by February 28, 2004 0 comments



Blender is a fully integrated, multi-platform 3D graphics suite. It can do modeling, animation, rendering, post-production and real-time interactive 3D work. It is installed automatically when you choose the Multimedia Workstation installation set while installing PCQLinux 2004. 

As an exercise we would use a 3D model, apply some materials to it and animate it on screen. This will give you a start on the software and acquaint you with the interface, which is radical, to say the least.

The viewport with the Materials pallette

Blender is a maze of shortcut keys. If you master them, it would help you a lot in getting used to Blender. You can get a comprehensive list of these keys at http://blender.excellentwhale.com. Though we will talk about some of the commonly used commands, we advice that you go through this list. 

Modeling
The Blender interface is divided into three major parts: 3D viewports, Buttons palettes and User Preferences menu. When you first open Blender, you are presented with a large viewport of the front view of the object. If you want, you can split the window into more parts by right clicking on the separator below the pane and choosing ‘Split Area’.

You may want to remove the cube from the view (it is there by default). To do so, press the Tab key to enter the edit mode. This will select the cube. Press the Delete button on the keyboard to remove the cube.

Now you will see a blank viewport with a red colored cross in the middle. This is the 3D cursor. The cursor will move to the place where you click on the
viewport. 

Further, you can add various kinds of legacy objects such as cubes and spheres to the stage using nurbes or meshes. Let us add the Monkey object in the same. Monkey is a sample model available to the user. 

Rendering an animation control

Pressing the space bar will pop up a menu on screen. Choose Mesh and then Monkey to add the instance of the Monkey object on the screen. 

Monkey is now ready with the default camera and lighting. But to add more lighting, first press Tab to come out of the editing mode, then press the Space bar and choose Add Light. Remember that only spotlights give you shadows.

Now, you have a basic shape on the viewports. You can now press F12 to render your output. For saving the output, use F10. Enter the filename and choose the format to save in from the dialog box shown. Press F2 to save the file.

Animation
With the file rendered and saved, we move on to animation. Press F10 to open the animation panel. First, set the number of frames that you need for creating an animation. For example, we will use frame 1 to 50. To set the frames Press F10 and come down to the ‘Anim’ Butto’s palette. Here set ‘Sta’ to 1 and ‘end’ to 50. The frames number will be displayed under the viewports in a small text box. Now you need to set the first frame for the animation. Press Shift+left arrow key. This will set the frame number 1 to start the animation.

changing your theme
Changing your theme or background in PCQLinux 2004 is as simple as in Windows! In PCQLinux 2004 there are two main desktop environments, Gnome 2.4 and KDE 3.2. Let’s see how you can configure your desktop in these environments
In Gnome:
To change the desktop background in Gnome, you need to just right click on the desktop and select the ‘Change Desktop Background’ option. This will pop-up a dialogue box from where you can browse to your favorite wallpaper and set it. And now to set the theme, go to Start>Preference>Control Center and select the Theme icon. From here you can change the theme of your Gnome desktop.
In KDE: KDE is easier to configure when compared with Gnome in this case. Just right click on your desktop and click on Configure Desktop. This will open a new window from where you can manage all your desktop-related settings such as background, screen saver and desktop behavior. You can also set the Xinerama settings, if you have more than one monitor in
your machine. 

Now, to enter into camera view, press ‘0’ from the number pad. This will bring a camera view, in one of the viewports. Select the object (ie, 3D cube object) and press the ‘i’ key on your keyboard. This will open a drop-down menu. Here select ‘LocRot’. This is done to lock the first frame of the animation.

After locking the object on a first frame, you need to go to the last frame. Press Shift+right arrow key to set the last frame, which will come to 50. Now select the object and drag it to anywhere inside the camera view. If you give other effects, press ‘g’ or ‘r’ keys from the keyboard for rotation. After this, press the ‘i’ key from your keyboard and select
‘LocRot’.

Now, you need to render the display. On the Render Button’s palette, click on the button labeled ‘50’. To test the animation that you have created, press ALT+A key from the keyboard and watch the playback from the camera view. If the animation that you have created is okay, then you need to render the frames in any format you want (AVI, JPG, Targa, etc). Select the file format (from the Format Button’s palette) in which you want to render. We selected AVI Raw format. Then from the output palette, set the output file in to a single animation file. For example, give the /tem/test.avi. This will save the output file in c:/tmp folder in Windows. From the Render menu select the second option, ie, render animation. This will create the final output in the format you have chosen.

Hopefully, this would help you get off the mark with blender. Do let us know of the things that you make in blender!

Geetaj Channana and Sanjay Majumder

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