03 June 2012

Robert Burke - Precision Modeling Tutorial

I'm a Blender user, so I often spend a lot of time monitoring various Blender related IRC channels on the irc.freenode.net servers (specifically the #BLENDER, #BLENDERCHAT, #BLENDERQA, #BLENDERWIKI).

The IRC channels are an excellent place to get all kinds of useful Blender information, such as tutorials, pictures and blend files of things other Blender users are working on, as well as an excellent place to get advice and help on Blender topics.

While browsing the channels a user posted a link to http://www.rab3d.com. I had never been to this site before so I didn't know what to expect other than there was a very good tutorial on the site. So off I went to check it out and to see if the tutorial that was mentioned was any good.

The site is pretty accurately summed up by the quote on the main home page of the site:

'This web is a log of my hobbies, passions and projects. It will hopefully over time fill up with helpful advice to encourage and inspire others with similar interests'

It's a very cleanly designed site and everything is well organised, making navigation around the site easy. The home page sections each of the different areas of interest, which when I visited included Graphics Tutorials Projects, Engineering CNC Foundry Project, Pottery and Chess Set Project. The section I was there to check out was the Graphics Tutorial Projects, so I didn't spend much time browsing the other sections, and at any rate they seemed to be either incomplete, old or very brief text and picture sections of Robert's other projects.

The Graphics Tutorial Project section of the site however was much more detailed and involved. In this section is a very detailed and clear tutorial. Unlike most Blender tutorials which tend to center around doing arty things like making characters to animate or doing clever things with ray-tracing and textures, this tutorial skips most of that and concentrates instead on the process of producing accurately modelled machine parts (a 608-Bearing and other parts). The tutorial is available on the website and as a offline pdf file. It's a very clear and well paced tutorial going through all the steps and techniques needed to accurately construct the parts stage by stage.

It says on the site that the tutorial is of use to any Blender user not just Engineering types and with the quick glance though the pdf file I downloaded, I thought that was pretty accurate, however I wanted to make sure that this was true. This is a fairly large tutorial (over 150 pages) and it is going to take me quite a while to work my way through the entire tutorial. I have so far made it to about 1 third of the way through the pdf, and in my opinion this is a very good tutorial that any Blender user could pick up and learn from (at least as far a the geometric/constructional side of Blender is concerned).

Here is a screen-shot of my progress so far using the tutorial instructions:

I have no previous CAD/CAM experience, so I am very impressed with the results of this tutorial and this is only 1 third or so through the tutorial as a whole. It even taught me how to do filleted and chamfered corners which I found extremely useful and will mean I fillet and chamfer everything from now on even when I don't need to, just so I can use the techniques!

I will definitely be keeping an eye on www.rab3d.com for any more tutorials (and I certainly hope more are produced), excellent site, very talented man and free! There are publishers of Blender books that you have to pay for that could learn a lot from this site.