Blender Tutorial #3

'Hello World' and 'Bye World'

For this tutorial, you will need to have the Hello World Mesh object from the previous tutorial Tutorial #1: 'Hello World' and the UV Sphere from Tutorial #2: 'Hello World' meet 'Sphere'. If you have not done these tutorials yet, please do these first.

Modeling of the previous tutorials, in this tutorial we will drop the ball a bit harder and have it destroy our Hello World Mesh object and another text Mesh object. At this point, the 3D cursor has not played much of a role. However, that is about to change! The 3D cursor is a funky little gadget that tends to confuse people quite a bit when it comes to moving stuff around in their scene, editing objects, or simply making new ones.

For this next part, we will first need to return it to 0. Press N on your keyboard which will open up a little menu that you haven't seen before; in fact, there is no reason you could've known it was there... In this little menu, you will find a little dropdown menu labelled 3D Cursor, conveniently showing you the current coordinates of your 3D cursor. Here you can change the coordinates of your 3D cursor exactly to 0, 0, 0.

Next, add a new Plane object by pressing SHIFT + A, then M, and then P. This should now have put a new Plane object at position 0, 0, 0. Let's make this Plane object a bit bigger; in the inspector, under Object properties, go to Transform > Scale and change the values to something reasonable, say 5, 5, 0. Note: alternatively, you could also just have pressed S, followed by X or Y, and 5, confirmed by ENTER to scale the plane on the X or Y axes.

Oh no! You'll notice that your text is now half submerged in the ground; we'll need to fix that. The same menu where you found the coordinates for the 3D cursor will have the 'absolute' bounds for your currently selected Plane object. So, go ahead and select your text Mesh object and under Transform > Dimensions it will tell you how big your text Mesh object is; probably somewhere around X: 5, Y: 0.69 and Z: 0.5.

Ok, before fixing the problem, let's examine it a bit better. Notice the blue arrow in your workspace? That's currently the Y-direction of this object; if you increase 0.69 to say 1.00 you'll see the object expanding upwards. This is not entirely intuitive, since we'd expect Z to be our upwards direction. The explanation lies in the fact that in tutorial 1 we rotated the object, but did not 'apply' this new rotated state to the default. It'll be clear when you have a look at the Rotation of X that is currently set to 90 degrees under the Object properies of your text Mesh object. We want to reset the default position of our text Mesh object so that anything else we do with/to it will be based on its default situation.

For example, take note of the Y coordinate under Dimensions in the menu that was hidden; in my case this value reads 0.691; that's currently the total height of my object in a rotated state. To turn this rotated state into a definite state, select the text Mesh object and press CTRL + A > R (for rotation). This will apply the rotation transformation and redefine the new default state of your object. You'll notice that the Y and Z axes in the Grease Pencil menu have also swapped; the blue arrow now corresponds to the Z-axis.

Ok, we can now try and position the Mesh object on top of the Plane object, rather than in it. Select the Mesh object and activate Snap with SHIFT + TAB. Press CTRL + SHIFT + TAB to select the element to snap: choose Volume; in the little snap menu on the bottom ribbon, select Closest. Press G, followed by Z, and slide your text Mesh object until it locks onto the Plane object. This should place it right on top of the Plane object. Next, we'll give our Plane object a Rigid Body component and like the text Mesh object, set it to passive. Under the Rigid Body Collisions dropdown menu, set Bounciness to 0.2. Select your text Mesh object again and on the Physics tab change its Type to active and make sure Dynamic is checked; under its Rigid Body Collisions make sure Bounciness is set to 0. Finally, select your Sphere object and under its Rigid Body Collisions set its Mass to something absurd, say 1000, and its Bounciness to 0.2.

Press play to see the fruits of your labor; press 0/insert to see the animation through your camera preview!

Not there yet though! The ball doesn't look particularly nice and we can do better than just one text spinning around... Select the Sphere object and under the Tools tab on the left menu, under the Edit dropdown menu, under Shading select Smooth. This will smooth the Sphere to a nice and shiny ball.

A final touch; to get the hang of Blender, I suggest playing around. For example, add a few more Text objects, extrude them, turn them into Mesh objects, and place them on the Plane object in a way that when the Sphere object drops, all get kicked off! Don't forget to set the origin of your objects to their center of mass (SHIFT + CTRL + ALT + C) so it becomes the center of mass, otherwise they might not behave as you would expect them to!

By Martin