Easy bolts in Blender

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The Blend.

One detailed technique for realism in Blender, in 5 minutes each week.

By Samuel Sullins

The Blend

When you jam together random bits of 3D metal to make something, it might seems slightly unrealistic:

That’s because you didn’t use any fasteners.

Bolts, rivets, or screws can make parts look much more realistically attached to each other.

Fortunately for you there’s an easy solution.

I wrote a book!

If you’re a beginner, you’ll find this book useful.

It introduces you to Blender, walks you through all the basic tools, and teaches you how to create your first final render.

Available for purchase now.

Today’s Technique

Before you start, you need to enable the Bolt Factory add-on.

Go to your Blender Preferences, find the add-ons section, and type in “Bolt Factory.”

Check the enable box to enable the add-on.

Now, let’s make a simple nut and bolt.

  1. Press SHIFT + A, then add a Mesh → Bolt.

  2. You’ll see a bolt appear. A bunch of other customization options will pop up in the operator menu. The default settings just make a normal bolt, so leave it as is.

  3. Add another bolt. This time, change it from Bolt to Nut.

Arrange the bolt and the nut so you have this:

Then join both objects together. This is a super useful double-sided bolt now. You an arrange it in any mesh so one end sticks out, and it’ll look nice. Usually I want to see the side with the nut—but you might want the other side, for variation.

You can make a few additional bolts, if you want, and play with the Bolt settings to create some different variations.

I created a dome-type bolt and a Philips-head screw in addition to my first bolt. I deleted most of the bolt shaft for each of these, in Edit Mode, since we’ll never nee it—we just want the head.

Now apply a simple metal material to your new collection of bolts, and you’re on to the fun part: placing them. Scale them down to bolt-size, then position them carefully where you want them. Duplicate as needed:

Never get this close!

Up close, as you can see, they’re not great. But ideally you’re not going to be this close. In my case, I’ll probably never get closer than this ↓ to my bolts, so they don’t need to be any fancier:

They do what they’re supposed to do: add a tiny bit of extra realism to the model.

Samuel’s Selections

Today’s featured render is by SAuchterlonie.

It caught my eye because of the vibrant colors.

The actual modeling here is super simple—which is why this is so cool. It looks so bright and refreshing it actually makes you thirsty.

My favorite part is the glow of light from behind. It’s really well done.

↪ Reply to this email with your own render for a chance to get featured!

Extra Tip

If you’re going see one of your screws or bolts in a closer shot, texture it with an image texture. But keep it out of focus if you can.

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