This Blender training is designed as a beginner's course for using Blender to design, create, prepare, edit and improve digital models for 3D printing.
Becoming an expert in any software program does not require one to learn 100% of the features and functionality of a program. Well designed software is versatile and useful to a wide range of professionals, and you are only one of those users. Blender is a complex application with many different uses, we will concentrate on building a solid foundation for using Blender specifically for 3D modeling for printed objects.
Lesson 1 of 3 Link
Lesson 2 of 3 Link
Lesson 3 of 3 Link
Ovinta Gear Tutorials
FAQ (currently focused on modeling, not so much on other features of Blender)
How come I can't see anything/why is navigation so hard?
When starting Blender up for the first time, it is highly recommended to enable two key navigation settings: Zoom to mouse position and Rotate around selection. These two settings can be found in file --> user preferences --> interface or by using Ctrl + Alt + U hotkey.
If you are ever lost in the blender scene, you can select the object you want to view by clicking on the name of the object in the outliner editor on the top right of the screen and then using the period key on your numpad.
If it ever seems like you can't zoom in as far as you want to (you keep scrolling up and it doesn't zoom in) you can switch to orthographic view mode by using 5 on the numpad or by re-setting the view using the period key.
If parts of your object that are "closer" to you start to disappear, you probably should increase your end clip found in the view menu of the properties toolbar on the right of the 3d view. If you don't see the properties toolbar, put your cursor in the 3d view area of the window and push n on your keyboard.
Why is the Boolean I'm trying to do not working and I see the "cannot execute boolean operation" error message?
In blender, the Boolean modifier only works very well when there is a shared volume between the two objects and there are no intersecting co-planar faces, co-linear edges, co-incident verticies. The two objects must also be manifold. You can check and see if your object is manifold by entering edit mode with the tab key and selecting non-manifold geometry with the hotkey Ctrl + Shift + Alt + M. Make sure that before you do this, nothing is selected. To select nothing, use the "a" key (you might have to push it more than once, depending on if anything is already selected)
Why is the hotkey I want to use not working?
For hotkeys to work, you need to have your cursor inside the 3d view portion of the window. If your cursor is on a different editor on the left or right of the window, the hotkey will probably do nothing. Some hotkeys are specific to certain modes -- there are some hotkeys that only work in edit mode, or in object mode. Additionally, there are some hotkeys that only work in vertices or edge select mode. Select non manifold (Ctrl + Shift + Alt + M) is one of these.
How do I check the dimension of something?
In Blender, things are measured in "Blender units". When you go to export an .stl, 1BU=1mm. There is a very useful addon for Blender called the Measure Panel that can be enabled in the user preferences menu under the addons tab. search for "measure panel" and then check the box to the right and save user settings. After the addon is enabled, look at the bottom of the properties toolbar to the right of the 3d view and you should see a menu item called "measure" with a button next to it labeled "Activate". After you click the "Activate" button, select two vertices that you would like to measure between in edit mode, and then click "Update selection" in the Measure section of the properties toolbar.
What do I do if I remember the name of the tool I want to use, but not where it is located in the hierarchical menus, or what the hotkey for it is?
By default, blender has a tool search feature built in. To use it, put your cursor in the 3d view and push the spacebar. This will bring up a search bar into which you can type the name of a tool and then select it from the search results below.
How do I add a shape like a triangle, hexagon, or octogon?
When you add a mesh like a cylinder or a circle (or any mesh for that matter) you can choose some attributes of that mesh by using the menu on the bottom of the toolbar on the left of the 3d view. To get a hexagonal prism, add a cylinder to the scene, and then enter 6 into the "Vertices" field. This can only be done when the mesh is added, after the mesh has be modified, it can no longer be changed via this method.
How do I make sure that a vertice, edge, face, or object is _exactly_ in a certain place and not just _really_ close?
There are a number of approaches to this. One thing you can do is specify exactly the location. To do this, enter the coordinates that you would like your mesh to be in the x, y, and z "Location" fields on the properties toolbar to the right of the 3d view. If you would like to set the position of the origin of an object, say to a specific vertice, enter edit mode with Tab, select the vertice where you would like the origin to be, use Shift + s and choose "snap cursor to selected". Then, enter object mode with Tab, and use Ctrl + Shift + Alt + C and click "Origin to 3d cursor". If you select multiple vertices in edit mode and snap the cursor to selected, then the cursor will go to the middle of those selected vertices. Once you have set the origin of the object, you can snap the cursor somewhere else in the scene (say, to a vertice from another object) and then use Shift + s again to snap the selection to the cursor.
Another, sometimes faster way to make sure a vertice, edge, face, or object is positioned exactly is to use the "snap during transform" feature. To enable this, click the magnet icon on the bottom toolbar (or by using Shift + Tab) and choose the appropriate "snap element" from the menu to the right of the icon. Then, when executing a transform, put your cursor over the geometry you want to snap to, and the vertice, edge, face, or object should snap to that geometry.
When executing a transform, you can follow the transform hotkey (like s, g, or r) with an axis (like x, y, or z) and a quantity (like 1, 5.3, or 1066). Sometimes, to get a vertice, edge, face, or object exactly where you want it, you first snap the vertice, edge, face, or object to a geometry and then execute a transform in this manner.
How do I make sure all the verticies I have selected are co-planar?
If you have a bunch of vertices selected and you want them to be flat with each other, scale them to zero on the axis orthogonal to the plane you want all the vertices in. You can do this by pushing s then an axis (like x, y, or z) and then 0.
How do I change the size of a geometry (like a hole) in two dimensions, but not the third?
Often, you will want to resize a hole. If you select the vertices that make up that hole and push s to scale, they will scale in all three dimensions, which is usually not what you want. To constrain the scale (or any other transform for that matter) to just the x and y axes, use Shift + z. Similarly to constrain to just x and z, use Shift + y, and to constrain to just y and z, use Shift + x.
How do I take a low poly model and make it high poly?
The two main ways to do this are to use a "subdivision surface" modifier, or to use the "subdivide smooth" tool in the specials menu. To access the specials menu, press w in the 3d view. With the subdivision surface modifier, it is useful to leave the modifier un-applied so that you can use the low poly version in edit mode as a control geometry for the much higher poly model in object mode.
How do I take a high poly model and make it low poly?
The two main ways to do this are to use the "decimate" modifier or the "remesh" modifier. This can be especially useful if you want to make modifications to a very large poly model, but your computer can't handle that many verticies. In this case, you would load the model (wait) apply a decimate modifier to the model (wait) and then the model should have less facets and make it easier for your computer to compute in a reasonable amount of time.
Something is wonky in my model and I'm not sure what. What should I do?
Two useful tools for diagnosing and fixing mesh issues are the "remove doubles" tool and the "select non-manifold" tool. To use the "remove doubles" tool effectively, you must make sure all of the geometry is selected before the tool is used. If you have coincident vertices, the "remove doubles" tool will merge the two (or more) coincident vertices. Look to the top of the screen immediately after using the tool to see if vertices were removed. To use the "select non manifold" tool effectively, you must make sure nothing is selected. Once you have selected the non manifold geometries (if there are any), you will need to evaluate why the geometry is non-manifold.
What is a non-manifold geometry?
Manifold-ness is a property of a surface and is rigorously defined mathematically. That said, an easier way to think of manifold geometry in Blender is that _every_ edge has _exactly_ two faces connected to it (at least, I have yet to find an example of a manifold geometry that does not fit this criteria). To make a non-manifold geometry manifold, edit the mesh until every edge has exactly two faces connected to it.
How do I select the stuff I want to select and not the stuff I don't want to select?
A large part of effective modeling in Blender comes down to selecting the right parts of the geometry for a given edit. The three main selection tools in blender are the circle select tool, the border (or box) select tool, and the lasso select tool. To use the circle select tool, press c and a circle will appear around your cursor. You can adjust the size of the circle by scrolling in and out. When you click the left mouse button, everything inside the circle will be selected. When you press the middle mouse button, everything inside the circle will be deselected. To leave circle select mode, right click or hit Esc. The border select tool behaves similarly, except you push the b key instead of c. The lasso select tool can be used by holding control and using the left mouse button to select anything in the lasso, or the middle mouse button to de-select anything inside the lasso.
Wireframe mode is very useful when selecting geometry, because it allows you to select things on the side of the mesh facing you and the other side of the mesh simultaneously. This is as opposed to solid view mode which only allows you to select things on the side of the mesh that is facing you. Sometimes to select what you want to edit, it is useful to select more than you need, and then de-select the part that you don't need.
If you have a large number of faces that are flat with each other, you can select them all using the "select linked flat faces" tool. The hotkey for this tool is Ctrl + Shift + Alt + F.
If you want to select everything that is linked to a particular part of a mesh, you can hover your cursor over the part of the mesh you want to select and push L for "select linked"
If you have some vertices selected, and you want to select everything you don't currently have selected, and deselect everything you do currently have selected, you can use the "invert selection" tool. The hotkey for this tool is Ctrl + I
Sometimes it is difficult to select the geometry you want because the model is complex and there is lots of other geometry in the way of what you are trying to select. In these cases it is useful to hide parts of the mesh with the "hide" tool. The hotkey for "hide" is h. To hide everything except what you currently have selected, press Shift + h. To un-hide everything, press Alt + h.