LEGO bricks and Blender

LEGO bricks and Blender

Blender is a free modelling software suite that can be used to create 3D models. It is popularly used to make digital LEGO brick scenes and animations.

Introduction to Blender

Blender is free 3D software that can be used to almost do anything digital 3D. Since its first version was released way back in 1998, it has been developed into a professional suite that competes with paid 3D modelling software such as Maya and Autodesk 3ds Max.

Blender 3D logo
The offcial Blender 3D logo.

The latest version of Blender at the time of writing this post is 3.2.

Blender for 3D modelling, shading & rendering

One of the main features of Blender is its 3D modelling, shading, and rendering capabilities.

3D modelling tools include working with solids, meshes, lines, and faces. Models can be enhanced further by sculpting, using cutting tools and by adding various useful modifiers.

After modelling has been completed, Blender can use various realistic or cartoon shaders to bring texture and colour to the design. Shadows, highlights and backgrounds can also easily be created.

The final result of a 3D model can be rendered out as a single image or as an animation with multiple images.

Blender for rendering LEGO designs

Blender is compatible with many ‘LEGO design’ file formats. Popular file formats to use are Collada and OBJ files. Mecabricks (popularly used to build digital LEGO brick models) also made their own file format exporter available for download on their shop page.

Although not the easiest and, in some cases, the most realistic way, Blender can be used in various ways for creating great-looking LEGO renders, animation and brickfilms. It has extensive timeline functionality to which cameras, curves events, and frames can be assigned.

Cycles is the most comprehensive and supported rendering engine used for LEGO bricks.

Hardware & software requirements for Blender

Blender install files for Windows (32/64 bit), Mac (64 bit), Linux (32/64 bit) and Steam can be downloaded and is easy to install.

Blender can be used with, or without, a 3D graphics card (GPU). Multiple GPUs can be used simultaneously to speed up renderings. CUDA, used by Nvidia graphic cards, is supported on all available operating systems. AMD graphic cards using OpenGL are supported in Windows and Linux.

Learning resources for Blender

Although Blender has a steep learning curve, there are a plethora of free and paid online resources to get started with. Some of the resources we use include:

Conclusion

Although Blender has a steep learning curve, it is a great, free professional tool for creating digital 3D assets, games, images and animations. It works well with most digital LEGO brick building platforms.

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