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Blender 3D for Beginners: Create a 3D Vaporwave Animation


Blender 3D for Beginners: Create a 3D Vaporwave Animation

Animating: We'll create a subtle looping animation featuring our Vaporwave statue. Rendering: Lastly, we'll render our final animation in Blender so you can ...

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Blender 3D is an open-source, free-to-use software that offers a comprehensive suite of tools for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, and more. For beginners, diving into Blender can be overwhelming due to its vast array of features and complex interface. However, with patience and practice, you can create stunning animations, such as a vaporwave-themed 3D animation. Vaporwave is a microgenre of electronic music and an Internet meme that emerged in the early 2010s. It's characterized by its nostalgic and surreal aesthetics, often featuring retro-futuristic elements, neon colors, and glitch art. In this guide, we'll walk through the steps to create a simple vaporwave animation in Blender.

Step 1: Setting Up Blender

First, download and install Blender from the official Blender website. Once installed, open Blender. You'll be greeted with the default startup file, which includes a camera, a light, and a default cube.

Navigation Basics

Before we start, let's go over some basic navigation controls:

  • Middle Mouse Button (MMB): Rotate the view.
  • Shift + MMB: Pan the view.
  • Scroll Wheel: Zoom in and out.
  • Numpad 1: Front view.
  • Numpad 3: Side view.
  • Numpad 7: Top view.

Getting comfortable with these controls will make the modeling process much smoother.

Step 2: Creating the Base Scene

Deleting the Default Cube

To create a vaporwave scene, we'll start with a clean slate. Select the default cube by right-clicking on it (left-click if you’ve configured Blender to use left-click select), and press X to delete it.

Adding a Plane

Press Shift + A to bring up the Add menu, and select Mesh > Plane. This plane will act as the ground of our scene. Press S to scale the plane, and then type 10 to make it larger. Press Enter to confirm the scaling.

Adding a Torus

Next, we'll add a torus to our scene. Press Shift + A, and select Mesh > Torus. Scale the torus by pressing S and dragging the mouse, or type 2 to double its size. Position the torus slightly above the plane by pressing G (for grab/move) and then Z to move it along the Z-axis. Move it up until it sits above the plane.

Step 3: Creating the Vaporwave Aesthetic

Adding Neon Lights

Vaporwave is known for its neon lights and vibrant colors. Let's add some neon lights to our torus. Select the torus, go to the Material tab (the sphere icon in the Properties panel), and click "New" to create a new material. Name the material "Neon."

Change the Surface type from "Principled BSDF" to "Emission." This will make the material emit light. Set the color to a bright neon pink or purple by clicking on the Base Color and choosing a color from the color wheel. Increase the Strength value to make the emission stronger, giving it a glowing effect.

Adding a Grid Texture to the Plane

The ground in a vaporwave scene often features a grid pattern. To create this effect, we'll use a grid texture. Select the plane, go to the Material tab, and create a new material. Name it "Grid."

Change the Surface type to "Emission" to give it a glowing effect. Next, go to the Shading workspace by selecting it from the top menu. This opens the Shader Editor. With the plane selected, you'll see the material nodes.

Add a new texture node by pressing Shift + A, selecting Texture > Checker Texture, and connecting the Color output of the Checker Texture node to the Color input of the Emission node. This will give the plane a grid-like appearance.

Adjusting the Grid Size

To adjust the grid size, add a Mapping node and a Texture Coordinate node. Connect the UV output of the Texture Coordinate node to the Vector input of the Mapping node, and then connect the Vector output of the Mapping node to the Vector input of the Checker Texture node.

Adjust the Scale values in the Mapping node to change the size of the grid squares. A value of 10 for both X and Y works well for a vaporwave grid.

Step 4: Setting Up the Camera and Lighting

Positioning the Camera

Select the camera from the outliner or by right-clicking on it in the viewport. Press Numpad 0 to switch to the camera view. Press G to move the camera and R to rotate it until you find a good angle that captures both the torus and the grid plane.

Adding Lighting

Good lighting is essential for any 3D scene. For a vaporwave look, we'll use an HDRI (High Dynamic Range Image) for ambient lighting and a couple of point lights for emphasis.

Adding an HDRI

Go to the World tab (the globe icon in the Properties panel). Click the small dot next to Color and select Environment Texture. Click "Open" and load an HDRI image. You can find free HDRI images online on sites like HDRI Haven. This will provide realistic lighting and reflections.

Adding Point Lights

Press Shift + A, select Light > Point, and place it above and to the side of the torus. Set the color to a complementary neon color, like blue or green, and increase the Power to around 1000 to make it bright. Duplicate this light (Shift + D) and place the duplicate on the opposite side of the torus, changing its color to add variety.

Step 5: Animating the Scene

Animating the Torus

To animate the torus, select it and go to frame 1 in the timeline. Press I to insert a keyframe, and choose Rotation. Move to frame 250 (or any frame number for the duration you want), rotate the torus along the Z-axis, and insert another keyframe.

Animating the Camera

Animating the camera can add more dynamism to your scene. Select the camera, go to frame 1, press I, and insert a keyframe for Location and Rotation. Move to a later frame, change the camera's position and rotation, and insert another keyframe. This will create a smooth camera movement.

Step 6: Rendering the Animation

Render Settings

Go to the Output tab (the printer icon in the Properties panel). Set the resolution to 1920x1080 for HD quality and choose an output folder for your rendered frames. Change the file format to PNG or another preferred format.

Rendering the Frames

Go to the Render menu and select Render Animation. Blender will render each frame and save it to the specified folder.

Compiling the Frames into a Video

After rendering the frames, you can compile them into a video using Blender's Video Sequence Editor or any video editing software of your choice.

Conclusion

Creating a vaporwave animation in Blender is a fun and rewarding project that allows you to explore various aspects of 3D modeling, texturing, lighting, and animation. By following this guide, you should have a basic understanding of Blender's workflow and tools, enabling you to create your unique vaporwave scenes and animations. Remember, the key to mastering Blender is practice and experimentation. Don't be afraid to try new things and make mistakes, as each project will improve your skills and confidence. Happy blending!

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