Inkscape is a free-and-open-source 2D vector program similar to Adobe Illustrator. Think of vector graphics like Blender’s curve tools. You can create a vector image (.svg) and scale it up ten bazillion percent and it will still be clean. Unlike a .jpg or .png file that will fall apart at anything above 100% zoom.
Here’s an .svg file at 300×300 pixels (100% zoom):
Now here’s a tiny segment zoomed in to 1,000%:
And again at 5,000% (GIMP wouldn’t let me do 30k px which would be 10,000%):
When you combine Blender with Blender, you can do some neato things. Instead of creating a logo using curves, or worse poly-modeling, you can quickly mock it up by importing the .svg file, like so:
Image made by Blender artist “K M”.
Image made by me! :p
Here’s one I recently made (not the best, but it served it’s purpose):
So, if I wanted to do something simple like the above AF logo, you could make it really quickly by setting it as the background image in Blender and either using curves, or more appropriately for this shape–polygon modeling, you could whip it up rather quickly.
But what if I told you for about the same amount of time as it would take to convert the AF logo .jpg file into the above Blender render, you could do either of the below images:
That makes using Inkscape more appealing, right? Sure, sure, the images themselves aren’t the best renders–but let’s focus on the time-saving aspect here! So why don’t we go ahead and make both of these.
Let’s start with the GE logo. Download the GE .jpg file here: GE-Logo (uploaded by ingvar)
1. Open Inkscape
2. Go to File > Open > [find your image] > Open
3. Left-click on the image to select it.
4. Path > Trace Bitmap
5. In this image we only have two colors–white and blue–so were going to do “Multiple Scans” by colors, and set the Scans: to 2.
Depending on what kind of image you are trying to convert, you can do either multiple scans or a single scan. Keep in mind, that if you import an .svg created with multiple scans into Blender, each of those scans will create a path–so if you have a full color image and make a 256-color scan, you’ll have 256 paths to deal with. Single scan, on the other hand, may not give you the results you want. In this image you can also do “Color quantiziation” with 2 colors and get a black-and-white result as well.
6. Un-check Smooth. Do check Stack scans, and Remove background. Our source image is pretty large, so we won’t need the benefit of smoothing to clean out the rough edges. We’ll stack the scans so there won’t be a gap made, and we’ll remove the background since we don’t need the white part of the GE logo left over.
7. In the Options tab, uncheck Supress speckles, Smooth the corners to 1.00, and Optimize paths to 2.00. This is a smoth, dual-tone image, so there aren’t any speckles to supress. We want the corners as smooth as possible for Blender, and the more optimized (clean) the paths are the better–we want as few segments to mess with as possible.
8. Click Update, OK, then close the Trace Bitmap window (OK will not dismiss it).
9. Left-click and drag your new .svg out of the way. Left-click select the .jpg logo and delete it. Move the .svg back into place.
10. With the logo selected, click Save As, and save as a Plain SVG (rather than Inkscape SVG, since I tend to notice Plain SVG works better in both Blender and GIMP under most conditions.)
1. Open Blender, delete the default cube, go to your top view.
2. File > Import > .svg
3. After locating your .svg file you’ll see a teenie-tiny-itsy-bitsy little curve object that looks like our GE .svg.
4. Zoom in and take a look at your file to make sure there isn’t any bits like “Made by CrazyKid!” that you want cut out (be sure to credit CrazyKid in your final product, though–this image was uploaded by nipic user ingvar as part of his .ai file).
5. Select the curve object (I’ll call logo from here on out), and reset the origin to the center of the logo (Object Tools (left-hand panel) > Origin > Origin to Geometry (or Geometry to Origin to save you the next step).
6. Move the logo to 0x0y0z.
7. Now zoom the logo out 10-20x times (however large you want it).
8. In the path tab, you can extrude and bevel to your heart’s delight–however note that the amounts will have to be tiny. I’m still trying to figure out a way to make them more “normal sized” increment amounts. Applying the scale doesn’t seem to have any effect. I also recommend boosting your resolution to more than 12 (48 is what I normally do).
9. If you bevel and the logo puffs out too much, you can compensate by making a negative offset. This will create curve overlaps that we’ll have to manually fix.
10. This is what we got so far–not bad!
Okay, you’re saying, I could have also done that in Blender by using curves. Well, I say, how about the University of Maryland logo? That’s a bit more complex.
Grab the logo here: UMD Ball Logo
Image copyright University of Maryland (http://www.umd.edu/)
1. If I used the same settings as before, I get some odd artifacts–especially around the text:
So I had to adjust some of the settings as you see below:
(Note: I also boosted the number of colors on the first tab to four: a pass each for red, yellow, black, and white.)
2. After importing the .svg into Blender, you can see there are some areas that are still not swell:
So I did some moving vertex handles around here and there to clean that up.
3. After throwing on some textures and lighting in Cycles, this is what we come up with:
Not bad for a few minutes work. Definitely a time saver trying to model each of those elements individually.
Creating .svg files and importing them into Blender are best for two-dimensional limited-color images like logos and text. More complex images or items you anticipate making into more dramatic 3D elements are best served by poly-modeling, sculpting, or more advanced NURB-modeling from within Blender.
Speaking of text, this is one of the most useful features of Inkscape—text along a path. Let’s quickly run through that, and afterwards you should be all set with the basics and ready to pursue some great Inkscape tutorials out there for more advanced .svg creation.
1. Create a path in Inkscape. You by clicking you create a vertex with a hard angle, click and holding lets you have a smoother curve.
2. Click the text button and type something out.
3. First select the text, then select the curve. Go to Text > Put on Path.
4. Now you can add your text how you see fit. You can change the font, size, kerning, etc.
4.5 (Going to GIMP only): You’ll want to make your path invisible–do that by changing the alpha to zero. Otherwise it’ll be part of the text image when you open the .svg in GIMP.
5. To make the text displayable in GIMP or Blender, you’ll have to convert the text from an object to a path. Do that by clicking on Object > Object to Path.
6. Save as .svg and import it into Blender just as in the previous examples. Same deal applies with the extruding, etc.
7. Add your textures, lighting, and camera angle–bam!
I hope you have found this tutorial useful!
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I skipped over how I got the Cycles renders in the sample images above to, well, render the way they are in the sample images above. (That was a horribly written sentence, sorry.)
The lighting setup is entirely environmental. After switching from Blender Internal to Cycles, you set up your environmental lighting by accessing the World tab and making the below changes:
And then you’ll get something similar to this:
Next, you’ll switch to the render tab, in the Film group you’ll check “transparent”.
And you’ll get this:
Now hit render, and you’ll get something nicer. I have mine set to render 100 samples:
Adjusting the direction of the normal (the round white ball) in the World tab will give you radically different lighting. Also, changing between Preetham and Hosek/Wilkie will give you different results as well.
Hope you found this annex useful!