Tutorial : blueprint setup in Blender

This is my first detailed tutorial : each command is described, with keyboard shortcut given if available.

Please don’t be afraid by the length, you just have to sit and follow this step-by-step : nothing to guess or read between lines.

Before starting Blender

Get the blueprint 🙂 See my ressources page to have some link to start with.

Then search for car dimensions : length, height, width (take care of which width it’s : including sidemirrors or not, for example).

I use metric system but it doesn’t matter to use another : just stay coherent from one car to another, in case you want to mix scenes : whole cars, rims, environment, etc.) A Blender unit will represent a meter in my scenes.

Scene setup

Start blender with default scene : a cube, a lamp, a camera.

Tutorial blueprint setup 01

Remove lamp and camera. Select the cube and enter edit mode. By default cube edges have length of 2.0 units. You can verify it by using “Edge Length” button in Editing panel (F9)

Tutorial blueprint setup 02

This value of 2.0 means (for the use I make of Blender units) 2.0 meters. Size the cube by a 0.5 factor to have edges of 1.0 (it will be 1 meter) :

* AKEY to select all vertices,
* SKEY to enter resize function,
* Type 0.5 then ENTER to confirm

Move the cube upward (Z axis) by 0.5 :

* With all vertices selected (AKEY if needed)
* GKEY to enter grab function.
* Type ZKEY to constraint move along the Z axis.
* Type 0.5 then ENTER to confirm.

You have now a cube whom bottom is at Z=0 :

Tutorial blueprint setup 03

I take the following sample values for car dimensions :

* Length : 4.70m, along X axis in my scene setups (oriented back to front)
* Width: 1.80m, along Y axis in my scene setups (oriented left to right, from inside the car)
* Height: 1.30m, along Z axis in my scene setups (oriented bottom to top)

Now resize the cube according to car dimensions :

* Choose 3D Cursor as rotation/scaling pivot in the menu at bottom of 3D view.
* Check the 3D cursor is at origin, enforce it if needed using SHIFT+CKEY.
* Select all vertices with AKEY.
* SKEY, XKEY, type 4.70 then ENTER.
* SKEY, YKEY, type 1.80 then ENTER.
* SKEY, ZKEY, type 1.30 then ENTER.

You get the following cube :

Tutorial blueprint setup 04

In the previous picture, only two vertices are selected : the upper-most on the left side (from inside the car). Select these two vertices on your own cube, using RMB for first one and Shift+RMB for the second one. Then remove the edge by pressing XKEY, choosing “Edges” in the popup menu. You get the following :

Tutorial blueprint setup 05

Why doing this : to keep only 4 faces on it : the four view of a common blueprint : top, side, front and rear. One more step : invert the normals : press “Flip Normals” button in Editing panel (F9). You can check the normals are directed toward the inside of the cube by clicking “Draw Normals” in the same panel :

Tutorial blueprint setup 06

Why having in-normals ? This way you can have a glimpse of top print by putting it in the bottom face of the cube and looking to it from top view (NUMPAD 7). Just now have to put the blueprint on it 🙂

Blueprint time !

Before actually putting blueprint, we have to split the current 3D view in 2 parts :

* The 3D view to view the cube, select faces and check the blueprint.
* The UV/Image Editor, to load blueprint image and map faces on it.

To do it, move mouse cursor just between menu bar (at top of window) and 3D view (that’s it, on the border line). The cursor changes to a vertical double-arrow. Press MMB and select “Split Area” in the popup menu : click in the 3D view to split it. Then you get two 3D views.

In the right one, change window type to “UV/Image Editor”. You get the following screen :

Tutorial blueprint setup 07

You’re ready !

In 3D view :

* Escape from edit mode (TAB)
* Enter “UV Face Select” mode using “Mode” selector at the bottom of 3D window.
* Select all faces with AKEY.

In UV/Image Editor :

* In menu “Image”, choose command “Open…”
* Select your file containing the blueprint image : I advise you to use PNG format, more suitable than JPG and lesser in size than BMP. I remind you that GIF is not supported.

You get the following screen (image credits go to the one owning the rights) :

Tutorial blueprint setup 08

I wrote to select all view just to make sure image is loaded for all 4 views. But now you have to work one view at a time :

* In 3D view, select only one face using RMB.
* In UV/Image Editor, you get 4 vertices on each corner of the image.
* Move corners 2 by 2 (a side at a time) to line up to the blueprint using GKEY to enter grab function.
* I advise you to move top and bottom sides only in vertical displacements, to keep them horizontal (horizontal displacements for left and right sides) You can use XKEY and YKEY while in grab function( XKEY to allow only horizontal displacements, YKEY for vertical ones)

You get the following :

Tutorial blueprint setup 09

Now in 3D view press ALT+ZKEY to select “Textured” as “Draw Type” (available also at bottom of 3D view)

Tutorial blueprint setup 10

You can see 3 things :

* First, blueprint appears on each side. Good point.
* Then, side view is lined-up. Another good point.
* Next, obviously, something is wrong : side view needs rotation.

Go back in UV/Image Editor, select all corners using AKEY and rotate the picture 90° (or 270°, as needed) using RKEY and typing 90 (or 270). Redo the line-up work side by side, and this time you’re done.

Do it 3 times more for the other views :

Tutorial blueprint setup 11

You may have noticed I put front view in rear face, and rear view in front face. It’s not a trick, the same is for the left view (being in right face) and top view (being in bottom face). Using inversed normals, the face supporting the front view points toward the front (and so on for other views) : this is correct lineup.

Congratulations, blueprint setup completed !

12 thoughts on “Tutorial : blueprint setup in Blender

  1. thanks for making this tutorial, but i need help.

    i cant select “UV Face Select” under modes. it doesent show. contact me with by my email. if you cant find my email, pm me over at smcars.

  2. You can’t because this was written for a previous version of Blender. For current version, you should enter Edit Mode (TABKEY) and then press UKEY to show up the UV Face select options.

  3. I have already placed the blueprint but whenever I create another cube and go to top view, instead of seeing just one face of the cube, I also see portions of the other faces of the cube. How can I work around this problem? thanks

  4. Maybe you’re in perspective mode instead of orthographic mode. Or maybe you added the 2nd cube while not in top view, so it’s not aligned.

    Please post a screen capture to let me understand if I’m wrong.

  5. Hi! I am newbie and followed this tutorial
    It works good, no problems with this, the problem comes later. I will start my car from the hood – for that purpose i made a plane and positioned it roughly over the top blueprint, but when i go to edit mode and want to start shaping it i realized that it isn’t transparent and i can’t see the lines on the car. I made a screenshot to show you what i mean
    If i press “z” for wireframe it is transparent, just what i want, but then blueprints disappear.
    Please help me, i can’t even start modeling

  6. It’s a slight drawback of my method. But easy to solve.

    With your model (i.e. what is a plane at the moment) selected, go to the Buttons window, press F7 to show Object panels. In the Draw panel, there is a setting named Drawtype, which is currently set as Shaded. If you just set it as Wire, your model (the plane) will be transparent and you’ll be able to model while seeing the blueprint.

  7. hello, what do you mean by selecting 3d cursor, i cant seem to get just one face of the cube for deleting or2 for that mather. when i press x and delete it just delets the whole box

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