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Small Blender tips

With all the functions available in Blender, you run the risk of missing some easy solutions. These aren't so much clever tips as pointers to some of the tools and functions from the perspective of trying to solve a specific problem.

NOTE: to ensure that you can take advantage of all these tips, a version of Blender no earlier than 2.37 is required.

Bridging a gap

You have two separate pieces of a Mesh and want to combine them by bridging the gap between them. Instead of selecting vertices in groups of four and adding faces, you can use the script created for this very purpose.

Join the meshes into one, if needed. Into edit mode. On both parts you want to bridge together, select the vertices that would make up a nice base for the bridge. Then use the "Bridge / Skin / Loft" script. In edit mode, you can find it under "Mesh / Scripts".

Unsurprisingly, the scripts works best with an equal number of vertices for both "bases", but makes a fair attempt even otherwise.

Creating "techy" structures

You have your planet, now you want a quick surface with simple building-like structures for a fly-over, like in the original Star Wars movie. Or, you have your spaceship, now you want to give the hull some life, with protruding boxes and segments, like... in a Star Wars movie. In short, you'd like to to confuse, upset or disconcert the surface. There's even a word for this: to "discombobulate".

The Discombobulator script is the key, and a fun key at that. To see its powers, just add a plane (subdivide it once, if you like) and go to Scripts / Mesh / Discombobulator. Just click on the Discombobulate button and check it out. With more complex meshes and other settings in the script you can really give your computer something to think about.

Aligning objects

Uh oh! You have, for some reason, a bunch of objects which you suddenly realize that you want to align to, say, the ground plane. No fun doing it one at a time...

The strangely named "Kloputils" script can be a great help when you want to arrange objects. Select the objects you want to align and go to "Scripts / Wizards / Kloputils". An interface appears. The option in the top dropdown should be "Align Objects".

In this case there are some default settings which don't suit our purpose. The Z (horizontal) axis is the one we want to affect, so you can select that button and deselect the other ones. Z has a preset "Separate" value of 1.0. Set it to 0. Otherwise, the objects will be placed at heights differing one unit. Disable the "Create new objects" option. All set, click on "Align".

You could naturally use this function in the opposite manner: to scatter objects in an ordered fashion. And there are of course other useful features in Kloputils. Try'em out!

Centering vertices

If you have a symmetrical object and want to center all the vertices around the median point (to, for example, avoid the "wobbling" effect when rotating), the solution is simple, though it eluded me for quite some time.

Skip into edit mode, select all vertices and press N key.

In edit mode, the numerical panel is slightly different from when in object mode. Note the "Median" text in the numerical boxes. This tells you that the changes will affect the general structure of the object, instead of moving all the vertices to the same place.

Make sure that "Local" mode is on.
Then simply set 0 for the axes you want to center the vertices along.

Now the entire structure is centered.

Rotating a rotated object
Problem: you have an object, which is already rotated. It might be a steering wheel for a car. If you'd like to animate the rotation for this object along an axis, you'll run into problems. Just rotating it along its local axes is no problem (pressing R+ XX, for example), but when you keyframe the states, the rotation will not behave is you'd like.

But, if you clear all rotation first (ALT + r) and keyframe the rotation, you can then parent the wheel to an empty and rotate that. The animation will be along the object's local axis but the empty can be freely rotated to a suitable angle and the object will follow.

Copying attributes
This one's so simple, yet somewhat confusing. Say you want to copy the rotation factor from one object to another. Here's how:

FIRST: Select the object you want to copy attributes to
THEN: Select the object you want to copy attributes from

CTRL + c
In the list that appears, choose the attribute you want to copy.


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