Blender Wrestling for Steampunk Pirates

I like having projects that stretch me. I liked doing NaNoWriMo alongside EMW. Completing it made me feel all warm inside. Doing it was even more fun. I'm feeling that way about the Steampunk Pirates mod at the moment.

One of the problems we have in Steampunk Pirates is that the 3D objects that will make up the world will need to be created in a very specific file format. Unfortunately, good ole Lightwave Modeller doesn't export to that format, so I've decided to learn to use Blender. It's remarkable how used to something you can get.

In Lightwave, I normally have a distinct flow of working: Do a sketch in pencil or on my graphics tablet, draw a load of points, connect them together as quads (four sided polygons), extrude a hell of a lot. Do another object, extrude some more, hit nurbs, fiddle a bit, texture and render. At first, I though that Blender would be the same, after all extruding in 3D is pretty basic and so is being able to draw points. That's where I was going wrong. The Blender way of doing things is to start with a primative and then extrude edges, points and volumes. You can then modify those primatives. It's annoying in a way but more powerful in others.

As soon as I worked out how to build a side view shape by creating a 'Plane' primative (a regular quad) and extruding edges, everything sped up considerably. Vertex, edge and face selection in Blender is much better than Lightwave, a little black box shows you the centre of a face, so no random clicking about selecting and deselecting. The marquee select tool is available under the 'b' key, rather than RMB, which is a bit annoying but you soon get used to it.

Extruding is definitely more powerful in Blender. If you have a load of faces selected, you can extrude such that it doesn't create inner faces which then have to be deleted as you did in LW. I also quite liked the face that vertices/edges/faces can be dragged in either direction in the current plane in the viewport or pulled on 'arrows' which represent the axis of moment. In the LW, the only way of doing this would be to turn off X,Y or Z movement and then turn them back on.

Some other niggles include the file save dialog is not the standard windows one, which from the point of view of a professional software developer is stupid. You should always use the native one, if available. When you select a point, it will change colour and also fade any edges connected to it. This is cool but at the same time annoying because the optical illusion is that the edge, which is straight, is no longer at 90 degrees. I soon got used to that.

Reading back through this, I think the biggest thing to take away from last nights little sesh was that most of my problems are due to not knowing the right keyboard commands or where to find things under menus. Because of the huge (and I mean HUGE) volume of tutorials online, things are not too difficult to find and there is a lot less digging through menus like Lightwave does. I doubt I will move over for the Icar stuff but after spending a couple of hours last night building my boat (see above), I could rebuild it in 10 minutes knowing what I do now. The whole Steampunk Project is looking much more doable.

Of course, I've not approached the difficult bits, such as boolean subtractions, nurbs, UV maps and texturing (called Materials everywhere but in LW) but that will come soon, no doubt. Then it's a matter of importing into UnrealEd and all the fun which that brings!


Hm. Sounds useful. Will have to have a play at some point.

byrn's picture

I have a question, and humour me here, but what is extruding?

babychaos's picture

It's where you take a flat surface and turn it into a 3D one. A cylinder is an extruded circle. A cube is an extruded square. Does that help?

brainwipe's picture

hmm it wont let me post the coment I wanted to for some reason

Evilmatt's picture

Was it unusual in any way?

Hm. Did I even have to ask that? :P

byrn's picture

dunno I just get an error message

Evilmatt's picture

Precondition Failed

The precondition on the request for the URL /comment/reply/256 evaluated to false.

Evilmatt's picture

I keep hearing about this. Will check it out.

brainwipe's picture

from the main cause seems to be a module called badbehavior.module.

Sparky Marky's picture

Or not, it seems it's a server problem. Please post other ideas to this forum topic. Ta!

brainwipe's picture

that topic i can't access....
the only other thing in forums is:
turning off mod_security in my .htaccess file

Sparky Marky's picture

I had to stick speech marks round any "select" to get this to post I guess that makes sense it is a mysql type of command so could be used in code injection

anyway as I was trying to say ;)

You can manually add points in blender it's ctrl left click in edit mode.

Usually when I'm doing that I have a cube or what have you to start then select all the vertices by pressing A in edit mode, A is select or deselect, all with vertex mode selected, which is the default. You can be in vertex, edge, or face mode all selected either in the menu or on the bar on the bottom of one of the the edit windows. With all the vertices selected press del & "select" vertices option from the menu. You can then do ctrl left click to add new vertices. It will allow you to specify a background image if you are working from a sketch which is in the view menu background image.

Useful stuff I can remember Numpad keys control views with 7 as top 1 as front 3 as side 0 give camera and 5 switches between perspective and orthographic mode (flat and 3d) you can press ctrl and the number key to get the 180 degree rotated view so ctrl 7 is bottom ctrl 1 is back and so on. the other number keys rotate on the axis's.

Move rotate and scale are G for move R for rotate S for scale holding control locks to the grid and pressing x y z constrains to the axis you can also type in the transformation you want on while you are going with the number keys.

Pressing space brings up the menu. Shift S is snap to which is often useful for snapping a point to the grid or some such. Pressing B gives you bounding "select", press once for box drag type "select", press again for a sort of paint type of mode with a circle that you can adjust in size and selection remains till you right click left to "select" middle to deselect. Pressing z turns on and off solid mode.

You know you can split windows and rearrange the work space as you want by clicking the edges (left click to resize right to split or join to what have you) right? There are a few auto setups somewhere that "select" standard view types but I never use them.

The file dialogue is understandable this is a cross platform tool in that case you would never use native dialogues if you can help it as it would make porting it more difficult.

Evilmatt's picture

Wow, top post, injector boy.

brainwipe's picture

I'm a code injecting master ;)

I have done code injection via unbounded variables to reprogram a vtable and execute arbitrary code then restart operation to work around a software issue on a chip before.

Evilmatt's picture

Did you ship that solution? :)

AggroBoy's picture

maybe ;)

Evilmatt's picture

Just on the normals thing some of the new dev builds of blender are getting some new normal map baking options like tangential normal baking.

Good stuff should make it into an official release at somepoint.

this script might also be handy for some map stuff

making fortified steam pirate outposts or some such :D

Evilmatt's picture

blender art is a good resource for blender as well with some nice little tutorials

Evilmatt's picture