Gingerbread Man Tutorial for 2.58

This tutorial is based loosely on the Gus tutorial that appeared in the Blender 2.3 Guide. I will not be doing everything the same as it was done in Stefanos tutorial, though the result will be similar. It will cover basic modelling, texturing, and rigging.
All feedback is appreciated.

Part 1 : Modelling Gus

Before beginning, we must delete the default cube, and exit perspective mode.
To delete the cube, right click on it, and hit the X key, and choose the delete option that will appear. We don’t need the camera either, so just delete it for now. To exit perspective mode, hit the 5 key on your number pad.
Now we’ll add a background image, to use as a reference while we model GUS the gingerbread man. You can download mine, or make your own. I made mine in Blender using vector curves.

  1. To add your reference image, go into front view ( 1 key on your number pad ) then hit the N key with your mouse cursor in the 3D window. Click the empty box that says ‘background image’. Now click the little arrow. Click the ‘add image’ button, and then click the arrow that says ‘not set’. Click the ‘open’ button, and browse for your image. Open the image. Now you should see your image in the 3D window. ( Fig 1 )

  2. From the ADD menu on the top of your screen, add a mesh of type ‘plane’. Now in your toolshelf, over on the left, click ’ Align to View '. You should now be looking at it straight on. Hit the + key on your number pad a couple times to zoom in.

  3. With your plane still selected, TAB into edit mode, and right click on a single vertex to select it. SHIFT right click on two additional vertices to select them. Hit the X key to delete those three vertices, leaving you with one.

  4. Right click on that vertex to select it, and using the G key ( grab ), position it on top of his left shoulder. Use the E key ( extrude ), to extrude a row of vertices along his upper arm. ( fig 2 ).

( more to come in next post )

  1. Select all those vertices, using A ( select all ) or B ( border select ) and extrude them downward toward the lower edge of the arm. Go into wireframe drawmode Then one by one, align them with the lower edge of the arm. ( fig 3 )

  2. Now we’ll use the loop cut tool. Press ctrl R ( loop cut ), and pass your mouse cursor over one of the vertical edges you have just created. You will see a purple line passing horizontally through your faces/edges. Rotate you middle mouse button away from you a click, until the single purple line becomes a double purple line. Left click to cut. ( fig 4 )

  3. Now repeat what you just did to the left arm, on the left leg. Start by duplicating a single existing vertex ( shift D ), and moving it to the leg area. It should extend from his groin down to his ankle. ( fig 5 )

( more to come in next post )

  1. Select the central edge of where the wrist cuts off, and push it slightly inward using the G key. ( fig 6 ) Now extrude that edge out toward the area you just moved it from. Scale it downward slightly ( S key ), and extrude outward again, to the tip of the hand. Scale the edge up slightly. ( fig 7 ) Now fill in the remaining spaces. To do this, select the vertices around the hole you wish to fill and press F. ( fig 8 )

  2. Repeat the previous step to create the foot.

( continued in next post )

  1. Now select the row of vertical edges, where the arm would meet the body. Extrude inward until you hit the center line. ( fig 9 )

  2. Make a double loop cut through those faces. ( fig 10 ) Notice we now have 3 faces spanning the left side of the chest, which is the same as the area spanning groin and hip, making our next task easy.

  3. Bridge these edges. ( fig 11 )

( to be continued )

The original Gus tutorial was what finally made Blender ‘click’ for me after a few failed attempts, so very glad to see it back. Great work.

Thanks Ben, I don’t know if it will achieve the same reknown as the original Gus tutorial, but hopefully it will help someone. Here comes the next bit:

13) Along these new faces, make a triple loop cut. ( fig 12 ) Adjust the vertices on the outside edge to match his outline more closely.

  1. Select these three vertices. ( fig 13 ) Move them upward, to match the contour of his shoulder. ( fig 14 )

  1. Select the middle of those vertices, and extrude an edge around like so. ( fig 15 ) and then keep going, tracing the outline of his head, lining your vertices up with the row you just extruded. ( fig 16 ) Fill in these new edges with faces. ( fig 17 )

  1. Select some of the vertices from the inside edge, and extrude them toward the center. ( fig 18 ) Line up these new vertices with your center line. Fill in the remaining two faces.

  2. One half of Gus is now complete. The next thing to do, is use the scaling widget to straighten out the edge that runs straight down his middle. Use the border select tool ( B ) to select that edge. Activate your widgets if they are not active, and use the scaling widget to scale along the X axis, until your edge is reasonably straight. Line it up with the center line. ( fig 19 )

  1. Now it’s time to mirror him. Tab into Object mode. See the button that looks like a wrench on the panel to the right on your screen? Press that button to access your modifiers panel. Click on the double arrow, and select ‘Mirror’. ( fig 20 )

  2. Now click ‘apply’ to make the modifier real.

  3. Tab back into edit mode, and use the scaling widget to collapse the two center edges into each other along the X axis, until they are very close. Then, while they are still selected, hit the ‘remove doubles’ button, which is over on the left of the screen in your tool shelf. At the top of your screen it will tell you how many have been removed. If you have missed any, you can weld them using ‘alt M’. Gus is now one piece, allthough still quite flat. ( fig 21 )

  4. select all vertices, using the A key, and hit the ‘recalculate’ ( normals ) button, which is conveniently located directly beneath the remove doubles button.

  5. Now, with all his vertices still selected, go into side view. ( 3 key on your number pad ). Hit E to extrude the whole thing backward a bit, giving him depth. ( fig 22 )

  1. Switch to solid draw mode, and use ctrl R to make a loop cut all along the new face loop you have just created. ( fig 23 ) Once again, select all, and hit the recalculate normals button. Now Alt Right Click on the new edge loop you just created to select it again. Hit alt S ( scale along normal ) and drag your cursor away from Gus slightly. Nothing too dramatic. ( fig 24 )

  2. Tab back into object mode. Now, over on the left, in our tool shelf, set his shading to ‘smooth’. And back over in the modifiers panel, give him a modifier of type ‘subdivision surface’. Now he is looking like a real object. ( fig 25 )

You’ll note that my draw mode has changed, in that even though I am in solid draw mode, and object mode, in fig 25, you can see an optimized wireframe drawn over my mesh. If you want yours to look this way, go back to your subsurf modifier, and click ‘Optimal Draw’. Now Change to your object panel, and about halfway down on the left, click ‘wire’. Or, you can just avoid this step, since it is not really necessary.

  1. Now let’s add some frosting. Start by adding a simple plane, from front view, the same as we did at the beginning of the tutorial.

  2. Go into wireframe draw mode. Scale down the new plane, to the width of a blob of frosting, and position it in front of the body mesh, where one or the other of his eyes should be. Duplicate it in edit mode, and position the duplicate for his other eye. Now duplicate once more, and position the third duplicate near the corner of his mouth. Rotate it slightly, and then select just the inside edge. ( fig 26 )

  3. Now we’ll auto-extrude the rest of his mouth. While holding the ctrl key, left click where you want your next edge to extend to. keep doing it until he has a mouth. Don’t make it too perfect, because we want it to look like frosting that was squirted on. ( fig 27 )

  4. Now just duplicate an edge segment, and do the same process for the wrists and ankles. Give him some buttons too. ( fig 28 ) When you have made all your extrusions, select all vertices and hit the recalculate normals button on your tool shelf.

  1. Go into side view, and select all of the frosting in edit mode. Extrude the frosting to give it depth, just like we did with the body. Recalculate normals again, tab back into object mode, and set shading to smooth in the tool shelf. Give the frosting a subdivision surface modifier, just like you did for the body. Now move it back a touch, so that the frosting and the cookie overlap a bit. He should look something like this: ( fig 29 ) We are now through with the modelling, and can move on to materials.

I’m going to texture the frosting first. And when I say I am going to texture it, I really mean I am going to add a material, because the frosting will be a simple material, that requires no actual texture channels.

  1. Select the frosting in object mode, and over on the right, in your properties window, Look for the button that looks like a lens in front of a checkerboard. If you don’t see it, it might be hiding, so position your mouse cursor over the left edge of your properties window untill the cursor changes to a double arrow, then click and drag to the left, to expand the window, until you see the button. ( fig 30 ) Click on it, then click the big button that says ’ New ', to add a new material. ( fig 31 )
    Let’s review the materials settings we will be using for a moment. See where it says ‘Diffuse’? That is the overall color. You can change it by clicking on the color field, and making adjustments the same as you would do in most any paint program. The slider just under it which says ‘intensity’ controls how much light it reflects back at you. Setting that higher will give us a brighter, more visible color. Setting it lower will yield a duller, grayer color in the render. Just beneath these settings are the ‘specular’ settings. These control the shininess of the material. The ‘intensity’ adjusts the overall value of the specularity, and the ‘hardness’ adjusts the concentration of the specularity. So, let’s get on with it…

  2. Adjust the diffuse color to pure white, by clicking on the color field just beneath where it says ‘diffuse’. Also, turn up the intensity. Turn the specular down to 0, or near 0. The hardness doesn’t matter, since we have no specularity. Alternatively, you can give him spec and hardness values, if you wish for your frosting to be more glossy. That is it, for the first material. You can rename the material to ‘frosting’ or something like that if you wish.

  3. Now select the cookie. Give it a new material. We will do the exact same thing for the cookie as we did for the frosting, but instead of making him white, we’ll make him brown. Solid brown isn’t bad, so you can skip the next step if you wish, and move on to the part about rigging him. If you care to do some subtle texturing on the cookie, read on…

  4. Directly to the right of the button you pressed to take you to the materials buttons, there is a button which looks like a red and white checkerboard. Click this button to go to the textures buttons. Now click the big button that says ‘New’. This will give you the default clouds texture. Coincidentally, that is the very texture I wish to use. I will make just a couple of changes. ( fig 32 )

  1. Firstly, the texture you have now is a magenta color, which is not what we want. Scroll down to the bottom of your texture buttons, and click on the magenta ( bright pink ) colored bar, and change it to white.

  2. At the moment, the whiteness of the texture is too strong. We just want a subtle effect. So, look just above the formerly magenta colored bar, at the ‘influence’ buttons. Note that the only setting that is checked right now is ‘color’. That is the only one we want right now, so, ignore the other ones, and click on the one that says ‘color’ and drag your mouse to the left, until the influence is about .125 or so.

  3. Just above the ‘influence’ settings, are the ‘mapping’ settings. Where it says ‘Flat’, which is for something flat, such as a plane. Click the double arrow, and change it to ‘Cube’, which works better for things with depth. ( fig 33 )

Gus is now textured. There are other things we could do for him, but in the interest of keeping it simple, I am going to call the texturing done. You can go back to your materials window for a preview of his texture. Now it’s time to rig him with an armature…

Just before rigging is a good time to look at your mesh and to make any changes that need to be made. I am going to do five things before rigging him: a) Make the buttons and eyes a little bigger, b) Join the cookie mesh and the frosting mesh into a single mesh, c) Scale him down to a more managable size, d) Apply scale, and e) center his origin.

  1. Select the frosting and tab into edit mode. Right click to select a single vertex of one of the buttons. Shift right click to select single vertices from the rest of the buttons, and the eyes. Now hit ctrl L. ( select connected ) Now hit Alt S ( scale along normal ) and drag your cursor away from the selection, until they plump up a bit.

  2. Tab back into object mode, and right click to select the frosting. Now shift R click to select the cookie. Hit ctrl J ( join meshes ).

  3. Hit S ( scale ) and scale Gus down to the size you want him to be. Now hit ctrl A ( apply scale ).

  4. Over on the tool shelf, hit the button that says ‘Origin’, and select ‘origin to geometry’.

  5. We no longer need a background image, so, go back to where you loaded it, and click the X to delete it.

  1. Now we’re ready to add an armature, and begin the process of rigging him. Go into wireframe draw mode. From front view, left click on, or just above his groin area. Make sure the cursor is aligned with his middle. Click on the add menu at the top of your screen, and select add >> armature >> single bone. ( fig 34 )

  2. Activate your grabbing widget, and tab into edit mode. Using the widget, move the tip of the bone, which will be selected, down toward the base of the bone, until it’s tip is about where you want the central axis of his hips to be. You may need to zoom in a bit. Hit E ( extrude ) and using the grabbing widget, pull the tip of the bone upward to about his neck. Right click on the main portion of the bone to select it. Press W and select ‘subdivide’. This divides your single bone, into 2 bones. With both the new bones still selected, subdivide again so that you have four bones. ( fig 35 )

  3. On the left, in your tool shelf, under ‘armature options’, check the box labelled 'x axis mirror '. This will not only allow you to extrude your armature in a symetrical fashion ( meaning when you extrude to the right, your extrusion will be mirrored on the laft half as well, similar to the mirror modifier for meshes. ), but it will automatically give the bones names that will enable you to use pose flipping, once Gus is rigged.

  4. Select the upper tip of the tiny base bone, and hit Shift E ( mirror extrude ), then drag to position the tips of the new bone segments at where his thigh joint should begin. Now extrude ( E ) down to his feet. With the legs selected, subdivide ( W ) so that each of his legs has two segments. ( fig 36 )

  1. We are going to continue the same process for his ‘ribs’ and arms. Also, we should probably extrude him a neck and head bone. ( E ) He should look roughly like so: ( fig 37 ) Select all bones in edit mode, and hit ctrl N. ( recalculate bone roll angles on x axis ) The armature is now complete. Be sure to save a copy of your file now, in case you decide to go back and make changes after you’ve tested the rig.

  2. Tab back into object mode, and go into side view. Use your grabbing widget to move the armature so that it is aligned along the center of your mesh. Right click to select your mesh, then shift right click to select the armature. Hit ctrl P and selct the automatic bone weights option. Gus is now fully rigged, and can be animated.

  3. Now to test him and fix any glitches. To enter pose mode, hit ctrl Tab. You’ll note that in pose mode, you can select individual bones by right clicking on them just like in edit mode. From front view, select one of Gus’s bones and rotate it. Repeat this with other bones. If you want to reset the rotation of a bone, or bones, select it / them, and hit alt R. ( clear rotation ) He should have a fair range of movement throughout, but I see a couple problems with him.

The first problem is that his hip buckles when you rotate his leg bones to the outside. ( fig 38 ) To fix this, we are going to delete his hip bones. I felt this was a simpler alternative to weight painting, which can be extremely frustrating. I should also mention the corrective shape key add-on, but we’re not going to use that either. We are just going to delete a couple of bones.

We’ll scrap our current file, and reopen the file that we saved just before rigging him. So, reopen, and once again, orient your armature to his center, but this time, before you parent the mesh to the armature, go into edit mode with your armature, and delete the hip bones. Now we will be able to grab and move his legs independant of his spine to compensate for the buckling. Again, in object mode, select the mesh, then the armature, and hit ctrl P, and select the automatic weighting option.

  1. Now that the hip problem is dealt with, let’s move along to the other problem. During the automatic weighting, the bones of the bicep gained too much influence over the wrist frosting, and the neck bone gained too much influence over the face frosting. As a result, when we bend the head too far forward, or the forearms too far inward, the frosting starts to disappear inside of the cookie portion of the mesh. ( fig 39 ) To fix this we are going to remove those vertices from the vertex groups that correspond to the offending bones.

  1. When we parented him to the armature, for each of his bones, a corresponding vertex group was created, complete with weights. These vertex groups share the names of the bones that represent them. To simplify the next process, select your armature, ctrl tab into pose mode, or tab into edit mode, and while selecting the bones of the biceps and neck, jot down the names of these bones.

  2. Right click on your mesh to select it, and over in your properties panel, click the button that looks like an upside down mesh triangle, just to the right of the wrench. Tab into edit mode and you’ll see a list of your vertex groups. Select a vertex from each piece of Gus’s wrist frosting, as well as from the eyes and mouth, then his ctl L ( select connected ). ( fig 40 ) Find the vertex groups with the names of the bicep, and hit the button that says ‘remove’. ( fig 40a ) Repeat this for the other bicep bone, and the neck bone. Tab back into object mode, and give him a final test.

We are now finished! Gus is alive!

I am not going to go into animating, with this tutorial, but I may make a little animation and post it in this thread.

Blend on my brothers…blend like the wind!