How to grow grass on a landscape in Blender

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I have previously grown some grass on a terrain in Carrara, and thought I’d try the same in Blender. I didn’t know much about how to do this, but the approach is very similar in Blender.

Like with my Carrara approach, I’ve modelled a few grass stalks from a cylinder first. Those are then replicated over a larger terrain. Neither a replicator nor a terrain generator exists in Blender, so here’s how I did it. Continue reading How to grow grass on a landscape in Blender





How to flip or rotate a texture in Blender

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When you’re UV unwrapping in Blender, it can sometimes happen that a texture doesn’t show the way you had intended it to. Instead it may appear rotated or mirrored (flipped).

Take the above example of a simple frame with a picture in the middle. When I originally added the texture file after unwrapping, the crab was displayed upside down, like so:

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What had happened? The UV map looked OK, did I make a mistake? Did Blender make a mistake? Nah, neither was true. I used the Pack Islands feature though, and in that case Blender may rotate islands randomly to maximise the space of the UV Map. Blender only did what I asked him to do.

Fixing rotated textures

It’s very easy to fix rotations: select the faces in question (either in the 3D view or the UV view), then hover somewhere inside the UV view and use the standard rotation command: R X 180 (followed by return). This will rotate the selected faces by 180 degrees, turning them upside down.

Fixing mirrored textures

Blender may also flip or mirror textures when packing islands, in which case my picture could appear like this:

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We can fit this phenomenon with the scaling command: S X -1 (followed by return). This will scale our selected faces along the X axis and inverse-stretch them, thereby flipping the image.

Notice that the UV map as such does not change visually, nor should it: we want our texture to remain in the same place. Also, when issuing those commands, make sure you position your mouse inside the UV view, NOT the 3D view – otherwise you’ll change the actual geometry instead of the UV coordinates.

 





How to rename Parameter Dials in DAZ Studio

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Parameter Dials are everywhere in DAZ Studio. But sometimes they’re not in the right place, or they’re not called what we’d like them to be called. For example, if you bring in a Morph Target via Morph Loader, DAZ Studio will create a folder by that same name.

It’s easy to change most Parameter Dials. Here’s how to do it. Continue reading How to rename Parameter Dials in DAZ Studio





How to add margins between UV islands in Blender

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When UV islands are packed too tightly together, there’s little to no room between them. That’s great because it makes use of every available pixel on the UV Map, however when it comes to texturing in Photoshop, selecting separate islands is very difficult.

Blender has a nice feature that lets us add a margin in between UV islands. It’s a little tricky to find. Here’s where to start looking for that menu.

Unwrap your object. Use the UV Editing layout for this, or have a 3D View and a UV Editor showing side by side. Select all islands in the UV window, then hit CTRL + P to pack those islands. The menu is also available from the menu: UVs – Pack Islands.

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By default the margin between islands is very small. To change it, bring up the Tools Palette in the 3D View by pressing T. It’s the pane that comes up on the left hand side of the window. At the very bottom of it you’ll see the Pack Islands window, and a margin property you can set. Try 0.02 for a slightly larger margin (I believe the default is 0.001).

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If you don’t see this window, watch out for a little plus icon at the bottom of the Tools Palette – it maybe collapsed (it does that sometimes).





How to turn a mesh into a path in Blender

Not all 2D shapes are created equal in Blender: create a circle via Add – Mesh – Circle and it will be fundamentally different to creating one with Add – Curve – Circle. Even though, they look exactly the same in the viewport.

The trouble begins when you want to do path related things on 2D shapes, such as turning a path into a pipe. That’s not possible with 3D meshes (and the first circle we’ve created is seen as a mesh, even though it is only two dimensional).

To alleviate this problem, Blender can convert a mesh into a path, and a path into a mesh. This can be done with Object – Convert To. The handy keyboard shortcut is ALT + C.

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All paths can be converted into meshes, but not all meshes can be turned into successful paths (for example, when they’re not two dimensional).





MIRABEL Textures – now available at Renderosity

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It is with great pleasure that I give you my latest texturing endeavour: MIRABEL Textures for Sunny’s First Date outfit, perfect for an autumn stroll.

MIRABEL contains a total of 48 texture presets for DAZ Studio, 24 for Iray and 24 for 3Delight. I’ve created high-resolution texture maps for the top, skirt, scarf and boots, 6 outfits in total – but the combinations are endless. Continue reading MIRABEL Textures – now available at Renderosity





How to split and detach viewports in Blender

By default Blender has one window with multiple interface sections: the main viewport, the properties panel, the outliner, and so forth.

We can easily create more of those sections by clicking on the little triangle in the top left corner of a window and drag left or down. Likewise, we can collapse those windows by dragging right or up (when a large dark arrow appears).

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But did you know those windows can also be completely detached so that it can be moved to a separate monitor? All we have to do is drag one of those corners as usual, while holding down SHIFT. This will create a new window, detached from Blender. But it still behaves as just another viewport, with auto updates and everything.

This can be useful to work across multiple monitors, or to record a time-lapse of a modelling or sculpting process.

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To duplicate the whole Blender interface, click CTRL + ALT + W. This will create a new window with all viewport sections.





How to copy and paste materials in Blender

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Sometimes you want to use the same material on another object and only make a small change to it. Rather than this change affecting all linked objects, we need a new material with all the settings of the old material.

For example, in the above image I’ve used three chocolate shaders. They were all the same, except for the colour of the chocolate. I started with milk chocolate, then changed the colour for the dark and white chocolates.

There is an easy way to do this in Blender, albeit not entirely obvious at first sight. Let me show you how to copy and paste materials in this article. Continue reading How to copy and paste materials in Blender





How to render the current viewport in Blender

In other 3D applications, it is common to “look through” a camera to position and manipulate it with the usual viewport controls, and then render the result. In Blender things are a little different (of course).

We can manipulate the viewport, but we cannot render it. We can see it rendered as a preview, by switching the Viewport Shading to Rendered, but we cannot render the image out at high resolution until we position an active camera.

However, by default the active camera does not move with our viewpoint controls until we position. This is done by heading over to View – Align View – Align Active Camera to View (or hitting CTRL + ALT + Numpad 0).

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While this approach works, every time we move the viewport to a new position, we have to reposition the camera again using the above menu. Besides, the camera never sees exactly what we see in the viewport: it’s always zoomed in. This may drive ordinary people just a tad mental. Trust me, I feel your pain.

Thankfully, there is an easy way to make the active camera follow our viewport. And here’s how to do it.

Open the Properties panel in the viewport – either by heading over to View – Properties or by pressing N. This will open a palette on the right hand side of the viewport. In here, find the View section and tick the box that reads “Lock Camera to View”. This will only work after using the above “Align Active Camera to View” option though.

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Notice a red dotted outline around the viewport now, indicating that the active camera is indeed following all our movements. To switch this feature off again, simply untick that box and your camera stays put, leaving the viewport to become what other apps may call the Director’s or Perspective View.

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How to use Normal Maps in Blender (Cycles)

When we setup a standard material for Blender’s Cycles render engine, it’ll start with just a single diffuse node like this:

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To add a Normal Map to this setup, we’ll need to add two things:

  • a new Texture Map node (Add – Texture – Image Texture)
  • a new Bump Map node (Add – Vector – Normal Map)

Open your normal map in the texture node, then connect its colour output to the Colour input of the Normal Map node.

Now connect the Normal output of the Normal Map node to the Normal input of the Diffuse node and see your bump map applied to the model. Change the viewport to Rendered to see live results.

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To change the intensity of the Normal Map effect, fiddle with the Strength value in the node.

If you want to apply both a normal map and a bump map, apply the bump map first, then connect the normal output of the Normal Map node to the normal input of the Bump node (because the Normal Map node doesn’t have a normal input, but the Bump node does).

Here’s what my cube looks like with just a normal map applied:

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There are a lot of other options you can use in regards to Normal Maps. Check out Wayne’s article for more details: