Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model & Animate a Robot

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model & Animate a Robot

The best way to learn Blender is by getting your hands dirty and working on a project. In this Beginner Blender tutorial series, you will model and animate a robot, create a simple scene and render a final video. You’ll be creating a simplified version of Invalid ID, the CG robot starring in the final episode of The Hello World Program.

And this is the robot, scene and animation you will be creating in this series:

Let’s begin!

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model & Animate a Robot

To use Blender, you will need a keyboard with a numeric pad and a 3-button mouse with a scrolling wheel. If you haven’t already, download Blender. This tutorial was created using version 2.77, but you should be okay with the latest release. After you start Blender, you will see the default setup below. The interface can be a bit intimidating at first, but don’t worry, it will all make sense in the end. The main panel is the 3D View. At the bottom is the Timeline. On the right are the Outliner and Properties.

When possible, I’ll be teaching you keyboard shortcuts, rather than selecting actions via menus. To get good and fast at Blender, you will want to know all the shortcuts, so why not start now? In this tutorial, keyboard and mouse actions will be displayed in BOLD. Shortcuts that read NUM1, NUM2, NUM3, etc. refer to the keys on the numeric pad. LMB and RMB refer to the Left Mouse Button and the Right Mouse Button. In a nutshell, the LMB is used to click buttons and the RMB is used to select objects. This will make sense later.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

With your cursor in the 3D view panel, press N to open the Transform tab. This provides you information on, and allows you to enter values for, the position, rotation and scale of objects in your scene. We’ll be using it a lot later.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Now press NUM1 to switch to front view and NUM5 to switch to orthographic perspective.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

See how the Cube is highlighted in orange? That means it’s the object currently selected.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press X to delete the Cube. A popup menu will ask you to confirm. Click with the LMB or press ENTER.
Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Now that that’s out of the way, let’s build our robot. Press SHIFT+A to access the Add menu. Under Mesh, select Cylinder.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Zoom in with scroll wheel and press Tab to enter Edit Mode. In Edit Mode, you can see the points and lines that compose the Cylinder highlighted in orange. These points and lines are called vertices and edges and 3D objects composed of vertices and edges are called meshes.
Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

With your mouse hovering over the Cylinder, press CTRL+R to access the Loop Cut and Slide tool. You will see a violet line appear around the center of the Cylinder.
Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press 2 to create two loops, and hit ENTER twice, once to confirm two loops and twice to confirm placement.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

CTRL + TAB opens the Mesh Select Mode menu. Select Edge.
Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

ALT + SHIFT + RMB to select the lower loop.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press S to Scale and type 1.1, then press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Select an edge on the upper loop and press ALT + SHIFT + RMB to select all of the edges in the loop.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

With the edge loop selected, press G to Grab it, Z to move it only on the Z-axis and type in .5. Press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

CTRL + TAB and select Face.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

ALT + SHIFT + RMB to select the upper loop of faces.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press S to Scale and enter .9, then press ENTER to confirm.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press NUM7 to switch to top view and RMB to select the circular face.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press E for Extrude, then ENTER. This creates a new face on top of the old face.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press S to Scale and enter .5, then press ENTER to confirm.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press NUM1 to switch to front view.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Then E to extrude a new face, ENTER to confirm and G to Grab, Z to constrain it the move to the Z-axis and enter .2. Then press ENTER.
Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Switch back to top view with NUM7. Press K to access the Knife tool.
Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Slice the circle in half by hovering the cursor over the ‘top’ vertex. Click LMB to start the cut, then move the cursor to the ‘bottom’ vertex. Click LMB to place another point, then press ENTER to finalize the cut.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

NUM1 to front view, then press NUM2 six times to rotate to the bottom of the mesh.

Select the bottom face.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Using the Knife tool again, with K, slice the circle in half, pressing ENTER to finalize the cut.
Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

That’s the body. Now let’s add a head. Press NUM1 to return to front view, then press Z for wireframe view.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Add a Cube with SHIFT + A.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Scale it down .8 with S. Press ENTER to confirm.
Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press G to Grace, Z to constrain the move to the Z-axis, and 2, to move it two Blender units. Press ENTER to confirm.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Scale the Cube on the Z-axis by pressing S, then Z and .6, followed by ENTER. Press Z to return to solid view. Then select the front face of Cube.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press E to Extrude a new face and scale it down with S and enter .8, followed by ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press NUM3 to switch to side view and press E again to Extrude a new face. Then G to Grab it, Y to constrain it to the Y-axis and enter .1 to move, followed by ENTER to confirm.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Add a Cylinder with SHIFT + A.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press R to Rotate and X to do so on the X-axis and enter 90 to rotate it 90 degrees. Press ENTER to confirm.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press S to Scale and enter .25, then press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press G to Grab and, Z to constrain to the Z-axis and enter 2, then press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press G to Grab, Y to constrain to the Y-axis, enter -.7, then press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press NUM1 to switch to front view, then G, X, .325 and press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press Z to switch back to solid view and select the front face of the Cylinder.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Zoom in if you need, using the scroll wheel. Then Press E to Extrude and ENTER. Scale the new face down with S and enter .75, press ENTER to confirm.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press Z to switch back to wireframe view and NUM3 to switch to side view.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press E to extrude a new face, then G to Grab it, Y to move it on the Y-axis, and enter .02, then press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Switch back to front view with NUM1, and back to solid view with Z. Create a loop cut vertically around the head with CTRL + R. Click LMB or press ENTER to confirm.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

That’s the head. Now let’s connect it to the body. Z back to wireframe, then add a new Cylinder with SHIFT + A.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Scale the Cylinder down on the X & Y axes by pressing S and SHIFT + Z to exclude the Z-axis. Enter .15, then press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Move the Cylinder up by grabbing it with G, pressing Z and enter 1. Then press ENTER. Next create a series of loop cuts with CTRL + R. Be sure that you mouse is hovered over the neck and that the purple line is horizontal, then enter 32 and hit ENTER twice.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Z back to solid view. While holding ALT + SHIFT, select a vertical edge with the RMB.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Under the Select menu in the 3D View panel, select Checker Deselect.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

While holding ALT + SHIFT select any horizontal edge with the RMB.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Under the Select menu again, select Edge Ring.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

CTRL + TAB and select Face.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Extrude all the faces with E and press ENTER. Press S to scale the selected faces and press SHIFT + Z to do so only on the X and Y axes, then enter 1.1 followed by ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

With the cursor hovering over the neck, press L to select the entire Cylinder.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

And SHIFT + H to hide everything else.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Hold the scroll wheel down on your mouse, and move it about in the 3D View to change your perspective. Select the top and bottom faces of the neck (hold SHIFT to do so together).

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

And press X to Delete and choose Faces.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press NUM1 to return to front view and ALT + H to unhide the hidden faces.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Now for the arms. Select a face on the neck, and press L to select the entire neck again.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Toggle to wireframe view with Z and duplicate the neck with SHIFT + D. Press ENTER or LMB to confirm.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Rotate the new Cylinder on the Y-axis with R, Y and type in 90, then press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press S to Scale the new Cylinder and SHIFT + X to exclude the X-axis, then type in .75. Press ENTER to confirm.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Grab the arm, G, and move it on the X-axis, X, 1.75. Press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Move the arm down with G, Z, and enter -.35. Press ENTER. Press SHIFT + S to access the Cursor menu and choose Cursor to selected.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Add another Cylinder with SHIFT + A.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Rotate it 90 degress on the Y axis. R, Y, 90 and press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Then scale it down, S, .15, ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Move it to the end of the arm with G, X, 1, ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press A to deselect the Cylinder.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Now we’re going to cut the mesh in half. Press B to access the Box tool. Click and hold the LMB to draw a box around the left half of the robot.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press X and Delete Faces.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Our goal is to have a smooth edge down the middle of the mesh. You might need to clean up leftover faces. Use B for the Box tool to select them and X to delete.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Tab to Object mode. In the Properties panel, select the Modifier tab.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Click the Add Modifier button and select Mirror from the menu. The click Apply.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Tab to edit mode.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press SHIFT + S and select Cursor to Center.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Now let’s add a mouth. Z to wireframe mode. Then add a Cube, SHIFT + A.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press S to scale the Cube, and enter .6, followed by ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press S to Scale again, this time on the Z-axis, by pressing Z, and enter .1, then press ENTER. Move the cube up with G, Z, 1.5 and press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press NUM3 to switch to side view, then press S, Y, .5 and ENTER to scale the Cube .5 on the Y-axis.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press G to Grab, Y to constrain the movement, and enter -.25 followed by ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press SHIFT + H to hide everything else.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press Z to switch to solid view and NUM7 to switch to top view. Select the top face. Press E to extrude a new face, then ENTER. Scale the new face down with S, .9, and press ENTER.

And scale it again with S, Y, .9 and press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Switch to side view with NUM3. And back to wireframe with Z. Extrude a new face with E and press ENTER. Grab the new face and move it down on the Z-axis -.07: G, Z, -.07.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Press ALT + H to reveal the hidden faces and press A to deselect everything. Press NUM1 to switch to front view. Now, using L, select the head, eyes and mouth, but not the neck. Press NUM3 to switch back to sideview. Move the head forward slightly by grabbing with G, constraining to Y, and entering -.25. Then press ENTER.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Tab to Object mode and rename the mesh from Cylinder to Robot. Press Z.

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model and Animate a Robot

Hello World! Be sure to save your work, with CTRL + S. In Part 2: Blender Materials and Shape Keys, we will add color and simple motion to our robot. See you there!

About the Author

Beginner Blender Tutorial: How to Model & Animate a Robot was posted by on . Jared is one half of the creative force behind Dototot. In addition to writing scripts and tutorials, he draws and animates both the digital and the analog.

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