Hard surface modeling in Blender

Getting started with Blender’s interface can be a bit daunting at first, but it is essential to understand the basic tools and concepts. The first thing to know is that Blender has several modeling modes, including Object Mode, Edit Mode, and Sculpt Mode. Object Mode is used to manipulate and position objects, while Edit Mode is used to edit the mesh’s vertices, edges, and faces.

To start a new hard surface model, you will need to create a mesh object in Blender. This can be done by pressing Shift+A and selecting Mesh from the Add menu. Once you have a mesh object, you can switch to Edit Mode by pressing Tab. In Edit Mode, you can select vertices, edges, and faces and manipulate them using a variety of tools.

One of the most powerful tools in hard surface modeling is the Extrude tool. This allows you to create new geometry by pulling existing vertices or faces outwards. To use the Extrude tool, select the vertices or faces you want to extrude, press E, and then move your mouse to adjust the extrusion.

Extruding a face of the default cube. Select the cube, switch to edit mode, press “3” to be able to select faces, choose the extrude tool from the toolbar (T), and push/pull on the lollipop coming from the normal of the selected face.

Another essential tool for hard surface modeling is the Bevel tool. This allows you to create rounded edges on sharp corners, which is essential for creating realistic models. To use the Bevel tool, select the edges you want to bevel, press Ctrl+B, and then adjust the bevel amount using your mouse.

Applying a bevel to the extruded face of the default cube.

Blender also has several other tools that are useful for hard surface modeling, such as the Loop Cut tool, which allows you to add new edge loops to your mesh, and the Knife tool, which allows you to cut new edges into your mesh. These tools can be accessed from the toolbar on the left-hand side of the screen.

Tool bar options when in Edit Mode.

In addition to these basic tools, Blender also has several addons that can be used to enhance your hard surface modeling workflow. For example, the Hard Ops* addon provides a set of tools for creating complex boolean operations, while the BoxCutter* addon allows you to create complex shapes using a box modeling approach.

*Blender Add-ons can be purchased at the Blender Marketplace.

Hard surface modeling in Blender requires a good understanding of the software’s basic tools and concepts. By using tools like Extrude, Bevel, Loop Cut, and Knife, you can create complex geometric shapes with well-defined edges and flat surfaces.

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