Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Gimp 2.8 Text Tool

In this video, I will demonstrate the new features of the Gimp 2.8 text tool. At first glance, the text tool in 2.8 looks exactly like the text tool in 2.6, but actually there’s a lot of new features, many of which would have been much more complicated in Gimp 2.6, that are under the hood. To illustrate this, I’m in Gimp 2.8, in single-window mode. I will create a new image canvas by selecting File-New, and accepting the default of 640 x 400 pixels. You can use any image dimension that you want.

As in Gimp 2.6, you select the Text Tool from the Toolbox by clicking on the bold faced A icon. In the Tool Options, the options for the text you want to enter can be set. I’ll change the font to Tahoma, a commonly usede sans serif font useful for displaying text on the Web, by clicking on the Select Font icon (the one with the Capital A and small A), and scrolling down to the font. The big and little A change as a preview of what the A would look in that particular font. The font size defaults to 18 pixels. You can change both the font size, and the type of units. Gimp supports pixels, inches, centimeters, millimeters, points, and a variety of other types. I’ll change the text size to 50 pixels.

Once we start to add text, the differences between the 2.8 and 2.6 text tool will become clearer. To add text, click on the area of the canvas where you want to enter text, draw a rectangle which roughly is the area you want the text to occupy, and start typing the text. I’ll type “Red, Green, and Blue”. As in 2.6, the text displays in Tahoma, with a size of 50 pixels, in black. The text is also left justified. The justification can be changed to right, center, and filled, by clicking on the Justify icons, also as in Gimp 2.6. I’ll click on the Center icon. All of these settings affect the entire text.

So far, nothing appears to be new as far as editing the text goes. However, there is one thing that catches our eye, and that’s the on-canvas editing area, directly above the rectangle we created, with some new buttons and thingies. What are they?
The reason they are there is that in the new text tool, you can change parts of the text.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Photoshop in Blender, Part 3: Creating an Alpha Mask

In the previous tutorial, Part 2, we saw how the alpha mask of the scene was used so it could work as the foreground image in the AlphaOver node, to combine a foreground with a background. In this tutorial, I will show you how to use The Gimp to create an alpha mask for my locomotive JPEG image, which does not have an alpha channel. In a future tutorial, I will show you how to create an alpha mask in Blender.
The first step is to separate the locomotive from its background, using the various selection tools the Gimp (and Photoshop as well) offer. The Gimp has 7 different selection tools - it’s a time consuming and detail oriented process - and of course the more detailed the selection the better the result. I don’t own Photoshop. I suspect there may be even more selection tools in it. Regardless, the process is the same.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Photoshop in Blender, Part 2: Transparency

In Part 1 of the Photoshop in Blender tutorial series, I introduced you to Blender’s compositor node setup. In this tutorial, we are going to combine an image that I took with my digital camera - an antique Vermont Railway locomotive, displayed at the White River Junction, Vermont, railroad station - with Suzanne in front of it. You’re looking at the final result. We’ll discover how transparency works in Blender, and why understanding and controlling image transparency, and the concept of the alpha channel, which is crucial in combining images in the compositor.
We’ll also pretend that we are creating this image for HD TV. In this case, the resolution of the image I took was 2592 x 1944 pixels.

Actually, when video is edited, it’s basically a sequence of images. Each image is called a frame. So we’re just editing one video frame. In later tutorials, I’ll show you how to edit videos with full motion, but that’s getting ahead of our story. In this tutorial, I will introduce a number of composite nodes, the viewer node, the Mix node, the Alpha Over node, and the Scale node, to accomplish the job. I hope you will become more comfortable with using Blender’s composite nodes after watching this tutorial.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Photoshop in Blender

This is the first in a series of I don’t know how many tutorials on how to do 2D image editing with Blender, more specifically with Blender’s composite node system. I’m using Version 2.63, although in general these tutorials should work with any version of Blender, from 2.6 on, and probably with recent 2.5 builds as well. I say “perhaps” because I haven’t tested this tutorial in any version except 2.63. What will be fun about these is that we are going to totally ignore the 3D characteristics of Blender. We’re going to use Blender as if it were Photoshop or The Gimp, as an image editor. I happen to use The Gimp, but I titled the tutorials Photoshop in Blender because more people, for whatever reason, use Photoshop. After watching these videos, you can then evaluate what part of your image editing workflow actually needs to be in Photoshop or The Gimp, and how much can actually be done in Blender.

In Part 1, we will set up the environment and do some simple image processing.

Monday, April 30, 2012

Blender 2.63 BMesh, Part 1

The purpose of this tutorial is to compare some pre-BMesh and post-BMesh modeling operations, to give you a flavor for why BMesh is a good thing. BMesh is a rewrite of the modeling architecture in Blender to support polygons of any number of sides. Before Blender 2.63 Blender only supported triangles (3 sided polygons) and quadrilaterals (quads) (4 sided polygons). With BMesh, Blender can create polygons with any number of sides.

We’ll start with Subdivide. Subdividing is a good place to begin looking at BMesh because subdivide actually is an edge related edit operation (you’re basically splitting edges in half). Edges correlate to sides of a polygon. Subdivide either explicitly splits an edge (if an edge is selected), or implicitly splits the edges formed by the selected vertices and/or faces. This process creates new vertices, which must belong to a face. The vertex cannot just be sitting on an edge without belonging to a face. Before Blender 2.63 (i.e., with BMesh), the face could only be 3 sided (triangle) or 4 sided (quad). With BMesh, the face can have any number of edges. This makes for a cleaner topology, making it easier to add detail to your model.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Bezier 2.62 3D Circle

This tutorial is the first in a series on modeling with curves in Blender. Mesh modeling is based on polygons, straight lines connected together to form a face. Most objects occurring in nature (look at the palm of your hand, your face in a mirror, a leaf, or a drop of water), are curvy. Curves indicate naturalness and beauty, such as in a car, a house, or a flower. For example, if we say that a car is “boxy”, that’s a criticism of its straight line, polygonal, design. To make a car conform to our idea of beauty, the design needs some curves. Modeling an object with curves will give it a more natural, organic, look. Part of the problem with mesh modeling is that, no matter how much geometry you define (say for a human face), you’re never going to get the exact, natural shape of the object. Thus the need for modeling with curves.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Blender 2.62 Bezier Circle

This tutorial is the first in a series on modeling with curves in Blender. Mesh modeling is based on polygons, straight lines connected together to form a face. Most objects occurring in nature (look at the palm of your hand, your face in a mirror, a leaf, or a drop of water), are curvy. Curves indicate naturalness and beauty, such as in a car, a house, or a flower. For example, if we say that a car is “boxy”, that’s a criticism of its straight line, polygonal, design. To make a car conform to our idea of beauty, the design needs some curves. Modeling an object with curves will give it a more natural, organic, look.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Blender 2.62 Spin Tool

The Spin tool extrudes a profile, a two dimensional outline, using the 3D Cursor as its pivot point, in a variable number of steps. The Spin tool works in edit mode. It’s a very versatile tool for modeling things like wine glasses, bottles, mugs, vases, and donut or cylindrical type objects - any object where the profile doesn’t change around a particular axis, which is the axis on which the profile is spun. Sometimes the spin tool is referred to as the lathe tool since the action of the spin tool resembles an actual lathe, on which you also need an axis to spin. It’s important to spin paying close attention to the view you’re in, as well as to make sure of the position of the 3D cursor.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shape Keys (2.62)

Shape keys are used to create fine tuned changes in the mesh without adding geometry. This is great for doing animations, and for performance in the game engine because extra geometry slows down the responsiveness of the character. Some examples of where shape keys can be useful are animating a rig, changing facial expressions on a character, and lip synching with audio. The appearance of a mesh deformation can be simulated, without using modifiers. You should not use shape keys unless the geometry is final because adding geometry will mess up the shape keys. Shape keys affect the mesh data block, not the object itself. The appearance of an object can change at the object level, for example when an object is scaled or rotated, or even moved, if you are in perspective mode. This is not the same as a shape key change because the location, scaling, and rotation information are not stored in the mesh data. To animate these, use the Loc, Rot, and Scale channels. Shape keys are animated using the Shape Keys editor in the Dopesheet.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Blender 2.62 Text Effects

There are many reasons to add text to a Blender scene, whether it’s for creating a title, adding opening or closing credits, creating speech bubbles, adding a watermark, and so on. My goal for this video is to get you comfortable with adding text to your scene. Blender text objects are special curve objects. You’ll most likely need a bit of practice before you become comfortable with Blender text objects. The purpose of this video is to give you a basis for practicing.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Blender 2.62 Cycles

Cycles is Blender’s new render engine, more based on the actual physics of light than Blender’s internal render engine. The goal is to produce more realistic lighting. The new cycles render engine is automatically enabled in Blender 2.6. The purpose of this tutorial is to compare the two. In particular, the Material and World settings have significantly changed, radically enough so you won’t recognize it. Also, the Render settings have new panels, Integrator and Film, that are specific to Cycles. Cycles is still in the development stages, with many settings still either experimental or not implemented.

I’ll point out those as we go. Also, since the Cycles rendering is based on nodes, I will give you a gentle introduction to how Cycles interacts with nodes, in particular with material nodes, now called Shaders.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Blender 2.62 Addons, Part 1

Addons are just what the name implies...programs that extend, or add to, the functionality of Blender. They are not part of the core Blender program. Instead, you can turn them on or off (enable or disable) by clicking on a check box in the User Preferences screen. There are many addons, which can add more capabilities to your Blender environment. To see the addons, from the default Blender screen, I will change the 3D View window type to User Preferences. A tabbed menu displays, with different types of preferences grouped into categories such as Interface, Input, Addons, and so on. Interface displays by default. To see the Addons available, click on the Addons tab.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

Blender 2.62 Window Customization

As with any new environment, such as a new home, you need to be comfortable moving around and changing the look to make it suit your style. You want to make it “my Blender”. Windows are a key feature of the Blender environment, and managing them (expanding, contracting, creating new windows, merging windows) is a key component of this. This video explains Blender’s window management style. !

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Blender 2.62 Default Scene Tutorial

In Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland, before starting to read a letter, the White Rabbit asks the King

`Where shall I begin, please your Majesty?'.
`Begin at the beginning,' the King said gravely, `and go on till you come to the end: then stop.'

That’s basically what I would like to do with my Blender tutorials. My goal is to redo all of them in Blender 2.62. I think we can all agree that the logical starting point is the initial default scene, so that’s where I’ll start. We’ll first tour the initial splash screen.

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Blender 2.62 and GImp 2.6 Video Tutorial Plans

The name of this video is Ira Krakow’s Blender 2.62 and Gimp 2.6 Video Plans.
Hello everyone. This is Ira Krakow. If you’ve been following my Blender 3D video channel over the past 3 years, thank you for watching! It’s been a long time (nearly 2 years, since the summer of 2010) since I’ve actively made Blender 3D videos. At that point, Blender 2.49b was the active version, and Blender 2.5 was under development. Unfortunately, because of other commitments, I was unable to continue with making more Blender 3D videos.