Creating 3D Environments in Blender Review

Learning to Create Environments in Blender will make you a better 3D Artist Pretty Quickly.

We see reality every day, and yet we don’t.  When you study and try to re-create it you learn that what you think you see and what’s actually there are two different things.  Blender is a free tool that will allow you to crack the mold and become a better artist for free, but with Blender and guidance, you’ll rocket past your limits.

**There is an updated adjacent course here that’s really good, but the article holds true for both courses, this one uses the newer version of Blender 2.8+.

  • Having great tools is fun, but without proper guidance, you might not realize the full potential of those tools.  The same is said for any skill you want to master.  Sure, time and practice count for a whole lot, but there’s no substitute for solid guidance, or a great teacher.  Imagine just being given graph paper and a math textbook.  You could read and apply what’s in the book, and maybe learn, but having someone there to frame what’s in the book better can help you really grasp what’s there.

Creating 3D Environments Can Be Deceptively Simple

You can buy paint, an easel, some brushes, and paint.  You might get some great results, but most likely you won’t.  It’s like when you turn on someone like Bob Ross and watch him paint happy little trees, and get inspired.  You also learn some techniques that shortcut your learning curve.  Before you know it, your trees don’t look like sticks and your oceans have some color and life.  It’s like that with 3D as well.

Steps to Creating a 3D Environment

  1. Figure Out a Concept – Inspiration is everywhere, just look around.
  2. Gather References – Go to a park, go online, watch films you love, go to a museum…
  3. Get a Color Palette – This helps with the mood of your piece.
  4. Figure Out Composition and Lighting – This helps refine the mood of your piece.
  5. Block Things Out – Start broad and work the details in.
  6. Refine the Blocking
  7. Model or Gather Set Dressing – This is the details part.
  8.  Assemble and Refine Your Scene
  9. Render It and Post Process It, or Bake It and Export It for Games or Interactive Content

How Beginners Create Environments

These steps are not set in stone but a pretty accepted workflow.  If you are an expert painter, you’ll have a workflow that might lend itself well to this.  The issue will inevitable come when you begin getting technical and fighting the software.

Novices usually just jump in and start modeling.  If you’re a novice, you have a few small wins, then quickly realize that all of the choices that you are making is bringing you down a horrible path.  Your scene looks horrible, and you get frustrated.  You either push through and learn on your own, or give up.  You don’t want to be that person.  It can be frustrating, or worse, depressing, especially if you want to work in this field creating environments for film, tv, games, architecture, or anything else.

How To Beat Past The Roadblocks and Become an Awesome Environment Artist

Having a great teacher can help you navigate the pitfalls of anything, and in this case, 3D Environment creation.  While I teach almost 30,000 students online, having a dedicated course can sky-rocket your success.  The hard part is finding one that’s worth it in the mix or thousands of courses.

That’s where I can help.  I found a course, bought it, and have gone through it.  I can honestly say that it’s one of the BEST courses I’ve ever found for 3D environments.  It’s affordable too, so it’s not a big issue money-wise, which I like, and it uses Blender, which is free.

This course starts off by showing you references of old master painters.  I love this part and watch it every now and then.  While I’m partial to photography, old master painters created amazing work and you can learn a tremendous amount of style technique for games and entertainment.

It then goes on to give you motivation and inspiration.  This is crucial to get you in the right mindset.  If you get amped up, you’ll be more focused and engaged.  This will help you learn faster.

The second part goes into creating a chair in Blender.  The chair is a complex shape, but the instructor breaks it down well for beginners.  He goes over modeling and texturing the chair that you can use forever after making it.  It’s important to realize that unlike painting, once you create in 3D, the assets last forever.

The third part teaches you all about materials in Blender.  Materials are a bit complicated in Blender, but the instructor really breaks it down for you.  You build a test scene and whip up some materials under lighting.  It ends with building another common asset for environments, a fence.

The fourth part gets you to build a simple yet elegant building.  This is crucial to master, because once you do this, things get much easier.  You can build entire villages to put in your scenery with this.

The fifth part goes into much more detailed structures.  These are the churches and inns, but could also be used to modern urban settings as well.  There’s great information in this module, and you’ll watch it a few times.

The sixth part goes into nature.  You can create impressive nature with just Blender, and the instructor also adds in a third-party nature package that really helps, but it’s needed to complete the course.  There are many of these floating around the internet now, so you won’t be locked it.  It’s a nice “to have.”

The seventh part teaches some really cool techniques for creating roads and paths.  This will add depth to your scenes, and a bit of convincing life.  These can be cobble stone or pavement, or even just dirt.  They come out convincing.

The eighth part tackles lighting.  Lighting can make or break a scene, so you’ll want to absorb what he teaches here.  Lighting is usually the last part of the pipeline, but it’s crucial to get right.  He teaches you some tricks to get photo-real lighting setups fast.

The ninth part has you build an entire scene from scratch.  This is where the course really comes together.  You get to practice and refine everything.  It’s the cure for your art-related depression as you’ll see your progress.

Lastly, there are tips and tricks to speed things up and refine your style.

The only thing I don’t like about this course is that the teacher is not a native English speaker and it took me a very small amount of time to get used to his accent, which is pretty cool.  The second thing is that it’s not for Blender 2.8, which is the latest version.  It’s done in Blender 2.79.  For me, this is irrelevant as I’m more concerned with concepts, but a beginner might get a little frustrated.  I believe he’s updating the course but at the moment that’s the only drawback.

I’d honestly say that this is good for any software.  I use Maya and Houdini at work and can apply these techniques to those platforms with ease.  For intermediate artists, this course is a no-brainer.

You can pick it up here if you want.


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