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Oh joy! We have a new tool in Blender 1.58!

And that calls for a new tutorial :) In this one, I'll be explaining the new skinning tool of Blender. The idea is simple: using a number of cross-sections, I will create an organic-looking cave.

Important: you need Blender 1.58 to be able to do this tutorial! If you don't have it yet, you can download it here.

Creating the cross-sections

From the side view, add a surface curve. (This is important - 'normal' curves won't work!). While still in edit mode, select one of the endpoints, and draw a cross-section of your cave using CTRL-Leftmouse. Something nice and regular will do just fine for the first cross-section.

Your screen will look something like this:

In order to be able to use the skinning tool, each cross-section of the cave must have the same number of vertices. So, I just create a bunch of duplicates of the surface-curve I just created. (Be careful to use duplication and not instantiation - use shift-D instead of alt-D).Modify each cross-section a bit - add some irregular stuff.
Now, switch to top view, and place the cross-sections behind each other. I have sometimes placed the slices closer to eachother to enable sharp ridges to occur.When you want more cross-sections, you can always duplicate existing sections and place them somewhere else.
To create a nice, rounded entrance to the cave, duplicate the first cross-section and enlarge it a bit:
Before you can skin the curves, they need to be joined into a single object. Select them all (BKEY) and hit CTRL-J (Join). Confirm the question 'Join Selected NURBS?'.Enter editmode, select all vertices (AKEY) and hit F.
That's really all there is to it. Now, to create a nice, alien-looking texture, you don't need any imagemaps at all. Just play around with multiple layers of texturemaps. Use 1 texture for a bumpmap, one for a coarse texture (greenish), one for a fine, rust-brown texture and one for specularity mapping. Just take a look at the .blend file at the bottom of the page for the exact settings.Before rendering, you can crank up the resulution of your NURBS surface by selecting the cave, entering edit mode and changing the NURBS resulution sliders:
Finally, place some good, atmospheric lights. In this case, I used a yellow light, a red light and a blue light with limited ranges.

The result


The .blend file from this tutorial, is available here.


  1. i cant find the box selection tool what or where is it?

    is it "b"?
    when yes it marks my whole "eyes" and not only the top for them

  2. In edit mode (when you press TAB and the mesh is editable), just press B once, then click and drag a box around the vertices you want to select.

    If you press B twice, you get a circle/paint-brush-type of selection tool, which you can click-drag over vertices to select them. Press ESC to exit circle select mode.

  3. Thank you, a very nice tutorial. Your texture is amazing, so slimy, so cavy, so... real... I really want to learn a bit from the textures in your blender file, but it isn't here anymore. Thank you again!

  4. Yeah, I liked the tutorial. I got the cave model all done, and I managed to make the cave textures look about as good as a N-64 video game. However, I can't get it any better than that. How about posting that blend file again?

  5. ...Actually, after playing with the blend file from "http://vc.bc.ca/it/blender/tutorials/barts/Cave.htm", it doesn't seem very difficult to fix it up and get results very close to the original, with Blender 2.43.

  6. OK...so im getting really frustrated with blender...i can model just fine...but i cant seem to figgure out how in the heck to change the texture...please help!!!!!!!!

  7. Also I wanted to try the joining technique here with two planes, but they wouldn't join, how do I join two planes and fill a gap between them?

  8. Answer to David on

    David Edit Link Aug 9th, 2008 at 11:56 pm

    Also I wanted to try the joining technique here with two planes, but they wouldn't join, how do I join two planes and fill a gap between them?

    If they aren't joined then join them (ctrl+j) then select all four vertex points on the edges you want to join of both planes (in vertex mode) then press "f" to make a face that connects them.

    that's one of many ways to do it in Blender.

  9. hi there, i tried using surface curve to create the cave, but i can't find a way to close it.
    when i hit CKEY, my curve close to my center point and it does not close smoothly like yours.
    any idea?
    by the way, i am using ver2.48a

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