Blender Tutorial #1

Blender: Starting Up

  1. Start Blender by clicking the link in your Start Menu.

  2. This will result in a new window with a standard cube at position 0, 0, 0.

Blender: The GUI

The remainder of the GUI requires a little bit of explanation and you should familiarize yourself with some of the basic options available to you; there are tons of options and you can get a sense by briefly exploring the different workspace layouts that come with the software; have a look at the different Screen Layouts next to the Help menu on your toolbar. The dropdown to the left of that menu has a number of options and feel free to select different ones to see the power embedded in this software. Once you're done, return to Default, which is what you started with and we will use in this tutorial.

In your Default layout, take note of the panel on the left; on the top we have the layers to our scene and below is the inspector. The inspector has a number of smaller tabs hidden inside it (yes, the tiny icons that form a ribbon), which we can use to do stuff with our model. On the left we have another panel with Tools, Create, Relations, Animation, Physics, and Grease Pencil. Many, if not all of the functions that are hidden in all these panels are accessible through short key combinations. Also take note of the 3D cursor; this little gizmo is quite confusing, particularly since left-clicking in your scene will move this cursor to a spot you probably did not want. The 3D cursor is the insertion point for new objects; so, if you click in the wrong spot, and add a new object, it will show up in the wrong spot too! If that happens, select your object, click on the little orange cube in the inspector and set the coordinates under Transform > Location to 0, 0, 0; this will return the object's origin to the central position.

Bye bye cube

Ok, let's start by deleting that cube. Select the cube by right-clicking it and then press X or the delete key on your keyboard; confirm by pressing enter/return.

We want to make a simple 'Hello World,' so to do that we will need to create a Text object. The long way is using the GUI and moving through the menus. You could select the Create tab on left pane and select Text under the Other heading to insert a default Text object at the position of your cursor. The short way to do this is by pressing SHIFT + A and then T for Text. Either way, make sure your text is set at position 0, 0, 0.

Select your new Text object and in the inspector click on the F tab, which stands for ... well, text; yep, kinda confusing. Open up the Geometry tab, and under Modification you will see a textbox with Extrude. Click the textbox and change the value to 0.25. Voilà! Your text now has a third dimension.

Hello World!

Ok, the text still says text, right? We want it to say 'Hello World'. In your bottom panel, change Object Mode to Edit Mode (pressing TAB will do it too) and in Edit Mode your three-dimensional text object should now get a cursor; in other words, you are now free to change your text to whatever you want! Type Hello World to change the text of your Text object. When you're done, switch back to Object Mode (TAB).

Now with the Text object selected, press ALT + C and then M for Mesh from Curve. This will turn your Text object into a Mesh object at which point your text gets body and can be sculpted/modeled in different ways; this will be necessary to create more complex interactions in following tutorials. Now we are going to center the mass of our new Mesh object to the center of our scene. First, move the 3D cursor to the center of the Mesh object by pressing SHIFT + CTRL + ALT + C and then M for Origin to Center of Mass (Volume). The 3D cursor should now be at the exact center of mass of our object. We can now use this position to tilt and move the object using this new point of origin.

Let's set it up straight first. With the Mesh object selected, press R and then X and type 90; confirm with enter. Your object should now be standing up straight!

Viewing Hello World

Ok, finally we want to view this Mesh object through the camera. If you have a numpad on your computer - and we highly recommend you do! - press 0/insert (with numlock off). This will toggle the view through the Camera object and you will see what Blender would export. You can select the camera by right-clicking the frustum-like object, or simply select it in your layer panel (top-right). When you are in Preview Mode (you are looking through the camera), press G to activate movement of the preview camera. You can easily arrange the camera in Preview Mode by pressing X, Y, or Z and sliding the camera over that axis. Likewise, with Preview Mode activated, you can also rotate the camera by pressing R, followed by X, Y, or Z and using your mouse to rotate the camera. Press G/R again to exit when your Hello World Mesh object is in good view. Note: location and rotation can be set accurately in the inspector menu, so once you've developed a feel for moving around in Preview Mode, feel free to simply set the parameters manually; here I've set them to Location 0, 7, 0 and Rotation 90, 0, 0.

By Martin