Blender, if you’re not familiar, is a free (open source) 3d program. I’ve dipped my toes into blender every few years but it started life with a painful interface (in fact many 3d programs have awful awful interfaces, why – for example – does zbrush put it’s standard menu – file, edit, window, etc in ALPHABETICAL order? madness)

By Blender version 2.8 they’d normalised the interface to something most people would recognise, and I’ve – lately – been pouring more time in to learning it.

If you do 3d in comics at all, you’re probably more familiar with sketchup – sketchup is a brilliantly easy way to build simple 3d models, but it’s ownership has changed hands a number of times (build – ironically – first by a company called @Last Software, then bought by google who made it free, then by Trimble softeware who stopped making it free).

You can still get a free Sketchup, but, largely, it’s hard to find and many people spring for the licence which gives you more features as well as ways to convert sketchup 3d models into other forms.

I’ve been on a bit of a crusade to pursued comic artists to move from sketchup to blender, primarily because it’s cheaper (nothing is cheaper than free, right?), but also I think, more powerful.

In the process of learning sketchup I’ve been following a few youtube videos, firstly, this guy:


Who does a lot of gaming/blender tutorials, building low-poly (ie simple) models in 10 minutes. Which strikes me as the right balance between I NEED TO BUILD A 3D MODEL and I DON’T WANT TO SPEND ALL DAY BUILDING A 3D MODEL.

Blender relies fairly heavily on the keyboard and he says the keys as he’s using them so you very quickly get a sense of how fast you can build when you’re familiar with it (keys you’ll learn : E to extrude, I to insert – you’ll hear those a LOT)

I watched a bunch of these just to get a feel for blender (he’s on video 57 of Build a low poly thing in 10 minutes, which means he’s done it over a number of versions of blender, so i’d start with the later videos to see what it looks like at the moment, before going earlier)

Also this is a good youtube video, take copious notes!

Another great youtuber is Ian Hubert – Hubert makes “lazy tutorials” how to build buildings super quick, very lazily but with lots of details. While Hubert’s focus is for indie filmmakers, there’s lots of good stuff in there.

In my experience, I’ve pretty much avoided worrying about textures, instead focusing on building objects with enough shape so that I can see what they are. I’m still figuring out the best way to work with textures. The end results I’m after are a 3d model I can bring into clip studio (blender saves models in its own .blend format by default) as an OBJ file and put in a scene, I then use clip studios LT render to convert the 3d to simple piece of line art (I like to work this way because it’s super high resolution and I can move the model around on the artwork making it less hit and miss than, say, grabbing a screen shot of a 3d model and drawing over it).

One final youtuber is this guy Paul O Caggegi whose focus is on making comics and using Blender.

There’s lots of free models on sketchfab, and some you can pay for too. If you’re doing wwii stuff it’s pretty darn useful.

I’m still digging my way through it, but largely I’ve been pretty happy with some of the stuff I’ve done, both editing sketchfab models I’ve downloaded and creating whole new things for the new Chimpsky strip I’m working on.