Creating Oblivion Weaponry In Blender, Part 1
By Dwip August 16, 2010, 1:53 pm Comments (17) RSS Feed for this post

Today’s lesson is going to be using Blender to create weapons from scratch for Oblivion. As part of the process, I’m going to be talking about using reference pictures to help make your creation better.

I’ll be condensing and working from information contained in this Blender 3D: Noob to Pro tutorial, as well as this CS Wiki tutorial.

This one’s going to be very long, two parts worth of long, in fact, so grab something to drink.

1. First step, find yourself a reference picture. It doesn’t need to be huge, but make sure it’s of some reasonably good resolution – you need to be able to at least guesstimate as to depth later, so something well-lit is good.

Your reference picture needs to be oriented straight up and down with the hilt or handle at the bottom and the edge of the blade facing right. Fire up an image editor and rotate it if you need to. When you’re done, save it somewhere you’ll remember. We’ll come back to it in a bit.

I’ll be using this picture of a Viking axehead, manipulated a bit from the one found at Wikipedia:

Also, it’s worth noting that the Noob to Pro tutorial recommends creating three reference images: side, top, and front. For the purposes of weapon creation, top down is sufficient. For other projects (such as creatures), you may want more images.

2. Now, start up Blender, and import a weapon of a similar size to the one you want to make. We’ll be stealing bits and pieces of this during later steps. We’ll be using the iron battleaxe from Data/Meshes/Weapons/iron/.

Once you’ve imported the weapon, you’ll see some collision around the handle and the head. Right click to select both pieces, then use M to move both of them to a different layer. Don’t delete them, as we’ll be coming back to them later.

3. Next, split the view window in two. This will be important later.

4. Now, let’s put in our reference picture. In the left-hand pane, go to View/Background Image.

Click the pointless Use Background Image button in the dialogue that comes up, then click Load and go find your image. Your image won’t show up right away, but it’s there. Click or change the view or some such to make it show up. You should wind up with something like this:

That’s much to big, so we’re going to fix that.

5. In the Background Image dialogue are three sections labeled Size, X Offset, and Y Offset. Using these, move the background image so that it lines up with the weapon you imported.

You need to pay special attention to where the handgrips are. For two-handed weapons like this, the middle of the top hand will be where the origin point/3D cursor (the red and white striped circle thing) are. For one handed weapons, this is sometimes the case, but there will also be a pair of black arrows that signify where the hand goes. You can always move your weapon around later if you run into problems, but it pays to get this right at the beginning of things.

When you get done, you should have something like this:

6. Unfortunately, you can’t really see most of your image, because the imported weapon is in the way. To fix that, select both parts of the weapon, hold down Ctrl, and use the red arrow to drag the weapon off a few units. We could delete it, but it will be a useful reference for later.

At this point, your workspace should look about this:

The left window, with our reference picture, should be in top view at almost all times. The right window, which I have in front view, is where we’ll be doing anything that needs viewing the object in anything not top-down. Over the course of things, you’ll be changing views in the right window a lot – to check the reference object, create depth in your mesh, or what have you. This will make more sense once you start doing things.

7. Now it’s time to create things. Go to Add/Mesh/Plane. Drag it up until one edge of it is more or less flush with one edge of your reference picture, like so:

It is incredibly important that any time you move things around in top view that you use the red and green arrows and NOT the blue arrow or the orange circle. This can take some getting used to, but it’s important that this part of the mesh stay at exactly 0 on the Z axis for reasons I’ll explain in a bit.

8. Now, change over to Edit Mode. Using Edge Select Mode, select the three sides of the plane that aren’t flush with the reference image, and delete them:

9. Now, change over to Vertex Select Mode, and drag the vertices on what’s left of the plane until they outline part of your image. Then, using Extrude (E key), continue creating edges until you’ve outlined your entire image.

Something like this:

Notice that I’m deviating a bit from the plan: I’d rather have the axehead attach to the shaft with a circular iron piece rather than the method it currently does, so I’ve outlined where I want it to go. I’ve also moved the shaft from the reference axe up so that I have something to measure by. I probably won’t end up using some of those vertices, but they’re there so that I know what I will do.

Speaking of which, let’s do something about that.

10. If you’re working along, go back to Object mode, and select the shaft. Over in the right window, set the view to front, zoom in on the shaft, and count how many sides it has – 12. We’re going to need something with that many sides.

Add/Mesh/Circle will create a new circle mesh. Make sure vertices is set to 12, and make sure you uncheck Fill if it’s checked and then hit Ok. Your mesh will appear. It probably doesn’t look like a circle in the right window, so let’s fix that.

Make sure the circle is selected (it is by default), then change the right window to side view. Hit R to rotate, and hold down Ctrl and move the mouse to make it vertical. Now change back to front view. Hit S to scale, and scale the circle until it just fits inside the shaft’s circle. It’s not particularly important to make the rotation in this angle match – most of these vertices are going away soon.

You should end up with this:

Now switch over to Edit mode, and change to Edge select mode. Select ONLY the bottom 5 edges of the circle, and delete them. If you did it right, both edges that are straight up and down should still be there.

Change over to Vertex select mode and select the bottom two remaining vertices, then use the blue arrow to drag them up while holding Ctrl to snap to grid. Usually you can get them exactly flush with 0 Z axis, but sometimes you’ll need to go to Mesh/Snap/Selection to Grid to them there.

When you get done, you should have this:

The reason we’re doing things this way is that we’re only going to make half the weapon now, then we’ll mirror that half to make the other half, saving us a ton of work.

Almost done with this step.

Well, sort of. Make sure the entire half-circle is selected. Still in the right window, hit Shift+D to duplicate the half circle, then immediately right click to avoid moving anything. Then, use scale (S key) and Ctrl to scale out a few gridlines. Then use the blue arrow to move it all up a few gridlines. Make sure you edit the bottommost vertices flush with 0 Z axis like I described earlier. Ultimately, this will all make up the iron band around the handle.

You should have this:

Really, we’re almost done.

Now, go back over to the left window. Remember those edges we drew in the outline that I said we were going to delete later? Go back to Object Mode, select the outline mesh, go to Edit mode, select those edges and delete them.

Now go back to Object mode, click the reference shaft, and drag it back on out of the way. Then select your half-circles, and use the green arrow and Ctrl to move it up to where the axe is.

Still in Object Mode, select both the half-circles and the outline mesh, then use Ctrl+J to join them together.

Now in Edit Mode, switch to Vertex select mode, and in the right window select the bottom vertex in the outer circle on the side closest to the outline. On the left side, select the vertex in the outline closest to the circle. Now hit the F key to join them together.

The result of our efforts is this:

Now go back and select both half-circles but not where they join up with the blade outline. In the left window, hit Shift+D to duplicate, then hold Ctrl, and move the duplicates up to where the iron band will end at the top of the axe.

11. Now let’s add some depth. Find somewhere with a slope on your reference image, and make sure you know where it goes.

In the left window, go find a vertex somewhere in the outline part of your mesh near the slope, and extrude that vertex up to the edge of the slope. Now do it again to begin outlining the top of the slope. Switch back to the first edge that you made and delete it. You should end up with one edge that’s disconnected from the main outline. Now reselect it and finish outlining the whole image.

Sort of like this:

So far, so good, but it’s not very deep yet, is it? We can fix that, but we need to see how much depth to give it. Go back over to side view and pan over to your reference weapon. See how thick the blade is. We’re going to replicate that.

Over in the left window, select your entire inner outline (click one edge, then Ctrl-+ until you get it all). Over in the right window, use the blue arrow + Ctrl to move everything up a few notches until you’re reasonably close.

You should have something like this:

12. Now we fill everything in. You’ll mostly be working in the right window for this, and you’ll be rotating the view freehand for a while. We’ll do the iron band first.

Switch over to Vertex select mode if you’re not there already. For each vertex in the outer circle, find its opposite on the other outer circle, select both of them, and hit F to make an edge between them. Don’t bother with the bottommost one on the blade side, since nobody will ever see it.

Next, switch over to edge select mode. For each edge on the outer circle, select it and its opposite on the inner circle, and click F to make a face. When you get done, if any of the faces are invisible, hit the W key and Flip Normals to fix it.

Our axe thus far:

You need to keep going in this vein, making faces until you’ve covered the entire axehead and shaft. It may be easier for you to create edges first, then make faces from those. Don’t worry really hard about triangles versus quads – we’ll deal with that later.

Remember that you can subdivide edges when need be.

First step:

Second step:

Third step:

At this point, we’re done with the axe blade.

13. Time for the handle. This part is a lot easier, since we already have most of what we need. First, drag the reference handle over in Object mode so we can see it. Then select the axe blade.

Now go into Edit mode, and select all the edges of the inner circle. Extrude them (E key) down to about where the top of the black bit is before the leather wrap. See how it flares there? We need to create that.

Extrude another little bit to where the end of the flare is. Now use scale in the left window to flare the edges out a bit. However, watch out for something:

Fix the bits protruding down below there.

Now select all the edges again, and extrude down to the bottom of the leather wrapped bit. The Bethesda version of this handle is subdivided into two pieces to cut down on how big the leather wrapped part is. We may or may not get to that, depending on how we end up UV mapping the axe.

Now we need to do the bottom flare. Instead of extruding again, go back up the handle to the other thin part, and select all the edges there. Duplicate them (Shift+D), drag the duplicates down to the bottom where the flare will end, and use F to make enough faces to make the flare.

Now reselect all the faces at the bottom of the flare and extrude the very bottom of the handle out to just before it tapers off to the end. Now, extrude out again to the end of the taper. Next, scale them slightly inwards.

You should now be looking at this:

We’re going to make two triangle faces to fill in that gap. Select a vertex at one corner of the triangle, and extrude it out to very close to where the other side should meet it at a 90 degree angle. Doesn’t need to be perfect, just close. Then use F to make the faces:

Now to fill in. Select the bottom two innermost corner vertices and form an edge that should run along the bottom of the open gap. Hit the W key and choose Subdivide. Now start making faces until you fill everything in:

One last step. See how the iron axe shaft has that tilt to the bottom cutoff? We’re going to make that.

Select the innermost circle edges. Then, in the left window, rotate until you get something that looks good:

Last but not least, we need an end cap on the top of the axe. I leave this as an exercise for the reader – if you’ve made it this far, you should be able to do this, too.

At the end of the day, we have an axe:

Take a break, get up and stretch, and continue on to Part 2.

Computer Games - Elder Scrolls Series, Tutorials Comments (17) Trackback URL for this post RSS Feed for this post
Comments on Creating Oblivion Weaponry In Blender, Part 1
avatar Comment by Hanaisse #1
August 16, 2010 at 10:31 pm

The entire section on creating the half-circles and joining the meshes is very confusing and could do with more detailed pics. Just saying.

Is this correct so far?

And on I go…

avatar Comment by Dwip #2
August 16, 2010 at 10:47 pm

Close. However:

– Unless you’re trying to create a different head/handle than the pic, your circles are WAY too big. The inner one should be the size of the handle, the outer one the size of the metal bit that goes around the handle.

– You should be using WAY less vertices than you are – maybe half as many on the outside, and like a fifth as many on the interior edge. If some of those are another layer for depth then go with a few more than I said, but either way too many.

I say this because too many polys will degrade performance. Have a look at your reference weapon, and try to match its count. Takes practice, but can be done.

You’re going to lose some detail over the reference, but that’s ok. So long as it’s not TOO blocky, nobody will really notice as long as the texture isn’t too horrid.

Yeah, probably should have put that in the tutorial itself. Oh well.

avatar Comment by Hanaisse #3
August 16, 2010 at 11:24 pm

I’m using the silver waraxe as reference to use the handle which is probably why it looks so off. The inner circle was scaled to it per the instructions.

Yeah, the vertices. See, that’s the only possible way I can seem to get a curve on the blade, especially that inner curve. Otherwise it’s just a chunky blocky mess trying to put straight lines along a curved path? Is there some trick I’m missing?

And if you don’t like that, you won’t like the depth layer either. ^.^
I guess it’s a bad reference to try to use.

avatar Comment by Dwip #4
August 16, 2010 at 11:37 pm

It’s always going to look fairly blocky up close. Remember that nobody will ever see it this close in-game, so some loss of quality is acceptable.

I’m not sure if there’s a trick I can tell you, so much as it just takes some practice and eyeballing it. Best I can say is look at your reference. A 12-sided poly is good enough to pass for a round circle in-game, so you can sort of eyeball the blade from there.

Again, try cutting down the outer blade to about half or 3/4 what you have, the top to about half, and the inner curve to 1 in 3 or so. Then zoom out. It will look ok, especially once you texture it.

avatar Comment by Hanaisse #5
August 16, 2010 at 11:52 pm

But … but…….. ok.

avatar Comment by Hanaisse #6
August 17, 2010 at 12:23 am
avatar Comment by Dwip #7
August 17, 2010 at 12:25 am


avatar Comment by Hanaisse #8
August 17, 2010 at 1:38 am

Are we good so far?

Man, this is not easy. I’ve heard many kids say they can whip up a weapon in 30 minutes. This has taken me 5 hours to get to this point. So, they’re either lying, or making shit.

avatar Comment by Dwip #9
August 17, 2010 at 1:46 am

Looking good so far. I might have made the faces a little different, but nothing particularly important.

It gets easier with practice. Lots easier. Probably not 30 minutes easy, but easier. Kind of like anything.

avatar Comment by Hanaisse #10
August 17, 2010 at 2:20 pm

lol, whoops, tried to comment without logging in -.-

OMG, I’m so excited. I actually figured out how to make a pointy end on my handle. Go me.

(Not that your handle is particularly wrong or bad, I just wanted something different. And I couldn’t have done it without these instructions.)

Pic to follow soon, I’m still shaping the rest of the handle.

avatar Comment by Hanaisse #11
August 17, 2010 at 5:08 pm

Annnd, part 1 is finished – here.

It’s telling me 206 verts, 206 faces. Is that ok?

avatar Comment by Dwip #12
August 17, 2010 at 5:36 pm

That’s a perfectly reasonable number. Figure about 4x that once you convert quads to triangles and mirror everything, which is decent for something of this complexity – for comparison, an elven shortsword has 1,200 something faces.

Looks good, although how does the width on your handle compare to the width on your reference handle? It shouldn’t be more than just a tiny bit wider or it will look very strange once it’s in the hands of a character.

Also, more to the point, it’s a little out of proportion to the size of the blade. Would recommend slimming it down a little bit. But as long as you don’t run into clipping issues in-game, it’s your axe.

avatar Comment by Hanaisse #13
August 17, 2010 at 6:16 pm

Oh, lol, you’re right.
I was eyeballing the size with the ref handle off to the side. Once I moved it behind yes, my handle was too long and a little fat.

Corrected and slightly remodeled version.

Now to ponder textures.

avatar Comment by Dwip #14
August 17, 2010 at 6:32 pm

Way more betterer.

avatar Comment by Hanaisse #15
August 17, 2010 at 6:42 pm

I’m gonna pause here a moment to babble and ask questions.

I’m recalling not too long ago a new trick you discovered that appeared to make a sharper edge, and yet I can’t find it now nor remember what it was called. Would we not want to do something like that?
Also, smooth?
Are these just random steps you decided didn’t require mentioning because it’s so obvious to the masses, except me?

avatar Comment by Dwip #16
August 17, 2010 at 7:00 pm

I’m not sure I get what you’re talking about, precisely. If you’re talking about the knife subdivide thing, it’s got its own tutorial. If you mean beveling, I talked about that in the dice tutorial.

I didn’t do either of those things here, however, because we don’t really need them all that much – the axe you have is fine. Doesn’t need smoothing, really, doesn’t need much of anything – it will look fine in-game as it is.

I don’t think I left anything out, but ultimately you’re the judge of that, not me.

avatar Comment by Hanaisse #17
August 17, 2010 at 10:38 pm

Yeah, knife subdivide is the one I was thinking of. Tried it and I can’t see a difference, so, … moving on.

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