Saturday, October 10, 2009
Blender Community Toolbar
Hi. I'm Ira Krakow. The purpose of this video is to make you aware of a fantastic resource which I think is an essential tool for any Blender user, from newbie to seasoned professional. It's called the Blender Community Toolbar.
The Toolbar installs in seconds on your browser. There are versions for Internet Explorer, Firefox (the one I use because I like open source), and Safari (the Apple Macintosh browser). I also want to point out some of the links that I have found useful. This is just one person's favorites list, and certainly it's not an exhaustive one. Blender has a large and enthusiastic worldwide following of extremely talented people who volunteer their time and knowledge to enrich the experience of working in Blender for all of us.
So let's start with Kernon Dillon, the author of the Blender Community Toolbar and developer of Blendernewbies.com. First, I want to publicly thank Kernon for all the hard work he's put into blendernewbies. Kernon's clear, precise, and even tempered presentations of even the most difficult Blender topics are a pleasure to watch. Two of my all time favorites are:
A five part tutorial on modeling oven baked pretzels in Blender, which describes just about everything about how to make the pretzels in such a way that you can smell the pretzels baking in the oven.
A three part tutorial on making a magic wand with Blender particles.
I'm not alone as a member of Kernon's fan club. You can read Kernon Dillon, A Blender Community Treasure.
Now we'll do a quick tour of the toolbar. At the extreme left is a button with the Blender icon. Click on that and you'll get to the official Blender Web site, blender.org. This is the place to check out the official Blender news, straight from the source. You can download the latest version (2.49b), learn about Elephant's Dream, Big Buck Bunny, and YoFrankie, the Blender open source movie projects, as well as Durian, the latest Blender open source movie, coming soon to your local computer. You can also access Blender's documentation, the wiki, and catch up on the news from BlenderNation.com, another great place to find out what's going on in the world of Blender.
If you're new to Blender, check out the Blender Basics Video Tutorial link, which gets you to BlenderUnderground.com's excellent 5 Part Blender Basics video tutorial. Blenderunderground.com, lead by Apollos, goes beyond the basics, looking inside the hood to show us how Blender actually operates. The philosophy is that to be efficient in Blender you need to know how Blender works, not just mindlessly pressing keystrokes to get a particular effect. My favorites are:
Part 4, especially the discussion of the outliner. After viewing this, you'll know why you need to create a material before you create a texture, or the difference between an object and its data.
Part 5, which has an in depth discussion of lighting, shaders, ray tracing, and other good stuff.
The next button has links to tutorials, from the beginner to the advanced level. One I found very useful is the Introduction to Character Animation. This was part of the Blender Summer of Documentation project. If you can master this tutorial, you will be well on your way to understanding how to animate a character in Blender.
The Extras tab contains many links to Blender resources that should give you many ideas. One link I like is the Blender Open Material Repository. It's a database of over 600 materials, ready for use in your Blender projects.
If you want to extend Blender with Python scripts, you can check out How To Use Python Scripts in Blender, as well as the many Python scripts available for download from the toolbar.
The most fun area of the Community Toolbar is the RSS feeds. You can catch up on news from all sorts of sources. As you can see I have over 400 unread articles. Staying up to date with Blender takes just about a 24 hour, 7 days a week, 365 days a year proposition.
I certainly would follow the articles in Blenderartists.org closely. Blenderartists.org is the most popular site for Blender users, as opposed to Blender.org, which is more geared to Blender developers. The toolbar also includes the feed for Blendernation, just another way to keep up with developments. If you want to see how Blender 2.5 is progressing, follow the Blender Development and the Blender Development Log feeds. And to download the latest version of 2.5, follow the graphicall.org feed. What's nice is that the RSS feeds are updated as soon as new content is added, so you'll always be up to date.
Obviously a short video like this cannot get to all the fantastic resources available from the Blender Community Toolbar. I hope I have encouraged you to download it and see for yourself. Happy Blending!