Blender’s Mirror Modifier + Cutting an Object

Let’s learn how to use a basic modifier that we is often used when making 3D low poly art in Blender.

To follow along hands-on, create a new project in Blender containing a Cube. Expand the Properties window (covered here) by clicking and dragging its left edge. Select the wrench icon to open the Object Modifiers context.   

The Mirror Modifier can help you save time when creating art. You can make half of an art piece and use the Mirror modifier to generate the second half.

Dividing an Object in Half in Blender

Let’s split Cube in half. Enter Edit Mode (covered here). Hit Control+R. Double-click on the edge loop to divide Cube.

Enter Face Mode. Delete the right side of faces. Half a cube will remain in the Viewport.

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Blender’s Mirror Modifier

Enter Object Mode. In the Properties window, press Add Modifier. Select “Mirror” from the “Generate” list.

Unselect X from the “Axis” list that appears in the Properties window. Select Y. This will mirror the cube in the scene in the Y axis. Any modifications you make to the original side of the cube will mirror on the other side.

Enter Edit Mode. Extrude the outer face of Cube. Scale the face down. Extrude it outwards. As evident, the other side of Cube will also scale.

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The edge loop between the cube and its mirror is a separation. To fix this, select “Clipping” from the “Options” list in Properties. To apply the mirror, enter Object Mode. Press Apply in Properties. The cube and its mirror will be one combined object.

Enter Edit Mode. If you edit one side of Cube, the other side will not change!

If you want to learn more about Blender and making digital art, join our course Make Low Poly 3D Environment Models in Blender and Unity®.

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Blender’s Frequently Used Tools

Extrude in Blender

One frequently used tool of Blender is the Extrusion tool. Extrusion duplicates vertices while keeping the new geometry connected to the original vertices. An outward extrusion outsets existing geometry. An inward extrusion insets existing geometry.

Let’s look at a hands-on example. To follow along, create a new Blender project.

Select the top face of the Cube on the screen. Hit E, and pull up the face on an axis. To choose an axis, you can hit X, Y, or Z.

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Edge Loops in Blender

To cut the cube in half, you can create an edge loop running through Cube’s center. Hit Control+R. If you hover your mouse over Cube, a pink square will appear in the middle of Cube. Click once to set the axis.

You can still slide around the edge loop because we have not yet set the position of the edge loop. Choose a position, and click again.

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To cut Cube evenly in half by default, hit Control+R, and double-click on Cube. You can make more than one edge loop at a time to split Cube into even pieces.

Hit Control+R. Hover above the pink square where you want your edge loop to be. Scroll up to increase the number of edge loops.

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To remove the edges, hit X. A drop-down menu will appear, giving you multiple options for removing the edges. If you choose “Edges”, the edges and the faces they are touching will disappear.

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Instead, choose “Dissolve Edges”. The edge loops will dissolve.

Select a vertex of Cube. Hit X, and choose “Dissolve Vertices”. The vertex and its connected edges will dissolve. If you select Delete Vertex, the vertex and its connected faces will disappear.

Fill in a Deleted Face

Let’s look at how to fill in a deleted face. Delete one face of Cube.

Enter Edge Mode. Hit Alt, and select one of the edges of the empty face. If you hold Alt, all 4 faces surrounding the edge will become selected. Hit F to fill in the face.

Enter Edit Mode. To select the entire cube, double-hit A. To duplicate Cube, hit Shift+D. Hit Y, and drag your mouse to move the duplicate on the Y axis.

Cube is duplicated, but its duplicate is still part of the Cube object because we duplicated it in Edit Mode.

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If you double-hit A, both cubes will be selected. Instead, enter Face Mode, and hit L. Then you can click on your desired faces to select them.

Delete Cube’s Duplicate. Enter Object Mode. Duplicate Cube again. Now the duplicate will be its own object rather than part of Cube. To combine the cubes, select both and hit Control+J.

To separate the cubes, hit Tab to enter Edit Mode. Hit P. A drop-down menu will appear, giving you options for separating the cubes.

If you select one cube, you can choose Separate > Selection. Otherwise, you can choose Separate > By loose parts.

Blender’s Snap Mode

The Snap tool allows you to align objects. Hit Shift+Tab to enable Snap Mode. Alternatively, click on the magnet icon below the Viewport. When you move Cube, it will snap according to the grid in the Viewport.

To move Cube within the grid spaces, hold Shift as you move Cube. Hit Shift+Tab to disable Snap Mode.

Enter Edit Mode. Another tool option you can use is to resize more than one vertex at a time. Hit Control+Tab. Enter Vertex Mode. Select a vertex of Cube.

Turn on proportional editing mode by hitting O. You can move your mouse to increase the vertex. If you scroll up with your mouse, the vertex and its surrounding areas will resize.

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Want to learn more? Check out our Create 6 low poly rock models in Blender for 3D environments course!

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Blender’s Numpad, Modes and Modifying Objects

Blender’s Numpad Camera

Let’s look at Blender’s abilities when the Numbpad setting is turned on. In a new Blender project, let’s turn on Numpad. Go to File > User Preferences. Open the Input tab.

Enable the Emulate Numpad setting if you are using a laptop or other device that does not have a Numpad. The Numpad controls the viewpoints for our program.

Changing Perspective Mode in Blender

At the top left corner of the Viewport, if there is the text “User Persp”, you are in User Perspective Mode. 

In the following example image, we have a Blender project that contains a Cube. With the Numbpad on, you can press 1 to view the cube in the Viewport in Front Perspective. Hit 3 to view another side of Cube (Right Perspective). Hit 7 to enter Top Perspective and see Cube from a top view.

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Hit 5 to enter Orthographic Mode. In this mode, the objects in the Viewport are in a more fixed depth setting. Hit 5 to enter back into Perspective Mode.

The cube will break through the grid and not be perfectly line. This occurs because the face facing the camera is closer to the camera. It will appear to be larger than the face farther away. Hit 5 to enter User Perspective Mode.

Deleting an Object in Blender

To delete an object, ensure that the 3D View’s header states that you are in Object Mode. If you are in Edit Mode, hit Tab to enter Object Mode. Select the object by right-clicking on it in the 3D View. Hit Delete twice on your keyboard.

Object Manipulation in Blender

Let’s look at Blender’s basic object manipulation controls. To know the orientation of a selected object, you can check the axes icon at the bottom left-hand corner of the Viewport. To move Cube in one axis only, click and drag that axis’ arrow that protrudes from Cube in the Viewport. To undo an action, hit Command+Z.

Scale an Object in Blender

To scale Cube, hit S. Then you can pull your mouse away from the object to increase its size, or pull your mouse towards the object to decrease its size. To scale Cube on one axis, hit S to turn scaling on. Then hit Z to scale Cube only on the Z axis. You can hit X or Y to scale Cube on the X or Y axis.

Rotate an Object in Blender

To rotate Cube, hit R. To rotate Cube on one axis, hit R to turn rotating on. Then hit Z to rotate Cube only on the Z axis. You can hit X or Y to rotate Cube on the X or Y axis. 

Different Modes in Blender

To edit Cube, hit Tab to enter Edit Mode. Alternatively, you can click on the drop-down menu that has “Object Mode” below the Viewport. Then you can choose “Edit Mode”.

Hit Control+Tab. Select “Vertex” from the drop-down menu to enter Vertex Mode. You may already have been in Vertex Mode by default. Vertex Mode selects one vertex of Cube. You can move the vertex on any axis to change Cube’s appearance. Vertex Mode allows you to manipulate individual vertices of an object.

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To select an edge of Cube, hit Control+Tab. Select “Edge”. Click on one of Cube’s edges. You can move the edge to modify the shape of Cube.

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To enter Face mode, hit Control+Tab. Select “Face”. You can move a face, which will modify the shape of Cube.

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Those are the basic controls you need to know to modify objects in Blender. Want to learn more? Enrol in our Blender – Create 5 low poly swords for 3D character models course.

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What is Blender? How to Change Preferences + Interface Explained

Introduction to Blender

Blender is a user-friendly, free 3D modelling program that is you can easily download online. If you have experience using 3D programs such as Maya, learning to use Blender will be simple.

Blender is intuitive and nearly as powerful. Even if you have zero experience, Blender is a great place to begin learning 3D modelling.

Changing Blender Preferences

You can modify Blender’s settings to our desired controls. Go to File > User Preferences. Open the Input tab. Blender’s default for selection is Right click. You can change this to Left.

Enable the Emulate Numpad setting if you are using a laptop or other device that does not have a Numpad. The Numpad controls the viewpoints for our program.

Go to 3D View > 3D View (Global). Choose the hotkey Shift F for View Selected and View Navigation. With a hotkey, you can quickly perform a behavior. To change a hotkey, click on the tab with the current hotkey. Then pressyour desired hotkey, Shift F.

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Save your settings, and close the window. Those are the basic changes we will make to Blender. These controls are now like Maya’s. You can make more changes if you desire.

Blender Camera Controls

Let’s go over the camera controls for Blender. To follow along hands-on, create a new project in Blender.

Blender is set up in a similar fashion to the game development platform Unity. The left window is the Tool Shelf. It contains items or “primitives” that you can create. The center screen displays the scene. This window is known as the 3D View or Viewport.

The right window contains information about the item currently selected. The top right window is the Outliner. The bottom right window is the Properties. The bottom window is the header for the 3D View.

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A default Blender project contains a grid, camera, light, and cube. To zoom in on the cube, scroll the Middle Mouse (MM) wheel on your mouse. To orbit around the cube, hold Middle Mouse Button (MMB).

To pan left and right or up and down in the window, hold Shift+MMB. Drag your cursor in the direction to which you want to pan.  

When you perform a transformation on an object, such as movement, you can press the Left Mouse Button (LMB) to confirm the action or Right Mouse Button (RMB) to undo it.

Note that there are other ways to pan, zoom, and move around the 3D View.

Want to learn more about Blender? You should enrol in our Zero to Hero Blender Course: Make 7 low poly trees for games.

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