3D Animation with Blender
3D Animation and Computer Graphics has become an almost essential skill today, especially if you work in Creative Industry or Immersive Technologies like AR / VR. You’ll often hear terms like WebGL, Particle Effect, Three.JS, Shaders, .fbx or .gltf file formats etc..
Learning 3D Animation or Motion Graphics can be very daunting at first, especially when you see a clumsy user-interface loaded with tons or menu and toolbar options.. Here I present a series of cool demos to simplify 3D Animation basics for beginners and learners, using a free but highly powerful 3D modeling, animation and rendering tool called Blender.
The first demo utilizes some key features of Blender, to create an array of 3D mesh objects (spheres or cubicles), applies random color material, and then wave modifier on underlying surface / plane to produce wave-like ripples or bouncing effect.
The next set of demos below use Rigid Body Physics in Blender to create free-falling objects and shatter effect popular in VFx.
Next, let’s try building some basic 3D models using simple shapes like cube, cylinders, sphere. Furniture items are great start for beginners, to learn geometry and design in 3D. To create following models, I used Mirror modifier in Blender to create symmetry along either x or y axis, and Extrude option to add new panels or surfaces to the basic cube object.
Like furniture, vehicles or toys are also great way to practice 3D design, simple geometry and basic transformations like rotation, scaling, extrusion.
And now, time for some tasty treats.. These donuts in a box are freshly baked out of Blender, and come with a tricky icing where you need to stack two torus objects on top of one another to get a double layer icing..
To make things interesting, we can also create a multi-tier cake with some frosting. To create frosting, first re-shape a cylinder object into disc, and then simply drag individual vertices of disc down with proportional editing option enabled.. Finally, apply smooth shading to create melting effect..
Some loop-cuts along with scaling or extrude options will turn the basic cube object into any shape you like..
And who doesn’t love Ice Cream? Try sculpting tools to give it a nice swirl..
Best way to learn various sculpting brushes available in Blender is to try them on few alien characters. With symmetry along Y axis ON, simply drag a few strokes to create your own alien creatures and monsters..
Sculpting can also be practiced on farm animals or pets, by simply dragging the limbs and arms out of round body shape, or ears and nose out of face..
Building a house in 3D is also lot of fun. You can keep it as simple or as complex as you wish..
Next, try planting some trees in the garden.. Leaves can be tricky but a simple combination of selective rotation + scaling on disc shape will do the magic to create bending effect..
Once comfortable with individual items, you can start building the entire scene or sets..
Next I want to touch upon Fluid Dynamics and Simulations in Blender.. To create fluid simulations in Blender, we need the Domain (container which holds the fluid), Flow (source of fluid), and optionally the Effectors or Obstacles which direct the flow or move along with the flow.. Steps to render fluids include — Baking the Data and Baking the Mesh.
The following simulation uses the Ocean modifier in Blender.
Shading water bodies is tricky — to create water like materials, we need Mix shaders to add transparency as below: