OT: Carrara-izing Blender

JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
edited December 1969 in Carrara Discussion

First I want to make a disclaimer: this thread is completely off topic, and is a discussion of other, non-Carrara software. I only post this because it relates to Carrara for those who might use other software like Blender together with Carrara for certain functions and features that Carrara might not have.

If you tend to dislike discussions of other software, especially if comparison to Carrara are mentioned, please stop reading this thread.

For others, I will try to make enough negative comments about Blender in this discussion so nobody feels like I’m saying Blender is the best software and Carrara isn’t. No software is perfect, and there’s no need to take offense at discussions of inanimate software. And no, I am not trying to “sell” Blender to anyone, just providing a service for those who might enjoy having another set of features at their disposal.

For those who are unfamiliar with Blender, it is a free and full-featured software that has some very well-implemented and high level features that aren't available in Carrara. It provides an opportunity to integrate your Carrara character work with stuff like fluids and smoke and fire and a whole range of other "professional" features.

Now, on occasion someone here mentions Blender and how difficult the interface is compared to Carrara. I tend to agree, at least in certain areas. When a new, Carrara-based user opens Blender, IMO, it doesn’t respond intuitively in some very basic aspects.

However, you can do a lot to customize Blender, and with a few fairly simple steps make it more intuitive and Carrara-like. This thread is intended to give some ideas on some ways I have customized Blender to make it more intuitive…at least for me. Forgive me if I miss some stuff. I did a lot of this customization years ago, so I’m real rusty on what’s native Blender and what’s customized.

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Comments

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited July 2015

    Basic Similarities

    First, there really are a lot of similarities between the two apps, at least in the default layouts. Here are two images of both apps with a simple scene. Note that both apps have some sort of toolbars along the left side, as well as the familiar text menus across the top. Also both have the typical 3D View, and a sequencer along the bottom. And on the right hand side, both have an Instances (aka, “Outliner” in Blender) panel, and a “Properties” panel (same title in both apps). Visually, they look very much alike. And keep in mind that, for the most part, all 3D apps do pretty much the same thing, so you can expect Blender to have most of the same basic features as Carrara. The only challenge is finding how and where they are located and used. But really, with just a little familiarizing and tweaking, you should feel fairly comfortable with the Blender basics.

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  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    Basic Differences

    One of the problems is that Blender relies heavily on keyboard shortcuts. And that’s fine if Blender is your main software and you use it regularly. However, for someone who jumps around multiple apps on a regular basis, trying to remember keyboard shortcuts and different mouse operations is a huge pain in the butt. It annoys the heck out of me. So there are some limitations in how Carrara-like you can make it, since you need to use SOME keyboard shortcuts for common operations, but there are also ways around some of that. That being said, you can make Blender very similar to Carrara with just a few tweaks.

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    View Manipulation

    Now, IMO, the biggest difficulty that a new user will face when opening Blender is that there seems to be no easy way to pan/zoom/rotate the view. With Carrara there are those nifty icons on the left side toolbar. No matter what view you’re in, you just click on one of those buttons and you can easily move the view. With Blender there are no pan/zoom/rotate buttons. You need to use the mouse MMB and the shift/CTRL keys. To me that is the biggest counter-intuitive annoyance with Blender. But as far as I know, there is no way around it. So you’ll need to remember that you rotate by click/drag the MMB, pan with shift/MMB, and zoom by scrolling the mouse wheel. There is also a “fly” mode for navigating the scene, and I might discuss that later.

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  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited July 2015

    Selections

    Now, the next big annoyance in Blender is that you select stuff with the RMB. And as we all know, the rest of the world selects stuff with the LMB. Luckily, there’s a way to change that. You can select a Maya or 3DSMax input preset. To do that, just go to File/User Preferences/Input, and the very first option is “Presets”. Just select 3DSMax (or Maya) from the dropdown. Personally, I use the 3DSMax preset because it also defaults the rotation to “turntable” (similar to Carrara) instead of the super annoying “trackball”.

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  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    View to Selection

    Another Carrara feature I use constantly is the “View to Selection”, (shortcut: 0 key). Select an object, hit the “0” key, and no matter what view you’re in, it instantly centers your view on the object. I can’t survive without it. However, if you hit “0” in Blender you jump into Camera view. The correct key for “View to Selection” in Blender is the period key. So you have a couple of choices. Either you can re-map those shortcut keys to match Carrara (File/User Preferences/Input) or do what I do, which is use the vertical Navigation tab along the left side of the 3D view. There’s a button for “View to Selected”, as well as some other quick navigation buttons (including jumping to Camera View). Personally, I try to avoid re-mapping shortcut keys because it can get kind of confusing, especially when viewing others’ tutorials and stuff. And that brings up another point…

    Shortcut keys

    Blender is extremely customizable, so if you need to re-map any shortcut keys to be more like Carrara, you can probably do it (File/User Preferences/Input). In fact it would be cool if someone could sit down sometime and build a Carrara shortcut key preset file.

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  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    Camera View

    Blender’s default is a rather insane notion that camera view manipulation is somehow different from other views. As an example, if you are in camera view mode and try to manipulate the camera’s view (rotate, translate, etc.), the view instantly jumps out of camera view and into User Perspective (similar to Director’s Camera) view. Which implies you can only manipulate the camera and its view by awkwardly manipulating the camera from an external view (by looking AT the camera, not THRU its lens), then jumping back to camera view to see if you got it right. Crazy. But thankfully, that was fixed a few years ago. Now all you have to do is select the camera, hit the “n” key, and under the “View” dropdown select the “Lock Camera to View” option.

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    Manipulators

    One thing I love most about Carrara and others is they had implemented the idea of object manipulators long before other apps. And I LOVE manipulators. You know, the translate/rotate/scale thingies that show up when you select an object. Blender now has those, and even does Carrara one step better. You can choose to have all three manipulators appear simultaneously in Blender, instead of having to select each manipulator button individually in Carrara. Just shift-select the manipulator buttons as shown below.

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  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    So, to summarize so far, here are my suggestions for Blender tweaks:

    1. REMEMBER: Rotate view by click/drag the MMB, pan with shift/MMB, and zoom by scrolling the mouse wheel.
    2. Select 3DSMax input preset
    3. Use Navigation tab, "View to Selection"
    4. Select each camera, hit the “n” key, and under the “View” dropdown select the “Lock Camera to View” option
    5. Shift-select the manipulator buttons to have all manipulators appear simultaneously

    Those suggestions should put you a lot closer to making your Blender interface more "Carrara-like".

    I'd also suggest you consider using another nice Blender feature, and that is saving a default scene. Once you have a simple scene set up as you like it, you can define that as the default scene that opens every time you start Blender. Set it up as a "Carrara-like" scene, maybe also with the types of lights and objects you use very often, and save that as default. You'll feel a lot more comfortable next time you start Blender.

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    Another area that might appear confusing to Carrara users when trying out Blender is with "shaders". Here are images of the Carrara Shaders tab and the Blender Materials tab.

    Note that they are very very similar if you realize that the major difference is only with terminology.

    Keep in mind:

    Color is the same as Diffuse

    Highlight/Shininess are the same as Specular

    Reflection is the same as Mirror

    Glow/Translucency are the same as Shading

    and so on...

    So when you select the Materials button in Blender's Properties tab, its virtually identical to Carrara's Shader tab. Well, except for some details regarding features, etc.

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  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    And a related area that might lead to some confusion is Blender's "Textures" tab. This is very similar to the dropdown selections in Carrara's shaders tab, such as to select external images or procedurals to map, or types of mapping (UV, etc.), and so on.

    So Carrara shaders tab is kind of a composite setting area for all surface settings, while in Blender they are somewhat segregated by shading and texturing. But it's all the same stuff.

  • SockrateaseSockratease Posts: 813
    edited July 2015

    Thanks for the tips! I am among those who can't get past Blender's interface to use it for anything but a 3D file converter for odd format files.

    I can never remember how to even manipulate the camera in Blender - probably because I do most of my initial layout work on a laptop and then move the files to my desktop for rendering. I think that is a standard workflow for many people who don't have powerful systems and like to let the best machine be a dedicated renderer and not multi-task on it while it's rendering. But my laptop has no middle mouse button! So it's no wonder I can never move the fluffing camera!

    Is there any way to use Blender more fully without a MMB?

    And how is Blender with Cows? I know, being a Blender, it works well with Milk and Ice Cream (and possibly other Dairy Products) but I always thought there was something inherently disturbing about putting the whole Cow in the Blender!!

    Post edited by Sockratease on
  • 3drendero3drendero Posts: 1,015
    edited December 1969

    Thanks Joe, very informative as usual.

    Can you save a Blend file with the settings and upload here?
    Would be an even quicker startup for Blender newbies.

    Here are Blender freebies including cows:
    http://www.blendswap.com/blends/search?keywords=cow&is_fan_art=1&blend;_license=&sort=Blend.downloads&direction=desc
    Most can be imported to Carrara via Blender.

    Blender 2.75, just released and still free: http://www.blender.org/features/2-75/

  • MDO2010MDO2010 Posts: 1,416
    edited July 2015

    I'm not sure if earlier versions had this (I never noticed it anyway) but on startup the new version 2.75 actually offers you a drop-down to choose your interaction preset, so you can choose 3DSMax right at startup too.

    Thanks for telling us what that is Joe - I saw that option but wasn't sure what it did and it's going to be my default now. :)


    Also - that "n" and lock to view thing - THANK YOU! That was killing me and now I don't have to deal with anymore - best tip ever!

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  • atticanneatticanne Posts: 2,970
    edited December 1969

    Thank you, Joe. This is a very informative, straight-forward, and useful thread.

  • atticanneatticanne Posts: 2,970
    edited December 1969

    Thanks for the tips! I am among those who can't get past Blender's interface to use it for anything but a 3D file converter for odd format files.

    I can never remember how to even manipulate the camera in Blender - probably because I do most of my initial layout work on a laptop and then move the files to my desktop for rendering. I think that is a standard workflow for many people who don't have powerful systems and like to let the best machine be a dedicated renderer and not multi-task on it while it's rendering. But my laptop has no middle mouse button! So it's no wonder I can never move the fluffing camera!

    Is there any way to use Blender more fully without a MMB?

    And how is Blender with Cows? I know, being a Blender, it works well with Milk and Ice Cream (and possibly other Dairy Products) but I always thought there was something inherently disturbing about putting the whole Cow in the Blender!!

    You may need the extra-large, economy size Blender. Another possibility is to only put miniature cows in the Blender. Just be very careful.

  • Frank__Frank__ Posts: 302
    edited December 1969

    Thanks Joe.

    Will follow this thread with patience.

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    Is there any way to use Blender more fully without a MMB?

    Well, just about anything in Blender can be customized, so yeah, you can change the 3DView rotate/move/zoom to something other than the MMB. Go to File/User Preferences/Input, and under 3DView you can change that.

    The challenge is to find something to change it to... :)

    Like I say, the nifty Carrara buttons don't exist in Blender, so you'll have to figure a new keyboard or mouse shortcut.

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  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited July 2015

    MDO2010 said:
    I'm not sure if earlier versions had this (I never noticed it anyway) but on startup the new version 2.75 actually offers you a drop-down to choose your interaction preset, so you can choose 3DSMax right at startup too.

    BTW, be careful with this startup preset selection...I *think*, though I may be wrong, this gives a total shortcut key, etc., makeover from Blender to 3DSMax in all areas, rather than what I am suggesting, which is just for the Input settings (selecting with LMB and turntable rotation).

    If I'm right, and this is a total makeover, then that can cause big problems down the line, especially when you watch tutorials, etc.

    Post edited by JoeMamma2000 on
  • MDO2010MDO2010 Posts: 1,416
    edited December 1969

    MDO2010 said:
    I'm not sure if earlier versions had this (I never noticed it anyway) but on startup the new version 2.75 actually offers you a drop-down to choose your interaction preset, so you can choose 3DSMax right at startup too.

    BTW, be careful with this startup preset selection...I *think*, though I may be wrong, this gives a total shortcut key, etc., makeover from Blender to 3DSMax in all areas, rather than what I am suggesting, which is just for the Input settings (selecting with LMB and turntable rotation).

    If I'm right, and this is a total makeover, then that can cause big problems down the line, especially when you watch tutorials, etc.

    Makes sense. I'm not familiar enough with Blender that I'd even notice if the whole interface suddenly changed but I do watch alot of tutorials and that might have become a problem. :)

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    Yeah, I did a quick test, and it seems to be that the startup preset changes everything to 3DSMax. Nothing works anymore... :)

    So unless you're a 3DSMax guru, I'd stay away from the startup preset.

  • RoygeeRoygee Posts: 2,220
    edited December 1969

    As a fairly recent convert to Blender, I'll be following this with great interest - thanks for bringing it up, Joe :)

    I have mine set to Blender default, with the Hexagon theme because I prefer the grey background and changed the selection to LMB under the input tab. For a laptop, you can emulate the numpad (important shortcuts there) to use the keyboard numbers. I use a mouse with my laptop - don't enjoy the laptop's pad.

    Once you get into it, Blender isn't all that difficult. No need to memorize a thousand hotkey combinations - most functions are available through menus and I soon got used to the most commonly used shortcuts.

  • evilproducerevilproducer Posts: 8,829
    edited July 2015

    Manipulators

    One thing I love most about Carrara and others is they had implemented the idea of object manipulators long before other apps. And I LOVE manipulators. You know, the translate/rotate/scale thingies that show up when you select an object. Blender now has those, and even does Carrara one step better. You can choose to have all three manipulators appear simultaneously in Blender, instead of having to select each manipulator button individually in Carrara. Just shift-select the manipulator buttons as shown below.

    Great info on Blender, Joe.

    One question though: Doesn't Carrara's universal manipulator contain all of those functions as well? It looks a little different than the Blender screen shot, in that the rotation controllers aren't complete circles, but instead are little curved lines coming off the scale controller/box thingy. All three controls are there, X, Y, Z movement, X, Y, Z scale and X, Y, Z rotation. Is there another one I am missing?

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  • Cris PalominoCris Palomino Posts: 4,073
    edited December 1969

    Shift select all three manipulators.

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  • Cris PalominoCris Palomino Posts: 4,073
    edited December 1969

    Oops, I'm sorry, Evil, I misread your post.

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited July 2015

    Doesn't Carrara's universal manipulator contain all of those functions as well?

    Yeah, you're right. Somehow, long ago I suppose, I lost track of that universal manipulator feature. Not sure why, but I've always used the individual ones.

    Erase the "does Carrara one step better" part. :) :)

    Post edited by JoeMamma2000 on
  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited July 2015

    I suppose the next area for consideration are Carrara's "Rooms".

    There's Assemble, Model, Storyboard, Texture, and Render.

    Blender doesn't have rooms, but it has icons and windows which do similar things. They're just located in a different area, not along the top toolbar like in Carrara.

    Let's first take the Model room. Some may recall years ago when DAZ added the ability to directly edit objects in the 3D View, instead of in the Model room. Which was nice because you were editing the model as it was, not a non-scaled, etc., representation of the object in a separate room.

    Blender's modeller is similar, where you model directly in the 3D View. Just go to the toolbar at the bottom of the 3D View and select "Edit Mode" from the dropdown/dropup menu.

    And once you enter Edit mode, the Tools tab on the left side contains a whole list of modelling/editing tools.

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  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited July 2015

    Carrara's Render and Texture Rooms are similar to Blender's Render and Materials/Texture panels. Those are accessed from the Properties panel on the right hand side of the screen.

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  • SockrateaseSockratease Posts: 813
    edited December 1969

    Is there any way to use Blender more fully without a MMB?

    Well, just about anything in Blender can be customized, so yeah, you can change the 3DView rotate/move/zoom to something other than the MMB. Go to File/User Preferences/Input, and under 3DView you can change that.

    The challenge is to find something to change it to... :)

    Like I say, the nifty Carrara buttons don't exist in Blender, so you'll have to figure a new keyboard or mouse shortcut.

    Thanks.

    Hopefully the open source nature of Blendy will bring those nifty buttons to the interface soon!


    ...For a laptop, you can emulate the numpad (important shortcuts there) to use the keyboard numbers. I use a mouse with my laptop - don't enjoy the laptop's pad....

    I don't like the pad either, but often have the laptop in places where there is no desk and literally use it on my lap! Makes bringing / using the moose a bit difficult.

  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    Now Blender does have its own form of Rooms, called "Screen Layouts", and these are extremely useful and helpful things to be familiar with.

    Basically, since Blender can have all of its windows customized, you can configure a screen layout based upon what function you're performing at the time.

    The default layouts are as shown in the image below: Animation, Compositing, Default, Game Logic, Motion Tracking, Scripting, UV Editing, and Video Editing.

    So if, for example, you're in the default startup screen, and decide you want to do some UV editing, just select the UV Editing screen layout and you'll jump to a window layout that is pre-configured to do UV editing. Extremely useful, especially for new users who don't know how to get to the tools you need for compositing, or video editing, etc.

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  • JoeMamma2000JoeMamma2000 Posts: 2,615
    edited December 1969

    I also highly recommend that if you have a screen layout you like and want to return to that you save it using the "+" button to the right of the dropdown list of screen layouts (see image above).

    ESPECIALLY before you start experimenting with configuring your windows and screens. If you have a default 3D view that you like, hit the "+" key and it will be saved. Then you can start tweaking your windows. Keep in mind that it is VERY easy to get lost in a maze of window configurations with Blender, and suddenly you have a bunch of windows you can't get rid of. Just jump back to the saved default layout and you'll be fine.

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