Blender is the open source software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback. Available for all major operating systems under the GNU Public License.
You can download Blender free of charge on www.blender.org. On the Blender site you will also find a gallery with cool Blender art.
This week I was working on an animation of a laserbeam cutting through a plate of steel. Before I started, I realised there were two ways of doing this: one was to create a physically accurate model of steel being eaten away by something. This goal might have been achieved by using a vertex-keyed mesh, or a mesh with a 'build' effect attached to it. Obviously, this would be a lot of work. The other way would be to fake the effect using an animated texturemap for the alpha channel of a mesh, thus making it transparent.Lucky for me, I was lazy enough to choose the latter option. As it turned out, this was the right thing to do, because it enabled me to add some other effects with relative ease later on.
This tutorial will introduce you to using AND creating animated texturemaps, all in Blender.
FIRST!Set the number of frames in your animation to 150. The rest of the tutorial will assume this number. Create a shape which you want to cut out of the metal. Make it out of a curve. If you want to create a logo, take a look at my logo tutorial - it'll explain in depth how to trace a bitmap and convert it into curves using only Blender as your tool.Anyway, I used an 'M' which looks like this:
Creating the animated alphamap
The next step is to use a particle system to create an animated texturemap. Select the cube, go to the Anim Buttons screen (F7), press the 'new effect' button and select 'particles' from the effect menu. Hit alt-A to see where we're going.
Add a new material to the cube, select the 'halo' button and set the halo size to 0.2. Go to frame 30, and make a testrender. It should look something like this:
Creating the welder
Next, it's time to use the alphamap. Create a new scene. To do this, locate the following button on the top of your screen:
Adding a metal plane
Now it's time to add our metal plane which is eaten away by the welder. In the topview, add a plane which is about 3 times bigger than the letter M. Place it on the same height as the letter (use the frontview). Add a new material and call it 'Metal'. Add a new texture to the plane, and call it 'alphaMap'.
Now, assign the previously rendered animation to the texture. Go to the Texture buttons screen (F6), select the image button and load the first frame of the alphaMap animation. Set the value in the 'frames' field to 150. Select 'calcAlpha'(!).
Return to the materials screen, and go to the texture type section ('col, nor, csp' etc). Deselect col and turn on 'alpha', and sub. The trick now is that everywhere that the texture is white, it will 'eat away' the alpha value of your plane, thus making it transparent.
Also, select 'extend', so that the alpha map isn't repeated across the texture. I only want it displayed on the plane once.
Now comes the part that is a bit hairy - you'll have to adjust the position and the size of the texturemap to align exactly with the letter M. To do this, select the plane and hit the TKEY. Blender will ask you whether you want to change the texture's position or the size. Play with both, rendering inbetween changes to see the result of your actions.
When you're done, you should have something like this:
Add realistic lighting
Okay, now for some added realism. First of all, the lighting should not be constant; if you've ever seen a welder in action, you'll know that the light it emits is highly irregular and very bright.
To simulate this, create an omni light and position it slightly above the halfsphere. Parent it to the halfsphere. With the lamp still selected, open an IPO screen and select the lamp icon. Select the Energ key, and holding the CTRL key, draw random points in the IPO window by clicking your left mouse button. Don't hesitate to draw values higher than 1 or smaller than 0.
When you're done, you'll have an energy graph that looks wildly different from this ;-)
Adding realism to the sparks
Now most sparks aren't just white. They start off whitehot, and while they fly through the air, they'll cool down, becoming more yellow, untill they turn red and then black. I can achieve this effect by applying a material IPO to the particle's material.
Select the halfsphere, and open the IPO window. Select the material Icon in the IPO Window. Go to frame 1 of your animation and turn the particle material's color into bright white. With your cursor in the material window, hit the IKey, and insert an RGB key. Next, move to frame 30 and change the color into bright yellow. Insert another RGB key. Go to frame 80 and change the color to dark red. Insert a key. Finally, at frame 100, insert a key where the material is completely black.
Your IPO window will look like this:
Adding realism to the melting metal
Well, something still isn't quite right. When metal has just been cut, it shouldn't look all dull and cool. Instead, it should be glowing and cooling down gradually. It's time to revert to our previous scene (the particles we used to create the alphamap), and duplicate it once again.
Add a new material to the particles. Next, like with the sparks, add a color IPO to the particles. Only this time, you'll need a completely different timing: set the keyframes on frames 3, 6, and 11.
Finally, change the halo size to 0.20; this map needs to be a bit 'fatter' than the alphamap, or else you won't see a thing of it.
You will get an animation that looks like this:
And now for the finishing touch! In the 'Cutter' scene, add yet another particle system. Duplicate the halfsphere, remove the existing particle system and add a new particle system.
Give it the following parameters:
The .blend file from this tutorial is available here.
Hey! Very cool tutorial! It's EXCELLENT for making logo intros! Thanks I learned a lot from this one :)
This won't work, there are overlapping text and pictures. Please try and fix it thanks.
which browser/operating system do you use?
Your web page for this is screwed up geezzz!!!!! Fix it.
I fixed some problems in the CSS. Does it look better now? If not, please let me know which browser you use and what going wrong exactly. That will help me find the problems.
Hmmm, I used to know a Josephine...
Anyways, I'm using microsoft internet explorer, and there is still overlapping text. That and I can't locate the .blend file when I try the link.
I fixed the download link, but I can't reproduce the overlapping text in my internet explorer. Could you please make a screenshot and email it to [email protected] ? That would help a lot in getting the problem sorted out.
Update: I've made some more CSS changes. The overlapping should be gone now.
Cool tutorial! However, the links don't work! Neither the animation, nor the .blend file are accessible!
Ah sorry. I couldn't find the video anywhere anymore but I've re-linked the .blend file.
hi! this is a very interesting tutorial i found it very helpfull
IÂ´m using blender v2.4 and I canÂ´t find the sub button you mention in the assigning texture to plane step. When I render, I canÂ´t see the alpha map, only when a turn on Col, but in this case they donÂ´t affect the alpha!!
IÂ´m novice in blender sorry :p...
The "Sub" isn't a button, but refers instead to the Blending Mode of the texture; in 2.4, it's labelled "Subtract".
This tutorial is VERY cool. And it's relatively old, too; nice to see some of the old tricks still work really well. Kudos to BlenderNation!
[email protected], love this old tute! Thanks for keeping it alive! I've been messing around with this and have a question: why doesn't the world tex show thru the metal plate where the animated alpha map is being applied? How can I accomplish this effect? I'd also love to have a volumetric spot shining thru the cutout from behind as its being "eaten away"... any ideas? TIA!
Very instructive tuorial with really impressive result :0
The links to the two rust textures and to the smoke texture do not function :( and as jay76 said: the information on how to apply the alpha map is not up to date.
It would be cool if you can fix it.
Awesome tutorial, man, you have done an amazing job.
Just one question: why is it necessary to make a new scene when creating the welder part?
I think it's probably just to keep a copy of the text with the oringinal particle emitters thats easy for you to get to and make changes and render it to disk.
Ive really enjoyed this tutorial and it has been easy to follow.
I am having trouble with sizing the alphamap on the plane though, I can grab and move the map by pusing "T" but I can't size it?
Anyone have any ideas on what I am missing here?
If your having trouble applying the alpha map you might try this:
In the textures panel (F6) goto image settings make sure you have also clicked the "movie" button.
Look under the Animation and Movies settings and under "Frames" you will see
"Offset" set that to the last frame of your animated texture, should be 150 or maybe 149.
A trick to sizing the planes, etc. etc....
Open 2 3d views, one for the camera, one for the top view. Use T (click on Size from the popup menu) to get the texture to approximately the right size and location. Then Grab the plane in the top view, and look over at the camera view. There's a dotted rectangle in the camera. Move the plane to center the texture rectangle over the camera rectangle (use G X and G Y separately, along with shift key if needed for fine control.) Then, scale the plane in x and y so the two rectangles have the same aspect ratio, and are on top of each other in the camera view.
well i'm stuck at the beginning,, where is the curvePath button?
the pictures look cool,, hope hte animation is that too ;P
Only trying to help!! I'm pretty sure I have your original cutting through steel video! If you have misplaced the video just let me know! then let me know how I can send it to you!!
In Blender 2.4.1 instead of using the curvePath button, you have two options. When you parent the cube you can parent it as 'Follow path', or you can parent it normally and then add a constraint under the Object menu (F7), choose the type Follow Path, and enter in the name of the curve you are tracing for the target.
thx Adam... it works now :P
i cant fine the New Effect button on the anim buttons window
can someone help i am a begginer. bart your link to the ready made castle in texturing a castle tutorial isint there i need it i cant figure out how to make my own.
don't work! could you put them online again?
btw: great tutorial (althoug it's almost a bit too sophisticated for me :) )!
Hi guys i am a begginer with blender. I started with the castle tuorial and thought it was great. I am trying to make a short animated film with only a few characters. But i couldnt find a good tutorial about how to first model a detailed person, and the how to make it be able to move. Could someone tell me about other tutorials like this, or could one of you more experienced chaps make some new character tutorials?
Hi guys i am a new comer with blender. I started with the castle tuorial and thought it was great. I am trying to make a short animated film with only a few characters. But i couldnt find a good tutorial about how to first model a detailed person, and the how to make it be able to move. Could someone tell me about other tutorials like this, or could one of you more experienced chaps make some new character tutorials?
Bart Velduinzen, i love your texturing a castle tutorial, but the downloads of the textures and the ready made castle dont work can you fix them?
best regards Harry
I've updated the links to the rust textures.
@harry: that tutorial is published at blender.org; I don't maintain that site anymore but I'll forward your message to the editors.
Dang this was a snazzy lil project
Dude...this is cool but....i cant even do the basics...
I'm using Blender 2.42 and when I create particles, it looks like this (I hope HTML works ;-):
I'm using Blender 2.42a and it looks like at http://odie.od.funpic.de/blender1.jpg
What did I make wrong?
Great tutorial. However, I'm stuck at a certain point:
I'm using blender 2.42, and I can't get the vector size to 0.028. It rounds off automaticly to one decimal (thus 0.0).
When I try 0.1, the vectors in my screen are way too large. (Btw, if I have vectsize at 1, the size doesn't change :S)
Second problem: I DO have a halve uv-sphere, I DO have pressed hash (even multiple times), but still, the particles don't emit right. The first 25-45 frames they act ok, going everywhere, but after that I still can see them "turning" around. (I mean with this, they do emit in "circles", clockwise)
Hey Sven. I had the same problem as you did (probably because im using the same version of blender) but i played wround with the settings a bit and eventually decided that setting normal to 0.00 and random to 0.50 looked pretty good. Awesome tut bart, nice work I used a styly Z and it looks awesome. A tip to you all: if you shift the cube slightly so its not quite on its point (the bit the dotted line leads to) then the corners it makes arent as straight and clean cut and it makes a cool effect.
How can you get the cube to follow the inside curves, with lets say letters with holes in them, for example "A" or "B"??
I am currently using CTRL-P -> FollowPath to make the square follow the patch. The problem is that I am unable to chose what part it starts at. I am not using a curve that ends where it starts, so this is a big problem for me. Is there any way to change at what point the square connects to the curve?
Realy helpful tutorial! Thanx! :)
This is a great tutorial and its really given me a new way to look at animating in blender!
@RedTeamSpartan- I had the same problem while making an A, when i realised that the particles would follow the outside curve only I simply created an inside curve and followed the same procedure to parent the sphere and particle system to it.
@Guillotine- I'm not too sure about how you can change the starting point but there probably is an easy way to do it... can anyone help us out cause i'm interested too. Cheers
hey is there anyway that this can be played in windows media or something...(im new to blender and 3d modeling). the reason i ask is because my computer is way to slow to handle animation.
Hi im new to blender.I have a 32 mb video card and I've downloaded the .blend file for this tutorial.When I render one of the frames and its nothing like the ones in the tutorial.Is this how it should be or my video card cannot produce those effects??...and also can the quality of the video card affect the rendered image??
I am sort of a beginner, not really though, but the fact that I cant find this button I guess means that I am a beginner. Where is the curvePath button?
never mind I found it. It was under editing (F9) as 'CurvePat'. Thanks though. The tutorial was exellant!
Hey I'm new to blender and was wodering what a .blend file is.
i cannot find the curvepath button !!
how do you save your animation as a video .avi video?
To save my animations, I use Vegas. I went into options and set it so that when I insert a picture, it shows for one frame. Then I just copied all of the pictures into my timeline. With this method, I can render the video in almost any format, and it's easy.
There's probably a way way better way to do it, but no one has ever told me what it is. :P
Good tutorial. Everything looks fine in Firefox.
maybe im blind but i cant find the size button for the halo. can any1 help me?
Hi guys. I'm having a little problem with this tutorial, I wonder if you can help me....
Right after I parent the cube to the curve (mine has an "H" form), and I hit ALT+A, The cube don't do the complete turn around the curve, stopping after it runs like 3/4 of the total curve lenght.
What did I do wrong, How can i fix it?
your path probably has more frames than your entire scene.
Have a look in the anim panel (Sta and End) End should be higher than your
PathLen for your curve.
the Halo Size slider is in the material panel. As soon as you press Halo in the Links and Pipeline Sub-Panel
the Shaders subpanel will change and you will find Halo-Parameters in there.
AVI jpeg in the scene panel. Look at the Sub-Panel Format. Select AVI jpeg from available output formats.
welder blender niice au................
This is great but i cant get to view the animation. Please help me!
What blender version you using?
i can't find half the buttons( I'm a real blender newbie)
I like the approach you take.
after observing some images of welding sparks, I noticed that they are more "liney"
is there a way to make the partials thiner and longer?
i have done it twice now with different images and different settings.... it is pretty cool
now i am tying to do an image that splits, i want it to apper as if the "welder" has split in to 2. kind of like in a Y starting from the bottom and splitting in to 2 as it moves up.... but my problem is that if i use the method above i have the bottom welder start moving and then the second welder (the one to make it appear as it split) also starts at the same time.... is there any way i can delay the second welder???
Hey I was going through this tutorial and I came to the part where your have to intergrate the alphamap into the cutter scene. It appears that I did everything right but It still doesn't show the black lines around the logo whereever the welder should be. I have also done the suggested things in the comments but it still doesn't work..... ANy help will be appreciated If you need more info just ask.
Hi! I'd like to thank you a LOT for this tutorial! I was making some logo for my friend and THIS is EXACTLY what I needed. My result wasn't so bad (after few unsuccesful methods I used a spot light passing under plane with the text cut into it), but I was sad that I was unable to find a way to do it the way you are showing here. So, thanks again for this tutorial, I will try it as soon as possible, and I hope there will be more tuts like this one in the future. Good luck!
PS: I am not a native speaker and I am definitely not a good "Blenderist" so sorry for any mistakes
What a wonderful technique, using curve paths and the particle system to generate animated alpha maps. I would imagine that the applications are virtually limitless. I'm looking forward to applying the knowledge that I obtained from this tutorial.
I saw a question earlier about how to make the stuff behind the alpha show up. I wrestled with this for a few hours, then realized you have to turn on the ZTrans (z-transparency) button in the Material->Links and Pipeline page (using 2.4.4). I have to say that although it seems like this was written for use with an earlier blender (2.3.x), it is an excellent tutorial. I am using it to cut through a board with a saw blade. Thanks a million.
Please can someone help me..im trying to attempt this welding tutorial where the letter m is burnt into a piece of metal... the tutor suplies two rust jpegs and a blend file containing most of the work....Right! from this point i get confused coz when i goto render the suplied blend file labeled (welder.blend) its all wrong! the "M" is red and the background is some mad florecent color and the sparks are like big chunks of cylinder shape sparks all in multicolors.... it looks nothing like the tutorial... im not very good at these reading tutorials bcoz they explain it in a hard way...for eg in this tutorial it explains on how to create an animated alpha map yet when i try it it dont work....absolutely nothing hapens when i do a test render....i get the same crap when it says i should get that black n white picture....if any one can do a better tutorial on this or if you have a finnished blend file please can you send me the link.
This is great! I just started using blender and was a bit worried when all the tutorials I found was crap. But now IÂ´m starting to find the good stuff. At first Blender was a fork in the eye but now it is slowly turning into delicuise pie... Thanks.
Hey i can't find the part with this in it...
To make the cube move along the outline of the curve, select the curve, go to the Anim Buttons screen (F7) and select the curvePath button.The first thing that happens is that the cube translates to somewhere else:
Could you please help me find this.
hey all.. im still a newbie.
it really looks like a great tut, but sadly quite a bit out of date.
im using blender 2.45.
since im hassling with this tut for a while now, i thought i might share my progress (especially the differences in blender 2.45)
> To make the cube move along the outline of the curve,
> select the curve, go to the Anim > Buttons screen (F7) and > select the curvePath button.The first thing that happens is
> that the cube translates to somewhere else:
place the cube on the very first vertex where you started drawing the M. Otherwise it will jump wildly through the vertices positions.
( i guess its also important to draw the M's vertices in the correct order ?)
When parenting the objects, choose "Normal Parent" parenting popup.
You could also select "Follow Path", but the result was really crappy in regard to "following the path precisely".
Therefore i parent the cube normally and add a constraint to it, which for some reason gave me better results.
--> Object Panel (F7), Subpanel "Object Buttons" -> Menu "Constraints" --> Add Constraint --> Follow Path.
In case you didnt rename your curve, set the target to "OB:Curve". The cube now jumps to somewhere else.
Place it to the start of the dotted line again. Hit alt-a to watch it moving nearly correctly.
It still isnt following the curve absolutely.. for some reason the movement rounds the corners most of the time :(
but its now acceptable.
im glad for any hints to make it follow the path _precisely_ .
(sharp corners, no slight movement to left or right while following the line)
> The next step is to use a particle system to create an animated
> texturemap. Select the cube, go to the Anim Buttons screen (F7),
> press the 'new effect' button and select 'particles' from the
> effect menu. Hit alt-A to see where we're going.
blender 2.45: Hit F7 (object-panel) click Physics Buttons (in sub-panels).
Now you'll see a menu "Particles". --> Click NEW
> Add a new material to the cube, select the 'halo' button and set the
> halo size to 0.2. Go to frame 30, and make a testrender.
goto editing-panel (F9), click new material. goto shading-panel (F5), then subpanel "Material BUttons"
the following is cited from ChuckB's answer:
the Halo Size slider is in the material panel.
As soon as you press Halo in the Links and Pipeline Sub-Panel
the Shaders subpanel will change and you will find Halo-Parameters in there.
way later in the tut:
> To ensure you have a nice, random particle emission from your mesh,
> enter edit mode, select all vertices, go to the Edit Buttons screen (F9)
> and hit the 'Hash' button.Next, assign a particle system to the mesh and
> input the following values:
1. you'll find the "hash"-button (while in edit-mode) in the editing-panel (F9) --> Menu "Mesh Tools".
2. The values give a problem in blender 2.45.
add particle system (panel object (F7), subpanel "Physics Buttons", Add NEW)
Select "Vect" .. Problem #1, the smallest value you can enter in 2.45 is 0.1
(i have no comparison how it should look with 0.028)
Tot = 2000 --> called "Amount" in 2.45
Goto Tab "Particle Motion" in Particle Menu.
Random = 0.1
Normal = 0.4
seems like im stuck with the rest a bit.. if i find out, how the rest works. ill post it also.
hope this helps anyone or encourages anybody to "update" the rest.
I want to make this a bit like an animated logo and then put it on my website, but im seriously stuck. I cant find any of the bottons when i am making my plane, ecept the alpha and col buttons. I use Blender version 2.45 and i could use an updated tutorial if passible. when i render i can se my letter "M" as an all time vesible black letter. The only thing that happens is the sparks coming up from the egde of the letter. I hoped someone can help me.
dude this is so stupid at some points you say to press F7 and curvePATH but there is no button called curvePATH when i press it your inventing stuff up -_- make a good tutorial if you ever make another one dont invente stuff
It's actually in the Editing buttons, bob (F9). Probably a simple mistake. CurvePath is right next to CurveFollow and right above CurveStretch.
I really like to have these classic tutorials around, but it might be good to mention that they are quite old and therefore suit old versions of Blender.
I cant find extended button ..iam using blender 2.45.
someone help !
qwertz, in the Texture buttons (F6) after you've imported the alpha map (you've set your Texture Type to "Image" and loaded the image from your hard drive, there are a row of buttons in the "Map Image" panel. The leftmost button is "Extend." Hope this helps.
Thanks apollos,i got that .
Tried firing this up in the latest (as of 2 minutes ago) SVN version of blender; revision 14389. Unfortunately blender yaks on the file:
tmartin:dart:~> blender welder.blend
Compiled with Python version 2.4.3.
Checking for installed Python... got it!
NOTE: ortho render has changed, tweak new Camera 'scale' value.
NOTE: ortho render has changed, tweak new Camera 'scale' value.
Old particle system converted to new system.
Old particle system converted to new system.
Old particle system converted to new system.
Old particle system converted to new system.
/usr/local/bin/blender: line 4: 19956 Segmentation fault ./blender $*
Which is doubly unfortunate because using the new particle system, I can only get the particles to emit for 250 of the required 300 frames. Though the cube keeps following the path, particles just stop at frame 250.
Anyone manage this with a SVN version using the new particles and get things working right?
can someone post a blender file of this project completed?
show more detailed about blender animation.is so muuch while you are learning..thank you..
Hey, I'm using the newest version of blender and I am having some problems... my first problem is when i have the cube sitting on the m, the glow in the rendered goes underneath the m about 1/4 of way through. i just raise the cube and that seems to have fixed it... also I'm having problems using the box select so i can't make the half of a sphere. Also on the new version I cant find like anything from the particle stuff for the semi-sphere that i don't have... I tried to go ahead and just use the full sphere, well when i rendered it starts with a sphere and then about 1/8 through it switches to glow. oh and before it switches, its just a sphere with no glow. If you could help me that would be great! thanks!
Can you please rewrite the tutorial for the newer version of blender, i am having a hard time trying to find all the buttons. it would help me a lot!
Forst of all, awesome tutorial!!
Im having a two tiny problems though... I am using version 2.46
First of all, I cant seem to locate the vector settings to set to 0.028 to make the sparks look like... well... sparks!
Second, i dont understand wher the "hash" key is in the particle settings. I press the hash key on my keyboard and it makes no diff.
Could someone expand on these two issues please?
Also, a hint from me!
Everybody seems to have their own methods for matching up the alpha map with the particle system so it traces properly in teh final result.
Remember, that when you took the movie for the alpha map, your video was a certain size, eg 800 x 600 like mine was.
So, when your camera is facind directly down in the top view, if you size the plane to your camera boundaries exactly, they will line up. worked on mine a treat!
Nice tips Cov and SoylentGreen!
This is so difficult ! I can't seem to get further than the 'adding a metal plane'... I am more stuck than a fly on flypaper !!!
I usually try my best at everything, and I usually never give up, but I am suffering for almost five days to finish this darn thing.
Can someone please help me. I'm very disappointed in this tutorial. I've done many tuts of bart, but this time he really didn'nt do much effort.
I am really stuck and getting irritated, I just wish I can finish it to move on to the other stuff.
I'm beggin anyone just to pay a bit attention to me to explain what to do.
I'm using the 2.48a version of blender. I don't have a clue what anim to place for the alpha map thing. And I tried to move on, but I am suffering like mad ! Please email me easier information :)
Hi bart..Cutting through steel is a very nice and very attractive thing. Could you please do this once again in 2.60 since i cannot find some of the button like vect size in new particle system.
Hmm, I'm afraid I don't have time for that anymore..