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Claire Blackshaw's Forest of Fun

Learning Blender

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Learning Blender

Leaving Max for Blender

Back in the day... okay that makes me sound old. Seriously though I picked up 3D Studio Max way back when. I remember eagerly awaiting the character studio with 2.5.... and well lets just say I've been using Max a very very long time. I'm familiar with it and happy with it but well it's expensive!

Now I had a University license which expired a while back, but that was not the turning point. No the turning point was working on a mobile phone project and the god awful level editor I wrote. Followed by long discussions of how much our studio was spending on Art software, and how extensible Blender is. This lead a friend and I to conclude with proper tools support Blender could almost be a more effective tool than Maya.

That was about a year ago. Now as you may or may not know I've been working on several side projects and well I hit the point where I was about to reinstall that university copy of Max. When two thoughts hit me... is this license still valid, and what about that Blender idea?

So I sat down with Blender, some tutorials, immense frustration and set about it.

My Yellow Submarine

Finding good tutorials

Well the tutorials varied greatly in quality but the biggest barrier is that Blender's UI is extremely complex and very function focused. Which is very off putting at first, something they acknowledge with their massive UI rework but its still far behind Autodesk products in term of context flow and usability.

The real problem with tutorials is they were either for idiots or pros. Very few were focused at someone with 3D skills (technical skill, my art skills suck) but no knowledge of Blender. Though due to the UI I had to mostly depend on Video tutorials to help me with the crazy UI.

So I made a sad monkey, thanks to these tutorials - Blender 3D Design Course. I could write an entire blog post on the tutorial issue, which I may do.

Crash Crash Crash

Yeah this happened to me often. Way way too often. All I can say was save lots.

I miss X

So I set about music blearing to model a Yellow Submarine, Beetles style. Straight-away I started missing the Max modifier stack and many useful tools. Bridge oh how I miss thee.

Is it working?

So often while modelling I would accidentally create extra faces, verts or just screw up normals. The real problem though was the mistakes were not obvious and many kept coming back to bite me.

I cannot see!

Aaa the Max camera controls how I miss thee. Also with a laptop and blender depending on num keys. I mean like WTF?!? Also it took a while to realise how the right select and the 3d pointer worked. I mean what a mind fuck. After a few hours it starts making sense but it still feels so unnatural.

Keyboard Freaks

Give a programmer the job of UI and you will get lots and lots of key presses, combos and god forbid threads (pressing keys in sequence)! Yeah Blender suffers badly from this. The over-reliance on keyboard controls, and the programmer's desire to get as many features in as possible means they are all squished in there. So yeah be very very careful what you do with your keyboard... and it changes on context. Which makes sense but catches you out.

Seams Wonderful Seams

Yes seams are glorious! Just magically mark them and you help the unwrapping process to NO end. I'm sure with correct mesh construction (mine was sloppy due to being new) and correct usage of seams well it should be a dream.

Windows Frames View Thingies

With enough screen space and a bit of tweaking well the system is gorgeousness itself sauced with complexity and sprinkled with crashes! Love hate realtionships aside, skinning while seeing the effect on the model is very very handy.

Pin It

OOoh I love pinning UV points! So handy with remapping and tweaking. I do miss some of the more advanced Max UV features. It's very different, and the lack of the modifier stack... *sigh*. Also the whole shared vertex or location thing can be a bit infuriating at times.

I then tried to map it to a custom key. Though 4 hours on Google and no luck, not without writing some Python.

Finished Product

It should be stated I have no interest in the render functions, and I'm treating Blender as a content creation tool for games. But yes... success and drugs!

Conclusion I'm getting familiar with it and I'm glad I'm using a free program which is easy to modify and build upon. Watch this space to see if I continue to rage or coooo over the Blender fight.