Coming to Blender from other modelling packages, a few things are much less intuitive than you would expect. I’ve been neglecting things from the art side of the fence for quite a while, so I am going to address that. This post covers a couple handy tricks in Blender. If you are a vet, these things will be “well duh!” items, but if you are new to Blender I think you will find them handy.
Insetting a polygon
This is a common enough task that is frankly rather irritating to accomplish in Blender. An inset polygon can basically be though of as a polygon within a polygon, generally flush to the containing polygon.
Wow, that was a terrible description! Lets use a picture instead. This is an inset polygon:
Here is how you create one.
Press Tab to enter Edit Mode
CTRL+Tab+3 for face mode
Select your face to inset
Hit E to extrude. Immediately click the right mouse button. You have now created a new face exactly over your existing face, with the exact same dimensions.
Now hit S to scale your face, and drag the mouse until it is inset as much as you would like. Left click when complete. And you are done.
That’s not really an outrageous amount of work to inset a face, but it is enough to be annoying, especially for a task I do so commonly. Thankfully, there is a plugin available to make your life easier! I believe it started shipping in Blender 2.58, but I wouldn’t recommend quoting me on that!
Lets go ahead an enable that plugin now.
In the top menu select File –> User Preferences…
Select the Addons tab
Scroll down and locate Mesh: Inset Polygon, then enable it using the checkbox at the top right like this:
Now, if you want to keep this enabled permanently click Save as Default at the bottom left corner of the window:
Now there is an Inset Polygon tool available.
Back in Blender in the Mesh Tools sidebar ( press T if it isn’t currently visible ) you will now have a new option.
You will now be able to use the Inset command. Once you click Inset, the below option will appear.
Amount determines far inset the new polygon will be.
Height determines how far out the face will be raised.
You can inset multiple faces at the same time, but the results are “wonky”. Which is to say, pretty much useless.
I find myself insetting quite often, in order to add details to my mesh, which leads to the next tip. Creating a hole. Consider a model like a gun, how exactly would you go creating the barrel of a gun?
Creating a hole in your mesh
So how exactly would you go about creating a hole like the barrel of a gun?
Well, start a new scene and inset just like we just covered:
Now hit the W key then select Subdivide from the menu that pops up. This will subdivide the selected face into 4 sub-faces, like such:
For rounder edges, you can subdivide again. Now we want to “round out” our square selection into a circle. Hit the spacebar and type “Sphere” in the menu you want to select To Sphere:
Now move your mouse cursor to the right until your selection is rounded, like this:
Now press E to extrude and pull your new hole:
And now you have a rounded(ish) hole in your mesh! For smoother corners, make more sub-divisions before you call To Sphere.
Want to line up a number of vertices at once, here is how:
Select your vertices
Now there are a few ways of approach this. First you can set a pivot to line up around.
To do so, hold down the . key and click where you want the pivot to be. Such as this:
Now to move all the vertices to line up with the pivot point, you:
Press Scale, then the axis you want ( in this case red, or X ), then hit 0.
So, hit S then X then 0. Finally left click to accept the changes.
All the vertices line up along the selected axis.
You can do the same thing relative to the selected vertices. In that case, select your vertices and be sure to move your pivot point back to either median or active element, using this option:
Now change the orientation to Normal:
So, if you chose Median Point and set Orientation to Normal, it will look like this now:
The axis on the widget determine which axis to align along. Green is Y, red is X and blue is Z.
Let’s say you wanted to flatten along the z-axis. Simply S(cale), Z then 0 and left click, and your results will be lines up along the Z axis. Like such: