This article is second lesson of my game making guide, read the whole thing. In previous post I went through the process of installing and downloading Unity & registering an account.
A lot of aspiring game designers give up right on the start. That’s because to make a game, you don’t only need to learn how to code it, but you also need to know how to make assets for your project. This is often done in third party software, therefore you have to learn a lot of interfaces in the same time.
That, and the less than ideal Blender’s UI and controls, were making it even harder. However, Blender got updated recently, and now it’s a pleasure to use it.
Not only that, but you can actually do the whole modeling, rigging, and animating part for free. In fact, you can create your whole game for free and it may be of outstanding quality. So lets get started.
Table Of Contents
Introduction To Blender Modeling
You will be using this tool during your whole journey, so lets explain the fundamentals.
Cost Of Use
Blender always was, is, and most likely always will be free to use. Anything you create in it can be legally used in games, videos, anything, even sold directly.
Actually you’re making quite a good deal when using this software, because you’re learning a valuable skill in most popular software in this field.
It means if you will ever want to work as 3D modeler for other people videos and games, you will most likely use Blender, as it’s most common modeling software. Because it’s free. Companies want to save when they can. And alternatives are quite pricey.
Low Perceived Quality
People think free and easily obtained things are worse than alternatives. Is it true? You for sure can’t change what people think in general, but in this particular case, no one counts one, pillar factor. The brand.
Free and cheap things can be for sure of worse quality than its paid and expensive alternatives. But that’s only the case when you don’t count the brand into account.
Is Blender Foundation a bad company? They deliver valuable world-popular product containing huge functionality. If they wanted, they could give it a price and sell it instead. Or implement paid membership alternative like Unity, locking some features for free users.
It is a good company. For sure. And the modeling tool itself isn’t any worse than its paid alternatives. The only rational reason someone would switch to paid software in the past, was how uneasy the application was in usage.
I agree that Blender wasn’t the easiest, nor most comfortable software to use in the past. It was doing same work if not even better work, that its paid alternatives did. But using it was a struggle.
Past & Future
There’s a huge difference in look and usage between past version of Blender and current.
Till recently, Blender always had very ugly, gray GUI. Even despite assuming beauty is subjective, you could go as far and say that Blender was objectively ugly. Even before you started working in it, its ancient look was spiking daunting feelings inside you.
There were many times when I closed the application as soon as I launched it, because of how negatively it looked. It changed, and the ugly GUI is gone. Now it has a modern looking, black skin.
It always had counter intuitive controls. In every program you used for editing photos like Photoshop or Gimp, or for making models like Maya, or even in Windows, Linux and majority programs of any kind, the left and right button were doing same things.
Left would select an object, or draw a selection window. Right would open a context menu. But Blender? Totally opposite. The controls were reversed. 3D modeling software are already hard on their own, there’s no need to additionally reverse the controls!
There was an option to turn it off in settings, but it wasn’t working as correctly, and it was making other things harder to do. And that’s why, along with how program looked like, people were paying for alternatives. However now it changed. And it works just fine. Program is in the state where it’s pleasure to use it with default options.
High Perceived Quality
We already explained whether its a bad software or not, because its natural to think badly about free things. But the answer raised another question – is it best program for 3D creations? I haven’t used all of the alternatives, therefore it’s hard for me to say.
If you don’t have an access to a paid, pricey product, read the reviews. Some opinions may be fake, but in most cases if a product is suggested by the majority, then you could say it’s either best choice or second best.
Best Alternative Modeling Software
Here’s the list of Blender alternatives:
- Cinema 4D.
- 3DS MAX Design.
- Lightwave 3D
Maya and Autodesk are most widely preferred when Blender is not used for some reason. However, they are locked behind a high price, and it’s not an one time payment either, but an yearly subscription. I am confident that even if Blender is not the best tool, its surely in second or third place. It may be best, though.
Blender Download & Setup
If you have older version of it (or don’t have it at all), then make sure to download the newest version from here. Then install. Blender beta versions need to be extracted from archive, and stable versions contain installers.
Most likely if a download is featured on their homepage then its a stable version. You need the newest version because the things I will explain during the tutorial will would done differently in previous versions. The better version, which I talked about through the article, is currently in beta.
So make sure to download 2.80 instead of 2.79 if at the time of you following this tutorial, the 2.80 is still in beta. If you want to put the beta in default installation folder for stable versions, then the path is “C:\Program Files\Blender Foundation\Blender”.
Creating Player Character Skeleton
We will start our character creation from a skeleton. You can create trees, stones, dragons, and many other things this way. Probably the biggest positive of using this method is how it changes troublesome and hard into quick and easy.
First Program Run
Time to finally run Blender and do the job.
After installation, an shortcut should appear on desktop. I like to change it from small “b” to big “B” so it looks better. If you use beta version, then the shortcut wasn’t created.
I recommend creating a shortcut pointing to “blender.exe” inside program directory and putting it on your desktop, as we will use the program a lot.
Such window will pop up:
You can either click New File > General or just click on the background and it will disappear.
This step is not necessary, but I like to save all new projects instantly so press Shift + CTRL + S and save it on your desktop or somewhere.
Its advised to save from time to time anyway so specifying the path right at the start is good thing to do.
Deleting Camera & Light
We will have our own light and camera in Unity so there’s no need to keep them. Click camera, then Shift + Click the light, it will select two things in same time without cancelling selection. Now press Delete or Right Click > Delete.
Front Orthographic View
The reason why we will use front orthographic view is because the way the camera is now, it would be hard to design our character. Press 1 on numeric keypad (numpad/the small keyboard on the right that you never use). Box should look like this now:
Merging Cube Vertices
We don’t need the box. But we need one of its vertices. When in default, Object Mode, Click the box. It should highlight. Now Press Tab, it should switch to Edit Mode and change the way it highlights objects. Right Click the box, then Merge Vertices > At Center. You should have a small point in the center now.
Drawing Stickman Skeleton
We changed box not only into our first vertex but also into our first bone. The first bone a model gets during creation is called root bone, and is used to move the model without modifying it.
So lets create our second bone, which is always the pelvis. Press E and place it one “point” below. It doesn’t have to be pixel-perfect, but put it close to the plice where lines are crossing:
So it looks like this:
It looks almost pixel-perfect. We will make the tool automatically do this for us.
Snapping To Grid
Right Click the vertex we just created, then Snap Vertices > Selection To Grid. It should move the selected vertex to the nearest grid point. Click this at the top center of our program window:
So it highlights this way. It makes all vertices we will create pixel-perfect. Draw a skeleton of our character. You don’t need to worry about head.
Select all his vertices afterwards so he highlights like on screenshot.
Designing Player Character Body
We have to give him a body now. Make sure that all the vertices are selected and highlighted.
Click Modifiers on the right:
Then Add Modifier > Skin. Then Add Modifier > Subdivision Surface.
Customizing Skin Modifier
Click Smooth Shading in Skin’s window. So our body doesn’t look like skeleton from Minecraft. Press CTRL + A, and pull the drag the mouse till you get preferred body size. You can also type a number on keyboard. I gave my model a number of one and a half. Type 1.5 then save it with Enter.
Looks pretty good for a start.
We could even leave the character the way it looks now and it could still appear well to some people. However lets make him look more like a human.
Adding head to an object with Skin Modifier is not the wisest thing to do, because such head, is full of vertices. And Skin Modifier will create additional vertices to every of our vertex! So that may cause program crash. So Press CTRL + S to save in case you do this unintentionally despite knowing the risk.
To avoid the infamous crash, deselect everything. Make sure our character is not selected here:
Therefore its not highlighted. At the top of our program, Click Add > UV Sphere:
It should add new mesh.
The default size is a bit too big. After creation, Press S, then Type 0.9, and Press Enter. The head spawned at the center. Lets drag it to our neck. Press G to go into moving mode. Press Object > Shade Smooth to make it look like our body.
Finalizing Our Player Model
Our person/stickman character model is done. It is not an detailed human model like in World of Warcraft or Guild Wars and you may wonder why I went with a stickman.
I did it because it would be simply wrong to stuff huge tutorial for creating super detailed human models here considering that its a part of bigger guide and we still have to create our game.
Select body with Click and go into Material on the right:
Then Base Color > Black (or any you want). Do the same for head. It will not update in our view, but it will have our new color in Unity.
Rigging is the process of either automatic or manual bone creating. In our next lesson we will use automatic rigger so we don’t need to do it.
However, in case you don’t use the automatic rigger, you will need to create bones on your own. Select our body in Blender and in Modifiers, in Skin’s window Click Create Armature.
It will create bones for us. Now we have to name them sensibly in our hierarchy panel.
CTRL + S to save. To export, Click File > Export > FBX. I called my model “Character.fbx” and exported it to Desktop. FBX is the format preferred and supported by Unity, Unreal Engine 4, and majority of other engines, frameworks and programs.
In our next lesson we will be creating movement animations of our character.