BLENDER-IMPORT IMAGES AS A PLANE-CYCLES RENDER

I want to share with you something really cool I learned in the Learn 3D Modeling-The Complete Blender Creator Course over at Udemy.com.  It's really a cool course, although it is time consuming and labor intensive.  LOL...yes, you must be willing to follow along and do the exercises with the videos.  It's a good way to learn!

One of my weaknesses with Blender is dealing with textures.  I just can't seem to wrap my head around it and make it work right...LOL...and it is not for a lack of trying.  I know this weakness so have avoided texturing at all costs with Blender Render and have definitely stayed way from Cycles Render, which was introduced I believe in Blender 2.61 in 2011, and appears to be a complex nightmare. But, Michael, the video lecturer, makes it easy to learn about Cycles Render taking it in small bits and applying what you have learned to projects we create.  Cycles Render is not as scary as I once thought.

Oddly enough,one the easiest ways to get textures into Blender is using Cycles Render engine and using a built in add-on called Import-export: Import Images as Planes.  It will automatically set up the cycle nodes for you.  This is especially cool if you are trying to import alpha textures.

NOTE:  I am not familiar enough with dealing with textures in Blender Render to provide you instructions. I am not even sure this add-on was meant for use with Blender Render.   I do know on experimentation, the image does import and is available the Blender temporary library so, I am assuming you can assign it to a new texture and apply to a plane.  You will have to do your own experimentation to find out.  What I am showing you will be for Cycles Render.  

SETTING UP IMPORT IMAGES AS PLANES
Before we start, you should be in Cycle Render.  At the top of the Blender, on the File menu bar towards the right, Blender Render is set as your default render engine.  Click on the down arrow and change it to Cycles Render.

After changing to Cycles Render, go to FILE and SCROLL down to USER PREFERENCES and click on it to open up the preferences box.


Click on the ADD-ONS tab then in the search box (has a little magnifying glass on the left), type in the word PLANE.  It should bring up a single add-on called Import-Export: (this is the category where the add-on resides) Import to Images as Planes.  Put a CHECK MARK in the box to the left of the text.
At the bottom of the box, click SAVE USER SETTINGS and close the box.

Failure to save the settings will result in you having to redo these steps next time you open Blender and want to import images as planes. 

HOW TO IMPORT IMAGES
This is fairly easy to do. On the FILE menu, scroll down and click on IMPORT then mouse over to IMAGES AS PLANES.


When the new window pops up to browse for your image textures, try clicking on the ICON circled in the image below to enable Thumbnail view...will make finding your image much easier I have found, which is especially true if you have lots of textures to browse through. 


STOP HERE...before we import any textures to Blender...we have to ask ourselves and answer the question...Is our texture an ALPHA texture?

If the answer is NO, my texture doesn't have an alpha. It is now OK to click on the IMPORT IMAGES AS PLANES on the far upper right corner and import the image.

If the answer is YES, my texture is ALPHA, you need to enable a couple of settings BEFORE import.  While you can do this after import in the Texture Node settings, it is much easier to have this all set-up at import.

On the left hand side of the window, you will see some IMPORT options.  It is towards the bottom.  IF you are going to import textures with ALPHAS, you need to put a check mark in the USE ALPHA box and change the choice from "STRAIGHT" to PREMULTIPLED in the option box next to Use Alpha.


Once you have updated these to settings, it is now OK to click on the IMPORT IMAGES AS PLANES on the far upper right corner and import the image.

When the image imports, it will be housed on a plane in your view port.  To view your texture on the plane you can go to TOP view, change your SHADING to either "Texture" or "Material" and you should see it!


To view your Cycle Render nodes, you will have to change the view on one of your windows.  I changed the Timeline window to view the nodes and how they are set-up.  Might be a useful way to learn how to set up your notes, especially if you import a texture in a different manner than a plane.

Hope this is as useful to you as it has been to me.

Happy Creating!
Morgaine

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