Join Christian Bradley for an in-depth discussion in this video Setting up image planes, part of Creating a Game Character in Blender.
- Setting up our scene so we can see the reference images is an important part of modeling a character. Let's take a look at how Blender handles image planes and some tricks we can use to make this part of modeling a character a little easier. Here's our basic scene that we have. You'll recognize this, we've got our lamp, our camera, and our cube. First thing I'm going to do is clean up this scene a little bit, because we don't need our camera. So I'm going to go over here to my outliner and turn that off. And our lamp, I don't need that right now either so I'm going to turn that little eyeball off.
That will clean up the scene a little bit. The next thing I'm going to do is click on my cube and move it away from the center or where the green and the red line intersect there because we're going to have another object pop in there in a minute. We have to create a plane so that our image or our concept art can go on that plane so we have something to model from. Blender has a tool for this, but it's not part of the basic interface. In other words we've got to add it, it's called an add-on. So we're going to go to File, User Preferences, and Add-ons, click on that.
And we have to find it. There's thousands of add-ons so we're going to type in Images and that will bring up these two options. And the one that we want is Import-Export: Import Images as Planes. We're going to check on that. By default it's checked off. And that little running guy there should highlight, and we're set, so we just say Save User Settings. And we're going to turn this off. Now we have to go find where Blender put that.
It's under File, Import, and it's right there So we just click on that. And now we will go to find our file. This file will be included in the exercise files for this video. And we're going to click on it. It did import it. It's not going to show the file yet on the plane but we're going to get the plane into position. We're going to scale it up. And the size doesn't really matter right now.
I'm going to show you a quick way to know which way you're rotating or moving an object. Sometimes you'll get the axes mixed up. So we're going to hit N, and that's going to bring up our Transform tools. And R for rotate. And if we move these bands around you'll see this number here moving. What that means is we're moving on the y-axis. Or if I go over to the red band I can move on that axis.
And you'll see it moving around. I'm going to go ahead and zero these out. And we're just going to tug on that green axis, in my case, and you'll see that now we know that that axis is the one we want. So I'm going to go ahead and type in (mumbling). There we go. And now that has been rotated 90 degrees on the y-axis. Now we still can't see the image plane. Obviously we need to see it. So what I'm going to do is go down here to Shading and click Textured Solid.
That's going to put the image on that plane. Well, you can see he's sideways right now. He's not exactly right, so we're going to scroll up again and tug on that red axis. And you'll see that, again, this number right here is moving. That's pretty close to 180, that looks about like what we want. I'll type that in. And now he is correct. See how all those other numbers took care of themselves that way, and you don't need to keep track of three axes all the time.
It's just a little bit easier way to work. Our image plane is correct, but we still need to setup what will eventually be our character object, this cube here. Right now we can't see through the cube, you see it's blocking the image behind it. So we've got to set it up so it's correct. Before that I'm going to move my image plane up so his feet is on the ground. And move that box up so it's right on top of that grid there. First we're going to set up what is called an X-Ray feature on the box, and to do that we need to go over here under the Properties tab for our cube.
We're going to click on this brown cube object right here. And I'm going to scoot this out a little bit so we can actually see it. And rotate down to X-Ray, we're going to turn that on. Nothing really looks like it happened in the viewport, but if I orbit around that plane you'll see that box now will always be in front of the plane. Now we can model the back of our character as well as the front of our character and still be able to see our concept art.
The last thing that we need to do is make that box so it's see-through, because it's not gonna do us any good if we can see through to see our concept art. So let's set that up. The way we do that is we're going to come over here to the Shader parameters. Scroll down to where we see Transparency. We're going to check that box, and then under Alpha we're going to just move this down to something about, say .5 is good.
Didn't really looked like it changed much here, and that's because our viewport shader isn't set right. We're going to come down here to this button and change that to Material. And now we have a cube that we can see through to our concept art. We actually can see the wireframe now of that cube. And if we want to model the back of our creature we just rotate around. One last thing we need to do, if you notice the back of our plane is black.
That's because it's not lit. You can see the highlight of that light shining off the plane. So we're going to change the type of light that we have. To do that we're going to go back to our lamp. We're going to turn the lamp back on if you turned it off earlier. Remember the lamp is that circle with the dotted lines around it there. You can see it's right in front of the plane, so we're catching a shadow on the back here. And Blender has a certain type of light that's just going to light everything equally.
With the lamp selected go to your Light settings if they aren't already highlighted, right there. It looks kind of like a little starburst. And click Hemi. Once I click the Hemi light as my choice you'll see that the icon up here changes to be a little bit different. That's just going to tell us that it's now a hemi light. And what that's going to do is create a light that we're going to use for the rest of this series that, well, it just lights everything equally. It's magic.
You can see now we can model through our cube, we can move vertices around, we can move edges around. We can do all sorts of stuff moving forward. Setting up image reference planes using the various tools we covered in this video is an easy way to start a character model off on the right foot.
- Creating a base mesh
- Building an armature
- Branding armature elements like ears and horns
- Sculpting the head and hands
- Creating accessories
- Creating a low-poly variation
- UV unwrapping the character
- Baking and applying normal maps
- Texture painting