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Workshop: Orthographic Images with Blender

Blender is a free, open-source, 3D creation software. We’ll be using it as another option to create orthographic images of our models.

Orthographic stands as the opposite of perspective – it is a 2-dimensional projection, and in the architectural context, we usually refer to them as plans, sections, or elevations.

You can download Blender from https://www.blender.org/.

After skipping the Blender splash screen and settings window, you should see something like this ->

Every Blender new file contains default starting content – a cube, a light, and a camera. You can delete them using the delete (or ‘x’) key on your keyboard.

In order to import your own model to Blender, go to file -> import -> Wavefront (.obj). In case your model is in a different file format, you can choose the appropriate one.

Your .obj file should be accompanied by two other files, all located in the same folder – a jpg texture file, and a .mtl file which is required to connect the geometry with the texture. Blender will know to import everything. You only need to select the .obj file.

After importing the model, rotate around it to inspect the model. You can your mouse or the controls on the upper right corner of the screen:

In many cases when importing a model, you will find the model is rotated sideways. You can open the controls to move, scale, and rotate the model by dragging the little arrow next to the movement controls.

In order to see the model with its texture (to make sure it was imported properly), change the viewport shading option using the circle-icons right above the controls on the top-right corner.

In order to create our orthographic view, create a new camera using Add -> Camera.

In order to “look through” the camera, click the camera icon at the controls area.

By default, the camera is a perspective one. In order to change it to an orthographic view, go to the camera settings (while the camera is selected) like in the following image:

If the camera only captures a portion of the model, use the “Orthographic Scale” in order to scale the model to fit the camera’s view.

Next, while the camera is selected, set the rotation of the camera to round numbers such as 0, 90, 180, etc, to get a section or plan view. You can use the coordinates of the camera to both frame the model and to set the “cutting” plane for the section or plan.

After setting the view you wish to render, you’ll need to just set a white background to the image. Follow these settings:

At least, go to Render -> Render Image. A new window will open up with the resulting image. from there you can save it using Image -> Save.