Category Archives: Tutorial

animating a 2d Photo in Blender

I am always looking for interesting ways to be creative with Blender and make my projects look decent. I found one way of doing this is with animated photos. There are several ways of achieving a photo animation ranging from camera mapping to compositing animated 3D elements into a photo. Camera mapping is the most common which involves mapping 2d images to 3d geometry. I have also used the blender smoke simulator to created a moving atmosphere in a 2d photo.

Animating 2d photos can be helpful with motion graphics, creating an establishing shot for a film project or animation. It is often less expensive to go out and take a photo as opposed to shooting on location.

I ran across a great exercise for animating a 2d photo on YouTube I wanted to share with you. The exercise is pretty straight forward and it will give you the experience of using some of the modifier tools available in Blender.

I am very grateful to Sardi Pax for allowing me to share his work with you. He has a lot of helpful tips and tricks available on his you tube channel. I hope you visit him on youtube and find something that can help you become better using blender.

I ask him how he got started in blender and he shared his road to using blender with me.

His Answer

I’ve been interested in 3D art since the early days of home computing. I started by coding (in Z80 machine code) an attempt to display a rotating cube on a very old computer called a Sinclair ZX81 (my pride and joy at the time).

Much later I acquired a PC (somewhere around Windows 3.1) and simple home 3D software started to become available. It would still take hours to render something that today would take seconds.

I dabbled with 3DS Max, Cinema 4D, Bryce 3D, Poser and Lightwave and learned many of the basics with those packages.

I actually encountered blender several years ago at about version 2.4 but back then it was not such a friendly interface for the novice and stayed with 3DS Max.

About 18 months ago Blender underwent a big change at around version 2.55 (or possibly 2.6) and became much more newbie friendly.

I couldn’t get Cycles to work at all to begin with, just got the typical black screen. So I started watching Youtube tutorials (for example the excellent Andrew Price), and realised Cycles was all about Lights (eureka moment).

I then spent (far too many) hours playing with particles, juggling vertices and working out what Normals were and around a year ago, decided it might be a fun way to motivate myself to learn more by making simple tutorials. And I’ve learned a great deal along the way.

I try to post a tutorial every week, as well as find time to make images and videos for my own pleasure. Most often my subscribers want a tutorial for any new video I post so they help a lot with deciding the subjects.

This tutorial introduces the Wave modifier and shows a way you can integrate a 2D photo into a 3D scene.

I hope you enjoyed the tutorial and the insight of the featured artist in this post.

How To Create Textures Maps In Gimp

How To Create Texture Maps In Gimp

You just modeled the perfect scene and the only thing left is texturing and lighting. You get some great textures from and apply it only to find your image still doesn’t quite have that pop. The reason for this is, that an image texture is merely a flat projection on your model. It is the same as putting a picture on a wall the photo is only a flat projection. The texture needs some depth and definition. To give the texture what it needs is simple a matter of adding a few things to give it more realism.

Your texture needs a normal map, a specular map, and some displacement to give it the detail it needs to mirror realism. If you have gimp you have the power to generate these maps within that one little program. Gimp can generate normal maps ,bump maps, displacement maps, and even specular maps. You can do it pretty fast with some short and simple steps.

I use a normal map and spec map with my textures. I use the spec map for displacement so I only need to generate the two maps.     

example 0

Creating the Normal map In Gimp:

  1. Open up your texture in GimpScreenshot from 2013-07-27 19:04:55

  2. Select color scroll down to desaturateScreenshot from 2013-07-27 19:27:05

  1. Select filters scroll to normal map in the normal map tab just click ok.

Screenshot from 2013-07-27 19:12:51Click file export, select your texture folder and click export and your normal map is ready to use.

Creating the Specular map In Gimp:

  1. Open up your texture in Gimp

  2. Select color scroll down to desaturate

  3. Select colors scroll to levelsScreenshot from 2013-07-27 19:39:59

  4. adjust the input levels towards the middleScreenshot from 2013-07-27 19:42:23

Click file export, select your texture folder and click export and your spec map is ready to use.



You may want to put your textures in a folder for example brick texture and place your textures in with names such as brick.jpg, brick_normal.jpg and Brick_spec.jpg. This way all your texture maps are in one place.

Bonus Time

Here we have a basic plane with a diffused textureexample 1

Screenshot from 2013-07-27 18:12:24

Now we add a mix shader and a glossy shader

Screenshot from 2013-07-27 18:14:48

Now we have this

example 2

Now if we add the spec map and a color mix node we will put the texture in the top , set the bottom to black and change the blend mode to multiply then  put that in the factor input of the mix shader.

Screenshot from 2013-07-27 18:15:59

Now we this

example 3

Now let select the specular texture and the color mix node duplicate it and place it in the displacement socket

Screenshot from 2013-07-27 18:18:04

you have this

example 4

Then we add our normal map as an image texture connect it to a normal map node the connect it to the normal input of the glossy and diffused shader

Screenshot from 2013-07-27 18:22:16

Which gives us  this result

example 5

example 1example 5

On the left just a plain image texture on the right our better texture. Which do you prefer?

Additional Resources

The Secrets of Realistic Texturing


Introduction to Texturing with Cycles in Blender


Rendering a Makehuman model in Blender cycles

You have imported you model in cycles and there you are wondering now what? Image

Here is a simple way to texture your model and move on to other things. You will be using the materials that you applied in the make human program before exporting your model. If you exported your model as lady1 for instance there will be a folder in your makehuman/export directory called lady1, inside the lady1 folder is a folder called textures. With that out the way lets get cracking.

Invisio material
Invisio material

In object mode with your model selected go to the material panel. Select the skin and click use nodes. Split your view port so you have a node editor and 3d view window.Image

You are going to select add / texture /and then image texture. select the skin texture from your texture folder. the skin should look like this.Image

you are going to connect the skin texture to the diffused shader.  you will then add a mix shader. Place the diffuse shader on the bottom and then add a transparent shader.Image

Your model should be coming to life. Human skin is some what oily and a little reflective so to fake this add another mix shader and then a glossy shader. Set the roughness value of the glossy shader to .5 and the factor value of the mix shader to .1.  Next you have to mask the clothes.  so you add a mix shader and a transparent shader.  Then add the mask texture, connect it to a color invert node then connect that to the factor value of the mix shader. and you are done with the skin.Image


It gets a little easier from here. The next material is the mouth. as in step 1 you will be adding a mix shader and a transparent shader.  The diffuse shader on the bottom and the transparent on the top. Add your skin texture to the diffused shader and the alpha to the factor value of the mix shader. To make the eyes and the eyebrows easier to do you will group the texture node the transparent shader node the diffuse and mix shader nodes together. You hold down shift and select each then press control G and move to the next material slot.


Here is the new node group.

Move on to the eyes.  Select use nodes. Delete the diffuse shader. Select add group. Connect it to the output shader and you are done with the eyes.


makehuman tut7




Repeat the above procedure for the the eye brows.


makehuman tut8






The invsio material is a mix shader diffuse and transparent shader. and for the red green and blue material just click use nodes

Invisio material
Invisio material






Your model is ready to render except there is no hair. You can use the hair mesh if you created the model in makehuman with hair or you can strand render hair in experimental mode. For this I will use the hair from make human.

With the hair mesh selected we go to materials and use nodes. Add a mix shader a transparent shader and a diffuse shader.

Hair node set up

Hair node set up

You are now done and have a complete character rendered in cycles. I hope this helps you along enjoy.makehuman tut11