Blender Basics — Getting started with Windows

Introduction

Hey, thanks for dropping in! In this Blender binder series, I’ll dive into one of my favorite Computer Aided Design (CAD) pieces of software, Blender. Blender has so much going for it, it’s crazy that its free. On the surface, Blender is free, open source, and has features found in professional CAD packages: modeling, rigging, animation, photo-realistic rendering, the ability to script your CAD builds in Python, and so much more. So let’s jump in!

The setup

Although Blender is available for Windows, Mac OS, and Linux, the installation here will focus on a Windows operating system. To grab Blender, direct your favorite web browser to Blender’s website. There is a Download button on the front page, in the upper right corner ribbon, or you can simply go here.

Once the download has completed, double-click the executable icon to begin the installation process. Once initiated, the installation is very straightforward. Screenshots of the screen sequences are shown below, oriented in the clockwise manner illustrated by the blue arrow in the center.

Opening Blender for the first time

Congratulations your brand new Blender installation! Let’s go ahead and open the software by double clicking the Blender icon placed on our desktop. When the software opens, we’re greeted with Blender’s pleasing interface and their splash screen.

Since this is our first time opening Blender, we have some decisions to make. Namely Language (we’ll use English), Shortcuts, Select With, Spacebar, and Theme. A short explanation of these are listed below:

  • Language: This is the language the software will run in. A wide number options are available from Abkhaz to Turkish!
  • Shortcuts: This refers to shortcuts, hotkeys, and keymaps built into the software. Options include Blender (default), Blender 27x, and Industry compatible.
  • Select with: This is the mouse button you want to select objects with. The default assumes a right-handed person, and Left is selected by default.
  • Spacebar: This is the functionality of the spacebar within Blender. Options include “Play”, “Tools”, and “Search”. The first option refers to Blender’s animation capabilities, let’s keep it there for now.
  • Theme: This refers to the color scheme for Blender. Options include “Blender Dark”, “Blender light”, “Deep grey”, “Maya”, “Minimal dark”, “Modo”, “Print friendly”, “white”, and “XSI”.

Here’s a quick comparison to illustrate the difference between four different color schemes.

After making our selections, we’re brought to our default screen. We still have a splash screen — we’ll be seeing this screen every time we open Blender. We can simply click off of the splash screen, and that will take us to the main CAD interface. Alternatively, let’s explore what this screen has to offer.

On the left, we have the ability to quickly make different kinds of new Blender structures, including a General file, an animation, sculpt, etc. We also have the ability to open a previous file or to recover the last session! On the right, we can look at the user manual, credits, or we can even look at release notes and donate!

But if we click off the splash screen and simply save the file to our Desktop (File –> Save As –> Desktop –> new.blend) and close Blender, we’ll see that the splash screen changes when we re-open Blender. Now, all of our recent files (including new.blend) show up on the right-hand side of the splash screen. This is incredibly helpful, because we are able to see our recent projects and quickly open whatever we were working on last! That sure beats digging through a folder structure time and time again.

Changing the color scheme

If you’ve accidentally chosen a color scheme you don’t like or you’d like to change it in the future, you can do so very easily. We’ll explore the menus more in depth in future tutorials, but for now:

  • Click Edit –> Preferences. This opens the Blender preferences menu.
  • On the left-hand side of the Preferences menu, click “Themes”.
  • In the resulting window, the pull-down menu in the upper left houses the same themes we saw on our introduction splash screen!
  • Select a different (or the same!) theme — the background and color scheme change automatically.

…and there we have it! We’ve successfully installed Blender, chosen a handful of options for our Blender layout, and chosen a color theme! We then learned how to change the color them of our Blender interface.

Conclusion

In this tutorial, we’ve visited the Blender.org website, downloaded the latest version of Blender, and installed it on our Windows machine. Now we can get going on more fun things — adding objects, manipulating options, and making some pretty graphics!

So what’s next? As you can see, Blender packs an enormous punch and is very, very powerful. There are many things to cover, and we’ll cover them in time. Until then, thank you for dropping by — I appreciate your support! If you’re enjoying the content, please feel free to Like, comment, or subscribe!

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(Header image: Sci fi background by user6702303)

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