Modeling a Cabin

Table of Contents?

In this part, you'll be guided through modeling a house in Blender, giving it a simple texture, and exporting it to PySoy to display. You may find it easier to run blender -w which opens it in "windowed mode" vs fullscreen so you can switch between Blender and this document more easily. Others have said they found printing this to be the easiest way.

However you choose to do it, let's fire up Blender 2.4 and dive in!

Blender's Interface

When you open Blender you should find a screen similar to this:


Now for a bit about the mouse interace in the 3d view:

  • Clicking the left mouse button moves the 3d cursor (the red and white life-saver).
  • Dragging the middle mouse button should rotate the view
  • Dragging the middle mouse button + shift should move the view
  • Dragging the middle mouse button + control or moving the mouse wheel should zoom in and out
  • Clicking the right mouse button should select/deselect individual objects or points
  • Clicking the right mouse button + shift allows you to select more than one object or point

Now, check out the buttons just below the 3d view areas. There's a drop-down box that reads "Object Mode", a brown cube, and a semi-circle arrow around a point.


Changing the brown cube (viewpoint shading) allows you to go to and from wireframe. Usually, you'll want to do edits in wireframe mode. The button next to it (rotation/scaling pivot) changes where certain transformations happen around.

The "mode" box we'll be using to switch between three modes in this part:

  • Object Mode, for selecting which objects you want to edit
  • Edit Mode, to edit the mesh of the object you have selected
  • UV Face Select, to choose the faces when we put a "skin" over the model

You can tap the Tab key to quickly toggle to the last mode you used. source:media/tutorials/primer/blender-viewmodes.png

Select File > New to reset everything before you've moved to the next step.

Setting up the Workspace

The screen is split into three areas; the top menu, a 3d display across the middle, and a buttons window on the bottom. You'll find modeling to be much easier with more than one view open at once, so let's start by splitting the 3d area into two halves. Right-click on either the bottom edge of the 3d view area and select split area. Now, if you move the mouse to the middle of the 3d view area and click the Left mouse button to select, it should split the window in half.

Where there was once one 3d view there should now be two:


The keys on your numeric keypad play a special role in Blender:

  • Num0 switches to Camera View
  • Num1 switches to Front View
  • Num3 switches to Side View
  • Num7 switches to Top View
  • Num5 toggles between Orthographic and Perspective views
  • Num4 and Num6 rotate the view around the Z axis
  • Num2 and Num8 rotate the view around the X axis

Even if you rotate the view by holding down the middle mouse button, you will be able to return to a fixed view with Num1, Num3, or Num7. Note that if you don't have a numeric keypad on your keyboard, or if these don't work for you, the 3d view area's View menu has all of these options as well.

Generally, for this tutorial have the left area in Front View (Num1) and the right area in Top View (Num7). If you change one or both of these to view your model from another angle, be sure to switch back before changing the model in that view area.

Now that you've got the basics down, let's get into some real modeling. :-)

From Cube to Cabin

You're about to learn some basic Blender tools and how to use them to transform this cube into a cabin. These tools are also available on the menus but are slow to access there and rarely used. These tools are:

  • A key: All (de)select
  • B key: Border select
  • E key: Extrude selected points or region
  • G key: Grab & move selected points
  • S key: Scale selected edges
  • U key: Undo

The U key (Undo) isn't actually part of these instructions, but you'll surely make a mistake along the way so you'll get some practice with this. :-) You should be able to undo several layers as long as you haven't switched edit modes yet.

Switch into Edit Mode and Wireframe View in both view areas. Then, with your mouse over either of the view areas, hit the A key twice to deselect all then select All. All the points of the cube should now be yellow and the sides of the cube light purple. Whenever at least one point is selected, the A key can be used to deselect everything.

Press the S key to Scale the cube to 3 times it's original size. The amount that you're scaling appears at the bottom of your 3d view area, try to get it as close to 3.0 as you can. Holding down the Shift key will let you scale it by smaller increments, and you can press and release the Shift key many times to get it to where you want it. It should now look like this:


Now, press the A key again to deselect All and press the B key for Border select. Click and drag the left mouse button over the top part of the cube in the left view area. If you did this correctly:

  • the top points on the left side should show yellow
  • all four points in the right view should be yellow.

If you rotate the right view with the middle mouse button you'll see why it looks like this. Feel free to change your viewing angle with your middle mouse button as often as you'd like, just remember to switch back with Num1 or Num7 before doing anything in that window. To continue..

With those top four points selected, go to the left view area and press the E key for extrude and select region. Move your mouse up a bit so that the new points are about one grid above the old points and click the left mouse button. It should now look like this:


These new points will be the bottom of the roof. They should stick out a bit from the house, so press the S key and make them just a bit wider. Then, so you don't have a flat roof, press the E key to Extrude the Region up a few grid squares. This will be the peak of the roof. Once you've pressed the left mouse button to set their location, press the S key again followed by the middle mouse button to Scale by only one direction. Make these points close together and click the left mouse button to set them.

One last step before we take a look; press the A key to deselect the top points then B to Border select the bottom of the roof. Here's a new tool you haven't used yet: press the G key to Grab/move them below the top of the walls but not so low that they stick out.

Rotate the angle of the right view area with your middle mouse button to see what this has done. If you did everything right, it should look something like this:


Don't worry if it doesn't look exactly like this, as long as it looks like a cabin. You may want to make a few artistic adjustments, so please feel free to do so now. You've used the (de)select All, Border select, Grab & move, and Scale tools enough to figure out how do any number of changes and a little additional practice now will help you get the hang of them.

Take a short break, grab a cold beverage, and when you're ready continue to the next section where we'll skin this cabin!

.. to be continued