Thursday, September 30, 2010

Adventures in the Third Dimension!

Today I downloaded Blender on a whim, even though my past experience with such 3d software hasn't been very good. The only 3d stuff I ever got the hang of is Half-life level editing, and that was ages ago. As I should have expected, Blender's interface is counterintuitive and filled with hidden keyboard shortcuts and strange little icons. Plus you can't even seem to select things like you would expect but dragging with the mouse, and moving things was a bit screwy until I figured out how handles work, but they were STILL a bit screwy.

How much is just bad interface design and how much is me not being used to it I am not sure. I mean the basics of doing stuff in 3D should be simple, you make a top, front, side, and 3d view, then create primitives and line them up. Why is blender making that simple task so frustrating? I am sure my brother would do better, he has actually schooling on this stuff. It also stands out in my mind that little to know programs of this sort use a right click context menu for objects, or allow you to punch in values for things like Doom and Half-life level editing tools do (or at least not that I see).

Of course even if the interface were intuitive to me, the actual method of modeling is usually not. Most people, at least according to what I have seen and what my brother has told me, use a sculpting-style method of cutting parts off a shape until you get what you want. That method I feel I probably couldn't master as I don't have the foresight, although it should work for detailing better. Another method which is usually included is Constructive solid geometry which is very helpful for simple shapes but probably less so for complex ones. There are also methods for making curves but how you define curves right in 3d is a bit of a mystery to me.

One thing I would like to see more of is modeling with voxels either using basic height-maps or slices. That way it become much easier to draw a basic shape. Of course it still needs a bit of planning and extra set up to do something complex, like say, a human shape. There also exotic modeler programs for things like this, and such. I really have to look into this stuff more.

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