Sergey rocks :)

Hi guys and girls,


after a long blog absence with a lot of work I present you a new tutorial, and it rocks 🙂 Did you wonder sometimes how you should pimp your texts up when all you have in your render are even those texts? Don’t wonder any longer, read on – here is the tutorial you were waiting for 😉 And when you’ve never wondered, doesn’t matter – read on too 😀

Normally I’m doing only video tutorials, so this one is different – only text and a few images – it should therefore work with every silly vimeo and youtube blocking proxies you’re possible behind 😉 I’m keen on knowing if those types of tutorials are pleasant for you, comment and flattr me if you’d like to – I’m sure that this helps on getting more out 😉

Target audience

This tutorial is targeted at advanced Blender users. You should be familiar with the interface and should have done simple tasks like positioning the camera, starting a render, switching into edit/object mode and editing meshes. Every step is textual documented including a blend file – so you could check every step if your results are similar to mine. I’m using Blender 2.64, but all steps should be doable in 2.63 too.

Shortcuts? Please!

This tutorial uses shortcuts wherever possible. Blenders user interface is highly optimized for this workflow – using those too will speed up your workflow extensively, so learn them and use them whenever possible! . Shortcuts and object names will be marked up bold and italic in this tutorial. If you have to press several keys in a row, the key combination will be separated by a comma – (“M,3”) means therefore: press “M” first, then “3”.
A similar press will be expressed by a plus sign – Shift+A means therefore: Hold “Shift” and press “A” while holding it still.

Tutorial subject

Maybe you already know the upper picture: I’ve created it for the official 2.63 Blender documentation  – It shows the effect we’re going to create: Extruding a text along a path / curve and animating the extrusion…Don’t matter if the previous sentence is not clear to you…everything’s gonna be alright 😉

For rendering, we’re going to use cycles, not the blender internal renderer. So if you’ve got a CUDA capable graphics card, you should turn the CUDA support on in the user preferences under System, all others will simply use the cpu for rendering. All furthermore settings and materials will be explained too.

Experienced Blender users that simply want to know how to this effect has been created could read only the step headlines … that should be enough to help you getting started!.

Project files

All beginnings are difficult, so here is the complete project archive for this tutorial: Project files

Step 1: Create a text and convert it to a curve

Enough words, let’s head right to the tutorial: On the image you see a text that has been extruded along a curve. So our first step is  to create a cool text and format it as we like to. Because the only way we are able to extrude an object along a curve is that the object is a curve itself, we have to convert it after creation. Let’s do it:

  • Open blender and delete the standard cube (if existent) by selecting it in object mode with the right mouse button and pressing “x” or “del” .
  • Then add a text object in the top view (“numpad 7”) by hitting Shift+A -> Text. Then edit the (with the right mouse button selected) text by hitting “Tab” and .
  • To change the text style we’re now selecting the Object-Data tab and load a cool ttf-font under “Font:Regular” by clicking on the folder symbol (in my case it is from Dafont
  • To fulfill the step completely, we have to convert the text object to a path. Use the force…err use the key combination alt+c and choose the first option (Curve from Mesh/Text).
  • Tip 1: When you’ve got nasty drawing errors (it looks like a character is not completely filled in solid draw mode (“Z”)) the generated curves are overlapping. To fix this, select the text curve and go into the edit mode by hitting “Tab”. Now adjust the control points in a way that they don’t overlap anymore.
  • Tip 2: Path and curve objects consist of control points. These define how a path is shaped and can be translated in edit mode (“Tab”) by hitting “G”.
  • Rename the text curve afterwards to “MyText” by hitting “N” under “Item->Name”  or in the Object” tab

Step 2: Create an extrusion path for the text

Next is to create a path or curve (both working) that is used to extrude the previously created curve text along :

  • Let’s add a path from the top view first. Do this by switching the view (“Numpad 7”) and adding a path object“Shift-A ->Curve ->Path”
  • Alter your path into a curved shape by moving the control points with “G” in the edit mode. If you’d like to add more points, just select the last one and click with your left mouse button while holding “Ctrl”. If you’d like to subdivide a path segment, select both control points and press “W”, then “Subdivide”
  • Change the name of our path like you’ve done it in the last step. Name it “ExtrusionPath” – this concludes the step and brings us to the cool things – the actual extrusion along the path.

Schritt 3: Extrude the text along the path using bevel

Let’s bring the text onto the curve:

  • We select the newly created path with a right click and select the Object-Data tab. There, we enter “MyText” under “Geometry->BevelObject“. To do this just click into the box and select the object. This selection should change the display of the path immediately: Our text is now extruded along the complete “ExtrusionPath”.
  • To change the size of the text on the path scale your “MyText” object in the object mode by hitting “S”. This should have an immediate effect on the extrusion too. Tip: You can also change your path after having the bevel object entered: Just select the path, go into the edit mode via “Tab” and change the control points.
  • Maybe you saw already that our extrusion is unfilled in the back and the front. To change that, you select the “ExtrusionPath” and check under the“Object-Data” tab the checkbox that is named “Geometry->Fill caps”
  • When we would render now, the “MyText” object would be in the way…so let’s move it to another layer by selecting it and pressing “M,2”, to move it to the second layer.
  • Finally, you set the camera appropriately (Select the camera and hit “G” und “R” oder “Shift+F to place it to your needs).

Step 4: Animate the start bevel factor

To set the start and end point we’re using the recently implemented feature from Sergey Sharibin:

  • Select the “ExtrusionPath” and change the value for “Geometry->Start bevel factor” on the “Object-Data” tab. The starting point of the extrusion changes with our new value, right? And as you surely have already thought, we can also change the endpoint of our extrusion by changing the value for the “Geometry->End bevel factor” .
  • Tip 3: Those values are  mapped the following way: 0 = start(or end) the extrusion on 0% of the complete path. 1 = start (or end) the extrusion on 100% of the complete path…so 0.5 would mean: cover 50% percent of the path – got it?
  • To animate those values just go to frame 1 hold your mouse over “Geometry->Start bevel factor” and press “I” to insert a keyframe. The background turns yellow. Change the frame to 70 after that, change the “Geometry->Start bevel factor” again and while holding the mouse over the value hit “I” again. When you’re hitting “alt+a” you will see the extrusion progress until frame 70 is reached. This method works for almost every user changeable value in Blender.

Step 5: Cycles – Settings

  • First choose the cycles engine in the upper menu dropdown box (left from the tiny blender icon in the application menu). Choose “Engine->Cycles” and change to the “Render”-tab. Choose 100 Samples under the “Sampling->Samples:Render” settings
  • Done? Then select the “ExtrusionPath” and change to the “Material“-tab. Create a new material by clicking on “New” and choose a blueish color by clicking on “Color”
  • When you’re rendering now by hitting “F12” cycles should calculate a neat image…
  • After our first image rendered we should try to make the standard gray background pretty: Change to the “World”-tab, click on “Use Nodes” and select “Background” under “Surface” and “Sky texture” under “Color” (by clicking on the gray dot in the same row). Rerender and it should be much better!
  • The final touch is done by activating some depth of field: Select the camera and switch to the “Object data”-tab”. Set theAperture:Size” to 0.0050 and the Aperture:Blades” to 5 under the “Depth of field” category. The  focal point can be set by entering a value in “Focus:Distance” or by an object (f.e. an empty) that you place wherever you like to set the focal point and choose the object under the Focus:Distance” box.

Congratulations, this concludes the tutorial :)


So how is yours looking? I’m keen of your results – how about linking to it in the comments? Flattr me if you like this tutorial and come back soon to see more.

Btw: Sergey is the name of the Blender developer that implemented on (my begging ;)) this cool extrusion start/end feature…Sergey Sharibin – so thanks Sergey 😉

See you soon,

Thomas Beck (Plasmasolutions)