Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Step By Step Blender 3D Staircase Tutorial

While waiting for parts for various projects that I have going on here at the workshop I have no problem finding other things to fill my time.  This is the case with the work I need to get done for my Blender class I will be teaching next March.  So with all of this in mind I have put together this new in depth tutorial on how to model a staircase in Blender 3D.  It will help anyone wanting to learn something new in Blender how to work with Bezier Curves and Arrays. Check it out and let me know what you thoughts are on my latest effort using this great free software.

Blender Staircase Step By Step Instructions......
 no pun intended.

1. Start Blender with standard layout.... Cube, Light, Camera.
2. Press "T" key to turn off Tools Window as it will not be needed just yet.

3. Press Z key to go to wire frame view.
4. Enter "Shift C" to get cursor to center of view window. Then Add an Empty (plain axis) (Shift A) to the center of the layout.
5. Select Cube and add Modifier Array.

6. Set Fixed Count to 22
7. Deselect Relative Offset
8. Check Object Offset, Select Empty
9. Press Tab to go to Edit Mode
10. Go to front view (1 on keypad) and move selected Cube 4 squares to the right on X axis
11. Shrink the height of the Cube down to 10 squares  by entering "SZ.5".
12. Press Tab again to go back to Object Mode

13. Select Empty and set Z rotation to 27.5 degrees.
14. Set Transform Z location to 1.0
15. Press "7" on keypad for top view
16. Press "A" key to deselect vertices of the selected cube.
17. Select both right side vertices of Cube (C key) and move them to the right four squares to make a Step (G key).
18. Press the "A" key again to deselect all vertices on the cube.
19. Select upper right corner vertices of Step (C key) and move to lower right corner of second Step (G key).
20. Press the "A" key again to deselect all vertices on the cube.
21. Rotate view to an isometric view and press "Z" key to view in Solid Mode.
22. Press "7" on keypad for top view.
23. Press "Z" key to view in wireframe.

24. Press Ctrl R to create Edge Loop and move to left side of step as shown.
25. Press Ctrl R again to create another edge loop to right side of step as shown.

26. Create a horizontal edge loop and drag it near the front edge of the step.
27. Select all vertices on last edge loop and press S-Y-0 (Size Y Zero) to get all vertices in single line.
28. Adjust vertices in corners to form squares as shown in image.

29. Press the "A" key again to deselect all vertices on the step.
30. Rotate view to an isometric view and press "Z" key to view in Solid shading.
31. Select the four top vertices on the top left front of the step. (C key)
32. Press "3" on keypad to go to side view and extrude highlighted vertices to the fifth square from center line.
33. Press the "A" key to deselect vertices again.
34. Rotate view to an isometric view to select the four top vertices on the top right front of the step.
35. Press "3" on keypad to go to side view and extrude highlighted vertices to the fifth square from center line.
36. Press the "A" key to deselect vertices again.
37. Rotate view to an isometric view to see all the posts now in place on the steps.
38. Press "Tab" key to switch to Object Mode.
39. Press "7" key on keypad to go to top view.
40. Press "Shift C"  to get cursor at center of model.
41. Press "Shift A" to add Mesh Plane.
42. Enter "S 30" to scale plane up to 30.
43. Press "Z" key to view wireframe shading.
44. Press "3" on keypad to see side view.
45. Press "Tab" key to go to Edit Mode.
46. Press "Z" key to see Solid shading

47. Select first two vertices on bottom left edge of step.
48. Move "Z" axis arrow (blue arrow) down so that the front bottom edge of the second step lines up with the back bottom edge of the first step as pictured.

49. Select the Mesh plane that will become the floor for the staircase.

50. Move the Mesh plane down to match the front bottom edge of the second step of the staircase using the "Z" axis arrow.
51. Steps and posts are now done.
Staircase Rail Instructions

1. Select Layer two.  Layer one will disappear for now.
2. Enter "Shift C" to get cursor to center of model.
3. Enter "Shift A" Add Curve, Bezier.
4. Press "Tab" to go to Edit Mode.


5. Press "7" on keypad to go to top view.
6. Enter "R 90" to rotate Bezier Curve 90 degrees.


7. Enter "A" to deselect all vertices on Bezier Curve.
8. Enter "C" and select only the top vertices and handles.  Rotate these so they are aligned vertically with bottom vertices and handles.

9. Enter "A" key twice to select all vertices on Bezier Curve.
10. Move the Bezier Curve using the "G" key to the top of the outer bottom most post.
11. Enter "A" key to deselect vertices again. 
12. Enter "C" key to select each vertices and handles at a time to positions shown in image. Vertices should be centered on front edge of each post.


13. Enter "W" and subdivide the Bezier Curve to create an additional Vertices and set of handles.
14. Press "Tab" key to go to Object Mode.

15. Enter "Shift A" to create "Bezier Circle" by selecting "Curve" "Circle".
16. Resize new "Bezier Circle" by pressing "S.30"
17. Select "Bezier Curve"
18. Select "Object Data" from right menu.
19. Select "Bezier Curve" in "Bevel Object" window.  This will create the first portion of the railing for the staircase.

20. Select "Modifiers" icon, Select "Array".
21. Set "Fit Count" number to 21.
22. Select "Object Offset"
23. Select "Empty.


24. Press "Tab" key to go to Edit Mode.
25. Press "A" key  to deselect all vertices in Bezier Curve.
26. Press "C" key and select center vertices and handles on Bezier Curve

27. Select red arrow (X Axis).
28. Move center vertices in direction of arrow slightly to smooth out curve in railing.


29. Adjust vertices and handles to create a smooth transition from one section of railing to the next in the model.
30. The outer rail is complete at this point.

31. To create the inner rail repeat steps one through thirty in this procedure.

32. Press "T" key to show Tools window.
33. Press "Shift A" to add mesh UV Sphere.
34. In the Tools window select "Smooth" under "Transform", "Shading" to give the UV Sphere smooth surface.
35. Scale the UV Sphere down to fit the end of one of the hand rails as shown in the image.  Repeat steps for both lower and upper ends of the hand rails.
36. Once both railings have been modeled set up lighting, colors, and or materials of your choice for your completed staircase.
I hope you find this tutorial helpful in your efforts to learn Blender 3D.  If you should have any problems with the steps I have here or I have missed something please let me know as I would very much like to make this as simple as possible for everyone. When I get another tutorial put together I'll be sure to post it again so check back soon on this and other projects that I'm working on.  Have a good one!


Thursday, November 19, 2015

Captain America Ball Chair Progress

Work continues with my Captain America ball chair project.  My first post on this project I pretty much had ironed out most of the major issues with the design and so I have shifted gears and moved on to the actual plans for building each individual section of the chair. This process is very similar to how I had built my three section kayak and my velomobile.  All of these projects have different issues to deal with concerning the designs and build.  The ball chair does not need to be moving down the road or be able to float in water.  Not that there are not some crazy ideas that could be included with this project but for now I am just sticking with the idea of a chair that will look pretty cool sitting in my house for starters.

The inner workings of the ball chair will be made up of four sections of rings.  The image above shows how they would look put together without any fiberglass skin on the outside of the ball.  Each ring will be bolted to the next using standard nuts and bolts so that it can be assembled and disassembled in the room of my choice and make it easier to move it through standard doorways without any problems.

This dome shaped section of the chair will be the back of the chair where the star would be painted on it.  It looks to be kind of complicated to make but when you look at it in pieces it is just a matter of lining up the parts and gluing them together.  All the pieces will be cut using either my bandsaw or my hot wire table.  The ribs in each section of the chair are all exactly the same.  So it's just a matter of duplicating each rib twelve times to make up whatever section I am working on.

This section of the chair is the number two ring.  Again it will be made of Styrofoam sheeting and then glued together.  Once that task has been completed an outer skin of Styrofoam strips will be glued into place to get the outer surface shaped the way I want it to be.  Again exactly like what I did when I built my velomobile.
Here's a view of the number one ring assembly.  It will be shaped only a little differently at the opening as there will be nothing bolted to that surface of this section.  Once all of the foam skin has been added to the ring section fiberglass will be added to the inner surfaces of the section.  This will make it much stiffer and make it simpler and stronger to sand the outer surface smooth for the glassing that will need to be done there.  Most of the inner Styrofoam will be removed after all the glassing has been completed as it will not be needed.  It is mainly there to get the shape I need for each section of the chair.

Here is a view of the four differently shaped but still similar ribs that will be used in each of the four sections.  I was able to create the exact shapes using Fusion 360 design software and from there created drawings of each individual piece so they could be cut on my bandsaw.  I will take a bit of time but nothing at this point in the build is really critical and so it just a matter of getting at it and marking everything and cutting, cutting and more cutting.
The large rings for each section of the chair will need to be cut a bit differently and I have a plan of action to handle that portion of the build as well.  I had a design for a mechanism that fits on to my hot wire table to make rings like the ones I need so I will have to track it down and let you know how that will come together in a later post.  This should also be interesting to put together for this project. So check in again as I will be posting more on this build in the coming weeks.  Have a good one.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

The Captain America Ball Chair Project

With winter fast approaching I am faced once again with long days of cold weather, more white stuff on the ground than I care to look at and the need for a big project to get my mind off of all of it.  Oh, and don't even get me started about the Christmas season showing up on top of it all.  But never fear I have a plan.  I started looking around my home and thinking once again about a project that I played around with over 12 years ago.  Time sure flies that's for sure so I have decided to start seriously looking at designing a ball chair.  Not the plastic inflateable things they are calling now a days but the chair that was designed by Eero Aarnio in the 1963.  I tracked the original chair on the Internet and it is still being manufactured today at the unbelievable price of nearly $8500.00.   I want a ball chair but at that price I could buy a pretty nice motorcycle instead and be just as happy...... maybe more.
  This was one reason why I thought I should get back to work on my own design for this chair at a price a lot more down to earth.  Another big problem that I see with having a ball chair of this type is the fact that it is large.  Way to large to fit through a standard 30 inch doorway.  So you would need either a double door to get it into your house so it could fit in your living room or you simply give up on the idea all together.  
  But I have a plan to get rid of these pesky problems. Plus save money, eliminate hassle in the process, and have something pretty unique in the process.  So after 12 years of "thinking" about it I find it high time to actually "Do" something about it.  That's usually the case with most of my projects anyway so it falls right into place for my interests, budget, and workshop tinkering.
This is the original ball chair that was designed in the 1960's and is still seen from time to time in movies and TV.  I saw it again in the movie "Sleepless in Seattle".   I have always loved the design but again space and money to acquire one has limited me to getting one.  So that is the plan of action for my winter project is to design and build what I call "The Captain America Ball Chair". 
The name for the chair will make more sense once you see the rest of the images in this post.  Here is an image of what the chair would look like in a living room.   By the way I created this image by not using Blender 3D but rather my design software I am currently using named Fusion 360.  Quite impressive don't you think?
Now you can see why I call this chair the "Captain America Ball Chair".  This came to be because of course the paint scheme that I will be using.  Also this idea came to being because of how the ball chair is designed and will be built...... in sections.
Each colored section of the ball is actually a separate part.  This will make it easier for the ball to be painted and assembled.  As well as eliminate the need for extra large doorways so that the 42 inch diameter ball can be assembled in the room where it will end up.  Then if it has to be moved it can be disassembled once again and moved just as easily. 
Each ring section of the ball chair will have flanges on it's outer edges.  These are bolted to mating rings until the entire ball is assembled.
  Pyramid foam will be added to the inner walls of the chair for sound deadening.  I didn't want to hear a hollow sound when I get into or out of the chair plus I have other things planned for the chair that it will add to the design.
Once the ball has been assembled it is mounted on to a stand so that it can sit on the floor properly. The gray strips on the curved top surface of the stand are made of felt so the ball and the stand do not rub against each other when they are mounted together. To half inch bolts hold the ball into place in a slot so that the ball can be tipped in the assembly. This stand will also have an inner assembly with a bearing ring mounted to it so that once the ball is attached to this assembly it can rotate to allow the chair to swivel.  I've already found this bearing ring that comes in varying sizes.  The one I will most likely use is nine inches in  diameter and can handle up to a 500 pound load.  This far exceeds what I will need but I feel it is a good item to use that can easily handle whoever sits in the chair and it only cost around $10 on top of it all.  So it works for me.
At this point six triangular panels will be mounted in the interior of the ball.  The panels will be made fiber glass using a mold so they will all be exactly the same size. Then they will be covered with cloth or vinyl when they are finished.  Leather would be nice but again I want to keep my eye on my budget as usual. In the image above you can see two red speakers that I plan on installing to get a nice effect in the chair when I want to listen to music.  Also in the upper panel you can see a couple of rows of LED lights that will brighten up things a bit when I want to do some reading. 

Here is the first computer image that I put together to show how the LED lights will be installed in to the upper panel.  Each triangular panel will have a mounting hole at each corner and be held in place using Allen head button head bolts.  This will give the panel a nice finished look once it is installed and will be an easy installation in the process.
Here's a good look at the LED light assembly itself before it is installed into the upper panel.  I should be able make the housing for this assembly in fiberglass and then have a simple plexiglass cover for the LED light strips that are mounted inside of the case.
Once all of the inner panels have been installed the actual seat will be fitted into the chair.  This is simply a form fitting bean bag type of cushion that sits in the chair.  What I have modeled here is just one of a couple ideas that I have for it's design so it's still a work in progress at this point as far as the seat is concerned.
On the underside of the stand for the chair you can see what I have planned to give it a lot of support. There is a notch on the lower edge of the stand where the power cord can be run out to an outlet when the chair is in use. Should make it an easy thing to set up once it has been assembled and is ready to use.
A couple more things that I thought would be great to have in the chair is firstly a mounting bracket of some type to hold my iPad.  This way if I curl up in the chair and want to watch a movie I won't have to hold the iPad for two hours and I can plug it into the speaker system built into the chair.  Also I am looking at possibly adding Bluetooth so that I can use it to answer my phone as well.  Would be a nice addition to the project. 
  At this point you can see I have gotten quite a ways with the design and am still in the planning stages but like all my projects this is the process that works for me.  The more that I can get worked out on the computer ahead of time the less problems that I end up with during the build so it is worth the effort.  Also it's an easy way to show you and anyone else that I want talk with what I have in mind for this project.
  The chair as you see it here is 42 inches in diameter and stands around four feet tall.  A big chair to be sure so I thought it best to find a place or should I say a couple of possible places for it before I even start construction.  Should keep me busy in the coming winter months for sure.  I'll post more as I get the designed finalized and show you the progress with the build when I get into it deeper.  Until then enjoy the images and I hope you've got something just as interesting planned to work on until the good weather shows up once again. 

For more information about the original ball chair here's a link to get you there.

Aarnio ball-chair