Introduction to 3D Animation with Blender

Tools & Techniques
Location: D136
Please note: to attend, your registration must include Tutorials.
Average rating: ****.
(4.50, 12 ratings)

This talk will introduce the world of 3D animation to novices and beginner users. Using Blender, the open-source gold standard, users will learn how to perform many tasks, including modelling (mesh editing, subsurfing, etc), texturing (procedural and image-based), material design, animation, and lighting.

With Blender 2.6, a complete code and UI rewrite, due to be in late beta / released in mid-July 2010, even experienced Blender users will learn a lot from this talk.

The talk will devote equal amounts of time to each of the following sections:

  • History and Introduction: Users will be introduced to the background and UI of Blender and to some of the common terminology used in 3D software.
  • Modelling: Attendees will create a simple inorganic model, such as a pencil, to be used for the rest of the tutorial. Concepts covered will include polygonal mesh modelling, shading, and subdividing versus subsurfing.
  • Materials and Texturing: With the model of the object complete, the focus will shift to applying materials and textures to the pencil. Concepts covered will include mirroring, specular and diffuse shading, procedural versus image-based textures, and texture displacement.
  • Animation: Now that the object is modelled and textured, it will be animated. Particular attention will be given to the difference between manually-keyed and physically modelled animation. Physically modelled animations are calculated by Bullet, Blender’s built-in physics engine, which handles physical collisions and fluid, cloth, particle, and softbody simulations.
  • Lighting and Rendering: With the scene physically ready, it will now be properly lit. In addition, time will be spent learning about the basics behind 3D rendering. Discussion will include diffuse and specular light, ray-traced versus buffer shadows, the difference between biased and unbiased rendering engines, oversampling, motion blur, and compositing.
  • Conclusion: With the scene complete and rendered, a brief time will be spent highlighting other Blender features of note, including video and audio sequencing, dynamic Python scripting, and UV image texturing. Attendees will be pointed to a variety of web resources, including Blender’s comprehensive documentation, IRC channels, and forums.

After attending this tutorial, attendees will have a grasp on the basic workflow of the 3D animation process, and should be able to create simple animations on their own. Relevant questions will be taken at the end of each section, and general questions will be taken at the end. Attendees will be expected, and coached, to duplicate the steps on their laptops, as much of the text and other dialogs will be unreadable on a projector screen. However, downloadable files will be provided between each section to allow those who have come late or gotten lost to jump back in.

Photo of Matthew Momjian

Matthew Momjian


Matthew Momjian is a 12th grader who has been interested in computers since he can remember. Tracing his roots back to his father’s BSD/OS server (still running), which he learned to use around the age of 5, he is proficient in a number of programming languages.

He has been using Blender for over three years, and enjoys working on many projects with his friends.

Comments on this page are now closed.


Rita Maupin
07/25/2010 1:55pm PDT

Matthew did an exceptional job. His presentation was clear, well-organized, and interesting, and I truly appreciated the time he took to provide individual help during the breaks. I hope to see him again next year!

Picture of Bryan Smith
Bryan Smith
07/25/2010 10:37am PDT

Matthew showed me how to make my first Blender animation! He was very patient and extremely helpful. He went around and single handedly helped everyone that ran into an issue whether it was large or small.

Great presentation

Picture of Matthew Momjian
Matthew Momjian
07/19/2010 7:38am PDT

Hi Howard,

Thanks for the kind words. I will keep them in mind.

Everyone, I will soon post the instructions I used to follow along with the tutorial portions.

Picture of Howard Lewis Ship
Howard Lewis Ship
07/19/2010 7:26am PDT

This was a very good session and introduction to Blender; the fact that the presenter was only 17 made it amazing. Obviously, Blender is a deeply complex tool but I feel like I can make some headway into learning it now that I have a feel for the basics.

I think the slide deck could be improved; eliminating bullet items would be the right start; Blender is about images, more examples (from video games or animated films) to demonstrate idea such as lighting and texture mapping would be welcome … always follow the maxim “show us don’t tell us”. But that is judging the materials as if Matthew had years of presentation experience which not fair at all!

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