, switch to one of the NumPad views (1 NumPad,3 NumPad,7 NumPad) and move the vertices from that view. If you are in Front view, for example, when you move the vertices, you will ONLY be able to move them left/right and up/down . . . NOT forward/back. Similarly, in Side view, you can only move forward/back and up/down . . not left/right.

Centering the view

Sometimes when you rotate the view with MMB Template-MMB.png, it seems like you're rotating around the wrong center, and this can get frustrating. There's an easy way to fix this:

  • Move the 3D Cursor to where you want the view to be centered by clicking LMB Template-LMB.png.
  • Center the view on the 3D Cursor with C. Now the view will be rotated around the 3D Cursor.

And another way, if you don't want to move the 3D Cursor:

  • Make a selection
  • Press . NumPad to center the view on the current selection.

Shaping the mouth

Shaping the mouth, from Top View.

Let's give the mouth some shape.

  • In Top View (7 NumPad), select the right-most vertex
  • O (the letter, not the number) to enable proportional editing. Proportional editing transforms nearby vertices even though they're not selected. After starting a transform (grab, rotate, or scale), the mouse cursor will turn into a circle to outline the sphere of influence. You can use Wheel Template-MW.png to adjust the size of the sphere of influence while transforming.
  • Move the vertex up and in a little, using G, to look something like Shaping the mouth. I ended up making the sphere of influence pretty large with Wheel Template-MW.png (so the outer edge of the circle was almost touching the Object Center) to form this mouth shape in a single move.

Proportional Editing

O to toggle proportional editing
Wheel Template-MW.png to change the influence
(or Alt+ NumPad and Alt- NumPad after G, R or S)

More info: Manual/PartII/Advanced_Mesh_Modelling

If everything disappears . . .
If you press a number key at the top of the keyboard by mistake and everything disappears, press the ` key (the one next to the 1 key, it also has a ~ on it) to get it back.

This happened because the numbers at the top of the keyboard let you view individual layers.

The Plane was added to Layer 1 by default and there's nothing on Layer 7. So if you press 7, it shows just Layer 7 and it seems like the plane disppeared. Just press the ` key to show all layers at once.

Set smooth and recalculating normals

Set smooth button, in the Edit buttons.
  • ⇆ Tab to switch from Edit Mode to Object Mode. See how the mouth is sort of blocky? Let's change that.
  • The mouth should still be selected.
  • Find the Set Smooth button in the Edit Buttons (Buttons Window, Edit context . . . or F9 as a shortcut) as in Set Smooth button.

Wrong normals. To fix this, select all vertices in Edit Mode and hit CtrlN to recalculate normals.
Correct normals (after recalculating normals).

See those ugly black lines in Wrong normals? Sometimes this happens when you do several extrudes. You can read about the details of why it happens, here: Manual/PartII/Subsurfaces.

Here's how to fix it:

  • ⇆ Tab to switch to Edit Mode.
  • A to select all vertices.
  • CtrlN to Recalculate Normals.
  • ⇆ Tab to get back to Object Mode.
  • The result should look like Correct normals.

Adding a subsurf modifier

Modifier stack, with the Subsurf modifier underneath the Mirror modifier.
Subsurfed mouth.

The corners of the mouth are still sort of sharp. One way to smooth it out would be to add many more vertices to round out the corners. There's another, better way: it's called Subdivision surfacing, or Subsurf for short. Subsurf is a fancy way of getting a smooth-looking object from a relatively coarse base mesh. It makes your model look better without needing lots of vertices. Luckily, it's quite easy to do in Blender.

  • With the mesh still selected, add a Subsurf modifier (Modifier stack) with the default settings.
  • The result should look something like Subsurfed mouth.
  • You can make the mouth look even smoother by increasing the Levels under the Subsurf Modifier. It's a tradeoff, though: Subsurf takes computing power. Setting the Levels too high will slow down your computer. It won't be an issue for a mesh this simple, but you will notice a difference with more complex meshes.
  • You can learn more about Subsurf here: Manual/PartII/Subsurfaces

Controlling Modifiers in Edit Mode

Modifier details.
Subsurf on in Edit Mode (Default).
Subsurf off in Edit Mode.
Subsurf on in Edit Mode and applied to editing cage.

Each time you create a modifier, it's added to the modifier stack. Each modifier applied to a mesh can be seen in this stack (see Modifier stack). Currently, this mesh has two modifiers: a Mirror modifier and a Subsurf modifier. Take a look at the icons next to the modifier name (outline in yellow, Modifier details).

Check out the right-most of the three buttons ("Enable modifier during editmode") and the gray circle to the right of the three buttons ("Apply modifier to editing cage during Editmode"). These buttons are great for tweaking a mesh. They turn a Modifier on and off when you're in Edit Mode. Try this:

  • Switch to Edit Mode (⇆ Tab)
  • By default, Subsurf is turned on in Edit Mode. Note how from Front View, some vertices are hidden under the subsurface -- they don't follow the surface. This is just something to be aware of when using Subsurf in Edit Mode. Think of the vertices as a cage, and the subsurface like a sheet tossed over the cage. By moving the cage, you'll move the sheet.
  • Turn Subsurf off by clicking the right-most button in the Modifier (the one that says "Enable modifier during Editmode" when you hover the mouse over it). Sometimes it's useful to turn Subsurf off temporarily while you're modeling.
  • Turn Subsurf back on with that same button.
  • Now click the gray circle next to the buttons ("Apply modifier to editing cage"). Now, all the vertices are on the subsurface. It's no longer a cage with a sheet draped over it, now we can move the subsurface directly.
  • Click the gray circle again to remove the Subsurf modifier from the editing cage. Now we're back to the default view.

Which view you use is a matter of personal preference. I tend to switch a lot between them as I'm modeling. Sometimes one view is better than another for certain circumstances, which we'll see later.

Don't forget to save a version with F2-+ NumPad-↵ Enter!

Great! You've learned the primary tools for modeling: Grab, Scale, Rotate, and Extrude. These skills will be very important in the next part of the tutorial. We started the mouth and then smoothed it using Set Smooth and a Subsurf Modifier, and saw how to apply the modifier to Edit Mode.

Next:Face and eyes

Previous: Setting up the mesh

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