Blender
 

I first gave an attempt to use Blender about 5 years ago when it was still owned by NaN.  Back then you had to pay $$ to enable some of the extra features.  Since I did not want to do this I mostly played around with the basics and worked through a couple of the tutorials.  Although I was impressed with the tool it was lacking a lot of features and only a few on-line help files existed so I eventually I lost interest and moved on to other projects.

Recently I have been interested in getting back into 3D modeling and animation so I decided to give it another go to see how it had changed.  The application is now 100% open source and has improved considerably.  So I am again working through the on-line docs (of which there are now many) to see how far I can get.

I also tried a couple of other 3D tools, namely Houdini and Maya PLE.  I found Houdini user experience on Windows XP to be really bad.  The buttons and menus of the applications drew at an alarmingly slow rate and after 15 mins it caused my Windows XP box to blue screen.  Sadly I couldn't get past the user interface to even begin to get into the tool.  I imagine it probably works better under Linux so I may try loading it up on my Linux box at some point in the future.  Maya PLE, on the other hand, was quite nice.  The user experience was polished and the tool was very easy to learn.  However, due to the obnoxious watermark and since I am not ready to put down the large $$ they are asking for the real tool I decided to stick with Blender.

What follows are some of the rendered images I have created with Blender as I learn the tool.  Most of these are straight from the on-line tutorials.  Still, I like the images and wanted to save them.

Gingerbread Man

Chrome cups

Eyeballs.  This was mostly from the noob to pro tutorial.  Although I think I made the iris hole too big.  I am also having some issues with texture mapping so the iris is not quite as nice as I would have liked.

Not happy with the eyes above, I went back and rebuilt it from the ground up.  This time the iris hole is smaller and the cornea has some roundness to its edge. Plus, I think the texture map looks a lot better now.

 So the next tutorial I decided to try was the "2D image to a 3D model".  Wanting to try something different from the example logo I whipped up the following in Inkscape in about 5 minutes.

From there I was able to import it into Blender, trace it and create:

I was really impressed with how nice this turned out.   

So I've finally decided to take the plunge and try to model something "real".  This is my first attempt to model a human head.  There is still a lot to be done, but I stuck on my eyes from above to give it a feeling of a sole.

I found a new and easier tutorial for modeling faces.  Here is my new face, which took about half the time of the one above.

Still working off the same head as above, I've now added lips ... but they need some work to look natural.  I need to investigate edge creasing.

2006-11-25  Although I like the above face, I rapidly became lost when trying to model the rest of the head so I decide to go back to basics and try, instead, to better understand the yafray plugin for blender.  I love caustics.  My goal was to try to make it look photo realistic.