Blender 3D: Noob to Pro/Dicing With Depth

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Dice are objects which are familiar to us all, used in countless games. Here we will model how to make a single die (or a single dice, if you prefer).

The end result should look something like at right. Notice the following features:

  • different colours for the pips versus the body of the die
  • rounded edges and corners, while the faces are (mostly) flat
  • round, recessed pips.

Achieving all these effects will be a good exercise of your mesh-modelling skills.

Characteristics of the Die[edit | edit source]

The number of pips on each face of a die ranges from 1 to 6. However, in order to space them correctly, there needs to be 9 positions for a pip on each face, even though not all of them will be filled on any face.

We will also proportion our die so that the diameter of each pip will be twice the horizontal or vertical distance between pips, even though if you look at the illustration the pips on the finished die look smaller because they eventually do not occupy this full diameter. As you will see, this makes it easy to get the proportions uniform with a relatively small number of loop cuts.

Also note one of the characteristics of real dice is that the number of pips on opposite sides adds up to 7 as depicted in the Standard Die Layout.

The Basic Mesh[edit | edit source]

Open a new Blender document. Select  RMB  the default cube, and  TAB  into Edit mode.

First of all, let’s apply a small amount of bevel to the corners and edges: with all the vertices selected, press  CTRL + B  to start bevelling—not too much, press  LMB  when you see something like at right.

The first cut is the deepest

Now, we need to make a bunch of loop cuts to mark out the areas where the pips will go. To simplify things, we will do cuts through the middle of each pip, as well as between pips—a total of 9 loops each way—then go back and remove the unneeded cuts. That way we get the 2:1 proportions correct with a minimum of effort. Who says it doesn’t pay to plan ahead?

To make a loop cut, press  CTRL + R , then move the cursor over the edge you wish to subdivide: you should see a single magenta loop appear. Now press  9KEY , and you should see this change to 9 loops. Next, click  LMB  to change the lines to yellow and really start cutting, then immediately press  RMB  to finish the cut without moving the cuts from their initial positions.

You will need to do this 3 times, between the 3 pairs of opposing faces.

First loop to remove selected
First loop gone

Now look at each face of your cube: you will see an 11×11 grid of vertices, with the corner vertices each adjoining a triangle at the corner. Make sure nothing is initially selected. Count the third vertex in from a corner, and move the mouse slightly so it is over the edge leading from this vertex into the interior of the face, just to avoid confusion; now  Shift + ALT + RMB , and you should select a loop like at right.

If you get the wrong selection, just  A  to clear it, and try again. Remember to click over an edge that is running the right way, rather than a vertex, otherwise Blender is liable to select a loop running the wrong way.

Press  DEL  or  X , and in the deletion menu that appears, select “Edge Loops”. The selected loop should disappear.

Middle loop selected
Middle loop gone

Going in from the edge of the face, skip over one loop, and remove the middle one.

Third loop selected
Third loop gone

Then finally remove the third one in from the opposite edge.

You need to do this deletion of loops on every face that has the original 11 X 11 grid of vertices. When you are finished, the resulting mesh should look like at right.

Making the Pips[edit | edit source]

Now we will hollow out the spots or pips. The idea is to extrude selected ones of the large squares on each face inwards into the cube (“intrude” rather than “extrude”, perhaps?), then split the bottom of each resulting pit into four triangles each by adding an extra vertex in the middle; then pushing in this vertex will give us the hollow for the pip (as at right).

We will show three methods for doing this.

Do this individually for each face that is to be made into a pip.

Method 1 (Slowest)[edit | edit source]

Select all the large squares to be made into pips (perhaps do one entire face at a time). Press  CTRL + T  to triangulate these faces. Now switch to edge-select mode, and select the new diagonal edge that has appeared in the middle of the original squares; bring up  CTRL + E  for edge Specials and select Subdivide (leave the number of subdivisions at the default 1). Things won’t look any different, but each triangle is now a quad, with an extra vertex added to the middle of each of those diagonals.

Now switch back to face-select mode, select those subdivided halves of all the squares, and  CTRL + T  to triangulate again.

Method 2 (Faster)[edit | edit source]

Switch to face-select mode. Select all the large squares to be made into pips (perhaps do one entire face at a time). Do  E  to extrude, and immediately press  ESC  to leave the new extruded vertices in the same positions as the old ones; now do  ALT + M  to merge and select the “Collapse” option.

Method 3 (Fastest)[edit | edit source]

Select the relevant large squares on each side to make the required numbers for each face of a real die. From  CTRL + F  for face Specials, select “Poke Faces” (or more directly, do  ALT + P ). Leave the settings at their defaults (in particular, leave the Poke Offset at 0).

Digging The Holes[edit | edit source]

Now that you have crossed the faces of your pips, select the middle vertices one side at a time, and  G rab inwards by a distance of 0.17 (make sure you do it at the appropriate axis, pres  Z ,  X ,  Y ) along the appropriate axis.

Noob Note: Do this side after side, otherwise you will translate all your vertices to one side and not all inside.

Rounding Things Off[edit | edit source]

Now apply a subsurf modifier and set the shading to smooth, the result should look something like this.

The trouble is, the pips look too much like dimples rather than proper holes. To fix this, we can apply a crease to sharpen up the edges.

In edge-select mode, select the four edges around the opening of each pip. Press  SHIFT + E , and move the mouse until the edges take on the darkest magenta tint. That should firm up the edges of the holes a bit.

Colouring Your Die[edit | edit source]

First, go to the Materials Context and set up the colour for the main part of the die (say, make it red as in the illustration above). This can be done in Object or Edit modes.

Next, click the “+” button to add a second, initially empty, material slot, then click the “+New” button that appears below it to create a new material for this slot. Make this material white, for the pips. Then, select the pips themselves, and use the “Assign” button to colour them with this material as detailed below.

Quickly Selecting The Pips, Method 1[edit | edit source]

Go to the Select menu, and select the option “Select Faces by Sides”. A panel will appear at the bottom of the Tool Shelf (use  T  to toggle the visibility of this), with a field titled “Number of Vertices”, initially showing 4; change this to 3, and it should select all the triangles, which includes the pips as well as the corners of the cube. You can deselect the latter one by one by  SHIFT + RMB ing them.

Quickly Selecting The Pips, Method 2[edit | edit source]

Alternatively, you can do just select the faces of each pip.

Quickly Selecting The Pips, Method 3 (Fastest)[edit | edit source]

(Works in blender 2.6, not sure about earlier versions.) In face select mode select one of the triangular faces of one of the pips. Hit space and type "select similar" then choose "area." If this selects too many faces along the edge of the die, cancel and try again with "perimeter."