Hi! My name is Chipp Walters, and while I’m somewhat new to the Blender community, I've been involved in 3D for many years.
As an Industrial Designer, I've done concept designs for Apple, Sony, NASA, and the HYPERLOOP. I've completed a whole series of future designs for FastCo Design, including a Drone Ambulance as well as wearable tech. And recently, I led a very talented team to create an award-winning historical Augmented Reality product based on the Alamo for museums and education.
My 3D tools of choice before Blender have been SketchUp and Lightwave for poly modeling, 3D Coat for topology, MoI3D for NURBS solid modeling and Keyshot for rendering. You can check out my YouTube channel if you'd like to learn more about any of these.
3D: What I needed
Good design is about iteration. You need to quickly evaluate many ideas, select a direction and then refine it.
From the start, I’ve been an 80/20 guy—80% done with 20% effort, resulting in high quality at extreme speed. This is one of the reasons I’ve been successful providing concept direction for future products at game and media companies like Disney and Fast Company.
Each project has its own sets of challenges, and so I need a 3D tool that can provide a certain set of features which help me get there– and QUICK.
Enter Blender. Early on, it became clear an all-in-one solution would be best. I was a top SketchUp modeler and ended up working with a top Blender modeler, Jerry Perkins (aka masterxeon1001) and he showed me amazing things which could never be built in SketchUp efficiently.
So, I decided to embark on the Blender journey knowing there were a couple of KEY FEATURES needed before migrating to a new 3D software package.
KIT OPS BATCH
KIT OPS BATCH automates creating KPACKS and INSERTS. You can quickly create thumbnails from an existing KPACK folder. Automate creation of INSERTS from a folder of OBJs. Export your existing blender objects and collections to OBJs and convert them into INSERTS.
1. LEARN & RELEARN
I need to be able to learn the software, then put it down for a few months, then pick it up again and start back where I left off– and ALL with minimal effort relearning how things work. This means the interface HAS to be intuitive and not filled with too many keyboard shortcuts– as for sure I’ll forget them.
2. FULL DESIGN PIPELINE
Ideally I’d like to:
create 3D concept designs including sketch renders
build finished models
add materials and textures
create full photoreal renders
And do them all using the same package– WITHOUT involving multiple other programs. Again– based on 80/20 and the Learn & Relearn strategies.
STEAM INSERTS KPACK which you can use KIT OPS FREE or PRO to directly drop into your scene. Created by Ian Hubert, this KPACK has two different material shaders-- for different reasons, explained in the video below. So, that makes 20 different INSERTS in all.
3D: What I wanted
So, with the above in mind, in 2018 I started using Blender and I found 2.8 to be easy to learn.
Still there were some things which were missing and needed clearing up for me.
How to replace SketchUp’s powerful component kitbashing tool?
How to create photoreal renders using the new EEVEE renderer?
How to quickly add materials and decals to objects in Blender?
How to quickly create a SketchUp style line drawing?
And one other thing— I don’t want to have to learn and relearn complex workflows to help me streamline my work. I know I’m not creating hundreds of models a week, and I can take a bit more time to build my models if it means not having to learn and relearn fancy new power addons.
And after seeing how strong some of these power addons are, I wanted to dive below the shortcut keys and power macros, and understand what it is they are doing under the hood.
KIT OPS BEVEL
To understand BEVEL, you need to understand that one of the last and most important steps in creating realistic objects is adding a small bevel to the final product.
These tiny bevels catch the light and communicate to the eye that something is real. In Blender, we have a Bevel modifier which we can use to add a final bevel to some models. But, unfortunately, many models cannot use the bevel modifier without destroying the surface topology and causing nasty render artifacts. So, what to do?
Well, we can use some rendering trickery to create “fake bevels” and in fact do much more. And when we do this, we get the added advantage of not adding geometry to our model
So, what we’ve done with KIT OPS BEVEL, is to use that same that bit of our magic, to create a simple system to add bevels to any object which will render both EEVEE and Cycles.
What I decided to do
Based on What I wanted I knew I would have to create some new tools. That said, I had a few underlying goals for any addon I was involved with.
The addon focuses on ONE THING and one thing ONLY. I’m not interested in creating suites of swiss army knife type tools.
Because the addon does ONE THING, it should do it well and most importantly SIMPLY. A minimal learning curve is necessary.
The addon should have super support. This means I need to provide great tutorials and documentation on how to use the addons and allow people to easily contact me with questions.
People should know who it is that makes the product. I want to brand products in such a way people can easily discover who made and supports them.
And furthermore, I knew I would need to create some workflows to help me with many of the things I wanted to do. These workflows became the foundations for my Blender educational courses. I also had a few goals for them as well.
Focus on communicating best in class ideas and workflows.
Create courseware in easily digestible and short lessons. Squeeze all the non-essential talking, ummms, errrrs, and repeats out and keep the pace quick.
Update them as needed and don’t charge customers update fees.
To also provide plenty of free help products and videos on YouTube and Gumroad.
Provide great support.
for Blender 2.82+
Setup multi-camera animations FAST
QUICK SHOT is a new Blender addon that will change how you think about presenting your finished projects. Check out this video to learn more about it.
First up: KIT OPS
After starting to use Blender, I complained to Jerry about the inability to quickly kitbash objects together, like you can do in SketchUp. Consider this concept drone created in under 15 minutes in SketchUp.
How to do something similar in Blender?
So, after thinking of it a bit, I asked Jerry for his help and created KIT OPS PRO and KIT OPS FREE.
Jerry agreed, and together with the coding prowess of proxe, Jerry’s deep understanding of Blender’s internals, and my interfaces, we created KIT OPS– the #1 kitbashing solution for 3D with close to 15K unique user downloads.
You can learn more about it at: https://kit-ops.com
KIT OPS PRO
Can you create a unique sci-fi prop in a couple minutes?
With our Blender addon you can! It's the only kitbashing addon that not only adds but also subtracts from existing geometry, and it can be layered upon itself! There's also a free version you can use with existing kitbash sets we call KPACKS. Check it out now!
Next: EEVEE Interiors
I knew I wanted to master EEVEE for rendering– and what better place to start than with a photographic interior? So, I asked 20 different beta testers to help me create a 27-lesson Blender 2.8 course on Interior Rendering with EEVEE called: Definitely EEVEE: Definitive Interiors.
The goal was to help basic users of Blender along with other software packages to be able to accurately import, add materials, and render photoreal interiors as quickly as possible. The sole focus was interiors and rendering, NOT modeling.
From the feedback and sales, it was successful!
Think about it.
Imagine rendering a photoreal interior scene in under 10 seconds– at 4K resolution! That's the power of EEVEE in Blender 2.8+. Create a 5 minute walk through animation during your lunch break. This first of its kind course, focuses ONLY on EEVEE rendering and teaches you quickly everything you need to create stunning interiors in a very short time.
Then: EEVEE Materials System
Next, I needed a way to add high quality materials to objects and FAST. So, with a small tweak to KIT OPS, I was able to quickly preview thumbnails for materials and apply them with a single click.
There were a few issues.
Because I wanted to use EEVEE, I quickly discovered the traditional way of setting up materials, with different maps for diffuse, roughness, metal and normals, created a possible problem with overloading the GPU memory with only a few materials in the scene.
Furthermore, I noticed it was impossible to real-time preview the adjustments to many image based mapping parameters. My solution was to create a customized material (the freely available OneShaderToRule) and to use it to create a materials library and system.
By meticulously creating tileable textures, I created high-quality and memory-efficient materials for EEVEE. I even built one-of-a-kind plastic tileable mold textures, a must for anyone designing with plastics.
With the EEVEE Materials System, you can apply textures to any object without having to UV Unwrap the object. And with the easy-to-use group nodes, you can edit the material in an infinite number of ways, including adjusting its color, tile, roughness, bump mapping and more.
Do you know what CMF is?
CMF stands for Color, Materials, and Finish. And do you know Apple employees even more CMF designers than they do industrial designers? That is how important CMF is to product design. And, having the right materials only a click away is the best way to quickly find the right decorative identity for any object.
Followed by: NITROX3D
Earlier, I created a concept LIDAR product for a client. Upon Jerry’s suggestion, I tried my best to create it with modifiers, so that it could be easily edited.
Of course the client wanted changes and to my surprise, I was able to change the design most quickly using the modifier stack in Blender!
Wanting to learn more, I started a project called NITROX3D with the goal to create non-destructive workflows using the whole suite of modifiers AND no addons. It helped me to better understand the modifier stack and prepare me for most any project to come.
Eventually, I published some free videos, and several people asked me to create a course, so I did and I call it NITROX3D: The Full Course. It started with a few lessons, and I added more and more lessons to the point where now it has 21 lessons covering all sorts of topics.
It’s amazing what you can do with only a few vertices, edges and faces:
The absolute best secret to good design.
Is... iteration. Continually tweaking the forms, the proportions, the overall shape. The number of spokes, vents, grill and button details including the tiniest of radiuses. Understanding and using Blender's modifiers allow you to do create an infinite number of variations– and lightning quick! Over 20 videos, and still growing, explain the magic of NITROX3D.
Lately: SKETCH STYLE
From the beginning I missed SketchUp’s elegant “sketchy line” renderer. It’s great for showing clients concepts which are yet to be fully realized and even better for hidden line “blueprint” type renders.
Of course, Blender has Freestyle, a superb way to create similar line renderers. For me, there are four main problems.
It’s VERY complicated to understand and even more difficult to use.
You can’t easily toggle a scene from a photoreal rendering to a “sketchy line” render.
There are times when you want the actual physical material to be rendered and not the sketch material– for instance when rendering a house with glass. You’d like to be able to see through the glass.
There are no “presets” for different kinds of “sketchy line” renders.
So, I created the SKETCH STYLE addon, and now with a couple of clicks, all those problems are solved!
Sometimes– LESS is MORE
Especially when you're trying to communicate your early design to a client. You don't want to show them full renderings because a) you don't want them to think of the design as final and; b) you can't afford the time to create a photoreal render with proper environment. SKETCH STYLE addon to the rescue!
CHALK STYLE FREE and CHALK STYLE PRO Blender addons which works in Blender 2.82 and creates beautiful ambient occlusion wireframe renderings in just seconds.
It’s between 10 and 100 times faster than Blenders freestyle renders. And even better you only need to press a single button to see your render in seconds.
And, the coolest part is you can adjust line weights for both wireframe and outlines as well as control the relative darkness of the ambient occlusion pass. And this is AFTER the render has completed!
And new to CHALK STYLE PRO is the ability to relight your render AFTER you’ve created it! Yes, you heard that right– you can actually adjust the lighting in your render after it’s completed!
Please see the video below for more information.