There’s too many settings and functions in Blender to remember what each one does. And Google searches often raise more questions than they answer!
Introducing the Blender 101 series! The series where we focus on a specific area of blender and show you what each function does.
by Anderson Baptisa
Ahh the ever growing modifier panel. There’s some that we use everyday, and others we don’t go near since we’ve never understood what they actually do!
Which is why I’ve spent the last month, trying out every single modifier and creating examples for each…
So let’s tackle each one (starting from left to right).
Applies animations from external files to your objects.
To transfer a completely rigged character to another 3D application, bake an animation to disk and then play the results (like importing a realflow animation into Blender), or for re-using animations across other meshes like a stadium crowd for example.
Dynamically changes the UV coordinates to an object.
Once setup, it allows the user to quickly adjust a texture with a proxy (empty) object. (Unfortunately it is not available for Cycles yet. Sep/14)
Moving the existing UV coordinates from one object place to another.
Can be used for animations like text scrolling on a billboard.
Allows the artist to animate or customize the weight of a vertex group.
If you’re using a feature that is accessing a vertex groups (like a particle system), then this modifier will allow you fine tune it’s effect or even animate it’s influence.
This modifier allows you to mix the influence of two vertex groups.
With this you can add vertex group A + vertex group B with variable strength to use both on a single modifier.
Controls the weight of vertex groups based on the distance of an object.
It could be used to animate parts of an object melting based on the distance to a flame.
Makes repeating instances of the mesh.
Used commonly to make things with repeating geometry, like a brick wall or street lamps along a street.
Adds a bevel or chamfer to all the edges or vertices of a mesh.
Since no object in the real world object has a perfectly sharp edge this modifier adds realism by making the edge slightly chamferred.
Unite, subtract or intersect the geometry multiple objects.
Can be a time saver in modeling complex shapes, but it really shines in animations like an “invisible” door opening up on a wall.
Constructs (or deconstructs) your mesh, element by element.
Together with some material effects you can achieve a really cool animation of a laser building an object.
Reduces the amount of geometry on your mesh using different algorithms.
You can set a lower resolution mesh of your objects for physics simulations or optimize your scene, decimating objects that are far away from the rendering camera.
Turn smoothed edges into sharp corners based on their adjacent faces angle.
For creating sharp edges with the smooth shader on, without the ugly artifacts.
Hides/shows parts of your mesh based on vertex groups.
Useful when modeling a complex scene and you want to focus on one part of the mesh.
Mirrors your mesh along any axis.
Saves time when modelling perfectly symmetrical objects like characters or cars, as you only need to model one side.
Subdivides your mesh and allows you to sculpt more details on each level.
Commonly used when sculpting a character as it allows you to sculpt detail on each level of a subdivision and go back and forth.
Mesh reconstruction algorithm.
Useful with problematic meshes that have issues like too many triangles or faces that are too thin and elongated. Meshes like this tend to present artifacts when deforming or subdividing.
Stretches a mesh in a revolving shape.
It can be used to make a vase or other circular meshes out of a simple profile string of vertices.
Creates a skin mesh using the edges of an object.
Useful for quickly creating a base mesh of a creature, using just strings of vertices.
Adds thickness to faces.
Useful for making models hollow for 3D printing. Also for fragments in an explosion where each part needs to look dense instead of like paper.
Subdivides your geometry for a denser, smoother mesh.
Keeps your mesh clean and low poly, whilst giving you the freedom to increase or decrease the detail for your render.
Converts any type of polygon or n-gon into triangles.
For exporting your model to a game engine where you’ll need triangular faces instead of quads.
Converts all the faces to a renderable wireframe mesh.
Useful for showing off the actual geometry of an object, like for a demoreel or portfolio.
Deforms your object with the use of bones.
Just like in real life, the bones and tendons in our bodies are what deforms our skin and muscles. If you need to animate an organic character, this is the way to go.
Deforms your mesh into a sphere, cylinder or box shape.
For creating interesting morphing animations between geometric shapes (great for motion graphics).
Conforms your object to a curve shape.
To deform any object into the shape of a curve. Like a snake, chain links, or a cartoon bus making a tight curve.
Deforms your object with the use of a texture map.
Extremely useful for creating realistic materials, by taking an image texture, making a displacement map then using it to change the geometry. As seen here.
Grab vertices from another object when one interacts with it.
You can animate one object pulling or pushing parts of another object. Think of a piece of gum on the sidewalk when someone steps in it and stretches it out.
Smoothing algorithm that removes ‘noise’ from the geometry object while trying to keep its overall shape.
Especially useful for scanned data that might present noise in the mesh surface. You may also achieve an erosion effect on your mesh by playing with its parameters.
Original scan data of a bust of Galileo by Derrick Salmon.
Manipulate portions of your mesh while the algorithm tries to keep the overall details and shape.
Repose your character without having to create bones, assigning vertex weights, etc… Also comes in handy for stretchy exaggerated poses on cartoon characters.
Deforms your mesh using a lattice (cage) object.
For deforming the overall shape of your object, simulating stretches, squashes or bends…
Deforms your mesh using any other mesh as the cage, instead of the standard cube shaped lattice.
Really useful for all kinds for deformations. Pixar also uses this method on many of their stretchy cartoon characters.
Deforms your object to wrap around another object.
Conform a spline to the geometry of another shape. Like a road across a terrain.
Simple deformations of an object like Twist, Bend, Taper and Stretch.
Create interesting animations using basic deformations.
Smooths out the overall geometry but unlike the Laplacian Smooth; this will not try to retain the overall shape of your mesh.
For vastly smoothing out the geometry of an object.
Warp a portion of a mesh from one point to another.
For animations where part of an object needs to stretch to another point in space.
Deforms your objects using wave like oscillations.
Useful for adding simple wind effects to an object, without having to use a complex cloth simulator.
Simulates the realworld effect of fabric.
For simulating various types of fabric, from silk to denim.
Used in conjunction with other simulations, to make an object collide with others.
When your simulation needs to interact with another object. Like sparks (particles) bouncing off the floor.
Makes objects paint each other when they collide.
Multiple uses like; footsteps in the snow, rain hitting the pavement, fire burning a wall etc.
Explodes your mesh into separate pieces. Must be used in conjunction with a particle system.
For animations of an object disintegrating or exploding.
Simulates the real world effects of fluids.
For simulating fluid to the real world size of 10 meters (max). Do not use for large bodies like lakes or oceans (use the Ocean Modifier instead).
For simulating large bodies of water like a lake or an ocean.
When you want to simulate simple water surface effects on a large body of water.
Works together with a particle system mixing different meshes depending on the particle state (birth, life, death).
For switching a mesh with another from when it’s born to when it dies. You can also use this modifier to spawn particle trails from emitted particles.
Creates particles that can be ’emitted’ (thrown) from an object, particle instances that remain stationary or hair.
Multitude of uses: a comet emitting a trail of debris, trees distributed across the ground or using the hair type particles to create hair, fur or grass.
Simulates the real world effects of smoke or fire.
For creating a simple smoking object, a fire or both.
Makes the mesh (or part of the mesh) behave like jelly; wobble, stretch and be affected by gravity.
Retains the original shape of the mesh, but makes it soft and able to collide with others. Also useful when part of a character needs to ‘jiggle’.
Hopefully this article gave you some ideas for your next project, and of course I hope you now feel confident trying new modifiers :)
What part of Blender would you like explained in the next Blender 101 article? Post in the comments below!