Book Image

Blender 3D Cookbook

By : Enrico Valenza
Book Image

Blender 3D Cookbook

By: Enrico Valenza

Overview of this book

Table of Contents (21 chapters)
Blender 3D Cookbook
About the Author
About the Reviewers


This cookbook is based on the ultimate 2.7 series of Blender and illustrates the workflow to create from scratch the monster creature Gidiosaurus, a fictional humanoid biped reptilian warrior, almost 2 meters tall, with scaled skin and wearing a sort of simple medieval armor.

So, by the use of recipes in this book, we'll see all the stages that a character's creation workflow usually undergoes in a production pipeline based on the open source software Blender; starting from concept sketches used as reference templates for the modeling and sculpting; going through the re-topology, UDIM unwrapping, rigging, texturing, and shading stages; and finally ending with the lighting, the rendering of a simple walk cycle animation, and also a bit of compositing. You will find quite a lot of stuff in the industry usually solved through the use of different applications, but that can be almost completely tackled just in Blender!

The order of all the stages of such a workflow is mandatory for most of them; for example, all the stages from Chapter 1, Modeling the Character's Base Mesh, to Chapter 4, Re-topology of the High Resolution Sculpted Character's Mesh, but can also be subjective in others.

In fact, stages such as the rigging and the skinning, the unwrapping of the mesh, the creation of the shaders, and the textures painting are often, at least in my experience, simultaneous or interchangeable. I usually build the rig and make a quick skinning of the mesh to verify that the deformations work correctly and then, if it's the case, I modify the mesh, fix the unwrap, tweak the vertex groups weights, modify the rig, and so on.

That's why in this book, after the unwrapping stage (Chapter 5, Unwrapping the Low Resolution Mesh), there are chapters about the rigging, skinning, and animation, and only later there are the chapters about the shaders and the textures creation, which ideally would have been the natural followers. While we are rigging a character, sometimes the need for some modifications in the mesh topology or even in the geometry turns up, usually to allow for better deformation in certain areas; this is the kind of corrections that we prefer to have before the unwrapping and the complex texture painting stages are done.

Because the different stages must be kept separated and explained one by one through recipes, it would be difficult to keep this kind of simultaneity in the cookbook. That's why, in very few cases, you'll find blank steps linking to other recipes and some images showing the future effect of the involved processes; for example, in Chapter 2, Sculpting the Character's Base Mesh, there are recipes about the different ways to obtain the mesh subdivision that at a certain step link to a later recipe, or in Chapter 6, Rigging the Low Resolution Mesh, there are examples of the deformation effects that the rig will have on the already skinned mesh even if the reader hasn't approached the skinning stage yet and so on. If this is the case, it is clarified at the time.

If you are not a total beginner in Blender, you are probably already using your customized version of the User Interface, with your personal preferences as add-ons, modified screens, and whatever else already set in the User Preferences panel.

In this cookbook, by the way, we'll presume to start our workflow with the Factory Settings, which is the basic interface and the preferences situation we have at the very first time we start Blender just after to have downloaded the zip and uncompressed it to some location on our hard drive.

If this the case, in the Getting ready section of the recipes, instructions about any required add-on and/or particular settings to be enabled are provided.


In the making of this cookbook, I've used versions of Blender from 2.71 to 2.73a. So, besides the version number that you'll see in the images written in the main header, you can sometimes find a screenshot showing buttons or features not appearing in the other images; such as, for example, for the Node Editor toolbar between versions 2.71 and 2.72, as shown in the following screenshot (only relevant to Cycles):

In no case, things like these should be an issue because there aren't many differences in these versions, only improvements, and the provided files have been tested under all of them. Obviously, new features or bug fixes introduced in version 2.73a are not available in the previous ones, so always use the latest official Blender release (also, the new versions 2.74 and 2.75a, although not debated in the cookbook, are OK).

A list of the new features available in the new versions can be found at,, and

I want to assure you that no Gidiosaurus has been harmed in the making of this cookbook. Moreover, the Gidiosaurus is totally a fictional character and any reference to extinct or still living creatures is totally coincidental and fortuitous. Even more, the name Gidiosaurus (from Gidio = Gidio and saurus = lizard) is copyrighted; the Gidiosaurus character has been designed, sculpted, and modeled by Enrico Valenza and is released under the Creative Commons license CC BY-NC-ND 4.0 ( This means that any version of the Gidiosaurus model or the character's textures provided through blend files with this cookbook, besides special distribution permission granted by the author to Packt Publishing for this cookbook, cannot be used for commercial purposes, but only for personal projects and the appropriate credit must always be given anyway.

What this book covers

Chapter 1, Modeling the Character's Base Mesh, explains the different methods to set reference templates in Blender and the use of the Skin modifier to model the character's base mesh.

Chapter 2, Sculpting the Character's Base Mesh, explains how to prepare and sculpt the base mesh.

Chapter 3, Polygonal Modeling of the Character's Accessories, explains the polygonal modeling of the character's accessories and the use of Curves to add detailing.

Chapter 4, Re-topology of the High Resolution Sculpted Character's Mesh, explains how to plan the re-topology through the Grease Pencil and how to use the tools to re-topologize the sculpted mesh.

Chapter 5, Unwrapping the Low Resolution Mesh, explains how to UDIM unwrap the re-topologized mesh.

Chapter 6, Rigging the Low Resolution Mesh, explains the different methods to build the rig in Blender.

Chapter 7, Skinning the Low Resolution Mesh, explains the different methods and tools to skin the character's mesh to the rig.

Chapter 8, Finalizing the Model, explains how to create shape keys, the drivers, the use of the bone's constraints, and the finalizing of the model.

Chapter 9, Animating the Character, explains how to link the asset to be animated from a library, how to proxify it, how to animate a simple walkcycle, and the use of Non Linear Animation.

Chapter 10, Creating the Textures, explains how to paint textures both in Blender Internal and in Cycles, how to make them tileable, and how to bake them.

Chapter 11, Refining the Textures, explains how to bake the details of the sculpted mesh to a normal map, how to create a Vertex Colors map, and the possible use of the Quick Edit tool to paint directly onto the model through an external 2D image editor application.

Chapter 12, Creating the Materials in Cycles, explains the creation of the shaders in Cycles.

Chapter 13, Creating the Materials in Blender Internal, explains the creations of similar shaders in Blender Internal.

Chapter 14, Lighting, Rendering, and a Little Bit of Compositing, explains the setup of the lighting, image based lighting both in Blender Internal and in Cycles, how to render a preview OpenGL playblast, some suggestions to try to avoid fireflies and noise in Cycles, and the compositing of the rendered passes of both the render engines into one single final image.

What you need for this book

The only software strictly needed to put into practice the content of this cookbook is the last official Blender release (from 2.73 to 2.75a). You just have to download it from; some Python script may be necessary in some recipes, but for the most part, they should all be included in the Blender package. Eventually, you can quite surely find any missing add-on at

Any particular texture needed for the exercises in the book is provided as a free download on the Packt Publishing website itself.

Not essential, but handy to have is a 2D image editor, in case you want to adapt your own textures to replace the provided ones; I suggest you try Gimp, an open source image editor that you can download from; any other one you prefer is perfect anyway.

Who this book is for

This book is aimed at the professionals that already have good 3D CGI experience with commercial packages and have now decided to try the open source Blender and want to experiment with something more complex than the average tutorials on the web.

However, it's also aimed at the intermediate Blender users who simply want to go some steps further.

It's taken for granted that you already know how to move inside the Blender interface, that you already have 3D modeling knowledge, and also that of basic 3D modeling and rendering concepts, for example, edge-loops, n-gons, or samples.

In any case, it's also possible for a keen beginner to follow this book, by combining it with the manual on the BlenderWiki or preceding it with a basic Blender UI tutorial on the web.

The keyboard/mouse shortcuts for the operations in the recipes are, at least in all the more relevant cases, indicated in brackets.


In this book, you will find several headings that appear frequently (Getting ready, How to do it, How it works, There's more, and See also).

To give clear instructions on how to complete a recipe, we use these sections as follows:

Getting ready

This section tells you what to expect in the recipe and describes how to set up any software or any preliminary settings required for the recipe.

How to do it…

This section contains the steps required to follow the recipe.

How it works…

This section usually consists of a detailed explanation of what happened in the previous section.

There's more…

This section consists of additional information about the recipe in order to make the reader more knowledgeable about the recipe.

See also

This section provides helpful links to other useful information for the recipe.


In this book, you will find a number of text styles that distinguish between different kinds of information. Here are some examples of these styles and an explanation of their meaning.

Code words in text, database table names, folder names, filenames, file extensions, pathnames, dummy URLs, user input, and Twitter handles are shown as follows: "Reopen the Gidiosaurus_base_mesh.blend file."

Sequences of operations, such as for example adding nodes to the Node Editor or objects in the 3D view, are written as follows: "Shift + A | Texture | Voronoi Texture."

This means that you need to press the Shift and the A keys at the same time, then move the mouse pointer on the Texture item in a pop-up menu and click or select the desired final item.

New terms and important words are shown in bold. Words that you see on the screen, for example, in menus or dialog boxes, appear in the text like this: "Under the Empty subpanel, click on the Open button."


Warnings or important notes appear in a box like this.


Tips and tricks appear like this.

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Downloading the color images of this book

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