Blender 3D: Noob to Pro/Unit 1: Knowing Before Making
Blender is a powerful and complex 3D modeling and rendering package. Before you can use it effectively to make things, you need to know a few things about how it works:
- the process of 3D modeling and rendering (what Blender does)
- some rudiments of 3D analytic geometry (axes and coordinates)
- orthographic and perspective views of a 3D object
- local coordinate systems and child objects
- the fundamentals of Blender's user interface (hotkeys, windows, and menus)
- how to view a 3D scene from different vantage points (in Blender)
This unit is entirely devoted to this sort of background knowledge. You won't create your first Blender model until the next unit.
Knowing this, you might be tempted to skip ahead. Depending on your background, this might or might not work. For instance, if you've used other 3D graphics packages, you might be able to skim (or skip) ahead as far as the user interface tutorial. But if there's any doubt, please proceed through the tutorials in sequence.
Blender is not the kind of software you can launch into and grope about until you find your way. It's not like exploring an unfamiliar city. It's more like flying a jet airplane. If you hop into the pilot's seat without knowing the fundamentals, you'll be lucky to ever get off the ground, and it'd take a miracle for you to reach your destination safely.
A Word about Jargon 
Like any subject, 3D modeling has its own jargon: terminology specific to the subject and ordinary words that have special meanings in the context of computer graphics.
In this book, important new words are highlighted on first appearance and defined soon after. If you suspect you've missed (or forgotten) the meaning of a word, try looking it up in the Glossary.
Things You'll Need 
In order to work through the tutorials, you'll need access to a computer that has Blender installed (download the latest stable release).
Depending on what is installed on your system you may also need the appropriate Python and QuickTime installation. Each version of Blender works only with one specific version of Python, which is generally included in the download. For example, Blender 2.49 specifically required Python 2.6 and did not work with Python 2.7; Blender 2.5x generally uses Python 3.2.
It's also a good idea to have pencil and paper handy for sketching and taking notes. There's a lot to absorb. Taking notes as you go will pay dividends later.
On a fully stable working Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty) or newer, or possibly other Linux distributions based on Debian, start by making sure the repository cache is updated if you haven't updated it within a day or so. This can be done in Update Manager or by entering the following command into a terminal:
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get is an administrative command, so you'll probably need to enter your password. Once the repository cache is updated, you can download the stable release of Blender by entering the following command into a terminal:
sudo apt-get install blender
Once that finishes, Blender should appear in the Graphics section of your desktop environment's application menu.
Eventually you'll also need a 2D image editor. GIMP (download) or Pinta (based on Paint .NET) are highly-capable open-source editors, but proprietary commercial software such as Photoshop or Corel could also serve.
Where to Go for Help 
Additional Resources 
Many modules have a section like this at the bottom, listing websites with information on the topics covered in the module.