4.2 - Blender

Blender is a combination of many tools. It is a:

For these WebGL tutorials we will only use the modeling functionality of Blender. You will not “master” Blender in a short time. It takes years to become a Blender “power user”.

To get a feeling for the power of Blender, watch one of the animations that is posted on the Blender Foundation youtube site.

You need to install Blender on your computer. To avoid proxy and scanning issues, please get the installer from the K:\DF\DFCS\CS474 folder.

IMPORTANT: You must use a 3-button mouse to work with Blender effectively.

Some Preliminary Issues

Blender uses a right-handed coordinate system, but a different default view orientation as compared to WebGL.

  • In Blender, the ground plane is the X-Y plane and the Z axis points up.
  • In WebGL, the ground plane is the X-Z plane and the Y axis points up.

This discrepancy in default views can cause confusion – but don’t let it. It is simply a rotation about the X axis of -90 degrees. To minimize confusion, use the default view in Blender as you design your model. Assume that the front side is facing away from the +Y axis and the Z axis is up. When you export your model, the exporter can change the orientation to match WebGL’s orientation. The example below shows the Blender view orientation.

Show the orientation of the sides of an object as viewed by Blender.

Please use a browser that supports "canvas"
Open this webgl program in a new tab or window

When you create models for WebGL programs you can save multiple models in a single file, or separate the models into distinct files. If your models are in separate files, make sure you use consistent units so that the models will “fit together” as needed.

Every model requires a unique name so that it can be manipulated separately in your WebGL programs. DO NOT include spaces in your model names because the model names will become object property names in your WebGL JavaScript programs – and property names can’t have spaces.

Learning Blender

Please watch the Blender video tutorials by Neal Hirsig. Please don’t watch all of them. I have listed a subset of the important videos below.

IMPORTANT: You should watch a small part of a video, pause the video, and then practice the actions described by the video. Practice and experimentation will be critical to your learning.

Please print a copy of the Neal Hirsig cheat sheet to have in front of you as you watch the tutorials. As you learn each new functionality, it will be helpful if you makes notes to yourself on the cheat sheet.

Learn the Blender interface (33 minutes of video):

Learn model manipulation in Blender (42 minutes of video):

Learn advanced model manipulation in Blender (37 minutes of video):

Learn mesh editing techniques in Blender (49 minutes of video):

Putting it all together (9 minutes of video)


Work on phase two of the 3D Tetris game project.


an open source, free modeling and animation tool.

Other Resources

There are many great video tutorials on the Internet that can help you learn Blender. The Blender Foundation tutorials is a good place to start. Just recognize that it will take you 100’s of hours to master Blender and any extra work in Blender should be put off until after your work on these WebGL tutorials is complete.

This extensive cheat sheet will be helpful if you want to learn more about Blender.

Next Section - 4.3 - OBJ Data Format