Part 5: Advanced Editing, Shaders, and Modifiers

In this fifth part of our Blender guide, we talk about some more advanced editing techniques. We also touch on modifiers and shaders that help make meshes look better.

In the previous guide, we talked about simple editing techniques, different ways of selecting things, and even how to add and remove objects. You might be thinking, “OK Drew, where is all of this leading anyway?” Well, some of the more creative minds out there might be getting some interesting idea’s about this, but this is all leading into basic modelling concepts. If you want to add simple objects to your scene, these techniques will help you do this. Of course, it might be challenging when you start getting into more complex objects, so that’s what this part of the guide is for.

How to Extrude

With knowing the different ways to select different parts of an object, you should find this next tip extremely useful if you want to create a basic object.

First, go into edit mode (Tab if you read the last part of this guide). Next, hit “A” to deselect the cube. Use the face select button and select the top face. Now, tap “E” for extrude. You should be suddenly seeing an extra face extending out of your cube as you move it up. If it’s not already locked onto the “Z” axis, you can tap Z. Let’s just create something simile to a cube so we have two cubes stacked on top of each other like so:

Now, do the same thing, only this time, we’ll have 3 boxes stacked on top of each other like so:

Now, select the left face on the top and extrude that out like another cube:

There, congratulations! With hardly any thinking, you’ve successfully created a Tetris piece! Wasn’t really that hard, was it? While you can extrude faces, remember that you can do that with edges as well. The key with modelling is to think of a shape in your geometry shapes you have and just start building from there. The more complex your model, the more thinking you’ll have to do.

How to Add a Loop Cut

Another technique that is extremely useful to modellers out there is the ability to add a loop cut. So, let’s go back to our cube (undo or starting a new file works just as well). Think of a loop cut as slicing through the model down the middle (horizontally or vertically). The trick is, you are not actually chopping the model in half. Instead, you are creating an extra edge in the middle to give your model more flexibility.

First, hover your cursor over your cube. It doesn’t have to be selected. Next, you’ll want to hit CTRL + R. A pink line will appear. It can be vertically around the cube or horizontal. It all depends on the position of your mouse. You’ll see something like this:

Next, when you are happy with the general orientation the loop cut is going to cut, left click on the mouse. Your loop cut will now turn an orange yellow colour. At this point, moving the mouse will dictate the position of loop cut. If you want to make it dead centre, you’ll want to right click. Otherwise, simply left click on where you want to leave it.

Now, I have it positioned kind of to the right. Well, let’s say I wasn’t happy with that position after I clicked. You could theoretically use undo and repeat some of the steps, but there is an even easier thing you can do at this point: double-tap “G”. This will enable you to slide the loop cut to a different position on the cube.

There we go! I put my loop cut into a different position without the need of undoing and repeating my loop cut steps!

Now, let’s say I want to create a slightly more complex model that involves multiple loop cuts. That can be done very easily in a nice evenly spaced out manner. First, let’s undo our loop cut we made and use our CTRL + R trick. Now, before we click when we are happy with the orientation, let’s move the mouse wheel. It will automatically generate multiple loop cuts for you. You should get something like this:

Again, left clicking will set the orientation. Right click will centre the loop cuts where as left clicking again will allow you to set where you want to place those loop cuts on the cube.

That’s a quick rundown on how to create loop cuts.

A Look At Smooth Shading

As you are toying around with making loop cuts and making small adjustments to your mesh, you might notice that there is some extremely sharp edges. Obviously, in real life, edges are not quite that sharp. Take, for example, this box I made with a rounded top:

Now, when I hit tab to get out of edit mode, I see this:

It has a very polygon look to it, doesn’t it? We could add a whole bunch of different loop cuts to round things out, but there is a better way to give it a more rounded loop. That is through the magic of smooth shading. Smooth shading allows you to get a more smooth look to your models without adding in additional geometry to our model. After all, the fewer pieces of information you add to your models, the faster rendering times can be. To find our smooth shading, while in object mode, you can find it in the tool bar to the left:

Alternatively, if you are in edit mode, it is still available in the tool bar, you just have to switch to the right tab first. First, you need to click on the Shading / UVs. It’ll be on the very top:

Remember, when you are in edit mode, make sure your entire mesh is selected or else you might just apply it to a single part (whatever you happen to select). When I click on Smooth, the end results is…

… um, not the most desirable result imaginable. Still, we are on the right track. Let’s go back into edit mode and see what’s going on:

Well, I can see all my geometry is still there just like I left it. So, what’s going on? Well, simply put, Blender is making an average of all the angles and turning them into curves. Wouldn’t it be great if we could make the curves more sharp while not losing that rounded edge? That’s actually quite easy. We just add more loop cuts. With those additional loop cuts, we are going put them snug up against the corners. That way, the average angle will be between those two loop cuts instead of being applied to the whole box. Here’s an example of this:

So, we got the one side. Let’s add another loop cut to the other side:

There we go! That will make that corner rounded, but not overly so. Let’s keep going for the other corners.

Now, I’m going to hit tab to see what it looks like in object mode:

Whoa! That already looks way better. You can see the basic shape, but it’s not just geometric sharp unrealistic corners. This will help you when you create more complex objects and you want to add some semblance of realism.

So, that’s a quick rundown of what loop cut’s are all about.


Our last stop in this part of our guide is modifiers. Modifiers help you create better models generally. The most common modifier is the mirror modifier. Think about different things you could potentially model. Does it have a left and right side? A person has a left and right arm. A chair has a left and right hand rest. A car has a left and right headlight. Lot’s of things have a left and right side. Now, it would be an absolute pain to try and get the left and right side of something complex exactly right manually. That is where the mirror modifier comes into play.

First, I’m going to start from the beginning with my cube. Next, I’m going to squash this cube down to be more flat and move it up. The end result is this:

Next, I’m going to click on the little wrench found on the right hand panel:

Next, I’m going to click on “Add Modifier”. This will bring up a new menu. In this menu, there are a bunch of different modifiers I could theoretically use. Of course, we are after the Mirror modifier. So, I’m going to click on “Mirror” as highlighted below:

Next, we are going to change one small thing: the axis that we’ll get a modifier on. I see that it is selecting the X axis, but I want the Y axis modified. So, I untick X and tick Y as highlighted below:

Great, now that that it sorted out, we can focus just on the model. First, I’m going to “s”cale it length-wise:

Nothing is dramatically different yet… but, if I extrude the left face out a bit…

… whoa! Where did that extra part come from??? Well, the modifier is duplicating my actions on the right hand side. Any change I make on the left hand side will be duplicated on the right as if a mirror is split right down the middle of my model. Pretty neat, right?

So, I’m going to make a loop cut on the edge…

… then, I’m going to add a whole bunch of loop cuts the other direction…

… then look underneath and select every other face on the edge…

… then extrude them down…

… we get…

A neat looking basic tunnel!

Now, one last question one may have is, what if we want to add something to our model that is only on one side, but not the other. First, we have to make sure all of our mirrored elements are complete. Any detailing or adjustments need to be complete. When we are ready, we go back into our mirror modifier and click the “Apply” button:

(Note that you also have to be in object mode to apply the modifier).

Now, the modifier will be applied and you can tweak the model on one side without changing the other:

So, that’s an example of what a modifier can do!

Keyboard Shortcut roundup

For those of you who are practising and don’t want to read through paragraphs of content to get to the keyboard shortcuts, here is a list of everything we covered in this part:

  • E = Extrude
  • (while in edit mode) CTRL + R = Add a loop cut
    • (while in edit mode) CTRL + R, then left click = Position loop cut on a particular part of your mesh
    • (while in edit mode) CTRL + R, then right click = Position loop cut in the exact middle of the face
    • (while in edit mode) CTRL + R, then mouse wheel = Add multiple lop cuts
  • (after creating a loop cut) G, then G = Adjust a loop cut’s position

Below is a list of commands previously covered in other parts of the guide and mentioned in this part:

  • Tab = Switch between object mode and edit mode
  • A = Select all / de-select all
  • S = Scale

< Adding, Removing, and Editing/Selecting Objects | Index | Multiple Views, Lighting, and Materials >

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