3D painting with Blender render

If all you want to do is apply a solid colour to your 3D object or to certain faces of your 3D object then see the 'materials' page, not this one. If you want to be able to have more freedom in your painting, as if you were using a paintbrush or airbrush then this is the right page for you. There are two ways to paint your 3D object:

  • The normal method is to unwrap the surface of the object as if you were removing the peel from an orange. Once the surface has been unwrapped and flattened (just like your flattened orange peel) it can then be exported into a specialized painting program such as Photoshop, Paint Shop Pro or the GIMP, worked on there and then imported back in again. A problem with this method is that it is necessary to choose the seams carefully where the different parts of the surface will be separated from one another. This method is not explained in this site so if you would like to try this method please check the Blender online manual or one of the many tutorials available on the internet in places like YouTube. A video about unwrapping a human head can be seen HERE and some examples can be seen at the bottom of this page.
  • Alternatively you can paint directly inside Blender using a combination of Texture Paint mode in the 3D view editor window and Paint mode in the uv/image editor window. This method is intuitive and there is no problem with seams as in the first method. This is the method explained below. IMPORTANT: when you save your work (every 5 minutes!) you must save TWO files while doing uv painting, not only the normal Blender file (with File>Save) but also the uv image itself. If you don't save the uv image then the next time you open the Blender file you will find you have lost all the colours you painted, and the object will be black. There are to ways of saving the image file:
    • Save the uv image by choosing Image>Save as image in the menus under the uv image editor window or by pressing F3. If you make any changes to the image you will need to save it again.
    • Pack the image into the Blend file by choosing Image>Pack as PNG. Then when the Blend file is saved it will include the image. If you make any changes to the image you will need to re-pack the image.

Warning: the video below uses the Blender Render engine which is now obsolescent since a much better render engine called Cycles is now available. Click HERE to learn how to do 3D painting in Cycles. If you absolutely want to learn how to paint using the old Blender Render engine then watch my 19 minute Vimeo video below. Better yet, you should watch it on Vimeo (click the HD button) because then you can watch in HD and because you can jump around within the video which may not work with the embedded video below.