Blendering for Unity (Three)

Basic Modeling

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Posted 05/06/2014 12:36:04 in Blendering for Unity

Updated 08/20/2017 17:47:05

We're ready to start modeling! For organic models, I almost always start with a Subsurf'd cube as a base. This gives you a nice, round shape with a lot of faces to work with. "Subsurf" stands for "Subdivision Surface," and it's a Blender modifier. In the words of the Blender Wiki:

Modifiers are automatic operations that affect an object in a non-destructive way. With modifiers, you can perform many effects automatically that would otherwise be tedious to do manually (such as subdivision surfaces) and without affecting the base topology of your object. Modifiers work by changing how an object is displayed and rendered, but not the actual object geometry. You can add several modifiers to a single object to form a Modifier Stack and you can Apply a modifier if you wish to make its changes permanent.

I primarily use the Subsurf and Mirror modifiers in my models. Subsurf subdivides the faces of your model, and by default it also rounds the shape. I usually Apply the Subsurf modifier immediately, so that I can work with the new shape. Mirror is really useful for making bilaterally symmetrical models, but I'll explain more about that in a bit.

In the Properties frame on the right, click on the wrench icon to open the Modifiers tab (you'll probably have to use the mouse wheel to scroll the icon into view). Click Add Modifier and select Subdivision Surface to add the Subsurf modifier to your stack. You'll see the cube suddenly become rounder in the 3D view. If you press Tab and switch to Edit Mode, you'll notice that the actual geometry is still the basic cube while the rendered mesh is subdivided. Press Tab again to go back to Object Mode.

Change the View Subdivisions property to 2 and notice how you get more faces and a rounder shape. You can leave the other values at their defaults (Render Subdivisions is useless for what we're doing right now, but if you change the method it will subdivide the faces without rounding the shape). Click Apply (this will also remove the modifier from the stack) and press Tab to switch to Edit Mode again and notice that the actual geometry is now subdivided.

The Properties frame
The Properties frame
Modifiers tab
Modifiers tab
Subdivision Surface modifier
Subdivision Surface modifier

Now we're going to delete half the model so that we can make use of the Mirror modifier. Press Numpad 1 to move the viewport to front ortho. Press A to deselect all (This is a very useful shortcut; you can use it to select all as well). Deactivate the limit selection button at the bottom of the 3D viewport (see screenshot). When limit selection is active, you can't select anything behind what you can see on-screen, so we want to deactivate that for now.

This is a good time to talk a bit about the three elements of 3D models: Vertexes, Edges, and Faces. Vertexes (vertices?) are the single points that make up models, Edges are the lines that connect them, and Faces are the planes that fill the area between edges. You can choose which of the three that you want to work on at the bottom of the 3D view. Right now we want to work with vertexes, so make sure that that button is selected.

Activate Vertex selection mode and deactivate Limit Selection
Activate Vertex selection mode and deactivate Limit Selection

With nothing selected, Edit Mode active, limit selection deactivated, and vertex selection mode active, press B to activate the border select tool. This lets you drag a rectangle to select things. Select all the vertexes to the left of the center line (make sure you don't select the center line!), hit X to bring up the delete menu, and select Vertexes to remove them.

If there are vertexes left over on the left side after you delete them, it probably means that the limit selection was still activated. Ctrl-Z to undo the delete, then check the screenshot above to find the button and click it again. The background of the button should be grey, signifying that it's deactivated. Try using border select and deleting the side again, and it should work correctly.

Delete the vertexes on the left half of the model.
Delete the vertexes on the left half of the model.

Next, add a Mirror modifier. Don't apply it yet; this will just let you see how the full model will look in the mean time until we're finished. Also, check "Clipping." This won't make a huge difference in our model, but when you're working around the center line it will prevent duplicate vertices and stop you from moving elements across to the other side. (When I made the tutorial project, I didn't select this so the screenshots will show it unchecked)

We're going to start by adding some legs. Rotate the view so you're looking underneath (Middle Click). Activate face selection mode by clicking on the button on the bottom of the 3D View frame (alternatively, you can hit Ctrl-Tab to bring up a context menu where you can select Faces), and re-activate the limit selection button (this will prevent you from accidentally selecting faces on the rear of the model, which can get annoying).

Add the Mirror modifier.
Add the Mirror modifier.
See the ghost image of the mirrored half.
See the ghost image of the mirrored half.

There are two faces underneath that seem to be a good base for the legs. Select them with Right Click (Shift-Right Click will allow you to select multiple faces). Press Numpad 1 to return to the front ortho view.

Press E to activate the extrude tool, move the mouse out a bit to give the legs some length, and left click to confirm. Extruding is an extremely useful tool; it shoots out the selected faces from the model while creating new faces to connect it.

Press S to activate the scale tool, move the mouse in a bit to narrow the tips of the legs, and left click to confirm.

We want the feet to rest directly on the ground, so press G to activate the grab (position transform) tool. This is a good moment to mention that you can lock the axis that all these tools work on by pressing Z, X, or Y. Remember that Blender works on a z-up coordinate system, so press Z to lock the tool to that axis. Use the mouse to place the middle of the foot right on the ground, then left click to confirm.

The feet are angled a bit oddly, so press R to activate the rotate tool. By default, this tool rotates relative to the viewport plane, which is pretty intuitive. You can also lock it to an axis like I said above by pressing X, Y, or Z, which will be pretty useful later on. For now, just rotate the feet so they're square with the ground and left click to confirm.

Select a face for the base of the leg.
Select a face for the base of the leg.
Extrude and move to front view.
Extrude and move to front view.
Scale down the end of the leg.
Scale down the end of the leg.
Move the end of the leg to the ground.
Move the end of the leg to the ground.
Rotate the end of the leg to be flat with the ground.
Rotate the end of the leg to be flat with the ground.

The legs are a little square right now, so let's round them out a bit. Press Ctrl-Numpad 7 to flip to the bottom view, change to vertex selection mode (Ctrl-Tab), and select the middle two vertexes on the feet.

Press S and lock it to X, then move the mouse out a bit and click to confirm to round out the legs. An alternative way to do this would be to just select the vertexes individually and just use the grab tool to move them out, but I'm trying to cram a multitude of different techniques into this little tutorial to give you some more flexibility in your modeling!

Select the middle vertices of the foot.
Select the middle vertices of the foot.
Scale them out from each other.
Scale them out from each other.

Next we'll do the arms. Rotate the view to look at where there could be arm spaces, and notice that there are four faces that seem like they would work. However, extruding them would result in a big fat arm that would be too large for what we're trying to do. We can use "edge loops" to solve this problem. If you look at the geometry of the model, you'll notice that there is a pattern of horizontal and vertical lines of edges, which are very similar to lines of latitude and longitude on Earth. It's good to maintain the continuity of these lines when you're modeling so that you don't end up with polygons with more or less than four sides.

We want to split each of the four prospective arm faces in half, so we'll create four edge loops. Press Ctrl-R to activate the edge loop tool, and notice how a purple line appears when you position the mouse in the face you want to split. Click to create an edge loop, and notice how you can move the mouse to position the loop within the face (this is called "sliding" in blender speak). For now, put it right in the middle of the face and left click again to confirm. Repeat this three more times to create the base of the arm.

This looks too big to be an arm, so we'll split it.
This looks too big to be an arm, so we'll split it.
Create an Edge Loop.
Create an Edge Loop.
Create three more Edge Loops.
Create three more Edge Loops.

Instead of extruding the arms like we did with the legs, we're going to use the grab tool. You could just grab each vertex individually, but that would take ages and kill this opportunity to learn about proportional editing! Select the central vertex in the arm base (make sure that you deselect everything else with A first!). Enable proportional editing using the menu at the bottom of the 3D View frame.

Hit G to activate the grab tool, and notice that there's a little circle around the cursor now. Move the vertex outwards (this will be the tip of the arm), then scroll with the mouse wheel to change the size of the circle and amount of proportionality. Basically, proportional editing allows you to have your transforms also have an effect on nearby vertexes. In the screenshots to the right, I show what it looks like when you use too much and too little proportionality. Tune the size of the circle to get it the way you want, then left click to confirm.

Make sure you remember to disable proportional editing afterwards... it can be annoying when you're trying to do more precise transforms later.

Select the center vertex of the arm.
Select the center vertex of the arm.
Switch to the front view.
Switch to the front view.
Move the vertex with proportional editing on. This is too much.
Move the vertex with proportional editing on. This is too much.
This is too little.
This is too little.

Aaaand we're done with our simple character model! The only thing left is to hit Tab to switch back to Object Mode and Apply our Mirror modifier! Press Ctrl-S to save your .blend file. I usually create a folder (outside of my Unity project folders) for each model I create, so name it something like "BlenderUnityTutorial" and save your file in there. Sit back and appreciate your creation!

Continue to Part 4: UV Mapping

Our new friend!
Our new friend!

Comments

Ryan

Thanks for this tutorial! I'll be sure to follow more of them.

05/13/2014 16:05:50

Josh

The plural for vertex is vertices.

05/17/2014 13:10:42

Zak

Just looked it up... I guess both are grammatically correct.

05/20/2014 09:01:11

Sandor

Thank you very much for this great tutorial! Helps me both, using Blender and Importing to Unity.

11/11/2014 07:41:38

MV10

I suppose it might complicate the tutorial, but if you have a really large screen (my secondary is 27") it's nice to use the quad view. Then you get all three orthos and a user all at once -- no switching around. I imagine that would be better to explain early-on but this was the first step in the tutorial where several ortho views were used.

12/26/2015 08:42:45

Zak

Thanks for the tip, I'll make a note in the tutorial! I still use one view typically, but if you have the screen space that would certainly save a lot of swiveling around to check angles.

12/28/2015 10:55:55
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