Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Zesting Up a Presentation With a Creative Touch… For Free!

By Micah Kelly

Have you ever had a presentation that needed a little something to push it over the edge? Have you ever wanted to put more of your creative side into a tangible, easy to understand format? Well, in this tutorial, I’ll show you how to create simple, polygonal motion graphics to convey information to an audience.

Blender is one of the most flexible open source programs out there, and is readily available for download here: https://www.blender.org/

An example of the final product can be found here:

Setting Up

First, open Blender

Press the A hotkey to select everything, then press the X hotkey to delete everything in the default scene
Press NUM7 to go to the top view, then NUM5 to make sure that you’re in orthographic view, meaning that there’s no perspective.
Press the SHIFT+A command, then create a new camera. A camera will appear on the cursor. Make sure that the cursor is centered at the scene origin by using the SHIFT+C hotkey.
Snap to the side view by pressing the NUM3 hotkey, then move the camera along the Z axis by pressing the G hotkey to move the camera, then press the Z hotkey whilst moving the camera to snap it to the Z axis. It won’t matter how far the camera is from the origin, since it will be orthographic.
Let’s change the camera to orthographic, to do this, go to the camera options tab, then click the orthographic icon in the LENS dropdown menu. The camera is now void of perspective.
Objects and Materials

To create a new 2D object, press the SHIFT+A command, then create a new plane.
Go into edit mode, then select 3 of the vertices by holding SHIFT and right-clicking. Press the X hotkey, then delete VERTICES.
Now, we have a single vertex point. To create a shape, select the vertices, then begin extruding it into the outline of your shape. To extrude, press the E hotkey while a vertex is selected, then move your mouse, then left-click to complete the action.
To close the shape, SHIFT select the start and end vertices, then use the F hotkey. A new edge has now been created. I’ve made a potato.
To make the outline into a solid face, use the A hotkey to select all vertices, then press the F hotkey to create a face. After a new face has been created, press CTRL+T to triangulate the face into a form that Blender can understand easier.
Sometimes the mesh’s normals are flipped. This will make their lighting look abnormal. The faces will look darker than usual. To fix this, select the affected faces, press SPACE, then search for FLIP NORMALS. Click the action in the search results, then the problem should be solved.

To add a material, first switch the viewtype to material.
Go to the materials tab, then in the shading menu, click SHADELESS.
Go into edit mode for your desired model, select the all vertices, then after choosing a color, click ASSIGN. The model has now been applied with a material
Text

Creating text in Blender is very simple. First use the SHIFT+A hotkey, then create TEXT.
Going into edit mode allows you to edit the text by typing.
The text can then be textured using the same method as the objects before.
Animation

The animation aspect is also very simple.

First press NUM0 to snap to the camera view, we’ll animate from here.
Select the desired object in object mode, then move the bar on the timeline to where the movement will start.

Create a keyframe by pressing the I hotkey, then click the LocRotScale option.
Move the bar on the timeline to where the movement will end, then make another keyframe. The object should move between the keyframes in that space of time.
Keyframes can be easily edited on the DOPE SHEET. Keyframes can be scaled around the timeline bar with S, or moved with G.

You have now created a simple 2D animation in Blender, that can be used for presentations, instructional videos, cartoons, or anything else your heart desires!

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