Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Learning to Blender

Last year I focused mostly on projects that developed my 2D vector illustration skills. I tried to break into 3D but the learning curve is steep. These last few weeks I've finally decided to reopen this issue and learn Blender. Blender is oriented towards artistic modeling, rendering, and animation rather than engineering design; it is fairly powerful and packed with features; it is free, open-source, cross-platform; it has a Python interpreter.

The blender learning curve is steep. I'd suggest some tutorials. I did some of the tutorials from Amadeo Compositions, which are reasonably helpful. The First Steps and Preparation series spans 17 hours and covers almost every feature in I got bored at around the 10th video. I'd say pick and choose which videos to watch based on what you need to learn to get your own personal projects done. Once you have the basics down it helps to switch to a tutorial where you actually make something, like Amadeo's Appetizer Tutorial.

I'm not interested in photo-realism and I got fairly antsy waiting for Amadeo to finish making endless adjustments to some of the meshes created in the tutorial, so I turned a few shapes upside down and created this Study in Jello:

This second image is the main tutorial payload. This is as far as I felt like tweaking the various parameters. There are lots of weird things going on, and some visual effects that should be there are conspicuously absent, but hey that weird flare from the sun on the strangely shaped glass chalice makes it look like an intentional gold stripe on the glass. Pretty cool.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Holiday Gifts and Files

I'd like to finally make good on my promise to myself to learn 3D design tools. I spent all night trying my hand at Blender. I won't let myself be discouraged by the steep learning curve. But to make myself feel a bit better, here's a long overdue post: more laser cutter projects I made for the holidays.

Gorillaz - stained and painted laser etched plywood
Here is the vector art I created in pdf format.

Samus - stained and painted laser etched wood
Here is the vector art I created in pdf format.

Knit Wood - stained and painted laser etched plywood
Here is the vector art I created in pdf format.

Magnolia Card Set - paper mod podge
I made a total of 13 of these. Easy, fun project.
Here is the vector art I created in pdf format.
The original was a very low res gif online.

Map of Wisconsin with an error - painted plywood
Lakes and rivers are represented, as well as state lines
By mistake, I painted part of Minnesota underwater...
This is also a simple application of the Four Color Theorem
Here is the vector art I created in pdf format.

16-hex anisohedral tiles - painted plywood
Joseph Myers runs a program to discover interesting tilings like these.
He also provides PDFs to all the tilings directly from that link.
To sum it up in one line: 10 of these tiles create a pattern that can be simply repeated by rotation and translation (no holes allowed)
With 20 tiles, you need only translate the group to tile the plane.
Here's the direct link to the download from Myers' page (compressed archive, pdf inside)
I added some extra engraving to pattern the tiles for visual effect.