How to make Robot Toys at home

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Published Date:26-10-2017
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Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object In this chapter, we will start our first project in order to discover the fundamental modeling tools of Blender. We will create a little robot that is inspired by vintage toys with a drawing image reference. You will learn polygonal modeling workflow, which will be useful for your future 3D productions. The head will be created with a simple cylindrical primitive that we will modify to give it the right shape. Then, in the same way, starting from a primitive, we will model the rest of the body, always with a good topology in mind. Indeed, we are going to maximize the number of quads (polygons with four faces) and organize them so that they best fit the shape of each part. In the end, we will do a quick render with the Blender internal render engine. Without further ado, let's enter the marvelous world of 3D modeling In this chapter, we will cover the following topics: • Adding and editing objects • Using the basic modeling tools • Understanding the basic modifiers (such as mirror and subsurface) • Modeling with a proper topology • Creating a quick preview with Blender Internal 17 Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object In the following screenshot, on the right, you can see the 3D robot modeled using a sketch, shown on the left as a reference, with Krita, which is another open source tool for 2D art: Let's start the modeling of our robot toy We will now start the modeling of the robot toy by adding the first object to the scene. The robot will be modeled from a simple cylinder. Preparing the workflow by adding an image reference In order to start the modeling of the robot, let's have a look at the following procedure: 1. We will add the robot image reference in a new UV/Image Editor. 2. After dividing the view and selecting the right editor (by clicking on the RMB on the edge of an editor and selecting Split Area), go to the UV/Image Editor header and select Open Image to choose the corresponding reference in the file browser. 18 Chapter 2 3. To pan or zoom in this editor, use the same shortcuts as the 3D view. This reference will serve as a guide during the modeling process. Refer to this in order to get the main shape right, but don't rely on its details. Adding the head primitive When you start modeling an object, you need to start with a basic 3D shape that is close to the shape you want to model. In our case, we will use a cylindrical primitive to start modeling the head. To do this, follow these steps: 1. First we will need to remove the 3D cube that is placed by default in any Blender starting file. The cube is selected if it has an orange outline. If this isn't the case, you can right-click on it. This is the main selection method in Blender. If you want to select or unselect all the objects present in the 3D view, you can press the A (All) key. 2. You can now remove the selected cube by pressing the X key or the Delete key. It's now time to add the cylindrical primitive. 3. All the primitives are going to spawn at the 3D Cursor location. We will ensure that the cursor is at the center of the scene by pressing Shift + C. 4. We can now use the Shift + A shortcut, and select Mesh Cylinder to create the primitive at the center of the scene. 5. Our new object has too many details, so we will decrease the number of vertices in the left 3D view panel. If you can't see this panel, press the T key. At the bottom of this, you can see the preferences of the currently active tool (the mesh creation, in our case), and you can change the number of vertices of our cylinder to 16. 6. We will now set the 3D view focus on the newly created object by pressing the dot numpad key or by selecting View View Selected in the 3D view header. 19 Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object About naming shortcuts Most of the shortcuts correspond to the first letter of the tool's name. For instance, the Grab tool can be activated by the G key and the Scale tool can be selected by the S key. If you want to explore all Blender's shortcuts, visithttp://www. The cylinder located at the cursor position (center of the world) that we will use as a base for the head of the robot. The Edit Mode versus the Object Mode Currently, we cannot access the components (vertices, edges, and faces) of our cylinder because we are in the Object Mode. This mode allows you to do basic things on objects such as moving, rotating, or scaling them. Let's perform the following set of steps: 1. If you want to edit an object, you need to use the Edit Mode. To switch between these modes, press the Tab key or go to the Modes drop-down menu in the 3D view header while any object is selected. In the Edit Mode, you can choose the type of components to select by pressing Ctrl + Tab or by selecting the component type in the 3D view header. 2. Let's go into the Face Mode and select the top face of the cylinder by right-clicking on it. As you can see, in Blender, faces (or polygons) are represented by a little square in the middle. 20 Chapter 2 3. Now you can go into the orthographic front view (the 3 numpad key and 5 numpad key for perspective/orthographic views respectively), and use the z axis of the Gizmo tool to move the selected face a little bit down. In Blender, we don't encourage you to use gizmos as there is a much faster method to move, rotate, or scale your selection. To move a selection, press the G (Grab) key and, if you want to constrain your move to a certain axis, press the corresponding X, Y, or Z keys. You can even hide the Gizmo tool by pressing Ctrl + Space. The top face moved down in the Edit Mode with the z axis of the Gizmo tool or by pressing the G + Z shortcut. Using the basic modeling tools In the following, you will learn the powerful usage of the main modeling tools of Blender, such as the Extrusion, Bevel, or Loop Cut tool, while creating your little robot toy. 21 Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object Modeling the head We will now use the basic modeling tools in order to form the shape of the head. As you may have understood, we are going to add new geometry gradually to approximate the shape in 3D. One of the useful tools is called Extrusion. What is an extrusion? This is the process of creating new geometry by extending (and optionally transforming) selected components. 1. While the top face of the cylinder is selected in the Edit Mode, we will press the E key in order to create a new geometry from that face. Then, we will need to position and validate the extrusion. 2. We now have two choices in order to confirm the extrusion. If you want, you can move the extruded geometry, and after this, press LMB in order to validate its position. The other choice is to press RMB, in order to place the extruded geometry at the same position as that of the selected component(s). In our case, we will place the extrusion just over the selected face. 3. We can now scale our extrusion by pressing the S key, and repeat the process of extruding the top face and scaling it three times in order to have a bell shape. We can always go back by pressing Ctrl + Z and redo these steps. 4. We can also go into the Edge component mode (Ctrl + Tab), and select the edge loops that came from the different extrusions by placing the mouse pointer over them and pressing Alt and RMB. 5. After this, we can move them along the volume by tapping the G key twice. 22 Chapter 2 Shaping the head with extrusions. What is an Edge Loop? An Edge Loop is a set of edges that are connected together and form a loop. You can also get face loops to follow the same principle but with faces. They are essential to construct the shape of an object. 23 Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object Modeling the antenna In order to create the antenna, we will start from the head and detach it later. Follow these steps to create the antenna: 1. In the head Edit Mode, we will select the top face and extrude it a little bit to make the base of the antenna. 2. Then we will make an inset from the top face of the base by pressing the I key. What is an inset? An inset allows you to add some padding on a face: 3. With the inner face of the inset selected, we are going to repeat the process one more time (extrusion + inset). The different steps to model the base of the antenna. A succession of insets and extrusions. 24 Chapter 2 4. After this, we will add the stem of the antenna by moving the cursor to the top of the antenna's base, selecting the top face, pressing Shift + S, and selecting Cursor to Selected. 5. Now we can add a cylinder in the Object Mode that will pop up on the cursor. This cylinder will represent the stem, so scale it accordingly and end it with some extrusions that you will form in a sphere shape by scaling them and following the same process as that of head modeling. 6. You can also select the top part of the stem and use the smooth option (by pressing the W key and selecting Smooth) to relax the geometry. The stem with the different extrusions that we have shaped like a sphere with the Smooth tool 7. We now have an N-Gon at the top of the stem. An N-Gon is a polygon that has more than four edges. It is considered a bad practice to have these kinds of polygons in a 3D object. We are going to solve this by going into the top view (the 7 numpad key) and by doing a small inset on the object in order to maintain the border. 8. After this, we will connect some vertices together in order to have only quads (polygons that have four sides). 9. Then, we select the two opposite vertical vertices by right-clicking on the first one and pressing Shift and right-clicking on the second one. Pressing Shift and invoking any selection method allows you to add new items to your current selection. 10. After this, we join them to a new edge with the J key (to connect the vertex path tool) to separate the N-Gon into two equal parts. 25 Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object 11. Now we ought to select the two opposite horizontal vertices and join them to form a cross. If you look closely, we haven't resolved the N-Gon problem yet, because we have four more of them. 12. As we can't leave them in the mesh, we are going to repeat the process by joining the other facing vertices in order to have only quads. If you want, you can also use the Knife tool in order to cut in the geometry by pressing K. With the knife we will have to click on the vertices that we want to connect together and when we n fi ish, we can press the Return key in order to validate. 13. At this point, we can use the LoopTool add-on that we installed in the first chapter. We can select the four middle faces (in Face Mode) and use the LoopTool circle option (press W then select LoopTool Circle). This allows us to form a circle with the selected components. 14. It's time to detach the antenna. In order to do this, we select the loop at the base of the antenna (press RMB and Alt) and press V to rip the loop. Blender will give us the choice of moving the ripped part, but we won't. So we cancel the move by clicking the RMB. 15. Now, we will detach the geometry of the antenna to form a new object. First we deselect all the components (A), then we move our mouse pointer over the antenna and press L to select the linked geometry. 16. After pressing the P key and choosing Selection in the pop-up menu, the selected part will be separated to form another object. N-Gon correction with the Join tool and the Knife 26 Chapter 2 17. We will have to clear three N-Gons: one at the bottom and at the top of the head, and one at the top of the base of the antenna. We have decided to resolve them with the previously explained method. An introduction to the Subdivision Surface modifier We will now smooth the geometry of the robot head and the antenna using the following steps: 1. First we go to the left 3D view panel (T), and with both objects selected in the Object Mode, we click the Smooth button under Shading. This will create a blend between the faces but not round our objects. In order to round our geometry, we will need to use a modifier called Subdivision Surface. 2. Let's go into the Properties editor and select the adjustable wrench. Then, we choose a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Add Modifier drop-down menu. All we need to do now is repeat the process with each object. What is a modifier? A modifier is a tool that applies to the entire object. You can push new modifiers on the modifier stack of the object where the top modifier will take effect before the bottom one. You can also reorganize their order using the up and down arrows. You may hide a modifier using the Eye button. If you want to collapse a modifier, use the left-hand side horizontal arrow. You can also apply the behavior of the modifier with the Apply button. Always save your work before doing this. The stack of three object modifiers. The Subdivision Surface applies over the Mirror and the Bevel modifier. 27 Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object 3. As you may have seen, the subdivision divides all the polygons by four and tries to do an interpolation by smoothing them. If you want more divisions, you can increase the View slider under Subdivisions. 4. The shape looks better but needs to be sharp at some points. In order to do this, we will maintain a border by adding edge loops with Ctrl + R. The LoopCut tool is very useful; it allows us to add edge loops where we want and as many as we want. About the LoopCut tool To add an edge loop, use the Ctrl + R shortcut and move your mouse cursor perpendicular to where you want to add a new edge loop. You will see a preview of the new cuts. You can add multiple loops at the same time by scrolling your mouse wheel or by pressing the + or – keys. After you have validated the cuts, you will need to position them and validate their location by left-clicking or right-clicking. The later will center the cuts. 5. We can also sharpen the edges by selecting them and using the Bevel tool. Remember that the nearer the edge loops are, the sharper the result will be. 28 Chapter 2 About the Bevel tool The Bevel tool allows you to split one edge into multiple edges. When you activate it with Ctrl + B, you can choose the number of splits that you want by scrolling your mouse wheel or by pressing the + or – keys. You can also decrease the speed of the tool by pressing the Shift key. As always, you can validate your placement by left-clicking or cancel it by right-clicking. Improving the head shape Let's select the head and go into the Edit Mode. 1. From the front view, we will now select the central edge loop. One way to do this is to use the wireframe mode by pressing the Z key. This mode allows us to see through the mesh and the selected components that are behind it. 2. We can now use the Box Selection tool with the B key in order to draw a rectangle area around the vertices that we want to select. If you want, you can hide the antenna and the stem by selecting them and pressing H (Hide). The Bevel tool will help you to create a thin base in the middle of the head. This bevel will be maintained with two new cuts. To do this, we can do an extrusion without moving it (cancel the move with RMB). 3. We can now scale the newly extruded faces on the x axis using the S + X shortcut. The thickness is added by selecting the inner face loop and extruding it at the same place. 29 www.allitebooks.comRobot Toy – Modeling of an Object 4. In order to push the extrusion according to the normals, we use the Alt + S shortcut. 5. We will also have to maintain the shape of the head by adding multiple edge loops (with Ctrl + R, for instance). Save your work After all the work you've done, it's very important to save it To write your blend file to your hard disk, go to the File menu and press the Save option or use the Ctrl + S shortcut. You can now choose which directory you want to place it in. A nice trick is to press the + or – key to add or remove one unit from the name of your file. The head shape without the antenna. 6. You can unhide the antenna and the stem in the Object Mode by pressing Shift + H. Modeling the thunderbolts It's now time to start modeling the thunderbolts; let's have a look at the following steps: 1. We will start by going into the Side Orthographic view (the 3 numpad key) and by placing the cursor next to the head with a simple left-click. 2. Then we will add a plane and in the Edit Mode we will remove all the vertices with the X key. 30 Chapter 2 3. In the Edit Mode, we are going create a chain of vertices that matches the thunderbolt shape of the image reference. 4. Pressing Ctrl and LMB, we will add new vertices and create the silhouette of the thunderbolt. 5. In order to close the shape, we select the first and last vertices and press the F key to fill them with an edge. 6. If you want to add more details to the shape, select two connected vertices and with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R), place a new vertex in the middle of both the connected vertices. 7. We can then select all the vertices (A) and fill the shape with an N-Gon (F) that we are going to resolve later. 8. We can now add an inset (I) in order to keep an outline. 9. After we've done this, we will have to clean the mesh by replacing the N-Gon with quads using the join tool (J) or the knife tool (K). If you have one triangle or N-Gon, it's not a problem for now as it could be solved later. The thunderbolt shape. 10. We can now add a Subdivision Surface modifier in the Object Mode. 11. We will have to sharpen the spikes using tight bevels. 31 Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object 12. Of course, we will have to clean the mesh by removing the N-Gons. Maintaining the spikes with bevels. 13. It's now time to extrude the whole thunderbolt by selecting all the faces (A). You may get a lighting error with black faces. It means that the normals are pointing inward and can't catch the light. You can verify this by opening the right panel of the viewport (N) and, under Normals, you can check the face icon. If the normals are not pointing outward, then you will need to recalculate their direction by selecting all the components and pressing the Ctrl + N shortcut. 14. We can now select the inner faces on the outside of the thunderbolt with either Shift + RMB or using the C key, which allows you to paint and select the components that you want according to the current view. With these faces selected we can create a small inner extrusion, and maintain the shape with the LoopCut tool (Ctrl + R). The finished thunderbolt with a view 2 Subdivision Surface. 32 Chapter 2 15. In order to mirror the thunderbolt on the other side of the head, we will use a Mirror modifier with the head as the center of a pivot. Place and rotate the thunderbolts according to the image reference. The Mirror modifier This is an easy way to make a symmetry from your 3D model. The basic symmetry is based on the positioning of the pivot point and the x axis. All of these are configurable by changing the axis. It is strongly advised you use the Clipping option if you want to weld the components that are on the symmetry axis of your geometry. By doing this, you will avoid holes. With the Mirror Object option, you can choose to base the symmetry axis on the pivot point of another object in your scene. 16. The last thing we may want to do at this stage is to correctly name our objects in the outline editor that is situated in the top-right corner of the interface by default. The outliner The outliner displays a list of all the entities that make up the current scene. When you select an object in the 3D view, it will be highlighted in the outliner and conversely. You can rename any item in the list by double-clicking on its name. The outliner also gives you control of the visibility of any object with the Eye icon button. The mouse cursor button can be toggled on or off to allow the selection of the corresponding object in the viewport. 33 Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object Modeling the eyes It's time to finish the head of our robot by adding a pair of eyes on it. This is done with the following steps: 1. In the Edit Mode of the head, we select the edge that is roughly positioned at the eye location. 2. We use a bevel to add more geometry. 3. It is now possible to slide the top and bottom edges of the bevel according to the volume by selecting them in the Edge Mode and pressing G twice to form an ellipsoidal shape. 4. After this, we can use the F key to fill the eye. It will remove the two vertical edges that come from the bevel. 5. Now we can do a series of insets and extrusions to pop out the eye. 6. Applying the same method to the other side, we will add a little cartoon effect. 7. As always, we now need to clear the geometry by removing N-Gons using the knife. Modeling the chest It is time to model the chest. The following steps will help you do so: 1. Now we put the 3D cursor at the center of the space (Shift + S), then we add a box (Shift + A) for the base shape of the chest. 2. We can adjust the position under the head (G + Z) in the front view, and switch to the Edit Mode to start the modeling. 34 Chapter 2 3. It is much faster to work with the symmetry, so we are going to cut the cube at its center with an edge loop (Ctrl + R). We select all the vertices on the left- hand side with the box select tool (Ctrl + B) in the wireframe shading mode (Z) and we delete them (X). 4. In the object mode (Tab), we add a mirror modifier to work with symmetry. 5. More polygons can be added to create the basic shape of the chest. We, therefore, add two vertical edge loops (Ctrl + R and scroll the mouse wheel up) from the side view and slide these on the y axis (S + Y). 6. Next, we move the polygon situated at the center of the chest from the side view (G + X) and add another vertical edge loop from the front view. 7. In the orthographic (5) front view (1), and with Wireframe (Z) Shading activated, we can easily work the shape by moving (G) and rotating (R) the selected vertices (refer to 2 and 3 in the following screenshot). Then we move the top face up a little (G + Z). 8. We can see that our central edge loop is not very well aligned in the front view. Therefore, we select and replace it by applying a zero scale on the x axis (S + X + 0 on the numeric keypad), which perfectly aligns our selected vertices. 9. In order to have a less angular shape, we are going to activate the edge mode and select the edges at the top and bottom of the chest (press Shift + Alt and the LMB) to finally do a bevel ( Ctrl + B) (refer to 5 in the following screenshot). 10. To balance the polygon flow of the mesh, we add a horizontal edge loop to the center (Ctrl + R) that we will extend with the Scale tool on the y axis (S+Y) (refer to 6 in the following screenshot). The goal is to use the maximum area of the drawing as a reference. Always remember to check the silhouette of your object. 11. For a more curved shape, we will use Proportional Editing that can be activated by the small circle icon located at the header of the 3D view. 35 Robot Toy – Modeling of an Object 12. The Proportional Editing tool will help us to shrink the side of the bust. Be careful to check the behavior of the clipping option of the mirror modifier for the vertices located on the axis of symmetry. They don't have to be merged at the center. To smooth the model, we will add a Subdivision Surface modifier and will check the Smooth Shading option in the Transform panel (T) in order to remove the flat aspect of the polygons. The Proportional Editing tool This allows you to change the shape of an object in the Edit Mode in a smooth manner. It acts like a magnet for unselected components that are inside a circle of influence that you can adjust by scrolling the mouse wheel. This is perfect when you want to move a set of components and when the geometry is too compact. The Connected option allows you to limit the scope to the geometry connected to the selection. The Falloff option offers a series of attenuation curve profiles. 36