Monday, November 15, 2004

Am I Just Stupid, Or Is Blender Impossible To Work With?

Blender: I swear; a more unintuitive, user-unfriendly program has never been made. I won't even bother complaining about the strange choices for keyboard shortcuts (which aren't really shortcuts; there's no other way to do things). I figure they chose things like "w" to stand for "boolean operation", "b" to stand for "select", and "g" to mean "translate" because they are Dutch or something. No, what irks me is the lack of basic functionality. You'd think that joining three vertices together to make a triangle would be something that any basic 3D modeling and rendering program should be able to handle. Well, Blender can handle it - but only when it feels like it. One minute, it's happy to let me select any number of vertices, click "shift-f" (because that obviously stands for "triangles"), and it would fill (maybe it means fill?) the space between them with triangles. But then the next time I try to do it, even with only three vertices (which is pretty elementary), it tells me "error: can't make face/triangle". Near as I can tell, the only difference between the two situations is that the second time they weren't parallel to the XY, YZ, or XZ planes. And while I admit that it would be theoretically possible to align everything parallel before joining the vertices and then rotate it back, it would take an inordinate amount of time to do so. And I've been told that Blender is efficient. Ha! Efficient!

Another gripe I have with Blender is it's apparent inability to change the number of frames in an animation. Yes, believe it or not, I actually figured out how to do an animation (on a curved path no less). But it is preset at 100 frames, and no matter what you set the number of frames to be, it will always be 100 (plus some number of copies of the last frame). This isn't changed by modifying the frame rate or duration either. Thankfully, I didn't need an animation for a project or anything... Oh wait, I did. Well, it's a good thing that 4 seconds was enough.

Another serious problem is the lighting system. I'm a pretty experimental person; and I tried every combination of every setting on anything to do with lighting, and I couldn't even make it do shadows. But that's okay; it wouldn't have helped the looks because the textures all looked like plastic. Yes, all of my solid-colour textures (because I can't for the life of me figure out how to load .BMPs), looked like plastic (no matter what I did with that "specularity", "reflectiveness", or whatever other options there were.

Anyways, before I get a flood of e-mails saying "OMG UR STUPDI LOL READ THE TUTORIALS ON TEH INTARNETS!!", I did so, and all of them seem to be describing either:
1. How to move the camera so you can look at the default cube in different ways, or
2. Real-time animated boolean operations with patch NURBS splines controlled by bezier curves in advanced ray-traced 7-dimensional space for models with half a billion vertices.

So if someone could write a Blender tutorial covering stuff in between those two, like:
1. Why the shortcut keys are so counter-intuitive,
2. How to make things not look like plastic,
3. How to make shadows,
4. How to make a collection of three vertices into a face, and
5. How to make animations with more than 100 frames.

I would be very appreciative.

But for now I'll stick to JED.

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