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Tutorial – Cutting holes in meshes using Boolean Modifier

Can’t cut the holes in the meshes ? Use Boolean Modifier.

Boolean Modifier is at your rescue. Modelling in blender can be a long and tedious work, but there are places where the process can be simplified. If you have ever attempted to model a gun, furniture or any other object you must have spent some time figuring, how to cut holes through your mesh.

There are of course many ways to deal with this, but I find the Boolean modifier an easy and effective way of achieving results. However, the Boolean modifier is by no means the one click solution, and there are some niggles left to be sorted out.

In this brief tutorial we will explain how to use the Boolean modifier to cut holes in our mesh. We will also deal with the correction of the mesh flow in the second part.

To keep the tutorial simple we will attempt to cut a hole through a simple cube.

So lets get started.

Requirements:

Time : 10-15 minutes

Software : Blender 2.79 or higher.

Part 1: The Cutout

  • Select the default ‘Cube’ and move it to the left(hitG’ after selection, then ‘Y’ and then ‘-4’).

Note : This will move the cube to the left.

  • Now press ‘Shift+A’ and then selectCylinder’ from the mesh menu.

Note : You can experiment with other shapes, but in this tutorial we will be using the cylinder to cut a hole in the object.

Boolean 1

  • In the mesh settings of the cylinder, change the vertices count from 32 to 8.

Note : It is advisable to keep the vertices count to a minimum while using Boolean operations because smaller the count of vertices lesser time it takes once the modifier is applied.

Boolean 2

Change the display type of the Cylinder to wire frame because it is easier to see how the cylinder effects our cube.

  • So go to the Object settings in the Properties panel
  • Under Display change the ‘Maximum draw type’ from ‘Textured’ to ‘Wire’.

Boolean 3

  • This is what the Cylinder should look like.

Boolean 4

  • Scale the cylinder on the ‘X’ and ‘Y’ axis by pressingS’ and then ‘Shift+Z’.
  • Then scale it only on the ‘Z’ axis so that the cylinder is longer than the cube( Note : it has to go right through the cube to cut out the hole).

Boolean 5

  • Grab the cylinder using ‘G’ and then move it to the center of the cube.
  • Now the select the cube(always select the object you want the cut through).
  • Go to the Modifier menu and select ‘Boolean‘.
  • Use the Picker icon and select the cylinder.
  • And finally set the type to ‘Difference’.

Boolean 6

Now we can see the active cut out of the cylinder through the cube.

Boolean 7

  • Once you have the position of the cut out you need, go ahead and apply the ‘Boolean’ modifier.

Boolean 8

Part 2 : Observing the mesh structure

  • In edit mode we now have the cube with the cut out, but as the result of the modifier our mesh surface is divided into N-gons(n-gons are faces joined with five or more vertices).

Note : Ideally a meshes should be made of Quads (faces made of 4 vertices).

Below is an image of the cube right now with the SubSurf modifier.

Boolean 9

It is easy to see that there something is definitely wrong with our mesh, check image below to see understand the correct form of the object.

Boolean 10

Part 3 : Correcting the mesh

Objective : Make both surfaces of the cube with the cut out, to be divided into quads.

We will be using the knife tool to cut through the surface and join the vertices.

  • Select the knife tool, then select the vertices which are on the center of the inner circle.

Note : When you drag the cursor away from the selected vertices a red line will appear from that point.

  • Drag this point to the edge of the cubes surface and press ‘Enter’ at your desired point(You will immediately see a new edge being created).
  • Repeat this until you have an edge joining every vertices on the circle to the edge of the cube.

Knife tool tip: When dragging the edge, pressC’ to constraint the knife tool to the corresponding axis.

This should be our final result : A mesh with cutout and proper mesh flow.

Boolean 11

After rendering my model looks like this.

Boolean final

 

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Tutorial-Create a 3D book image using Blender v2.79+

For all the Blender beginners out there, here is a complete step-by-step guide to create a 3D book.

Requirements: Cover image of any book(Front, back and spine as one complete image).

3D book

Software: Blender.

Skill level: Easy (basic knowledge of Blender’s interface and navigation controls required)

NoteBefore beginning with the tutorial, make a note of the cover dimensions (Front cover and spine).

Part 1: Modelling the book.

  • Open Blender and select the cube (it will be our model for the book) and press ‘N’ to open the Cube’s properties panel.  
  • Change the value of X as the width of the front cover, and Y to the height. The value of Z will be the spine.

Note : The cover size I have chosen is 5.5 X 8.5 with 0.5 as the spine.

Properties panel

  • After entering values, select the cube and press ‘S’ and type 0.5. This is to reduce the book size by half so it fits better in our scene.

Part 2: Wrapping the cover image on the created model

We now have  to separate the front, spine and back from cube so we can place our cover image.

    • Press ‘TAB’  to enter into Edit mode.
    • Then hit ‘Z’  to view the model in Wireframe Mode.

This is what you should be able to see.

  • Now hit ‘CTRL + TAB’ to open mesh selection type.
  • Select ‘Face’ option.

 

    • Hit ‘5’ to change to orthographic view. Then hit ‘7’ for top view. Select the Top facing side (this will be the front cover).
    • Hit ‘CTRL + 3’ to view the left side, hold shift+right click to select the side which is to be the spine.
    • Then hit ‘CTRL + 7’ for bottom view and Select the face holding shift again.

You should have the following selection of the mesh.

  • Now hit ‘P’ and select ‘Selection’.

  • We have now separated our original mesh into two(cube and cube 001).
  • Go to the Outliner panel on the top right corner of the window, and rename the cube as Pages and cube 001 as Cover.
  • Leave the book cover mesh selected.

UV Unwrap mesh to image

Now we will Unwrap the mesh called Cover so we can place our cover image.

  • Hit ‘TAB’ to go Edit mode again.
  • Hit ‘A’ to select the whole mesh.
  • Then hit ‘U’ and select ‘Unwrap’.

Applying Material to the cover

  • To do that, selectCover’ mesh.
  • Then change the render engine from ‘Blender Render‘ to ‘Cycles Render‘.

  • Select the mesh ‘Cover’ and click on the Materials symbol in the properties panel on the right.
  • Rename the material as ‘Cover’ and select ‘Diffuse BSDF’ texture.

  • Click the Grey dot next to the Color box and choose ‘Image Texture‘ from the menu.

  • Click on Folder icon and import your cover image file.

  • Once the material is set for the cover, next select the mesh ‘Pages’ from the outliner window.
  • Rename the material to ‘Pages‘.
  • For Surface choose ‘Diffuse BSDF‘ shader option
  • For Color, select an off-white color for the pages.

Lets look at what we have now:

  • Click on the mesh preview type and selectTexture’.

Now we can see that the cover is wrapped around our mesh, but the position is a bit off. Lets rectify this.

  • Divide the window and open the UV image editor in the second window.
  • Hit ‘TAB’ to go into Edit mode.
  • In the UV editor click on open and select our book cover image as selected below.

The Editor shows us the the current position of the wrapping.

  • To wrap it properly, we can select individual vertices or edges and move them by hittingG’.

The image below shows us the correct position of our unwrapping.


We now have our book ready and wrapped.

Part 3: Lighting

Before adding the light source, let us position the book at the center.

  • HitG’ and align the book with the grid floor.
  • HitCTRL + S’ and reposition the 3D cursor to the centre.

  • First we will add a floor, holdShift+A’ and from the mesh menu select ‘Plane‘.
  • HitS’ and type in ‘10‘.
  • Name the plane as ‘floor’.
  • Add another plane the same way, but increase its size by 3. This will be our single light source.

The scene we are attempting is fairly basic so we will use just a single light setup.

  • Hit1‘ to go to front view.
  • To position the camera holdCtrl + Alt + 0’.
  • Select the light source and position it above the floor and book mesh.
  • Select the materials from the properties menu.
  • HitUse Nodes’ and selectEmission’ as the shader and set the strength to ’20’.

You can experiment with these values.

Note: Delete the default lamp in the scene by selecting it and then pressing ‘X’.

The image below shows us the result.

Part 4: Rendering

Next we will have to set the render settings.

  • Click on the camera icon and and enter the settings as shown in the images below.
  • Also enter the values for the sampling.

  • I have set the floor material to ‘Glossy’ with a roughness of 0.1. and the world color to an off-white shade.
  • Now hit the ‘Render’ button.
  • You will have the result as shown below.
  • Press ‘F3’ to save the image.

Thats it !! Now you can play around with different camera angles to get your perfect shot.

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