Home Tech Learning to Use Blender: Sculpting and Texturing

Learning to Use Blender: Sculpting and Texturing

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I really enjoyed my recent experience experimenting with Blender. If you didn’t catch it, I recently completed a beginner 3D art tutorial from Blender Guru in which I made a simple scene with a mug, plate, and two donuts. You can read that post here. Today, I completed an intermediate tutorial in which I modeled, sculpted, and textured an object.

Modelling, sculpting, and texturing is time consuming but rewarding.  However, the process is relaxing and the results are pretty incredible, even as a beginner.  I’ll walk you through the process and show images of my progress.

Follow Along on YouTube

First off, you can complete this tutorial for yourself by following along in Blender Guru’s youtube videos.  You can find the tutorial on Blender Guru’s Youtube channel. In this Blender Guru Tutorial the goal is to model a realistic looking anvil.  

To make a realistic anvil, you first should find some reference photos.  Because you are not publishing these but just using them for inspiration, you can use any photo you want, and you can actually use multiple photos if you want.  After selecting some photos or using the ones provided by Blender Guru, we had to pick how to begin modelling the anvil. In this case, it makes sense to start with either a plane or a cube because the main body of the anvil is square shaped.  

Main Goal of Sculpting: Keep the Mesh Simple While Having High Detail

When making the anvil, the goal is to keep as few vertices and lines as possible while still having the shape that you want.  This is completed by using a subdivision surface modifier on a simple mesh which basically rounds edges. You then can use loop cuts to add additional lines into your mesh to adjust how sharp or rounded the edges become with the subsurface effect.

To make the circular type cut out in the square base of the anvil, you can use a boolean modifier to remove extra material.  

If you do it right, Blender makes everything very easy.  You can drag loop cuts after you make them and you can move whole portions of the model with just a few clicks of your mouse and keyboard.  Moreover, Blender also allows you to do things in various different ways, although I followed along with Blender Guru.

Sculpting the Material

Once the general shape was done, it was then time to sculpt the material.  This involves two steps. The first is UV Unwrapping the model and the second is making a higher resolution mesh. The high resolution mesh is then turned into a normal map. We will apply the map to the lower resolution mesh in our final render.  

UV Unwrapping Is Like breaking down a cardboard box

UV Unwrapping is basically the way that choose how to apply a flat image or texture to a 3D object.  If you think about wrapping a present, there are pieces of the wrapping paper that fold in on itself. This can be a problem with 3D modeling because that means that you have seams that are visible that you may want hidden.  By manually placing seams where they are harder to see, you can then unwrap your image in a way that allows an image or texture to be applied without causing ugly seams where you want continuity.

If you do not UV unwrap your image, you cannot apply textures to your image unless the textures are solid colors. After completing the of sculpting and UV Unwrapping, here is the resulting Normal Map:

Blender Normal Map
Normal Map. Copyright Kelton Johnson 2018.

Texturing the Model

The next step was to texture the 3D model.  In texturing the model, the goal was to add two different textures to the image.  One on the top of the anvil and one around the rest of the anvil. You blur the boundary between these two different textures using a mask.  After that was completed, you add another texture mask to make scratches on the mesh so it looks more realistic. Here are the two resulting masks and the texture node map:

The Final Product

I am actually quite pleased with the final product. While I could make the metal have a different look if I spent more time on this project, I really want to move on to a new Blender goal. I will definitely be continuing with 3D art and am excited to keep learning and to do some projects on my own.  Here is a render of all of the Anvils I made throughout the process:

Blender Modelling in stages.
Modelling in Stages. Copyright Kelton Johnson 2018.

And the final render:

Final Blender Render of Anvil.
Final Version of Anvil on Wooden Planks. Copyright Kelton Johnson 2018.

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Kelton Johnson

Attorney, Marketing Enthusiast, Business Manager

I live in Orange County, California and can often be found wandering the coastline and mountains in Southern California. I always seek to learn new things and share my passions with others. I am a California-licensed attorney and internet marketer. Join me in my journey of discovery as I share (hopefully) useful gems of knowledge with my readers every week.

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