EEVEE Shadow Catcher

There is a convenient opportunity in the Cycles render engine to render an object with shadows on a transparent background using material with the “shadow catcher” option. There is no such material in EEVEE render engine, however, in EEVEE we can make our own “shadow catcher” based only on nodes.

Completed “EEVEE Shadow Catcher” material you can get from the BIS library.

Continue reading “EEVEE Shadow Catcher”

How to make a pattern from the single element of the BIS library

A single procedural element from the BIS library can be easily transformed into a repeating pattern.

Let’s get a single circular elemetn from the library and place it in the center of the plane.

Continue reading “How to make a pattern from the single element of the BIS library”

Texture pixelization

The simplest way to pixelate texture, procedural or not – get the color from the single pixel and fill the region with required width and height (resolution) with this color.

Here is the gradient texture with red – green – blue colors:

To pixelate it with the first step of resolution we can make some vectors manipulations.

Continue reading “Texture pixelization”

How to protect your add-on from downloading through aggregators

With the Blender popularity growing, the number of add-ons created for it by third-party developers is growing too. A lot of high-quality professional add-ons are written for Blender now. Over time, the number of add-ons is becoming more and more. And on this wave aggregators appeared – programs and services independently searching for add-ons and allowing Blender users to install add-ons quickly, many at once, and bypassing add-on distribution channels selected by their authors. What caused a negative reaction of add-on developers.

Continue reading “How to protect your add-on from downloading through aggregators”

Changing objects visibility in the viewport and while rendering

The easiest way to hide and show rendering objects is to assign animation keys to them. To do this, move the cursor over the eye icon (visibility in the viewport) or camera (visibility when rendering) in the Outliner window, press the “i” key and then manage the created condition in the Graph Editor like the ordinary animation keys.

But this method is not always available. For example, we cannot assign visibility animation keys for collections, Blender will generate errors like:

“hide_viewport” property cannot be animated

or

“hide_render” property can not be animated

However, using the Blender Python API, we can control the visibility of such objects.

Continue reading “Changing objects visibility in the viewport and while rendering”

Add-on preferences panel

When developing add-ons it is often necessary to give an ability to set a number of parameters that affect the whole add-on work to the user. For example, the user can specify a directory for saving/loading files, set some default variables or switch between add-on modes. Of course, the interface for setting such parameters can be placed in the add-on panel, but it is better to place it in a separate add-on preferences panel, which is located in the “Preferences” window under the add-on installation panel.

The main advantage of the add-on preferences is that they don’t reset when Blender restarts. The user does not need to configure the add-on preferences each time, it’s enough to set the necessary parameters once, personalizing the add-on for convenient work.

Let’s create an add-on and define a parameter, placing it in the add-on preferences panel.

Continue reading “Add-on preferences panel”

Porting add-on from Blender 2.7 to Blender 2.8

In the latest version 2.8 of Blender developers have made many changes in API, so all the scripts and add-ons written for earlier Blender versions (2.7 and below) have stopped working. To run your add-ons in the new Blender 2.8, you need to port them – correct their code to work properly with the new Blender API.

To enable your add-on in Blender 2.80 you have to make the following changes in code:

Continue reading “Porting add-on from Blender 2.7 to Blender 2.8”

Using Microsoft Visual Studio Code as external IDE for writing Blender scripts/add-ons

Blender has its own built-in text editor for writing scripts and add-ons, but it’s much convenient to develop them in external IDEs that provide the user with more features such as autocomplete, syntax highlighting, integration with version control systems and other tools that make development faster and easier.

One of these IDEs is Visual Studio Code from Microsoft. This is a free universal environment that supports development with various programming languages, including the Blender API language – Python.

Continue reading “Using Microsoft Visual Studio Code as external IDE for writing Blender scripts/add-ons”

Tiling procedural textures in Blender

Creating separate elements of procedural textures in Blender is quite simply – find the desired formula, rebuilt it using mathematical nodes, and as a result, get the desired shape. However, textures created this way have one feature – no tiling. Tiling – a cyclic texture duplication, most time is considered harmful, and professional 3D artists try to avoid texture tiling. But sometimes tiling is necessary, for example, when creating patterns or ornaments.

The procedural texture element is always created in a single instance. This is because all the mathematics that forms the actual procedural image is based on the initial data – coordinates that start from 0, spread out to infinity and not repeat. However, the same mathematics helps us to solve this problem.

Continue reading “Tiling procedural textures in Blender”

Creating procedural textures in Blender

All procedural textures in Blender are based on math. Even such irregular structures as “Voronoi” and “Noise” are actually generated according to the mathematical formulas. An exact mathematical algorithm is sewed up into each base material node to obtain the desired image as a result.

We can not specify such algorithms in Blender in the usual mathematical format. However, among other nodes, Blender provides us the “Math” nodes – the wrap over simple mathematical operations. Using these nodes we can build complex mathematical algorithms yourself, generating interesting textures.

Continue reading “Creating procedural textures in Blender”

Learning loops

In general, the “loop” is usually a sequential selection of several points, edges or polygons of a mesh.

However, there is an element in the mesh structure, which is also called a “loop”. It is a combination of one vertex with one edge of the mesh. Let’s try to learn what these “loops” are for.

Continue reading “Learning loops”

How to pass command line arguments to a Blender python script or add-on

When starting Blender from the console it processes all parameters passed through the command line. However, some scripts and add-ons for proper work may require specifying their unique command line arguments. If you specify such additional parameters in the command line, Blender will also try to process them, which is likely to result in an error. Blender provides a special way to exclude such arguments from own processing.

Continue reading “How to pass command line arguments to a Blender python script or add-on”

How to render an object with reflections on a white background

The single object visualization most often is performed on a clear white background. It is difficult to achieve this through the common configuring the scene – increasing the illumination of the scene “lights up” the object, decreasing – the background becomes gray instead of white. If the object itself can be simply rendered on a transparent background and then imposed on white, but what about its reflections?

Let’s consider the way how we can render the object and its reflection on a white background.

Continue reading “How to render an object with reflections on a white background”

Debugging multifile Blender add-on by quick reinstall

It is convenient to use the following system for debugging developing multi-file Blender add-ons. But it has one drawback: modules imported in __init__.py file becomes available only after the file running (after the execution of the register() function). This means that any access to the imported modules before they are registered will cause an error. This is not critical in most cases, but it will cause a problem if, for example, in one imported module is used inheritance from the class, described in the other imported module, because the classes descriptions are processed before the add-on registration.

To get more freedom working with imported modules, we can use another way to debug the add-on – do not run the add-on directly from the development directory, but install it in Blender and check its “live” work. However, manual add-on reinstallation requires a set of routine actions, which complicates such sort of debugging. This issue can be solved by reinstalling the add-on in automatic mode.

Continue reading “Debugging multifile Blender add-on by quick reinstall”

Working with UV-Maps through the Blender API

Active (selected) UV-Map:

Access to the active UV-Map by its name:

Continue reading “Working with UV-Maps through the Blender API”

Rotating texture by nodes

In order to achieve the desired texture mapping on the object surface, we need a convenient tool for manipulating the texture coordinates. Especially for procedural textures mapped to the object without using UV-s.

The “Mapping” node combines tools for texture moving, rotating and scaling is suitable for most of the texturing tasks. But sometimes its power is not enough. Its major drawback is that it allows setting adjustment values only in certain fields within the node body. These fields have no inputs and cannot be connected to the other nodes.

However, we can implement the required functionality devoid of the “Mapping” node lack with the help of some other nodes. Let’s consider how to build a node tree to rotate the texture around the Z-axis of the object by a random value.

Continue reading “Rotating texture by nodes”

Creating pop-up panels with user UI in Blender add-on

In addition to common panels (N/T/Properties) and their sub-panels, to display the user interface elements while developing Blender add-ons you can also use pop-up panels appearing on the screen when a user presses a certain key combination or perform any action. The simplest example of such panels is the panel that appears when the f6 key is pressed immediately after adding an object (shift+a) to the scene.

Blender API provides developers the ability to create such panels for their add-ons. Let’s consider the creating of a pop-up panel as an example of the “Message box” window.

Continue reading “Creating pop-up panels with user UI in Blender add-on”

Modeling with curves: wires and pipes

Creating thin long objects like pipes and wires is the often task in the interior, scientific of fantastic scenes. One of the easiest and most convenient ways to create such objects is using curves.

The main curves advantage is the easiest control and editing: any time you can change the shape of the curve, move its points, add new and delete unnecessary ones. You do not have to work with a lot of mesh points, but only with several points of the curve, which is much more convenient. Preprocessing for rendering scene with curves is also performed faster than with meshes.

Continue reading “Modeling with curves: wires and pipes”