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The 3D bandwagon

Everything seems to be 3D these days, from kids cartoons, to movies, video games and even TV. With this sudden explosion of interest in the third dimension I’ve decided to plug a gap in my skillset and start getting to grips with 3D.

First step was to download and play with Blender 3D, a free 3D modelling, animation and game creation tool. Having previously dabbled with some commercial 3D tools in the past such as 3DS Max and Truespace 3D I was pleasantly surprised by the extensive feature set in Blender and the range of tutorials available for it. The first tutorial I tried covered a range of fundamental topics, from basic modelling to simple animation techniques, which resulted in an animated yellow submarine. The tutorial was quite easy to follow and was completed in about two hours. See the result below.

My next challenge was to try modelling and animating something myself, so I created a city scene with a flying saucer buzzing through the streets. This took me into some new territory  – discovering how to add textures to models and also to create animation paths.

After my initial successes I decided to try something more challenging and completed a tutorial on making a gingerbread man. This was followed by a tutorial on animating the character with bones and an armature. This proved a little more tricky than the tutorial suggested, and it took me a while to get to grips with armatures (particularly since the tutorial was for an older version of Blender). Anyway, after persevering for a few hours and delving into several other tutorials to help me out I finally got a reasonable result.

My latest creation is a scene of an animated car chase. I wanted to try and make more complex models to animate, then render an animation for editing in Premier Pro. Here’s my animated car chase…

So, not bad for a couple of weeks playing with Blender. I’m quite pleased with the results and one of my colleagues at work has decided to convert to Blender (from 3DS Max) and start using it in his college classes. Both of us are also off on a training course in Blender within the next couple of months, and we hope to use our new skills on our new course Computer Arts & Design which will be offered at Carnegie College from next semester (August 2010).

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