How to 3D Render Your Startup Prototype
By Ahmed Khemari
December 16, 2020
Intro by the LaunchX Team:
Over the course of this and the next two posts, we’re going to cover the topic of how to create a 3D rendering of your offering. This immensely valuable topic can create beautiful images (and even videos!) of your prototype for marketing materials, sales presentations, and investor pitches. Renderings allow you to visualize the offering not just in 3D, but with the proper finishes and life-like representation that allow you, your team, your customers, and anyone else you communicate with to immediately understand what value you’re offering. By communicating the value of your offering to customers so quickly, your company becomes more valuable.
These posts were written by LaunchX alum, Ahmed Khemiri.
How to 3D Render your Startup Prototype – Part 1
In the world of 3D modeling software, Blender has already made a pretty good name for itself. World-renowned platforms in the game industry and movie development depend on Blender to create 3D models for low poly and high poly. And why not? It comes with some nifty features after all.
I’ve learned about 3D modeling from various sources, including YouTube. I’ve been at it for a while now, and you could call me a self-taught expert. As I went along with my journey using Blender as a 3D modeling software, I found out how many people were interested to learn about it but found it extremely hard to do so. They were at a loss trying to use Blender for the first time while setting up their brand-new creative startups.
That gave me an idea! I decided to help my fellow launchies with their prototypes and sketches. I founded a club back in my High School and started to teach it there. One thing led to another, and here I am – presenting my very own take on the Blender Tutorial and how to make a 3D render of your prototype using the software.
There are hundreds, if not thousands, of innovative and spectacular features embedded within the software. I’ll only be talking about a few of the basics. So, let’s get right to it!
How to Download Blender
Blender is pretty intuitive when it comes to downloading and installing the software. Click on any of the links below, and you’ll be set.
For Windows – Click Here
For macOS – Click Here
For Linux – Click Here
After you’ve successfully downloaded and installed Blender, launch the software on your computer and jump on to the next section.
Introduction to Blender
Layout: This is where all the action will happen. It’s the primary 3D space that will display all the changes you make to your model.
Scene Collection: This is where all the objects in your scene are listed. You’ll find a cube, a camera, and a light placed on the list.
Properties: This is mainly the action window. All the parameters of the object are conveniently compiled here. You can adjust any parameter of any object and even remove it if you want to. We’ll get into more details about this section later on.
Rotating Around Center: If you are using a mouse, just hold down the middle wheel and then move your mouse in the direction you wish. The whole scene will rotate around the center in that direction.
Movement: If you want to move the scene instead of rotating, hold the Shift key on your keyboard along with the middle wheel on your mouse. Slightly move around your mouse, and the whole scene should be moving as well.
Zoom: The zooming action is quite natural in Blender, much like any other software. Just scroll the mouse wheel up and down to zoom out and zoom in on the scene.
Blender offers two distinct view modes to users, one for 3D objects and the other for 2D. To switch between the two modes, just press 5 on your keyboard Numpad.
Perspective Mode is for 3D objects.
Orthographic Mode enables you to render 2D objects. You can use various keys in the Numpad to look at your 2D model from multiple angles.
Selecting an object in Blender is as simple as moving your mouse cursor over it and right-clicking. An orange outline will appear around the selected object.
Selecting multiple objects at the same time will require you to hold down the Shift key on your keyboard while right-clicking on the desired objects.
Pro Tip – notice how the Properties window changes every time you select a new object. You can adjust the parameters of the object this way!
Blender uses traditional geometric axes for marking landmarks on the 3D space. Any object’s position in the space is denoted by three values – X, Y, and Z.
The X value denotes how far left or right the object is from the center.
The Y value denotes how far up or down the object is from the center.
The Z value denotes how far forward or backward the object is from the center.
As a general rule of thumb, the farther an object is from the center, the greater is the (X, Y, Z) value.
You can access the Transformation panel in Blender by selecting any object and pressing N on your keyboard. This will let you adjust the Scale and Rotation of the object.
While the Position of an object means how far any object is from the center, the Scale denotes how big the object is. On the other hand, Rotation is a parameter that expresses how much the object is rotated from its center in terms of degrees.
Moving, Rotating, and Scaling – all involve holding down the left button on your mouse and sliding it along the X, Y, or Z-axis. Just remember to press G to move, R to rotate, and S to scale.
Saving a Project: Go to File on top of the screen. Click on Save, select the desired directory, type in your desired project name, and tap on the Save button.
Exporting a Scene: Go to File on top of the screen. Click on Export, select the desired file type (either .obj or .fbx), choose your preferred directory, and tap on the Export button.
Importing a Model: Go to File on top of the screen. Click on Import
Besides the premade objects, you can use the objects list to add many more advanced things to your layout.
Just press Shift + A to access the objects list while your mouse cursor is inside the layout window.
Removing: Select the objects and press X. Then click on Delete.
Duplicating: Select the object that you wish to copy. Hold down Shift + D and move your mouse cursor to place the newly copied duplicate object in your desired position. Press Esc on your keyboard once you’ve successfully placed it.
Renaming: Just right click on the object you want to rename and select Rename Active Object. Type in your desired name for the object and hit Enter.
You can also tweak some of the text object’s parameters to make it stand out. Select the Text Object once again and notice the Properties Window. There will be multiple parameters that you can adjust to make the text look cool. The most popular ones include Resolution Preview, Depth, Extrude, Font Size, Font, and Shear.
As a basic frame of reference, Blender sets the anchor point of any object at its Pivot. The Pivot doesn’t necessarily need to be the geometric center of the object, and you can define it to be at any point you want. An orange point generally indicates it.
Pivots are quite useful for 3D modeling. Whenever you move any object or model, you are essentially selecting it from its Pivot. So, if you change the Pivot of an object and move it again, you’ll notice a radical difference in the output.
The 3D Cursor
There is an additional cursor in Blender, beside the regular one, to help you navigate the layout in a 3D space. It’s quite useful once you activate it by pressing the 3D cursor button on the top left.
After enabling the 3D cursor, left-click anywhere on the scene to teleport it to that exact position. However, note that you won’t be able to select any object from the scene while in the 3D cursor mode.
Alternatively, you can press the Shift Key + S on your keyboard to open a new menu. Then select any predefined position from the men to position your 3D cursor there.
You can even change the Pivot of an object using the 3D cursor. Just select the desired mode and then choose Object from the top right. From the drop-down menu, click on Set Origin and then Origin to 3D Cursor. The model Pivot should now be set to the 3D cursor position.
Models in Scene
Hiding: Using the Scene Selection window, you can hide all other objects on your scene except the one you have selected. To do this, just select the models that you want to hide and click on the eye icons next to them.
Disable Selection: If you’re in a situation where you have finished modifying a specific element and have no need to select it anymore, you can Disable Selection for that particular object. To do this, just select the models that you want to disable selection for and click on the arrow icon next to them.
Joining: Sometimes, you might want to join two or more elements together so that they act as a single entity. To do this, select all the objects you want to join together. Right click on them and choose Join.
Now that you can create and join shapes, you can get started making and saving your offering. Next, we’ll cover xyz…