Creating an Arrow in Blender

Introduction: Creating an Arrow in Blender

When you’re trying to learn how to model things, it’s easy to feel stuck between a rock and a hard place; you either buy overpriced modeling software, or deal with the overhang that is the Blender learning curve. In this guide, we’ll be creating a simple arrow using Blender 2.8. This guide isn’t intended to teach any advanced modeling techniques or show you how to create a fully realistic, commercially-viable arrow, but is instead intended for users who want to learn the absolute basics of how to use Blender but aren’t quite sure where to begin.

Glossary of Terms:
Throughout this guide, you're likely to see the following terms:

  • Vertex: A point in 3D space.
  • Edge: A line connecting two vertices
  • Face: A surface on a 3D model, bounded by 3 or more edges. Each model is made up of hundreds, if not thousands or even millions of faces. In reality, each face can only be a triangle, but Blender allows us to treat faces made from more than 3 edges as if they were single objects.
  • Normal: An imaginary line that points out of a face perpendicular to it.
  • Extrusion: "Stretching" a part of a model in or out, without affecting the original set of vertices, edges, and faces.
  • Axes: Imaginary lines used to orient onself. We'll use Blender's default coordinate system as follows:
    • X Axis: Positive X points to the right.
    • Y Axis: Positive Y points forward (into your screen)
    • Z Axis: Positive Z points upwards.
  • Orientation: In the extrude popup windows, this tells Blender how to interpret the numbers we enter.
    • Global: Move the new face(s) along the global axes.
    • Normal: Move the new face(s) with respect to the original face's normal. For example, an extrusion of 1m in the Z direction with a Normal Orientation on a face that points to the right will create an extrusion of 1m to the right, even though the global Z axis points up.

Glossary of Keystrokes:

Although this guide will always be explicit about key usage, it's best to understand what keys do before you use them:

  • Middle-Click+Drag: Orbits the camera around a central point.
  • Alt+Middle-Click: Places the center point the camera orbits around at the position clicked.
  • Scroll: Zooms the camera in and out, relative to the central point.
  • Right-Click: Select a vertex, edge, or face, depending on the current mode. This discards all current selections to select only what was clicked.
  • 1, 2, and 3: Set selection mode to vertex, edge, or face, respectively.
  • Shift+Right-Click: Selects something, but doesn't discard the rest of the current selection.
  • E: Begin extruding the current object(s). After pressing E, moving the cursor will allow you to eyeball the desired distance.
    • In this guide, we'll be setting distances and scalings by hand in the modes' popups, so always click immediately after pressing E or S.
  • S: Begin scaling the current object(s), with respect to their center. After pressing S, moving the cursor scales the object equally with respect to all axes according to the mouse's movements. As with E, always left click immediately after pressing S.
  • F3: Opens a searchable list of all possible actions.
  • X: Deletes the current object(s). The sub-menu it opens has many options, but we'll only need to use the following:
    • "Only Faces": Remove only the face selected. Leaves all vertices and edges intact.

Supplies:

  • Blender 2.8
    • On Mac, Windows, or Linux: https://blender.org/download/
      • Linux users may also attempt installation through their respective distributions' package managers, but as of the time this guide was written, Ubuntu has yet to update to Blender 2.8. This guide will not work with versions before Blender 2.8.
  • Basic understanding of computer usage
    • Right/left/middle clicking
      • Touchpad users may have difficulty middle clicking without an external mouse.
    • Keyboard usage, including Fn keys
      • To use the F(1-12) keys in this guide, you may need to hold down the Fn key on your keyboard, otherwise the keys may act as other controls such as volume or brightness.
    • Your wits

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Step 1: Background and Setup

We'll be creating a simple arrow that's loosely based on a real arrow's dimensions, scaled up by a factor of 100. This means that although the sketch has distances noted in centimeters, there's no need to enter "cm" instead of "m" when entering any values in this guide.

As you can see, the main shaft of the arrows will be approximately 64cm long and 0.5cm in diameter. The tip of the arrow will be a simple broad-head 5cm long. The notch will be 0.5 cm deep, and the feathers will stick approximately 1.5 cm out of the shaft. The broad-head will be 5cm long and 1.5cm wide. The feathers will be 8cm long and stick out 1.5cm radially from the shaft. Remember that this guide is intended to teach you how to make your own creations, not just follow orders, so feel free to change values while modelling if you feel something looks better.

Setup

1.1 After you've gone through Blender's installation wizard (or package manager), go ahead and open it up.

1.2 After launching Blender, you should see a screen with the following popup window inside it (see above screenshot).

1.3 Select "Right" under "Select With", then click "Next".

1.4 From the popup window, click "General" under "New File"

NOTE: When following the following steps, be careful about accidentally clicking anywhere. It could disrupt things, as many menus in Blender are set to disappear when they're no longer "needed" (i.e focused).

Step 2: Making the Shaft

At this point, you should see simple cube outlined in orange.

2.1 Press X, then click "Delete" to remove the cube.

2.2 Press F3 to open up Blender's search menu, then search for and click "Add Cylinder".

At this point, you should see a Cylinder outlined in orange and a small box on the bottom left that says "> Add Cylinder"

2.4 Click the arrow to open the "Add Cylinder" menu, then change the options as follows:

  • Radius: 0.5
  • Depth: 64
  • Rotation X: 90

You should now see a long, thin cylinder laying horizontally on against a grid. (See above screenshot)

Step 3: Making the Head

With the shaft finished, we'll need a broad-head.

3.1 Dragging with Middle-Click, rotate your view to the green "Y" axis in the upper right corner is pointing out the screen.

3.2 Scroll as appropriate so you can see the face on the end of the shaft.

3.2 Alt+Middle-Click on the end of the shaft.

3.3 Press Tab to enter edit mode, then 3 to enter face selection mode.

3.4 Using a Right-Click, select the face (circle) on the end of the shaft.

3.5 Press E to enter extrusion mode, then click once.

3.6 In the "Extrude Region and Move" window that appeared in the bottom left, set the following:

  • Move X: 0.0
  • Move Y: 0.1
  • Move Z: 0.0
  • Orientation: Global

3.7 Press S to enter scaling mode, then click once.

3.8: In the "Resize" window that appeared on the bottom left, set the following values:

  • Scale X: 1.1
  • Scale Y: 1.0
  • Scale Z: 3.0

You should now have something that looks like the first above screenshot.

3.9 Press E to begin another extrusion, then click to free the pointer.

3.10 In the "Extrude Region and Move" window, set the following values:

  • Move X: 0
  • Move Y: 5.0
  • Move Z: 0
  • Orientation: Global

3.11 Press F3 to enter search mode, then search for and click "Merge", then select "At Center".

In the end, you should have something that looks like the second above screenshot.

Step 4: Making the Notch

4.1 Dragging with a Middle-Click, rotate your view so the "Y" axis in the upper right points into the screen.

4.2 Using Scroll, zoom in/out until you can comfortably see the end of the cylinder opposite the broad-head you just made.

4.3 Alt+Middle-Click on the end of the cylinder, then Scroll to situate yourself comfortably.

  • You should now see something like the second above image.

4.4 Right-Click to select the face on the edge of the shaft.

4.5 Press E to enter extrusion mode, then click to free the cursor.

4.6 In the "Extrude" window that appeared on the bottom left, set the following values:

  • Move X: 0
  • Move Y: -8
  • Move Z: 0
  • Orientation: "Global"

4.7 Press X to enter deletion mode, then select "Only Faces" to delete the face on the end of the shaft.

  • You should now be able to see inside the arrow shaft.

4.8 Press 2 to enter edge selection mode.

4.9 Referencing the third above image, select all edges outlined in orange.

  • This should leave 4 edges unselected on the top and bottom of the circle (the purple edges).

4.10 Press E to enter extrusion mode yet again, and enter the following values:

  • Move X: 0
  • Move Y: -0.5
  • Move Z: 0
  • Orientation: "Global"

4.11 For each of the colors in the first above image, select all images outlined in that color (using Right-Click for the first click, and Shift+Right-Click for each click thereafter), then press F.

  • After following 4.11, you should have something that matches the first above image (other than the coloring).

Step 5: Making the Feathers

5.1 Alt+Middle-Click on the center of the first 8m extrusion we made in step 4.6. (Shown in first above image)

5.2 Press 3 to enter face selection mode.

5.3 Using a Right-Click followed by Shift+Right-Click, select the two faces on the top of the arrow. (Highlighted in the second above image).

5.4 Press E to enter extrusion mode, then set the following values:

  • Move X: 0
  • Move Y: 0
  • Move Z: 1.5
  • Orientation: Normal

5.5 Repeat steps 5.3 and 5.4 again on the left and right sides of the arrows, selecting faces slightly below the center of the shaft.

  • This should leave you with something that looks like the third above image.

5.6 Press 1 to enter vertex selection mode.

5.7 Select a pair of vertices on the broad-head facing side (not the vertices directly next to the notch, see the fourth screenshot).

  • The order is important here. Select the vertex on the extrusion, then the vertex on the shaft.

5.8 Use F3 to search for "Merge" and select "At Last"

5.9 Repeat steps 5.7-5.8 for all pairs of vertices on the broad-head-facing side of the feather extrusions.

  • This should leave you with something like the fifth above image.

Step 6: Patting Yourself on the Back

6.1 Press Tab to leave edit mode

6.2 Use Scroll to zoom out a bit so you can see the arrow in its entirety.

  • You ought to see something like the above screenshot.

6.3 Raise your hand behind your back, then slam it down on your back repeatedly to congratulate yourself on a job well done.

6.4 If you're familiar with FPS-style controls, you can press Shift+~ (Shift+Tilde) to enter a mode where you can use W/A/S/D to move forward/left/backward/right and the mouse to look around.

6.5 If you'd like to keep your creation around, don't forget to Ctrl+S to save it somewhere!

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    Discussions

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    audreyobscura
    audreyobscura

    3 months ago

    Thanks for sharing your tips!