A Week with Blender

I realized that I need much more control over my assets than the Unity Asset Store can provide for “All Aboard!”. I need lots of low poly buildings and environments that have multiple iterations for upgrade purposes. The Asset Store is great, but certainly doesn’t provide EXACTLY what I need, so I need to create my own. Though I’ve never been a ‘designer’, I have a decent grasp on what it takes and I can learn as I go to polish up the skill set.

I am starting with Blender3D, and I’m having a blast so far. I’ve spent the past week with it, when time permits, and I’m starting to get an idea of how this is all going to come together. I started with a tutorial that got me around the interface, what some of the objects are and how to manipulate them. It also goes into using multiple materials on a single object, simple tree modeling and some world settings for camera and lighting. This is what I produced from the first tutorial:

Lowpoly mountain scene
Mountain Scene from tutorial

It’s not much, but it’s my first attempt and I’m proud of it. I went through this tutorial multiple times, each time relying on it less and less to see if I could get through it alone.

Trees and a mountain are nice, but not necessarily what I’m going to need for “All Aboard!”. I need buildings, so I moved on to another tutorial on how to create low poly buildings. This one really helped me understand a lot of concepts needed for structures and how to manipulate objects to achieve certain effects. If you’re just getting started (like me), I highly recommend running through this one. Again, I went through the tutorial multiple times, each time trying to do it more and more on my own and ended up creating a nice little row of apartments.

A row of apartments created in Blender
A row of apartments created in Blender

Nice! But I’m not building out a city block like this, I’m creating multiple buildings (or plots) for inclusion in a game, so I need to be more direct in what I’m creating. So I tried making a little Country Café to test out my abilities to create something from scratch without a tutorial guiding me through. I really like the café, but I know it could be better.

Country Café created in Blender
Country Café created in Blender

I started noticing that there are some details missing. In the Country Café, I added a picket fence, some tables and chairs and a little planter. It’s still missing something, and the lighting is a bit off, but I’m pretty happy simply because I was able to do this on my own only after 3 days of working in Blender. I can do better, so I got to work on a Bank.

The Bank is most likely going to be an actual building in “All Aboard!”, so I’m taking a little more care to make it look how I want it to look. I spent some time modeling and getting the color palette right, rendered it and posted this version to reddit for some feedback.

Bank created in Blender
Bank created in Blender

A few awesome people chimed in with suggestions like “the columns are cool, but don’t support anything”, and “maybe a few blades of grass”. The details are what they are commenting on, and I see clearly that something is missing from this version of the bank. I sat back down for a couple of hours to consider the details they brought up and ended up with a much better version of the bank.

Bank with more details
Bank with more details

I think the second version looks 10x better, and can probably be improved 10x more, but I am very pleased with the results of this.

I’m getting a good grasp on modeling low poly and will be continuing, but now I have other considerations that I’m going to be working on:

  1. Scale and proportions – I need to learn about this to ensure whatever I am creating is proportional to the existing assets I have (like the Passengers), and that work well together
  2. Unity integration – I know that Unity supports .blender files, but I haven’t tried it yet. This is extremely important so that I don’t go off spending days creating assets that will never work in Unity
  3. Consistency – This goes along with scale and proportions, but anything and everything I create for actual use in “All Aboard!” has to have consistency!

I’ve spent the past week (off and on) with Blender and I am having so much fun with it, but I must get focused as there are actual tasks in front of me rather than free-fun-time. But, I am most definitely looking forward to it!

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2 thoughts on “A Week with Blender”

  1. Hello,

    Fascinating post and helpful as well.

    If you can share some details regarding how you textured / colored it? Did you follow a guide there too?

    I really like how you colored the Cafe and the Bank. You inspire me. I’m currently working on developing a game myself and I can’t seem to get used to Blender and get everything how I want.

    Can you please share a little about how you colored / textured everything?

    Thank you,
    Tony

    1. Sure! The first tutorial for the mountain scene taught me how to put the materials on the objects. I did not use textures at all in any of these, it’s all just colored materials. I recommend going through the mountain scene tutorial as it helped get me started. Do it a few times, each time with less and less help from it. You will eventually learn and things will come together for you! Keep me posted, I love to see things in progress!

      Thanks for visiting, and good luck to you!

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