A couple of years ago I came across a program called Blender, an open-source 3D design studio that appeared to be pretty clever. Although I came up with several different scenes using the software, it was all rather primitive, none of the scenes were really complete, and I was put off generally by the clunky user interface and the sheer effort involved in trying to get anything to look remotely realistic.

Just a few days ago, I looked into Blender again, and found that they’ve bundled a ray tracer into the system, allowing you to render some far more life-like scenes. Being open-source it was also available for the Mac, so I downloaded it and started playing. Indeed, the ray tracer makes a huge difference, and some far more satisfying results were achieved in no time at all. I also read a few web sites telling how to use the GUI (it’s far from intuitive), and how to achieve various effects, and started playing around. Yesterday I was trying to design a sports car, but sadly I think I over-stretched myself, and I’ve given up on that, deeming it to be far too complex for the moment!

So today I started on a new project, one that would be easier to model and faster to complete. A train station. Not particularly interesting, granted, but plenty of scope for trying out effects and developing my 3D design skills. I’ve made use of plenty of textures, downloaded from an assortment of free texture web sites, to give me fairly realistic brickwork and wood details. There is also a metal bench, showing off the ray tracer’s ability to handle complex reflections, and windows with ray traced transparency and reflections. Then there are some built-in effects to create bumpy textures for things like painted metal and concrete. I’ve even included a timetable and a couple of posters up on the station walls! It’s not perfect by any means, but it’s a start, and it’s far better than anything I created in Blender before.

If you’d like to take a look at my creation, you can download it here. Constructive criticism always accepted.

Categories: Miscellaneous


Joe B · 2 September 2006 at 9:37 am

That looks very cool indeed! You could be the new Norman Foster (though you might need to study architecture a bit first!)

Phill · 2 September 2006 at 2:27 pm

Very nice Matthew – I like it 🙂

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