Learn To Use Blender - Part 1
Hey there, Decaff here with the first in what will hopefully be a series of tutorials aimed to take you from noob to expert modeler for YSFlight. Now, just because you already know how to use blender, doesn't mean that you cannot learn some things from the material we discuss.
These tutorials are geared towards getting you modding right away and learning by doing. You can read, watch or listen to all the tutorials in the world, but if you do not practice these skills regularly you will begin to forget important details. In the end it is not what you know, but you actually doing something that creates new addons for YSFlight.
There are lots of keyboard shortcuts in blender that allow us access to hundreds of commands and capabilities. None of these keys need to be capitalized, and holding shift while pressing one of these buttons can result in a different command being sent. Whenever I mention one of these short cuts, any letter that needs to be pressed will be indicated like so - "a". The quotation marks allow you to see that the letter is separate from the other buttons (like Control, Ctrl). You should NOT press the quotation mark button when you see this.
You will need several things in order to use blender for YSFlight. First and foremost: a computer. Having an average graphics card or better is a must as well as a decent amount of RAM. Most computers that are 7 years old or newer should have no problem with blender.
You also need a keyboard, number pad, and three-button mouse. There is some wiggle room in these requirements if you cannot get access to certain things, however it substantially slows down your workflow.
Getting started is very simple. All you need is a spark of inspiration or desire to create a certain addon. Now, it doesn't matter what addon this is, but you will need to take a step back and be patient. Blender has a rather steep learning curve, and if you are not careful, you can bite off more than you can handle early on. By the time you finish these tutorials, you should have the ability to create almost anything and know how to troubleshoot different, common problems.
Let's get you setup with blender. Today it is very easy to start using blender for YSFlight, because all the scripts and correct version of python has been compiled into one package. Simply go to the link below and download the version right for your Operating System.
Unzip the file and place it wherever you want your blender to be! That's it. No special messing around with installing multiple things, simply open and go.
When You First Open Blender
When you first open blender you will see that blender looks very much like the image below. This is the default startup screen, which can be customized later on down the road, however for our purposes, this is a great place to start.This screen is separated into 3 different windows. In order from top to bottom, they are the information window, the 3D window, and the button window. There is one thing that I like to classify as almost its own entity and it is the toolbar of the 3D window. At the very bottom of the large dark grey window (the 3D window), there is a toolbar that has a drop down menu with the current option as "Object Mode" in it. This is the nerve center for how we interact with our 3D models and will require a lot of attention in order to extract the most from blender.
There are two main ways to change the view of the 3D model space. The first uses the mouse and keyboard to get a custom orientation while the second uses the number pad to get to a specific, built-in views.
To rotate the model about the origin (center) of the model, click and hold the middle mouse button and the drag the mouse
To pan the view parallel to the screen (up/down and/or left/right), hold shift while holding the middle mouse button down and drag the mouse.
In blender every separate entity is called an object. In the default startup screen all three items you see are classified as objects. Objects come in many shapes and sizes and there are many different types with different properties. For the most part we will only work with three types: Mesh, text, and curves.
To select an object we need to be in Object mode, and our mouse has to be over the 3D window.When something is selected, it will be surrounded by a light pink outline. This can sometimes be hard to see, so pay close attention.
Moving Selected Objects
Try selecting something in the default startup screen. Notice how when something is selected three arrows appear. These point in the x, y, and z directions and can be used to drag an object into a new position. Just as there are multiple ways to select something, there are multiple ways to move an object. We will spend an entire section dedicated solely to this issue. If you ever need to undo a movement, Ctrl-"z" is your best friend.
Saving a Blender File
To save the blender file, simply go up to the top, select File -> Save As. This opens up the file browser window that temporarily replaces one of your windows. In the default startup screen, this is typically the 3D window, but do not be surprised if your button window disappears and things get squished. If this happens you can click on the top of the button window where your mouse turns into a grabby hand and pull the button window up, to give yourself more space.The File Browser window has two parts to it. The first is the file path that is currently being displayed in the list below. You SHOULD NOT edit this text box. The box below that is the file name. You will want to keel the ".blend" tag in the filename so that you don't see "Blender_tutorialblend.blend"/ It has happened to me and is kind of annoying.The top right of the window is your Save As and Cancel buttons which should be pretty self-explanatoryThe main portion of the window is fairly straightforward to understand. This is the actual file browser. If you opened any old folder, and displayed the contents in a list format, it would look very similar to this. The files are organized in the following manner:First come sub folders. These are white text and if you click on them they will open.Next comes all other files in the folder. These are black text, and if they are a file format that blender recognizes (.blend, .png, .ttf) there will be a little colored box on the left side of the name. If you click on one of these, the filename box will update to the name of the file you selected, so be careful.If you want to go up one folder in the folder tree, go the double button line above the first line of files/folders will take you up one level. One you are saving into the correct folder with the correct name click Save As.
Importing a DNM or SRF File
Importing a DNM file can be very straight forward or kinda difficult. If the file we are trying to import is very far away from the current blender file working directory, it can be a pain to import it, therefore I like to save my blender file (even if there is nothing in it) to the folder i want to work in. Then I copy the dnm or srffiles from their far away location and paste them into the folder I'm working in, or perhaps a subfolder so they do not get cluttered in with the rest of the files that will be accumulated in the duration of the project.To import a dnm or srf file, go to File -> Import -> Surf (.srf) and DynaModel (.dnm)... This will open up the file browser window once again. Simply navigate to where the dnm or srf file is, and click on it. Then click import.
You can move on to Part 2 here!