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Team Think Labs | Box Modeling in Blender
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Box Modeling in Blender

 

Box modeling is a great way for beginners to understand 3D Modeling. Now I’m going to walk you through a simple hand model in Blender 2.6. I will be going through several extra steps in order to demonstrate basic blender hotkeys and practices that can trip you up if you aren’t familiar with 3d modeling or the interface.

First things first, lets set up our reference. Save this hand image onto your computer and open up Blender. 

 

Select 1 on the numpad to view the front of your scene.

Using the left mouse button (LMB), select the cube on your screen.

Hit x and select delete

 

Hit n to bring up your properties panel

Click the carrot for “Background Images” and select the checkbox next to it. Next, click Add Image

In the Axis drop down menu, choose “Front”

Click the carrot next to the words “Not Set” and Select the Open button that appears.

 

Select your hand reference file and Click Open Image

You should now see your reference as a background image for your front view.

If you select any other view, the reference will disappear.

If you have gone through this process correctly, but don’t see your hand, make sure to hit 5 on the numpad to switch to orthographic view

 

 

I feel like this hand reference is a little small, and not quite clear enough. So we are going to change its size and opacity

 

 

Now, we are going to add a mesh.

The placement of your 3D cursor dicates where your mesh will be created. To make sure we create the mesh in the exact center of the 3d world, we are going to center it. Hit Shift + s to open the snaps menu. Select “Cursor to center”.

Hit Shift + a to open the add menu. Then select Mesh -> Cube

 

 

Now we are going to match the cube up to the reference. Hit “g” to grab your cube. Place it in the center of your hand reference. If you accidentally de-select your cube, just click it again with the LMB. To commit any transformation, rotations, or sclaes, click the RMB.

 

 

Now, our cube looks a little small. We are going to scale it to fit the size of our hand.

Hit s to activate scaling and hit x to constrain to the x axis. Click the RMB to commit the scale.

Repeat the process for the z axis to match the height of the hand.

 

 

Now, hit 3 on the numpad to view the cube from the side. Its looking a little fat, so lets scale it along the y axis as well.

 

 

Hit 1 on the numpad to return to the front view. As you can see, the human hand is not a perfect square. Lets shape our cube a bit by moving the vertices.

Hit tab to enter edit mode.

 

If you are not already in vertex mode, hit ctrl+tab and then select vertex to enter vertex mode. You can also select the vertex mode button.

Next to the vertex mode button is the “limit selection to visible” button. Turn that off for now.

Click off of your box to deselect everything. Hit b to activate box select, and select the top right corner of your box. Because we have turned off “limit selection to visible”, this selects the vertices at the front and back of our cube at the same time.

 

 

Hit g to drag these vertices to the top right corner of the palm. Repeat this process to conform your box to the basic dimensions of the palm

Now, we need to add some geometry. Lets start with the thumb.

Hit ctrl + r to cut an edge loop around our entire square. Edge loops are the simplest way to add geometry to your mesh without creating triangles. It is best to avoid triangles because they do not always behave when you decide to animate your mesh.

So anyway, ctrl + r. Position your cursor in the middle of your cube, so that it creates a pink horizontal-ish line across the front. Click LMB to make your cut. Your cut will then slide along the z axis for you to position it. Drag your edge loop so that the left vertex lines up with the top of the thumb.

 

 

Hit 4 on the numpad to slightly turn your model toward the thumb.

Ctrl + tab, select face mode. This allows you to select the face that will become our thumb.

Select (RMB) the lower face and hit 1 on the numpad to return to front view

 

 

Hit e to extrude your face. drag your extrusion out to the edge of your thumb.


Now, hit 8 on the numpad to slightly turn your model towards the top

Select(RMB) the top of the thumb geometry and hit 1 on the numpad to return to front view.

 

 

Extrude to the height of the first thumb joint and click LMB to commit. hit g and move the face slightly to the left to match up with the thumb. hit e a second time to extrude the second thumb joint. hit g to drag the face over to match the top of the thumb.

 

 

Now this is one jacked up thumb. Lets adjust our geometry to make it look more natural.

Lets return to vertex mode (ctrl + tab -> vertex). select the points of your thumb and try to match them up to your reference, using box select (b) to make sure you grab the vertices at the front and back of your model. When using box select multiple times, be sure to click off your current selection or else, you will only add to your previous selection.

 

There, much less hideous. Now how’s about we make some sausage fingers.

Lets switch gears now, and model using multiple windows.

To split your window in two, right click on the top line of your window. Select “Split Area” and place the split line in the middle of your window.

 

 

Now this view is terribly crowded. Select the left view and hit n to hide the properties toolbar and hit t to hide the tools toolbar. Select the divider between the two windows and drag it over to space your windows comfortably.

 

 

Now, place your cursor in the left view and smack 7 on the numpad to view your hand model from the top. This looks a little confusing, because we are seeing more geometry than we need. Turn “limit selection to visible on” in the left hand window.

Now, we need to subdivide this hand in order to make fingers. You might want to see the top view a little more clearly. Zoom in using the middle mouse wheel. In the top view, we’re going to make 4 edge loops (ctrl + r). Keep an eye on your front view to line up the cuts with space in-between the 4 fingers.

 

PERFECTO

Alright, now we’re going to line up our vertices with the curvature of the palm, like so.

Remember, make sure “limit selection to visible” is off, you are in vertex mode, and you use box mode (b) to select your vertices in the front view.

While we’re at it, lets tidy up the rest of the palm too. If you need to adjust your view, hold down shift and click and drag with the middle mouse button.

 

 

Alright, now that we’ve got things looking pretty, lets extrude those fingers.

In the top view, select the rightmost (pinky) face.

In the front view, extrude (e) up.

Hit s to scale the face, to match the width of the pinky

Hit r to rotate the face, to match the angle of the first pinky joint.

Hit g to move the face, to match the height of the first pinky joint

Repeat this process until you finish the full pinky

If you need to adjust a joint, after you’ve extruded, you’ll need to select an edge loop, which is the ring of edges around part of your mesh. To select this ring, you must first be in edge select mode. (ctrl + tab, select edge), and then hold down alt and select part of the loop with the Left Mouse Button. Then, you’ll be able to grab, rotate, or scale this loop as you see fit.

 

 

Rinse and repeat for all 4 fingers and ENJOY.

 

Now, if you look at the model from any other angle (click and drag with the middle mouse button), its awfully flat and lifeless.

 

 

If you continue to use these basic tools (subdivision, cutting edge loops, moving vertices, rotation, scaling, and extrusion) You should be able to make a very pretty hand, or even an entire human mesh. Find more references for the other views and make your hand as nice as you like.

Get comfortable with the interface, and feel free to ask me any questions if you get stuck on this tutorial.

XOXO, Kait C