Tag Archives: Blender

How to setup a Height Shader in Blender

While we were discussing how to generate a terrain in my previous post, the next question is of course how to we give our terrain different colour values depending on its height.

For example, at the very top of our terrain we may have snow covered mountains. Slightly further down we have yellowish rocks on the steep walls, followed by green grassy planes, and more earthy brown tones further down.

Blender does not have a specific heigh shader like Carrara does, but we can use a Texture Coordinate node, extracting the Z axis value from it and feeding that into a colour ramp node. The result is something like the render above.

Here’s what the Cycles shader looks like:

There are other approaches, and this does not cover how to give each height a distinct image texture, but perhaps we’ll cover how to do that in another article (when I figure out how it works).

How to generate terrains from heigh maps in Blender

Did you know that Blender can create fabulous terrains from nothing but a greyscale height map? Of course it can!

In this article I’ll show you how to do it step by step. Grab your height map, fire up Blender and let’s get started.

Continue reading How to generate terrains from heigh maps in Blender

How to apply textures in ZBrush

I was trying to import a texture into ZBrush from an object I had created and UV mapped in Blender. The above shows an example of such an object, looking all nice and dandy in Blender.

However, when I imported it into ZBrush (after figuring out how to do that), I was shocked to see how ZBrush displayed my texture. Take a look:

That’s neither funny nor necessary. I’ve tested the same principle in DAZ Studio, Carrara and Poser and they all played ball, displaying the texture without a hitch. Only Hexagon wanted the texture flipped vertically, but – just like Carrara – offered handy tick boxes as to which direction an imported texture needed to be mirrored.

Zbrush also has such an option, but it’s not next to where you select the texture.

In this article I’ll show you how to import and apply a texture in ZBrush, to an object that has been created and UV mapped in another application. Let’s do this step by step:

Continue reading How to apply textures in ZBrush

How to map a keyboard shortcut for Local View in Blender

I’ve just learned that Blender has a wonderfully helpful function called Local View. This will isolate a selection, zoom in on it, and hide all other items in the scene. Using Local View again will bring back all items as they were seen before.

Thanks to Darrin Lile for this tip!

We can execute Local View with the default keyboard shortcut “Numpad /” (the division operator on your numpad) – but of course that only works if you have a numpad. On my Windows system I have one, but sadly on my Mac and my laptop I do not.

In this article I’ll show you how to map this shortcut to another key. Let’s get started!

Continue reading How to map a keyboard shortcut for Local View in Blender

How to select every other vertex in Blender

Hexagon had a really nice nth-selection tool (1 over n it was called). With it you could select every other vertex or edge or face, creating things like the star shaped pattern above. You’ll be pleased to hear that Blender can do this too!

Rather than select every other point though, Blender likes to deselect instead. Here’s how to do it:

  • enter Edit Mode
  • select a whole edge loop
  • head over to Select – Checker Deselect

Blender will deselect your vertices according to the options in the tool shelf (on the left):

Works with vertices, edges and faces. Go crazy!

How to render “Manuel Bastioni LAB” characters without purple skin in Blender

I recently discovered the Manuel Bastioni LAB add-on for Blender. Judging it only by the title you’d never guess it’s an extravagant people generator of the highest caliber! Bastioni was working with the folks from MakeHuman for many years, but The LAB is his own project.

In a nutshell, it creates ready-to-use characters, complete with poses and morphs, as well as many other complex goodies. And as with many complex things, rendering can take a while. I tend to prepare a scene on one machine, transfer it to a faster system and let it render while I setup the next scene.

This workflow usually works a treat with .blend files, but not necessarily with those containing Manuel Bastioni characters. Turns out the skin has a good chance of looking alien purple. Quite a nice effect, but perhaps not all the time.

Lucky for us, knowing why this happens will help us understand how to fix the problem. It’s not a bug, just a question of which box to tick when saving those files. Let me show you which box that is and how to avoid the purple skin effect.

The Purple Skin Phenomenon

Continue reading How to render “Manuel Bastioni LAB” characters without purple skin in Blender

How to combine an Image Sequence into a video file with Blender

Did you know that Blender has a built-in video editor? We can use that to turn an image sequence into a movie file. I’ve described how to do this Photoshop here, but I thought it would be fun to try the same thing in Blender.

Here’s how to do it: Continue reading How to combine an Image Sequence into a video file with Blender

How to display a movie on a plane in Blender (Blender Render)

To show an animated video clip on a plane inside our scene, we can texture our plane object accordingly. Here’s how to do it using the Blender Render. engine (this won’t work in Cycles).

  • select the plane object and create a new Material on it (in the Materials Tab on the Properties Palette)
  • under the Shading Tab, select shadeless
  • leave all the other settings alone here


Head over to the Textures Tab next to the Materials Tab and create a new texture. Set it to Image or Movie and select your video. You can also pic a single image or an Image Sequence here.

Under Image you can select at which frame your movie should start. Hit Match Movie Length to choose all frames in your movie (because we can’t tell how long it is, but Blender needs to know).


Peek at the Preview section to see our video show up. Never mind the repetition or distortion for now.

In our final render, the background will probably look a little washed out. To combat that, head over to the World Tab and set the Horizon Colour to black.

How to hook a track to a vertex in Blender

Hooking is a technique with which you can attach one vertex to follow another object. This can be useful if the outline of an object (such as a plane) needs to be distorted when it follows tracking markers.

Here’s how to do it:

  • select the the object you want to track (such as an empty that follows a track)
  • now SHIFT select the object that you want the previous object to follow
  • switch into Edit Mode (TAB) and select the vertex you’d like to follow
  • now select CTRL+H and choose Hook to Selected Object


The selected vertices will move with the hooked object.

How to create a translucent shader in Blender (Cycles)

screen-shot-2016-11-21-at-14-24-08By default all our 3D objects are opaque, meaning light does not pass through them. Like a brick wall. But many objects in reality let some amount of light through, like a piece of paper or a glass of lemonade. This partial transparency is called translucency.

In the picture above, light passes through the leaf, partially illuminating the ground underneath it. We can setup such a shader in Blender like this:

  • in between the Diffuse and Material Output node, connect an Add Shader
  • create a Translucent Shader and connect its output to the second input of the Add Shader (top or bottom does not matter)
  • connect the Color Output of your texture to the Color Input of the Translucent Shader

Here’s what such a shader looks like:


In the above image, I have combined this translucent setup with a transparency shader, so that the leaf can be “cutout” using the texture’s transparent background. Here’s what that looks like: