[Bf-education] 101 outline for GRAPHICS 3D with Blender course

Piotr Arlukowicz piotao at polskikursblendera.pl
Mon Nov 17 23:05:43 CET 2014

Hey Brian and all,

I know this is long email, sorry :) Try to find some time to read it, as it
is about  education and possible 101 blender teaching. Ton recommended me
to try to discuss here, so it is :)

Thank you for the quick reply. Hopefully somebody else can join to our
discussion. You point me out the very important factor of using Blender -
that we can join it with another programs and start to teach a workflows,
which in turn will require a more thought assets of tasks and preps.
I like the idea of making simple sword as a start lesson in Edit Mode. This
mode is introduced by me after several other exercises. My students are in
general students from computer science and from arts, so they tend to think
in diffrent manners. But very beginners have to go the same way, by
learning how to use Blender non-blocking viewports, menu, sliders, how to
open/save files and renders.

BELOW is the complete description of my teaching process, for a generic
Blender course. I know it's long, but if you manage to find a time to read
it, I would love to see your comments and modifications. I think that this
workflow (used by me for years) is quite matured and with some minor
modifications is serving well on two Universities when I'm working and
countless different workshops and courses. It could be used as a starting
point for some 101 course for high-schools or so. Please share your
comments, if you don't mind! I'm interested of collecting good example
tasks and blender files for training students after each lesson. Maybe you
have better ideas?

I deducted after several years that for me the best is to make the
following work flow for 101 teaching GRAPHICS 3D, so this part do not
include animation nor simulation (which is just another separated lecture):

0. If the audience require this, I'm talking about  Blender history, BF,
BI, Ton, and I'm showing all Open Movies created by awesome people with
Blender. This part usually can take two hours, but it is optional. I'm
using it when I like to showcast Blender and to amaze the audience, always
pointing that the real power lies in Open Source community and freedom.

homework: look at blender.org page and study it, finding some awesomeness.

1. Blender interface - view3d, scrolling, scaling viewport, split/join
areas, etc. This is general an ad-hoc workshop, when they can just click
everywhere and see what happens. If I would make a task for this part, I
would prepare a set of single files to open, with text block visible inside
and simple commands, for example "prepare two 3d views", "exchange outliner
with properties area", etc. This part contains also tasks for configuration
of Blender and to set it up in a more convenient way (usually I recommend
to enable rotate around selection, zoom to mouse position, etc).

homework: configure blender for personal needs and taste

2. Blender Object Mode - where students are learning very important basics
of simple object management, GRS transforms, undo system and all-about
placing objects. This part has a very well thought tasks: to build a cube
pyramids, a coloseum-like (or well) structure, and other simple collections
of basic objects. The requirement in this part is to keep up with grid, and
views, and to manage to set properly the camera for render. At this stage I
show also how to enable env lighting, just to make first renders a bit

homework: make simple city using only simple objects in blender

3. Blender Objects Mode + modifiers. This is another, extended part of my
teaching blender basics. Students are a bit used to Blender interface, so
it is time  to show them a bit more advanced stuff, still not forcing them
to lock themself in edit mode. My idea is to enable them to make something
interesting, not being forced to do regular edit. So, the modifiers are
nice and soft way to model more complicated stuff. At this part I show also
how to combine objects by joining them, and fun things begin: subdivision
surface, bevel, solidify, edge split, and then simple deform are videly
used. Then I give them array modifier for generating fractals-like
compositions, christmass trees, rings with crystals around, an so on. At
this point the task for them is to build nicely barrel, a rotor for
helicopter, and any other complicated structure which goes from array
combined with curves, lattice or some more compliacated deformators. In
fact, it seems to be possible to model anything just using boolean modifier
(but it is a hardcore way of not using edit mode, heh).

homework: using modifiers make something very detailed and specific

4. Blender Edit Mode. After three exhaustive lessons students are allowed
to enter edit mode, and they are so used to blender interface, that new
tools available aren't overhelming them. Then it is time for extruding,
inseting, beveling, screwing, bending, cutting, knife'ing, removing,
dissolving, spliting with all it's glory. This is very long part as the
editing is one of the cruicial activity performed in Blender. They got few
different tasks for hard-surface modeling as well as modeling with
blueprints, precision modeling, etc. This is also the part where your sword
task is applicable. I'm usually propose them to make a lightsaber handle
from starwars, which is one of the most faved task ever, as most of people
love starwars. This task is connected to an advanced compositing and keying
task few months after. The students can also remake theirs previous tasks
in Edit Mode, for example they can model a complete Barrel or another
medium complex object. This part is different for different groups of
students: architecture students are going in a bit different way than
students of gaming creation and low-poly modeling.

homework: model a thing from daily life: a microwave owen, car, tv-sat, etc.

5. Blender Curves and modelling. I show how to make objects from their
contour, what are different curve types, how to model parametric and cuved
surfaces. This part is also important due to text editing and custom font
making in Blender. This is rather simple and nice workshop, and I think it
should not be omitted.
5. Blender Sculpt Mode. When students manage to model nearly anything in
low complexity scale, it is time to teach them how to model thousands of
vertices at once. This part is about sculpting, and they learn how to use
basic tools and how to use them effectively. I show them some nice hacks
and tricks, and the task for them is to model their own head. This is not
so complicated in current sculpting system in blender and each of them have
good reference photos and know their face already very well. It is also
easy to compare how good the sculpt is. This part sometimes is enriched in
more tasks, for example to model a human skull, some real bones or organic
roots of trees. Animal modeling is also possible, but rarely taken by them.
After they are familiar with sculpting, I show them how to control complex
geometry, and there is a time to introduce Blender Market, and for example
- polystrips and contour plugins, which are great tools for retopology.
After that part students are welcomed to study modelling even more in all
it's glory, using online courses scattered everywhere in the Internet. This
part is the last part about generic modelling.

homework: sculpt own head

6. Blender Lighting System. I found it interchangeable to talk about
lighting and materials. Usually I'm doing lighting first, because students
can learn about color theory, mixing colors, color models, color spaces and
what the light is from the physical and physiological point of view. Then
there is a time to make 3-point light, and to get familiar with all lamps
and light models in Blender, both internal and cycles. The task for
students in this part is to model light in already prepared scene, to
obtain a specified look, feel and mood, as seen in included render. From my
observations I can say than mastering light is even harder than mastering
materials and texturing. So, I usually include in this lesson some
knowledge about photography and shot composition. It is surprising, how
many people don't know anything about good looking photos, focal points,
etc. I'm showing also Cycles wonderful lighting and global illumination
with path tracking, which is more photo-realistic than in Blender Internal,
but I'm avoiding nodes yet at this stage. In this part I'm also discussing
HDR lighting and light probes, which are good subject of any homework.

homework: manage to get a mirror ball, and catch some photos with light
from different areas for further usage.

7. Material system in Blender Internal. This is long part, and I teach them
what materials are, how to manage them, and how to edit basic properties.
Students have to make a specified set of basic materials - simple glass,
glossy, chalk, bronze, brushed aluminum and wax, all put on several Suzanne
heads and nicely lit. Materials in Cycles are not mentioned yet at this
part, I'm keeping them for lessons after nodes are known.

homework: find and model simple object with generic material: glass plate,
metalic pan, soap, etc.

8. Texturing system in Blender Internal. There are obvious dependency - all
possible properties of materials can be changed by using textures. This
part is only about simple procedural textures and students are observing
how texturing system works. They learn how to mix textures, how to make
combinations of bumpmapping, alphamapping, specular tuning, etc. In this
part I'm talking about basic mapping. This is complicated stuff, and it is
hard to understand for students who are not used to understand mathematics.
However, they are able to use different mapping methods for simple objects
which do not require UVs.

homework: make a scene with autumn leafs scattered on soil or rock.

9. Texturing system with UV-mapping in Blender. This is necessary part.
Students knows already how to make textures, and how to influence the look
of material. At this stage they learn how to make UV maps for more
complicated objects, where simple flat/cube/tube/sphere mapping is just not
enough. This part cover all knowledge required to properly unwrap complex
models, including stitching, auto-unwrapping with single click, pinning,
packing, optimizing uvs and mixing multiple uvs. Many textures layers with
different uv-layouts are discussed and used. I'm showing also the workflow
with UV-layout painting in external programs. There is packing into blend
shown, and quite a number of another techniques related to uv-mapping.

homework: this can vary, but usually it is architectural texturing of the
whole complex building

10. Texture painting: stencil, and projection painting. This part covers
wonderful projection painting with UV layers cloing in different
views/orientation/uv-maps. Usually this part, as quite advanced is focused
on head texturing (this one from lesson 5), lightsaber texturing (from
lesson 4) or organic modeling and texturing. Groups who are devoted to
gaming creation learn how to make nice stones with detailed texture for
further LOD changes, etc. The task is simple: to make best looking texture

homework: finishing project painting to make a complete head model

11. Rendering and baking. This is short part, where students learn how to
render efficiently, and how to bake things when it is appropriate. So, one
part of this class is to show and practice how to gain speed with renders,
what are renderfarms, what is tailing and threading, etc. Another, but
related story is baking. I'm showing the time comparison for rendering with
baked and non-baked AO light of simple scene, and usually this impress
audience very much, because of massive speed gain for pre-baked renders.
The task for this part is to make fully-baked scene and keep it visible in
viewport. On some ocassions I'm showing how to make OpenGL-only renders
from viewport as a fast way of getting quite a good results. Gamer Creators
have baking in extended way, and they learn how to bake normalmaps, with
cages and without them.

homework: make a color-, specular- and bump- or normalmap of simple object,
ie. coin, stone, tree bark, etc.

12. Postprocessing and compositing. This part could be more than one
session as it contains a lot of different, interesting and rich stuff.
First time with nodes students learn how to use them and get to know simple
use cases, like vignetting, color correction, blur/sharpen filters etc.
Some more advanced scenario includes short introduction to render layers
and passes, where students can combine them to achieve nice effects with
depths, objects indexing etc.

homework: make a render with some special effects possible to achieve only
with nodes

13. Cycles nodes and materials. This is more advanced parts, as the
students know already a lot of things in basic Blender usage. So they learn
how to use Cycles materials, try shaders and different textures and
lighting models. They at once are familiarized with Cycles rendering setup,
samples, lightpaths, etc. Knowing nodes is not enough for understanding how
cycles works, I found that this is difficult subject even after quite a lot
of time spent in Blender. So, this part can be split to two parts: first
one is simple and doesn't cover advanced lightpath stuff. After the first
part students are able to construct materials of average complexity.

homework: rebuild materials and render one of the previous scenes with
cycles, and see the difference.

14. Cycles and advanced materials. This part is for hardcore blender users
only, and I'm usually do not require to pass over it by every student. This
stuff is really quite complex. I'm teaching them how to build complex
materials, with custom light falloff, how to build also complex lighting.
There is not so many good tutorials in the Internet concerning gory
technical details of Cycles at this level, however the community serves
well as a basis of usage cases and resources.

homework: make a material which looks very different when seen thru glass,
or in mirror, or by close/far camera.

15. Materials, nodes and case studies. This is a short return to Blender
internal and it's wonderful, yet underestimated possibilities, like
lightgroups, and materials and texture nodes. In this part students learn
how to make complex materials which depends on scene or objects orientation
or different properties. Case studies include also volumetric materials,
some medical applications (for example converting and watching 3d scans of
human body obtained from DICOM files and rendered in Blender using voxel
data), materials which are separated and mixed by light, or advanced
compositing using render passes, with denoising and shadow tuning. In this
part I also concentrate on comparing different render engines, especially
BI and Cycles, and techniques which brings more efficiency to usual
workflow - awesome Node Wrangler, online Material Library, etc. At this
time I also usually cover all remaining parts which were omitted, like
dupliverts/duplifaces, datablocks, importing/exporting, etc. Anything which
is not animation or simulation is to be put here.

homework: make a complex, awesome scene for portfolio

This is usually the single lecture intended for 30-60 hours (short version)
or 60-120 hours (long version) of usual academic course. I felt that it
need to be filled with more interesting challenges and tasks, and for that
reason I posted this pretty long email. I hope it is not too long however
and you will somehow find a time to analyze this process and comment it and
maybe we can look for some improvements. Please, share your knowledge and
solutions (if they are not patented yet! :) ). I targeted this course for
academic level, so it is not suitable for children teaching or for teaching
blender disabled, or directed people. Slightly different course is required
for artists willing to be animators, and totally different one is required
for technical people going to simulate things and do scientific
visualization. So, this 101 is rather first try, and needs to be refined,
or maybe reduced. What do you think?

Maybe we should to move this discussion to the Blender Artists forum?


​Piotr Arlukowicz, PhD, BFCT​

Polski Kurs Blendera: http://polskikursblendera.pl,
YT: /user/piotao?feature=guide
FB: /polskikursblendera
TW: /piotao

2014-11-17 2:44 GMT+01:00 Blasgund Brian <
Brian.Blasgund at polytechnic.wa.edu.au>:

> Hi Piotr and all,
> I have taught with blender since 2008 from what is a certificate III
> qualification to Diploma in the Australian nationally recognized training
> packages.
> Hard to equate levels to international levels as they all vary however I
> would say the diploma is equivalent to entry level for internships or
> Universities entrance levels.
> So our basic's is Certificate III, first lesson I use is to make a sword
> from a circle reduced to 8 vertices with extrudes at the same time I get
> them to construct using orthographic view and navigate through the num_pad
> views and get use to the interface and views while going through some of
> the shortcut keys.
> This seams to work well for my normal demographic usually young game
> design students mostly male, in one session they have a basic sword and
> they have had a healthy look at the interface.
> Diplomas would be at the level of advanced rigging and playing with
> advanced physics features fluids, fire and smoke, object's with force
> influences. As our focus is game design some use of the game engine however
> due to the nature of the courses we export the blend assets into unity game
> engines and just use blenders game engine for prototyping, not that there
> is an issue with blenders game engine we just have to use multiple programs
> to teach production pipeline processes.
> I also point students to many sources to get in the habit of continuous
> development of their skills great sites like blender guru, blender cookie,
> blender nation and many more of course. These are broad stroke descriptions
> so I don't know if I am helping your query Piotr I just thought I'd reply
> as you said you are not getting much messages.
> As I use blender as a tool for our students courses it can be very
> contextual to either the games they are creating or VFX sequence or
> animation, so there is the standard learn the basics of blender however
> when it comes to specific challenges either it is using what I know or
> seeing what other tutorials may aid in a specific development  and
> fortunatly there is a great deal of tutorials out there.
> I would recommend you have good shortcut key lists these seem to help
> students quite a lot as well as professionals the help them with industry
> it seems to be about speed :)
> Regards
> Brian Blasgund
> Lecturer IT/Multimedia
> Midland Campus
> [cid:image002.jpg at 01CA6DF0.F0DF11D0]
> 0438 938 364
> Brian.Blasgund at polytechnic.wa.edu.au<mailto:
> Brian.Blasgund at polytechnic.wa.edu.au>
> www.polytechnic.wa.edu.au<http://www.polytechnic.wa.edu.au>
> ________________________________
> From: bf-education-bounces at blender.org [bf-education-bounces at blender.org]
> on behalf of Piotr Arlukowicz [piotao at polskikursblendera.pl]
> Sent: Monday, November 17, 2014 7:33 AM
> To: Blender Educators and Trainers
> Subject: [Bf-education] blender mysteries
> Hello,
> this list is rather silent since months (or I'm not getting any messages
> from it), but there is for sure a lot of things going on everywhere.
> If you are a blender teacher or trainer, or even Blender Foundation
> Certified Trainer, you are using for sure some quests for your students.
> So, I would like to ask you what are your best ideas and practices to make
> Blender education interesting and quick. What are best tasks for students
> who are learning.
> Basing of their skill level, those tasks should be easy for beginners and
> more complicated for more advanced users. For sure you have such small
> tasks. For example to teach how to navigate 3d view I give them a task for
> building simple pyramid from cubes, next step are cubes set in a perfect
> circle shape, aligned to the grid, etc.
> For more advanced students there are another, harder tasks. I'd like to
> ask you what do use to teach and check students. Maybe there are some good
> ideas or methodologies. Maybe there are some deeply thought challenges?
> (One of them can be for example to model a regular dodecahedron from a
> single vertex, never leaving edit mode).
> Also, mystery blends seems to be very good source of nice tasks for those
> who already knows Blender.
> Would you share your ideas or good "patents" usable for education?
> If you don't mind, I would love to collect them for 101 education suite,
> if such a thing somehow appear.
> regards!
> Piotr
> Piotr
> Polski Kurs Blendera: http://polskikursblendera.pl,
> YT: /user/piotao?feature=guide
> FB: /polskikursblendera
> TW: /piotao
> ______________________________________________________________________
> This email has been scanned by the Symantec Email Security.cloud service.
> For more information please visit http://www.symanteccloud.com
> ______________________________________________________________________
> [Polytechnic West]
> <http://polytechnic.wa.edu.au/>
> [Polytechnic West]
> ______________________________________________________________________
> This email has been scanned by the Symantec Email Security.cloud service.
> For more information please visit http://www.symanteccloud.com
> ______________________________________________________________________
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
URL: <http://lists.blender.org/pipermail/bf-education/attachments/20141117/911f9cc7/attachment.html>

More information about the Bf-education mailing list