Because I enjoy PC building and benchmarking, I have long been vaguely familiar with the program called Blender because it is commonly used to Benchmark CPU and GPU performance. However, I never considered learning how to use Blender to make artwork. Sometime ago I realized that some photos that I thought were real were actually CGI, and then I then discovered that Blender was the program used to create many of them.
Blender is an open source program that allows you to create 3D art and even movie scenes. I downloaded Blender for free from blender.org and then realized very quickly that Blender is too complex to jump right in without completing some sort of tutorial first. For example, when you first open Blender, you are greeted by a 3D canvas and a single three dimensional sphere. This was not going anywhere quick.
Enter Blender Guru on Youtube and blenderguru.com. Blender Guru has an incredible tutorial for learning blender and, in just several hours, you will end up with two donuts and a mug, beautifully rendered in 3d.
Progress Through the Blender Guru Tutorial
The tutorial that I chose to do was the donut tutorial from Blender Guru. When you first open up Blender to begin, you are greeted with a simple three dimensional square. We quickly deleted that and started from scratch.
The first step was to make a donut and a mug. The donut was made by manipulating an odd shape called a “torus” and the mug was made by taking a cylinder and “extruding” the handle until it looks like a mug.
At this point, I added a plate. Blender Guru instructs you to make a plate on your own, and so the plate came out a little odd, although it is hard to tell from the angle in my final piece. After adding the plate, the tutorial has us add sprinkles and place them automatically as particles all over the donut and on the plate itself.
The final part of the process was to adjust the image composition (which included duplicating the donut to make it more interesting), adding a texture to the bottom surface so it looks like a table, adjusting color balance, adding lights, moving the camera to the proper angle, and setting the camera focus that I wanted.
At this point I was ready for the final render. Here are some renders from the process.
Rendering the Final Image
I am lucky enough to have an Nvidia card that handles renders with ease (a Nvidia GTX 1080ti which retailed for around $700), but normal laptop users will probably struggle unless you keep your scene very simple and turn the render settings and resolution down. You have to be careful of polygon counts and the resolution or else the render could be very slow. It took my graphics card about 3 minutes to render the final image.
Here is the final render. I think it came out pretty well.
A new release of blender (version 2.8 Beta) was just released, so I will be learning that one soon. However, I want to first complete several tutorials so that I can follow along exactly if need be. Updating too soon could make it a little more challenging for me at this point as almost all tutorials use the prior version of Blender.
I really have enjoyed playing with Blender and I am going to keep working at it in the coming weeks. I will post updates of my progress.
You won’t want to use a Raspberry Pi for any Blender renders, but if you want to read about my experimentation with a Raspberry Pi 3, you can read about it here.