Archive for the 'tips/tricks' Category

Create a sci-fi image in one hour, and why I could do it.

This week I was browsing the web when I fell on an image that struck me. As usual the image was downloaded and put in my “inspiration” folder, a place where there are all sort of stuff that must be checked back later , either to analyze, study from, get inspired or maybe try to recreate a similar atmosphere or effect depicted in that image. The image can be found here : (made by

So yesterday I had some free time and I wanted to redo this strong contrasted image, of a pure white light illuminating a kind of spaceship dock or bay. Here is the image that took me around one hour to create (not counting rendering 20mins)


As you can see this is fairly detailed and that is the point I want to focus on today :reusing pre-modeled greebles freely available.

Here is the quick process creating this image :

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 19.30.08First I block some basic shapes (very classic in itself, the aim of exercise was more of lighting). I could have gone more hexagonal, or with stronger silhouette.

Then I remembered having seen some pretty good greeble blend swap file.  Here is the file (, and once again it is done by Kuhnindustries, who is an amazing modeler!

Screen Shot 2015-05-23 at 19.31.51

I do believe those kind of blendswaps are the most useful ones. Small elements that you can reuse and assemble in a bigger set/model/scene, just like Lego bricks. If you know of some other ones feel free to comment below, I will add them here

So again thanks Kuhnindustries for all your models! If you ever meet me, you get a few free drinks 🙂

p.s. Someone on Twitter rightfully mentionned that this image has no real Point of Interest. In fact the original image had some text in the center, so here is an updated version, with something to look at 🙂



Nearly a year + 5min tutorial

Oh yes…. I thought I’d post something just before nov 17th… So nobody can blame me for not writing on this blog for over a year…
Still it’s very lame from me… but I have excuses …
And no there is absolutely no excuses for letting a blog die !!
Nevertheless we had the pleasure to have a second cool baby (A warm Hello to the handsome Louis that will maybe read me in 10 years from the future !) and thus did a bit less 3D work, more 2D , editing etc…

But now I’m back on track. And it starts with a new 5 minutes tutorial.

I love the 5 min tutorial format. It’s fast and effective… It is also more suited for intermediate/upper users, as it does not allow the time to explain all operations in detail, but draft out general ideas of a specific technique or trick. Fell free to ask for help in the comments.

And lastly, I am working on a nice 3d animation project at RGBprod studio… more to be unveiled at end of january.


Quick tutorial for cycles and vertex colors

Here is a quick less than 5 minute tutorial that will teach you how to mix 2 shaders using vertex color map.
This is a “<5min tutorial”. I plan to make some more of those. They are quick and expect some background knowledge so not well suited for beginners, more like intermediate/advanced users
here is the first one :

Quicktip : always have Blender up to date with a crontab

This morning I would like to share a quick tip, maybe some of you are doing it already, but somehow I only started doing it few days ago 🙂 I guess I love typing commands

First of all you need to know how to compile blender from trunk source (see for help on building)
I usually have a little shell script that does the svn up and scons/make building for me. It is called blender_up :

1 cd /blender/trunk/blender
2 svn up
3 python scons/ -j 7

So now to the automation with cron and creating a crontab:
on unix you edit the cron file by typing crontab -e
so I add just one line :

@hourly blender_up

@hourly is a cron shortcut for launching a command once an hour.
If every hour is too much you could use @daily or do something like :

30 9,12,15 0 0 0 blender_up

this will update blender every day (yes blenderheads do work on weekends 🙂 ) at 9:30 12:30 and 15:30, basically when you take your coffe break.

That’s it for now, so now you can enjoy a 0-day warez of blender 🙂

Blender Cycles – Rebirth of a 7 years old computer

Another great thing with cycles is that you can make a good render machine out of an old computer: just buy a new graphic card !
No need to upgrade CPU, motherboard, or even RAM, just plug a recent graphic card and voilà.
A long time ago (2005) I bought a Dell PC for rendering, It was an amazing dual-core pentium D ! 2 Gig of RAM and a whooping 80 Gb harddrive. A good machine that served me well a few years. But it started aging…
Needless to say I haven’t used it recently (my wife do still chat and watch chinese soap opera on it though). Even my “old” macbook pro is faster.
The solution to give it a second life was to buy a graphic card, I opted for a geforce gtx 560.
Unsurprisingly Windows did not want to install recent nvidia drivers. Luckily there was a linux mint install cd in my drawer, all worked fine and I got a 1min15 result using Mike pan’s Car cycle benchmark file. !
Compared to 53 sec for the recent linuxbox I bought in the beginning of the year, I say it’s a very honorable result. It just confirms that Cycles used full power of the GPU.

So folks, take out your old machines and give the a second youth by buying a recent graphic card for a cheap home-made renderfarm ( you can use my renderfarm queuing software system Brender for that )

As comparaison : pure CPU render is 07:17 for the pentium D, and with an i7-2600 00:44 seconds

And final word : yes we own too many computers 🙂

Blender conference + challenges files

In this post I will share the files I used for my presentation called blender challenges.
But first I have to apologize for posting a short blogpost, my wife is here and we are going to visit Amsterdam for 2 days, so not much time for writting 🙂

This was one of my best conference, if not simply the best! Got the chance to meet a lot of new people, especially some swiss guys this time too! 🙂 Hope we can do some gathering one day soon.

Apart from meeting people (which takes some time and even makes you miss some talks because chatting and sharing is so much fun) you also get the chance to see talks and presentation of techinques, researches or simply showcases of what people do with blender.

Blender Challenges
I had the chance and task to host the open-stage time slot, and so decided to share some files and problems encountered during some productions, but in a simplified way. It resulted in a series of 6-7 .blend files, with something wrong in them, and people would need to solve them.
The files were handed out at start of the talk, and folks had to gather in groups and try to solve them. The few first ones were rather easy, ranging from bad oriented normals, to overlaping faces. some others were a bit more tricky. The audience was very participative and it started some nice discussion and trick sharing, I loved it.
Instead of giving out the answers, I will give out the files for your pleasure and you can try to solve them.
Here is the link: (1.1 mb)
I hope you can enjoy them as much as the audience did 🙂
Can you solve them ? Do you have some answers ?
Do not read the comments if you dont want to be spoiled 🙂

How to animate a 360° rotation of an armature bone

Have you ever tried to animate a bone making a complete turn in a regular rotations?
I recently had to model and animate a watch for a real-time experience using the GameEngine and came up with not being instantly able to animate a bone 360° rotation correctly over one minute (using Z-axis and keyframing). My lack of quaternions knowledge made me do a quick  google-search for an easy answer to “how to animate a bone rotation in blender?”. I had no success, so i investigated myself and after few minutes came with understanding a bit how quaternion rotation works, and here is what i wish i had found on google :
This is the curves of a bone rotating 360° during 20 frames.

fig 1. ipo curves of QuatRot for a full 360° rotation

First of all Quaterions always are beetween -1 and 1. Frame 0 would be my bone completely up at 0°. At frame 10, the break you can see is actually when it reaches 180° and needs to go back up, but continue turning, otherwise you would have the bone going backward to angle 0° instead of angle 360°

Below is a visualization of the curves of a bone going from 0 to 180° and back to 0°:

fig 2. 0° to 180° and back curve


And here would be a graph showing how to animate many turns, it is just a repetition of fig 1.

fig 3. Continuous bone rotations

Voila. I do hope it can help someone one day. It is a simple thing, but good to know, as sometimes bone rotations can be confusing. I might also have missed a great tutorial, i would be happy to add it here.
And let me know if it not very clear.


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