Ten awesome blender tips


Hi Guys!!!

I know it’s been a while (and it will probably be a while longer till the next one) but I have been busy at school :/
But I am trying really hard to get some tutorials out for you and today I have ten amazing tips for you blender users!
So let’s get into it:
I have included video and text tutorials for this one :)

The tips:
Using the normal pass
Subdividing selected sections
Using vertex colors with cycles
Blending textures with vertex colors
Baking normalized ambient occlusion maps
Adding custom properties to objects
Controlling objects using constraints
Splitting edges
Selection Tips
Dupliframes

 

Using the Normal pass.
One renderlayer in 3D is used a lot in the industry, but no-one seems to know much about it. It is the Normal pass. What is does is renders out colors based on the normal angle to the camera. This does not sound useful at all, but what we do use it for is to add in lighting in post-production.
Step 1:
Check ‘Normal Pass’ in the render layers.
Step 2:
In your image editor, open the normal pass and use ‘Select Color Range’ and click on a portion of image you want to re-light. Use localize color clusters to centralize the selection area.
Step 3:
Apply a curves, HSV or similar filter to that area
And you can now add lighting after your render has finished!

 

Subdividing selected sections.
We are often found wanting to add divisions to an area of an object without effecting the whole object, or perhaps you want divisions down one axis of a cylinder.
This can be done with the Bevel tool.
Step 1:
Select the edges you want to bevel, in this case I have selected all the edges around the cylinder to smooth out just the radius  but not the length.
Step 2:
Press CTRL+B and click to apply a bevel.
Step 3:
Pressing F6 will bring up the properties to adjust, set this to a value like 0.25 to add even divisions.
Step 4:
Clean up any nGons or triangles outside the beveled area.
And now we know how to smooth out a single area along a single axis!

 

Using vertex colors with cycles
Sometimes we want to add in a little bit extra detail to our renders, but can’t be bothered doing textures, or maybe you want some extra ambient occlusion on a single object. So vertex colors come to the rescue.
Step 1:
First you need to paint your vertex colors, start by adding in your vertex color group.
Step 2:
Now paint whatever you like to the vertices.
Step 3:
In the cycles nodes add an attribute node and select your vertex color group.
Step 4:
Connect the vertex colors to your color input.
Awesome! Now I’m sure your imagining all the cool stuff you can do with this.

 

Blending textures with vertex colors
When creating assets, especially for the game engine, it is cool to be able to blend textures together without the need for a texture mask.
In this jaw dropping example we will blend some seamless textures to get a cool effect.
Step 1:
First you need to paint your vertex colors, start by adding in your vertex color group. Bear in mind if this is for a game engine you can only have one vertex color group.
Step 2:
Now paint a black and white map to the vertices.
Step 3:
Connect this to a mix factor between your two textures.
Fantastic stuff! We can now blend two maps, want more?
Step 4:
use a split RGB node to separate your red, blue, and green channels to use as three separate masks!
Now pick your jaw up of the ground and go make some awesome game assets!

 

Baking normalized ambient occlusion maps
Always getting bad AO bakes? This could solve all your troubles.
Step 1:
Check normalized in the AO bake settings. This will cause the bake to ignore your material and work just off the geometry.
Well that was easy wasn’t it, want more?
Step 2:
In photoshop use a smart blur on your bake to smooth out the result while keeping the hard edges.
Enjoy your clean and crisp ambient occlusion maps J

 

Adding custom property to objects
Do you have a simple action, that you just don’t want to set up a rig for? Or perhaps a complex action that could be mathematically animated? Well custom property can do all of that and more!
Step 1:
Add your custom property in the object menu. Bear in mind that the value will take on the number of decimal places in the default value field. So if you want it to be an integer, use an integer as default.
Step 2:
Add in your driver, this can be on the same object, a different object, or several objects.
Step 3:
To connect up the attribute, right click on the property and select ‘Copy Data Path’ to get the property.
Step 4:
In the graph editor switch to drivers, and make sure it is on scripted express.
Step 5:
Add a variable, and set it to single property and select the object with the property as the object, now paste the data path into the path field.
Step 6:
Finally enter the variable name (not the property name) into the expression.
You will now find that that the property controls the driver!
But this is boring, so how about you enter something like (tan(2*sin(var*8))*6) and watch that sucker fly off the screen!!
Yes, that’s right, we did just secondary school math the shizzle out of suzzane.

Controlling objects using constraints
Ever used constraints to control your rigs? Well how about your objects? No? well it’s about time you started!
Step 1:
Select your object and add a constraint, for example you can use the shrinkwrap constraint to move an object around your environment without intersecting it.
Now go and make something awesome!

Splitting edges
Ever had those edges you want to split apart, but the ‘V’ key just doesn’t work?
Well here is an easier way to split them apart.
Step 1:
Select the edges you want to split and gaao into the edge menu “CTRL+E” and select ‘Edge Split’
Well done! Simple technique but can become very useful.

Selection Tips
Alright so you might have used a few of the selection tools in blender such as box select, circle select, and selecting all of them. But now we get into the more useful selection tools to really speed things up.

Select Boundary Loop
– will select the edges around your selection of faces.
– useful for selecting an encircling edge loop regardless of topology.
Step 1:
Select some faces on your model
Step 2:
‘Select -> Select Boundary Loop’

Select Loop Inner Region
– Will select the faces inside your edge selection.
– Useful for selecting faces inside an edge selection.
Step 1:
Select some edges on your model that encircle an area.
Step 2:
‘Select -> Select Loop Inner Region’

Select Vertex Path
– Selects the shortest path between two vertices based on shortest path or topological.
– Useful for quickly selecting a continuous edge along a model.
Step 1:
Select two vertices you want to select between.
Step 2:
‘Select -> Select Vertex Path’
You can then toggle between shortest path and topological in the F6 menu

Shortest Path Select
– Will select the shortest distance between two edges.
– Useful for quickly selecting a path along a model.
Step 1:
Select an edge.
Step 2:
CTRL+Right Click an edge to select the shortest distance between two edges.

Select Similar
– Will select parts on your model that are similar to your current selection
– Useful for selecting pieces of your model that are similar to your current selection such as joined instances.
Step 1:
Select a section of your model.
Step 2:
‘Select -> Select Similar’
There are a lot of options that change based on vertex/edge/face mode so change these to get a suitable type.

Select loose edges/verts
– Will select an stray edges/verts (no attached faces)
– Useful for deleting stray vertices often created by modifiers.
Step 1:
‘Select -> Loose Verts/Edges’
Step 2(Optional):
Delete these.

Select Non-manifold
– Will select all edges that are not connected on all sides.
– Useful for selecting the ends of a mesh or checking for holes in your mesh.

By Number of verts
– Will select faces by number of surrounding vertices
– Useful for checking for triangles and Ngons
Step 1:
‘Select -> By Number of Verts‘
Step 2:
Adjust the options to the number of verts – i.e: 3 will select tris, greater than 4 will select Ngons.

Side of Active
– Will select everything to the side of a vertex.
– Useful for selecting half the mesh.
Step 1:
Select a vertex, in this case we will select the center vertex.
Step 2:
‘Select -> Side of Active’ we will use positive X to select the entire left side of the model.

Select Interior Faces
– Will select any faces that have edges with more than two users.
– Useful for removing interior faces.
Step 1:
‘Select -> Interior Faces’
Step 2(Optional):
Delete the faces.

Select Linked Flat Faces
– Will select surrounding faces based on an angle.
– Useful for selecting a section of a mesh based on an angle such as a door panel.
Step 1:
Select a face, preferably in the center of your intended selection.
Step 2:
‘Select -> Linked Flat Faces’
Adjust the angle to get your required selection.

Select Sharp Edges
– Will select edges based on their angle.
– Useful for selecting the sharper parts of a mesh such as an extrusion.
Step 1:
‘Select -> Sharp Edges’
Step 2:
Adjust edge angle to get desired result.

Select every N number of verts.
– Will select every Nth vertex or edge
– Useful for selecting every second edge around a model.
Step 1:
Select some vertices, edges or faces.
Step 2:
‘Select -> Every N number of verts’
Refine the offset and Nth selection to get the desired result.

Select Random
– Will select a random percentage of the mesh
– Useful for thinning out ivy or tree leaves.
Step 1:
‘Select – Random’
Step 2:
Adjust the settings to get desired result, if deleting make sure you are in face mode.

Select Linked
– Will select all vertices linked to the select vertex
– Useful for quickly selecting a section
Option 1:
Select a vertex and press CTRL+L
Option 2:
Hover your mouse over a section and press L
Option 3:
To remove linked selection hover your mouse over a section and press Shift+L

Select Pattern
– Will select objects based on a pattern
– Useful for selecting a bunch of objects with similar names
Step 1:
‘Select -> Pattern’
Step 2:
Enter a pattern such as *monkey* will select every object with ‘monkey’ in it. If you have monkey.001 to monkey.164 this will be very useful.
Ok so that was a lot of different ways to select something!
Now practice these and complex selections will become a piece of cake J

 

Dupliframes
Dupliframes/Dupliverts/Duplifaces are very cool, and can save a lot of time.
They work by duplicating an object on every vertex or face, or along a curve and are useful for things like rivets on a vehicle, pins on a notice board, or bows on a kite.
Step 1:
Create an object to duplicate and an object to duplicate around.
Step 2:
Parent the object you want to duplicate to the one you want to duplicate around.
Step 3:
Enable dupliverts/duplifaces under duplication in the object panel.
And enjoy the awesomeness!
So that’s it for my quick tips, I hope you enjoyed it and let me know what you think!

Have fun and happy blending!

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  • Tim

    Very helpfull!

  • Craig Hellman

    Awesome, many thanks

  • http://alec-game.blogspot.co.uk/ Alec Chalmers

    Great tips, I found the selection tutorial the most useful, I think it will speed up how I use Blender. I just hope I remember they are there next time I’m off in work mode.