The project began by building the sword from scratch. Following a series of clearly explained steps, a basic cube was stretched and reshaped until it took the form of a blade. Adding a metallic material complete with subtle scratches and blemishes enhanced its realism. Clever use of mirror symmetry ensured that the handle and pommel were perfectly balanced. The handle was decorated a leather texture. In the next step the blade and pommel were imbued with light emitting runes.
The sword was embedded in some rocks designed to look like a plinth with two small steps. The rock were positioned to create leading lines towards the sword handle. A rocky background gave the impression of being inside a cave. This was achieved by randomly scattering rocks onto the tessellated faces of a partial hemisphere and fiddling with the density parameter.
Although Blender includes a range of particle simulators, this project used geometry nodes to create the flames, embers and floating particles, adding dramatic effect to the sword.
Having constructed the elements of the scene, considerable time was spent on lighting and volumetric effects, with the aim of creating depth and realism. For example, randomly positioning shapes, called gobos, in front of the spotlights created patches of light and shade in the beams, helping to highlight important elements, like the handle of the sword. Making the spotlights the children of their targets ensured that they moved synchronously. Another step, called compositing, was used to generate an ethereal vignette and adjust the colour balance between foreground and background.
The next step introduced cameras to create the final animation. Once the key frames were positioned in the dope sheet, Blender automatically panned the camera around the scene. Further spectacle was added to the setting by importing a free motion captured character from the fantastic Mixamo site.
Having completed the tutorial, I extended the animation, slowed it down to half speed and added some of my own music to produce the final video. One of the reasons for embarking on the project was to test out the power of the GPUs on my new MacBook Pro. It did not disappoint, rendering the entire video at lightning speed.
In a future project, I plan to experiment with Blender’s Python API.