Isometric Blender Tutorial + Download

I made this years ago and am just now sharing it. Sorry for the wait you never knew you were waiting for.

There’s two different ways to do isometric projection when using a computer screen:

True, exactly like isometric grid paper and the angles are 30° from horizontal as shown on the Wiki

Super easy to do in blender, just use the provided angles.

which gives you this:

…and digital, which for the benefit of smooth lines and consistent video game sprites uses a slightly off angle.

Habbo Hotel:

When zoomed in we see a pattern with lines using two pixels over and one pixel row up. You can do the trig yourself, but this is not perfectly 30°. It is, however, much easier to make by hand (as old games often were) and easier to calculate grid position (and thus, the imaginary 3D space the sprites occupy in “depth”).

A bit harder to do in Blender. I wish I could say I slaved over a hot calculator and furious pumped through calculations but honestly? I just played until it worked.

Some things to note:

Orthographic camera. As opposed to a perspective camera, orthographic means all of your lines are parallel. Since our isometric grid is an orthographic grid, we’ll be needing this. It’s in the camera settings of Blender.

Now, since we want that fixed viewpoint angle, we can’t rotate the camera or move it to look at things. We can, however, use the Shift X and Y to look around our scene and scale to zoom in and out. The physical camera should never change once we’ve set it’s proper location.

Setting up the 3D space. We’ll need two things, one or both you probably already have: a camera and a cube (or empty).

The cube can sit at 0,0,0 (X,Y,Z) and the camera should be moved to (pressing N and inputting the numbers at the top right) 12.05713, -12.05713, 9.84465 (X,Y,Z). Go ahead and lock those numbers if you’d like, to avoid accidentally moving something in the future. Now, the important part. Add a Track To constraint to the camera and target the cube. Play with those axis until it’s back to right side up (for me, -Z and world up is Y).

Pressing 0 on the numpad to see the camera’s view, you should be seeing your cube in isometric. F12 to render. Good? Good. If you want that old school Habbo / Roller Coaster Tycoon look, turn off AA in the render panel and make your resolution 640 x 480. You should notice your render is following that 2×1 line pattern we described above.

Of course, this works just as well with an empty, if you don’t want to see the cube in the render (for building scenes around it, etc.)

Fun fact, this is how to make a geometrically perfect Acrylo logo: Make cube. Join all four top verts into central point, making a pyramid. Move point up two units, so whole thing is four tall and the base 2×2. Smile and clap in delight.

If the instructions aren’t working out for you, or you’re a lazy bum you can download the .blend file here

Enjoy!

MIA

The above is the first time I’ve ever tried to do that hard surface style. I think it came out well. Then I was busy with car stuff for a while and bought this:

She’s an ’06 Mini Cooper S with basically everything and front rally lights (which I then discovered weren’t legal to turn on in town…)

It coincides with my birthday, so although I wasn’t planning on it for that reason it worked out to be a self-birthday present. It’s been a week and a day since I drove her off the lot and Calgary’s endured basically the entire gamut of weather in that time so I’m excited for spring and dry roads.

Meanwhile, my evenings were spent between a few freelance gigs, so I was MIA on the blogging front.

Then I drew this:

Which would be my… fourth? try at that style. There’s a few in between and after but they aren’t nearly as coherent and one is ridiculous (by request: Ke$ha riding a robot-ized Nyan Cat with a lightsaber).

This weekend will be bloated with posts because I have lots of ideas and for once, the time to get them out.

New Car

That’s a strange photo for a blog post to be written around, but I’ll try my best to describe it’s importance. It’s a still taken from an unreleased video I made the summer before last which is just me longboarding around my hometown and visiting old places of interest and nostalgia. It really wasn’t very good, but I’ve always enjoyed filming the footage more than actually making something out of it.

But it was a common sight that summer, looking over the passenger seat and seeing a faithful piece of bamboo reflect the warm sun around the dark grey interior. This shot in it’s video form shows the shadows of leaves in the trees lining old streets as they stream in, gently waving. The sound is sort of like a waterful or TV static. That white noise of wind. I sat in my car listening to bands I hadn’t heard since high school and staring out the window. It’s an understated activity, really. People see people staring out of windows and describe them as ‘doing nothing’ but it’s hardly a fair observation of what’s actually happening; in that moment I was simply being. I was parked across the street from a perpendicular road (think a large T that I was at the top intersection of) that has a perfect hill for cruising. Just steep enough that you can get some good speed and work into deeper carving, but not so steep that you fear for your ability to stop or bail. It’s a road that is lined with large, old trees and is in the general area of a small indoor pool we used to take swimming lessons at as kids. Beyond it is my elementary school where we were sometimes picked up in the very car I was sitting in then.

Cars as an interior space are an interesting thing because all of my memories come from the same viewpoint: my driver’s seat. With exception to a few from when I was a kid sitting in the back, most of what I know in that car is from the exact same vantage. The result of that is sort of a timelapse, where the time can be sped up to show the surroundings without confusion, because of the fixed angle. Most other spaces – interiors of buildings, for example – would speed up like a movie would, with cuts and scenes that happen all over. They’re all in the same space, but they can’t be compressed or played back in the same way.

And not that my nostalgia would be interesting to anyone but me, but it’s weird to think about all the people who’ve sat in that other seat. Or things, like the longboard or cameras or pizza. The handful of chairs I’ve managed to stuff into the tiny car and bring home. Lumber that’s stretched from the very front of the dash to the very back of the hatch (exactly 8′). My computer tower, seatbelted in and surrounded by blankets and pillows that time I came home for Christmas month school break. Guys and girls, conversations both heavy and giggled. The awkward silence of giving someone you don’t know very well a ride home. The acceleration-challenged rides with four guys crammed in and dancing to some ridiculous song on the radio. The hours spent parked in usual spots just talking and watching the sun set. The time spent alone, or talking to the car herself. Space exists in relation to the people occupying it, and in a lot of ways the car interior is the ultimate space for holding memories, simply because it’s there in so many contexts.

I bought a new car. I’m deeply excited, of course, but there’s a lot of me that’s bitter-sweet about giving up what amounts to one of my longest standing loves. It’s not to say I don’t have good friends but these past years have been filled with new cities, new people and new places – the physical thread that’s always been there has been this one car.


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