Welcome to Blender!
If you haven't already, please take the time to read the Introduction for important information regarding this tutorial.
You can download Blender from www.blender.org. Blender is available for many operating systems: Windows, OSX, Linux, Solaris, and FreeBSD. Instructions for installation can also be found there. Once it's installed and started up, you'll see something like this:
In the default screen, moving from the top down, there is:
- A top header containing the File menu, Add menu, and others
- The 3D Window with some objects
- The header for the 3D Window
- The header for the Buttons Window
- The Buttons Window
When you start Blender in MS Windows, a console window is opened. This is useful for feedback when doing more advanced operations. For now, you can safely ignore this window. Don't close it, though, or it will close the other Blender window as well.
Let's get started!
In Blender, the most frequent action you perform is making a selection. So, there are many different ways to make a selection:
- RMB - make a single selection.
- ⇧ ShiftRMB - add to or subtract from a selection.
- B - bounding box select. Draw a rectangle with the mouse, then use LMB to confirm or RMB to cancel.
- BB (hit it twice) brush select. Use LMB to "paint" over vertices you want to select, MMB to deselect, or RMB to cancel.
- A - select/deselect all
More info: Manual/Selection
It's probably a good idea to let you know early on that, like many programs, Blender has the ability to undo:
- Press CtrlZ to undo. Everything we just deleted is returned to the scene.
- Press CtrlY to redo. Back to the fresh scene!
By default, Blender has 32 undo steps, so you can keep pressing CtrlZ to do multiple undos. Or, for more control, you can use AltU for a menu that acts much like the History in Photoshop where you can select which step to undo back to.
Now is a good time to save your file. Blender's file sizes are not very large, so you can save often.
- Press F2 to save. The 3D Window turns into a big Save dialog box. Navigate by clicking on the "P" button to move up one directory, or by clicking on directory names which are in white text.
- LMB on the file name text box ("untitled.blend" by default) to be able to edit the text (Saving a file)
- Type in a file name. It's a good idea to use a number in it, because Blender will auto-increment the filename for you (see below).
- Press Save file to save. You are returned to the 3D Window.
To illustrate the useful feature of auto-incrementing (I wish more programs had this!),
- Press F2 again for the Save dialog
- Press + NumPad to increment the filename. If it was "Tutorial_01", it will now be "Tutorial_02".
- Click Save file or hit ↵ Enter to save.
Using this feature, you can quickly save a file with the combination F2-+ NumPad-↵ Enter.
- Show the Load dialog with F1
- MMB on the file you want to open, or select it with LMB and click Load file.
A fresh start
The default scene has a cube, a camera, and a lamp. Let's delete all that and start from scratch.
- Since the default scene has the cube already selected press A to deselect all, then A again to select all objects.
- Press X to delete selected objects. Ah, a fresh scene!
Add a plane
Now we will add a Mesh object (a Mesh is the basis for most 3D models). Since we're modeling a character, it will be useful to only have to create one side, and automatically create the other side. To do this, we'll Mirror the mesh.
- Change to Front View (press 1 NumPad in the 3D Window). Note that this is different than the 1 key in the row of numbers at the top of the keyboard. We will use the NumPad keys frequently, so if you have a keyboard without a separate NumPad (for example many laptops lack a separate NumPad), then follow these quick instructions to reassign the top row of numbers to act like the NumPad numbers.
- Add a plane (Space>>Add>>Mesh>>Plane) - (This will only work while the Mouse Cursor is positioned over the 3D View window).
Two things determine the position and orientation of an object when you add it:
We switched to Front View so that the plane would not be crooked when we added it. We could have added any one of those mesh types, but a plane is the simplest and most straightforward to work with.
- When the plane was added, Blender starts us out in Edit Mode. Edit Mode is where you can edit the vertices (the yellow and pink dots) that make up a mesh.
For the remainder of the tutorial, I have turned off the Transform Widget (the thing with the three colored arrows). The Transform Widget is a graphical way of moving objects, but I prefer using the much quicker hotkeys (more on these later). Turning off the Widget also makes these screenshots less cluttered. To turn off the Transform Widget, press the button with the pointing hand on the bottom of the 3D Window
- Subdivide the plane once (W>>Subdivide, as in Subdividing the plane). Subdividing adds vertices to the mesh.
Then delete the left half of the plane:
- A to deselect all
- B to switch the mouse cursor to border select mode. Drag a rectangle around the vertices all the way on the left with LMB to border-select them.
- X to delete the vertices. If we didn't subdivide, we'd only be left with two vertices now.
- You should have something like Half a subdivided plane.
Mirror the plane
- Press ⇆ Tab to switch from Edit Mode to Object Mode. The plane is outlined in pink, showing that it is currently selected (The half-plane in Object Mode).
- Go to the Edit Buttons (Press the context button in the Buttons Window, or press F9).
The Buttons Window contains many options and settings. The sheer number of buttons available can be intimidating at first, but realize that even advanced users don't always use them all. If you feel like exploring a little, hover over a button for its tooltip . . . and maybe press it to see if it does anything. Don't forget to save before you do, though!
- In the Edit Buttons, find the Modifier tab. Click Add Modifier (Add a Mirror modifier).
- Select Mirror.
- In the Mirror modifier, make sure X is selected
- Important: Make sure that you click Do Clipping, as in The Mirror modifier. This will prevent vertices from crossing the mirror axis.
- DO NOT hit Apply. We'll apply the effects of the Mirror modifier later when we're all done modeling.
- Go back into Edit Mode (⇆ Tab). Your mirrored plane should look like Mirrored plane.
We created a simple mesh, deleted half of it, and then mirrored it. Now we can model only one half of the character, and the other half will automatically update.
Next: Creating the mouth