Setting Up Blender For Success

When it comes to using Blender I feel that the user experience presented is as important as the tools when it comes to working in 3d for extended periods of time. I always talk about what I call setting yourself up for success, or starting Blender in a way that doesn’t hurt the eyes.

While I personally try to keep Blender as vanilla as possible I felt it would be good to make a post discussing my default scene and workflow.

When it comes to storing your default scene. Its as simple as ctrl + U in the 3d View. You will get a box confirming the save which will ensure the next time you open Blender it will be exactly like that. This is important since you don’t want to have to deal with mapping every time.

Ctrl + U – saves user pref

Ctrl + Alt + U – open user preferences

The first SFQ to take care of is my theme. I don’t download themes from other places because then I’d have to link them but the defaults that come with Blender suffice. I am also using the one from Steam so your themes may differ. Just go in user preferences and change it. Its refreshing to change it from time to time to something that matches your mood or project. It helps me get into the zone.


While you’re in preferences I also enable the plugins I need and set up Cycles to use my GPU under cycles but thats beyond the scope of this post. However I do want to point out some useful things that might be worth pointing out.


In the 3d view of user prefs there is an area where you can adjust the size of vertices and outlines. In certain cases where the geo isn’t very dense I like the larger verts. Just something worth checking out sometime if you haven’t.


Enabling region overlap allows the T and N panels to be transparent. This is also handy for being able to close and open the panels without interrupting view-port renders plus it looks futuristic!


Strangely enough. I also like setting my smooth view up high like 800 so the transitions from the numpad keys are gradual. Also the numpad period focus (.) is also more graceful. These things are cosmetic but it makes Blender feel more tactile to use.

Now at this point I also want to discuss quick prefs. This is an add on that you can get here.

Once installed and enabled you can use this to change the default viewport shading. Personally I find this to be one of the most essential cosmetic changes I do to Blender.


Between the default and the Dark Grey the way the forms are being presented are much different. As strange as it sounds, I feel this improved the quality of my modelling immensely just due to the fact the initial presentation of default shaded meshes might not be the most efficient for someone like me.

If your thought is, “Why not matcaps?” Well. Do that. But I prefer the feeling of the Dark Grey. So this is turned on by default and set as my default scene so now we are almost set.

The next changes are strictly for those who model with this sort of workflow and may not be efficient or handy for everyone.


Select boundary loop is remapped to shift + ` in edit mode. This allows me to make quick selections and then get the border only. Its very quick for panel related things.

The other is mapping the mark sharp and clear sharp to alt + and shift + alt +.


This is more of a preference however I find it useful in some situations not as many now that Hard Ops exists.

I try not to stray from the defaults too bad in case I have to use another PC or my settings are lost. So theres also pie menus you can enable to make life easier but so much additional workflow changes at once can make Blender feel alien.

Another thing is on layer 0 of my default scene is a material sphere.


It contains materials for the blocking in phases of modelling you often see in my videos. When it comes to texturing I lean more towards PBR in my current work however having some basic materials can make quick modelling session alot easier. I gathered my materials from various sites like Blendswap and the B-wide Node collection.

I must also stress that having too much clutter in your default scene will make life harder so don’t go bananas gathering materials and building the hugest set of unusable materials on earth. Find those that work for you. Fine tune them tweak them and make them work for you. Alot of the materials I have I customize a small amount but collecting them is part of the fun. I’m sure everyone has better solutions for this as well however on my end speed is the game so I try to keep  it all flowing.

For PBR folks.


I hope this clears up some things about my default scene and helps you to use Blender more efficiently to your needs.

If you need more help with fundamentals or getting started, I did a free course! Blending away the pain!

In that I go over everything I can from basic modelling / rigging to compositing. It’s just a fun trip around the program!

Also the beloved. Blender Basics Recap!

In my personal work I am moving into mocap with the Kinnect One and Pro Body 2!

Pro Body 2 – Download Trial / Buy

If you try it get the Xbox One Kinnect and an adapter not the one for Windows!

Blender/Substance Multi-Mesh Baking

Deux was modelled using Hard Ops 007 (

Also shoutout to JayM for helping me out with this even though I was quite upset at the amount of work it was taking.

So lets begin! I would recommend reading those two links.

These are a couple of good reads about normals. Earthquake is my hero haha.

I recently got Substance Painter 2 and it was a blast! However I felt the need to do some rebaking to get a better quality product. It was fine for a demo but lets face it. These bake errors are unacceptable in normal situations. So let’s get baking.

Substance Painter_2016-03-17_00-39-45So in the above image you see the test bake or the initial bake.

The iris area especially took the baking hard. Details are in the wrong areas. Without the color it would be more apparent.

Substance Painter_2016-03-19_15-29-02

Here you can see the bake in all of its glory. Now for the record. I exported the high. Exported the low. And then just baked from one to another. It’s the easiest way but its not recommended or practical unless you like cleanup. So let’s talk about fixing this.


This is the high mesh. I made it using Hard Ops. After the process you see in the video I retopoed it and uv unwrapped it.


I must admit in the earlier version of Hard Ops I was using unwrapping the highs and texturing them because real geo doesn’t need a normal map. However all the useless interior faces inside aren’t optimal for UV layouts. So instead just retopo.

If you don’t know what to do for retopo you have several choices. Icetools, Retopoflow, RetopoMT the list goes on. However you retopo it doesn’t matter. At the end we have both a high of 404k and a low of 3.5k. So now lets get exported.

The export process is important to how the meshes will behave in Substance Designer / Painter. Usually I’d join the low and send that out and do the same for the high. However to get this to work you must work a little differently.


Instead of keeping all the meshes together. I named them all correct names with the suffix  of _low. We will be able to export it all as one at the end but in Blender the naming is important.

So now I export the mesh.


So I selected all the pieces and exported it. And that is how I got the low out. Sometimes I forget to resolve all ngons so then I use triangulate to just move on and deal with that later.

Now the high is a little more complicated. There might be an alternate way to this but the way I was able to get it to work after many frustrating hours is exporting each high piece with a suffixed name or _high.

As a note you dont have to do it this way. You can also export it as separate pieces but one OBJ and it will work as well. At the time of doing this I wasn’t aware yet.


So the high as you can see is different components with naming. I just hovered over the text field and ctrl + c and ctrl + v to get the name and export. I exported each piece with the idea of what would bake well individually. So its the same as the low breakup.

So Substance Desginer compared to Substance Painter is a little more flexible with the baking since it’s node based and all. You can do it in SP the same way but I like the additional control for baking and with subsequent rebaking.


So this was the initial bake. So many errors. It looked fine-ish on the mesh but this is just unacceptable.

After loading up the low mesh I right clicked it and chose bake model information. And set the following settings.


Because of the way it exported you can see all the groups on the left. You can also see I loaded up a high mesh for every group that is here. I also chose by mesh name under Match and set the AA to 8×8. This could explain why the bake took 15 forevers.


The results are much better. Still some issues but this is much better And at least now I can proceed.

With a bake like this the model is looking better than ever and now I can begin texturing this puppy! Now while the bake isn’t absolutely perfect. The amount of cleanup at this point is almost laughable compared to the previous situation.

Substance Painter_2016-03-20_02-08-22

I hope this guide was useful and clears up some things that originally drove me crazy. Before I go one last thing.

In SP5 I can’t bake color infomation from the mesh like I can in Substance Painter. The map is just black and I try it every darn time haha. This is the only facet of this workflow that irks me. You can bake color (ID) maps multiple ways for example.

Set highpoly to Blender Internal materials and set to shadeless and different colors. Select the high and then the low and do a full render bake to in blender internal or bake a diffuse pass.

Personally I like using Substance Painter for this. I exported the high with color information in the form of material IDs when I exported it so having that on the low makes initial material allocation much much easier.

Substance Painter_2016-03-20_02-14-58

Substance Painter_2016-03-20_02-34-19

Also by isolating the highs in SP we were able to get a nice ID bake too.

Substance Painter_2016-03-20_02-36-16

Here you can see my starting ID map. This will make blocking out the materials much easier. Hope this was informative!

For the next version of Hard Ops ( )the goal is to make it more game friendly. I generally do make to’s instead of exporting the high polys since it allows for better uv control and is more efficient. I plan to add more to the playlist about it however hopefully this gives some insight on how I use Hard Ops with Allegorithmic products.

I’ll be adding some videos to the playlist about this in detail however this guide should be a good enough jumping off point.


Ha I can’t stop talking! This plugin was just what I needed and it was made by Pawel Lyczkowski who also made the PUnwrap in HardOps and is a fellow Substance fan!

2016-03-19_15-47-35 blender-app_2016-03-19_15-44-43

Get the plugin. It helps name the high and lows accordingly. It made the export process a dream. Also I remapped export to ctrl + ` for this adventure.



My sensei and good friend Tony Leonard is hosting a kickstarter for his book! I am lucky enough to even have a page in it! Please support his work.

Anyways thats it!