Learning Blender

I need to learn Blender.

This seems to be the mantra of every 3D artist who has yet to embrace this particular flavor of 3D modeling and animation software. It certainly is for me, and has been for a long time, but this wasn't always the case.

I was still in college when I first heard of Blender in 2006. I remember working on an interactive 3D project using Macromedia Director at the time. My professor suggested using Blender as the modeling software. However, with my career interests leaning toward visual effects, I thought my efforts might be better spent learning Maya instead. It wasn't until 2012 that I opened Blender for the first time. Coming from Maya, the interface was foreign to me, and presented such a significant barrier to entry that I basically turned around and went back to using Maya. I simply didn't have the time, not to mention the patience, necessary to learn Blender in those early days.

I have dabbled with Blender a bit since then, though. The software has continually and consistently made great strides in both usability and features over the years, making it ever more competitive and appealing with each new release. Until recently though, I hadn't really dedicated the time necessary to learn the software. At least not well enough to consider myself proficient with it. Although now does seem to be the opportune time to hop aboard the Blender hype train.

With the recent release of Blender 4.0, Andrew Price of Blender Guru is currently in the process of releasing the Blender 4.0 Beginner Tutorial series. Which is the latest updated version of his wildly popular Blender Beginner Donut Tutorial series, with one new video in the series releasing daily. So far I’ve made it through Part 2 of the tutorial series: modeling the base donut.

While waiting for Part 3 of the series to be released, I continued to play around with the scene and familiarized myself more with the interface. I duplicated the existing point light to create accent and rim lighting with warm and cool tones, and increased the radius of the lights to produce softer shadows.

Next I began setting the stage for the beauty render by creating the backdrop, and adjusting its material properties to achieve a diffuse reflective surface that captures more of the rim lighting, and focuses the reflected light behind the subject. The reflection helps to strengthen the silhouette of the subject by increasing edge contrast with respect to background values. I also duplicated the base donut model, changed its base color, and propped it up on the other to introduce a bit more variation in the scene while facing the foreground donut toward the camera. This allowed for a lower camera angle to capture more depth of field in the scene, and include more of the shadows and lighting, without losing sight of the basic donut shape.

Composition follows the rule of thirds, while also using highlights and shadows along with the slope of the backdrop to help guide the eye around the scene.

My goal with this render was to try and make the subject visually interesting, despite its basic form and texture, while keeping it readable through use of contrasting values, lighting, and composition. Final render made with Blender Cycles.