If you've been into home game developement for any length of time you will see that many coders are in need of artists because their projects contain "programmer art", and that may be a Bad Thing™.
But it doesn't have to be that way.
Even programmers can learn to use the free tool known as Blender. Blender will allow you to model, UV map, and export your creations to many formats, including the almighty *.x format. The secret to using Blender is its hotkeys. That is where the real speed and great workflow comes from.
In part one of this tutorial we are going to model a sword, and we will not use a single button on the screen. I want you to learn how to model quickly, and that means you will keep your left hand on the keyboard and your right hand on the mouse.
We will start ridiculously simple and by the time we are done you will have the basic knowledge to begin models of your own design. I chose a sword because many games need swords, and modeling one will use the basic commands that you will need for every model.
We will not go into fancy techniques or commands in this tutorial because it is aimed at beginners. You can explore all of the hotkeys by going to the 'Hotkey Reference' in the 'Help' menu.
Part II of this tutorial will show how to UV map the sword and how to properly export it as a *.x file.
I will use some abbreviations during this tutorial, defined as the following:
- LMB = Left mouse button
- MMB = Middle mouse button
- RMB = Right mouse button
Most hotkeys involve a single button, or a button in combination with Shift, Alt, or Ctrl. I will use the following conventions when using hotkeys:
(letter to press KEY)
- (EKEY) Press the 'E' button on your keyboard. This is your extrude command.
- (GKEY) Press the 'G' button on your keyboard. This grabs the current selection and lets you move it.
- (Shift+MMB) Press and hold the Shift key and the middle mouse button. This will pan the current view.
I will also on occasion use red circles in the pictures to show which vertices I am referring to.
A few things to keep in mind:
- To select an object or vertex in Blender, use the right mouse button (RMB).
- When performing some actions, like Scale (SKEY), Move (GKEY), or Extrude (EKEY), you can cancel the action by right-clicking (RMB). Left-clicking (LMB) accepts the changes.
- To select multiple objects or vertices hold down SHIFT and make your selections with the RMB.
- The SHIFT button will also deselect any selected objects or vertices when used with the RMB.
- To toggle in and out of edit mode for the selected object, use TAB.
- The SPACEBAR is your friend. That is where you find many useful commands and tools, including primitive objects. The 3D Cursor, which looks like a red and white crosshair, is where the new objects will be placed. When you start Blender this will be in the center of your view. You can change its location by left clicking (LMB) anywhere in the view. Keep in mind that it's 3D space, so to get correct placement you may have to adjust it in several views; Front, Side, and/or Top.
- Use (AKEY) to select/deselect all objects. If one or more objects are already selected, but not all of them, (AKEY) will deselect all. Hitting it again will select everything.
- Any window that contains the cursor is the selected view. Simply move the mouse to a different window to make it the current view.
- You can switch your model's appearance from Wireframe to Shaded by using the ZKEY as a toggle switch. There is also the option to show textures and/or materials by using SHIFT+ZKEY as another toggle.
- Change the view in a window using the NUMPAD keys: 1 for front, 3 for side, and 7 for top. Holding the Alt key with 1, 3, or 7 will give you the opposite view.
- Rotate a view using the NUMPAD keys 2, 4, 6, or 8. You can also rotate freely by holding the MMB and dragging the mouse.
- By scrolling the MMB up or down you can zoom in or out of the current view.
- You should save often by using (CTR+WKEY), which is Save, or by using (F2), which is Save As. I'm not going to tell you how often to save, that's a personal preference.
- You can clear up your view while in Edit Mode (Toggle on and off with TAB) by selecting vertices you're not using and Hiding (HKEY) them. Hidden vertices will remain hidden if you leave Edit Mode and then re-enter it. To Unhide them, use ALT+HKEY.
With that said, let's begin.