How to Use Blender for 3D Modeling

Learn the ABCs of XYZ.
Ash Ash (362)
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Blender is an excellent open-source tool for makers, animators, artists, and more looking to expand their creation abilities with the world of 3d-modeling. Getting started with Blender can be intimidating, but is overall an extremely rewarding platform to familiarize with, as everything you create is owned 100% by you and can be used for commercial purposes.

Its use cases range from animating, 3D-printing, and even game development. Knowing the basics will set you well on your way to creating a world of 3D assets, and that’s exactly what we’re covering in this guide. This tutorial will get you started with everything you need to become an expert modeler by tackling things like how to create an object, manipulate that object in 3D-space, and how to save your work in various forms.

Note: We will only be creating a simple object to map out our understanding of the platform. Creating complex designs will take time, patience, and sometimes research to perfect.

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Install Blender

Blender is available for download on the Blender downloads page. Select your operating system and download the executable from the website, taking note of the save location. Run the executable and follow the prompts to complete the installation.

It helps to keep Blender up to date as bugs are corrected, and new features are added in newer versions. Check out our guide on how to update Blender for steps on how to ensure your copy of Blender is up-to-date.

There are a few terms that will help to familiarize yourself with before we delve into using the application. These terms are not only used throughout this guide, but also throughout the platform and can help you research specific goals when trying to create a 3D model.

Object - This refers to a 3D asset in Blender. The default object in a general Blender file is a cube, but it can be any shape.

Axis - The axis refers to the specific plane on which an object, vertex, face, or edge exists. There are three used to make up 3-dimensional space which includes X,Y, and Z. X and Y refer to a position’s location relative to forward and back or side to side while the Z axis handles the up and down positioning.

Vertex - A vertex is a dot on a 3D object, often where two or more edges meet, but a vertex can exist on its own without any edges.

Edge - Edges are lines that connect two or more vertices together.

Face - A face refers to any filled-in area between edges.

There are plenty more terms worth learning in Blender, but these are the basics to get you started.

Create a file in Blender

When you launch Blender, a dialog will appear prompting you to choose a starting file type. There are a few presets available including General, 2D Animation, Sculpting, VFX, and Video Editing. For the sake of this guide, we’ll start with General, but feel free to explore the other presets. Each preset is designed to provide a few basic tools and objects to get started with different project needs. In most general 3D modeling use cases, your best bet is to start with a General file type.

The General present includes a basic cube object, a light source, and a camera. These can be deleted by left-clicking them and pressing the Delete key on your keyboard.

Move in Blender

Hover your cursor over the editing area and hold down Shift then hold the Middle Mouse Button. This will allow you to drag the plane around. Releasing the button will lock the position in place.

The camera can be rotated by holding down the Middle Mouse Button while hovering over the editing area.

Using the scroll wheel will allow you to zoom in and out. Check out our guide on how to move in Blender for an in-depth look at these processes.

Create an object in Blender

Hover your cursor over the editing area and press Shift + A to open the Add menu. From here, you can choose a basic shape to add. Explore this menu and see what shapes are available to determine what would be a good starting point for your project.

Move Blender object

Once you’ve created an object, you should know how to move it around. Left click the object to highlight it. You’ll know it’s selected when an orange highlight appears around it. Press G to move it using the mouse. Left clicking will drop the object in place.

It’s also possible to move objects along specific X, Y, and Z coordinates. To do this, you can use G + X, G + Y, or G + Z by pressing the keys consecutively, not by holding G.

Create Blender Vertices

Left Click on the object you want to add a point or vertex to. Switch into Edit mode by selecting it from the dropdown in the upper left corner. Left click in an empty part of the editing area to deselect the whole object.

  • Hold control and right click to add a new vertex.
Create Blender Edge

Left Click on the object you want to add an edge to. Switch into Edit mode by selecting it from the dropdown in the upper left corner. Left click in an empty part of the editing area to deselect the whole object.

  • Hold Control and select two vertices you want to connect with an edge.

  • You can press F or Right Click on one of the vertices and choose **New edge/face from vertices".

Add Blender face

Left Click on the object you want to add a face to. Switch into Edit mode by selecting it from the dropdown in the upper left corner. Left click in an empty part of the editing area to deselect the whole object.

  • Hold Control and select the vertices you want to connect with a face.

  • You can press F or Right Click on one of the vertices and choose **New edge/face from vertices".

Move Blender Vertex Edge or Face

Left click on an object and switch into Edit mode by selecting it from the dropdown in the upper left corner. Left click on the vertex, edge, or face you want to move.

Press G to move the vertex, edge, or face freely using the mouse. Using G + X, G + Y, or G + Z will allow you to move the vertex, edge, or face along a specific axis. Be sure not to hold G, but rather press the keys consecutively.

Blender Save and Export

To save your work use the File menu in the upper left to save the project. The file will be saved in a format that Blender can recognize. If you want to export the final project to a specific format, use File > Export and choose from the available formats.

If you want to 3D print your creation, we recommend using a standard STL file, as this format is recognized by most slicing applications. For video game assets, many applications recognize the OBJ format. If you’re not sure what to use, do a quick search online for the optimal format for your application.

Blender Sculpting

At this point, you should be ready to go with plenty of tools to get you off the ground in Blender. There are many applications this tool can be used for, and we highly suggest you look up tutorials online for more advanced techniques and uses. If you’re not sure where to get started, check out our guide on how to Sculpt in Blender.

Jamie Jamie (33)
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There are so many new features in Windows 11 it's almost hard to keep up with them all.