30 days in Blender.
Staying at home gave me a lot of time to think about your personal design goals. I realized that I want to avoid creative stagnation, and I want to constantly study and research topics that interest me.
I decided to study Blender Is a free 3D software used to create animated films, visual effects, motion graphics, and more.
I want to talk about my design process; what I have learned and how can I put the skills I have learned into practice. Hopefully this will inspire others to learn something new.
The importance of the donut
Typically, when learning a new skill, you learn to walk first before you can run. Many 3D artists working in Blender recommend starting with Blender Guru’s popular donut tutorial. So, in the first couple of days I learned how to make a donut.
This guide laid a solid foundation for techniques and basic concepts: creating and using materials; introduction to sculpting; applying a subsurface division modifier.
I studied the logic of each step, memorizing the result of using a tool or method. To create future projects, I will most likely need to return to these concepts.
You don’t need to know everything. In fact, you only use 20% of the functions 80% of the time.
Learning new design programs can sometimes be daunting, especially when there are so many tools and buttons in the interface. This is one of the reasons why I hesitated to start training. But thanks to these lessons, I realized that I do not need know everything – just the tools that I will use most often.
Become a sponge
Over the next few weeks, I began to absorb new knowledge like a sponge. I searched YouTube for tutorials on visual effects and styles – trying to learn everything I could.
Below you will find several renders made for these lessons, a link to them, and an analysis of the learned methods and techniques.
Anime-style Water Caustics
This is how I first became acquainted with nodes.
Nodes allow you to make changes to the appearance of materials applied to a polygonal mesh. Using a chain of nodes will help you get more complex materials. For example, some people know how to create such materials.
This render consists of two planes – by changing the X and Y coordinates of the texture, you can simulate the movement of the water (top plane) and light reflections on the ocean floor (bottom plane).
This tutorial shows you how to create a shader to simulate the scattering of light through glass (think of the Pink Floyd album cover “Dark Side of the Moon“). The concept is to separate the red, green and blue (RGB) channels; slightly shifting them so that the light passing through the glass is distributed in RGB colors.
Animation in Blender is similar to animation with prototyping tools. Instead of artboards or frames, Blender uses keyframes (applied to properties) to define each transition. Transitions automatically fill between each keyframe, similar to Figma’s Smart Animate feature.
I love shiny things – if you’ve collected collectible cards, then you know what a rush of dopamine a collector gets from a holographic card. So when I first saw this iridescent effect in a K / DA music video, I knew I had to try to recreate it.
To begin with, I learned how to create a “fabric” from this tutorial. Applying a modifier to a plane displacement (displace) and changing the type marble texture results in a fabric-like effect.
In terms of the iridescent effect, I followed the concept behind the shader tutorial and experimented with node values until I got a color palette that I liked.
Create things for fun
Once I got comfortable with Blender, I wanted to try creating my own renders without referring to tutorials and tutorials.
I was free to do whatever I wanted, and I decided to create things that were interesting to me. Interest in the project means that I am unlikely to abandon it.
It is very important to have fun in whatever you do. If you don’t find joy in what you are doing, it is much easier to burn out.
I do a lot of things in Figma: presentation slides; animations; prototyping, etc. This is my favorite design tool, so I decided to model it.
As an amateur photographer, I remembered three-point light… For this render, I experimented with lighting using this principle.
The key light illuminates the subject; fill light balances shadows, and back (back) light is used to create contrast, separating the subject from the background.
Cosmetic improvements in video games
One of my favorite things to do is video games. I recently played Valorant, a free online shooter from Riot games…
To keep the game free, Riot Games offers “skin packs”, replacing in-game models with unique animations and styles. I thought, why not try to come up with my own style?
This render is inspired by the expression “Glass cannon”… Using the previously mastered glass dispersion shader, I updated the skin of one of the in-game weapon models. I have overlaid one of the maps for the background to simulate the first person view.
Font with animated background
Inspired by the previous music video, I animated the font using Figma using one of the rainbow effects as the background. This is my first time using GIF in Figma and I think it worked out really well.
Dreamy Shiba Inu
I have a shiba inu named Katsu… He is a good boy.
I made this render using mostly the modeling techniques from the donut tutorial. While experimenting, I found the modifier shrink filmwhich allowed me to superimpose white and red spots on the orange mesh.
Applying 3D to your workflow
You may ask, “Who will benefit from these skills besides 3D artists”?
Below I will share several ways to use 3D in my workflow:
In any business, the ability to tell stories is one of the most important aspects.
Stories bring the product to life and make it interesting. Without stories, all we have are facts. And facts appeal to your mind, while stories appeal to your heart.
This render is for fun and in no way trying to shame Adobe or Sketch…
To illustrate my point, I went back and made a number of changes to the render Figma and Sketch… I added Adobe XD and moved the objects along the Y-axis, giving them a visual hierarchy.
Placing elements in this way will tell the story to the viewer, and the extra dimension can make your work more engaging.
I made this quick mockup, in the form of a fictional credit card concept.
3D illustrations are widely used for product landing pages because, as they say, a picture is worth a thousand words…
Of course, you can use many standard layouts, but I think the flexibility to match your product is an extremely powerful marketing tool.
Product studio background
One of the most useful things I’ve learned while learning Blender is how to create the background of a product. If you have a need for product photography, but you do not have access to a photo studio, this is a great alternative.
Here’s a step-by-step guide:
Additional 10 percent
I call this an additional 10% – at the very end we ask ourselves, can we do something for an additional 10%? – Zach King
I came across this video in which visual effects artist Zach King adds an “extra 10 percent.” After filming, his team wonders if the final result could be slightly improved.
Inspired by this idea, I went back to the donut again.
While the changes I made weren’t all that small, it’s an understanding of the work ethic of successful people like Zach King that motivates you to move on.
In truth, I spent a month learning 3D, but in reality I was doing something else for about half that time. Some animations take hours to render, and during this time I just do something else.
I did everything at my own leisurely pace – playing video games, watching TV shows on Netflix, spending time with family, etc. Please remember to take breaks! It’s very important to take care of yourself, especially now.
I had a lot of fun learning something new – I hope I inspired you to do what you’ve always wanted to learn.
Special thanks to the 3D masters who guided and inspired me with their lessons:
Blender guru ✦ CG Cookie ✦ CG Matter ✦ Dedouze ✦ Kristof dedene
Thanks for reading!