Manipulating text in Blender

Blender is a super powerful tool for making and modifying 3D models … but the guidance on how to use it can be difficult to follow (and if you’re like me, watching lots of Youtube videos is less efficient than reading things). So, here’s what I’ve learned about how to add and manipulate text within Blender.

I can’t claim I’m a savant of Blender: this is all learned from watching these videos here and here, and then getting frustrated because (for me) that’s not the most efficient way to consuming information.

Adding text

Make sure you’re in Object mode, then either press Add (button is in this menu in the upper left of the screen) or press Shift + A

Choose Text (obvious enough!) and the default Text will appear:

Now press Tab to go into edit mode, and delete ‘Text’ and replace with what you want. Note that hitting Enter won’t get you out of editting the text, it will add a carriage return to the text you’re entering, which may (or may not) be what you want. Hit Tab when you’ve finished editting your text.

Now rotate that text. You can do it by hand, but it’s easier to go to the Transform pane on the right and enter the exact numbers (and you’ll need this for later operations…)

As we’re going to use this for a 3d object, we want some thickness to it. With the object still selected, find the Text section on the right, then go to Geometry, and increase the Extrude value. I use 0.1m as a basis and iterate from there.

Finally, select a font. I use Showcard Gothic because I think it’s fun, but you do you.

Wrapping text around curves

The main thing I use Blender for is making trophies for Blood Bowl, and that usually involves text wrapped around a cylinder. Here’s how I do that:

Create a ring

Shift + A, select Curve > Circle

This creates a circle. Scale this up to the approximate size you want (ensure you keep the aspect ratio the same, so you don’t get an oval)

Use the outer white circle to expand your object, as this applies the same scaling in all dimensions

Then go to Object Data Properties > Bevel and (in my case) use Depth 0.1m, Resolution 4). You can play around with the bevel shape, but I leave it as a simple curve.

So now we have a ring, and some text. Let’s use a modifier to wrap the text around the ring:

Select the text, then add a modifier

Choose Curve, select the ring you’ve created (by default, it will be called BezierCircle) as the Curve Object, set the Deform Axis to X.

By default, you’ll see something like this:

Our text isn’t anywhere near the ring we’re trying to use to curve it around, and seems a bit odd.

This is where we can easily hit a brick wall, but the solution is simple. Go to the Object Properties pane and make sure the location and rotation are identical for both text and curve objects:

Now the text is aligned with the edge of the ring. But we then need a 90 degree rotation in the X axis for the text, to stand it up:

But two things aren’t very nice here: there’s some odd artefacts introduced by Blender, and the text is facing inward, when we usually want the text to face outward.

To solve the text facing, change to Edit Mode, select the ring, go to the Segments section and then choose Switch Direction

Now the text is facing outwards:

If you now want to rotate the text around the ring, don’t forget to rotate both ring and text at the same time otherwise it will do weird stuff you might not want:

Text rotated, ring not rotated by the same amounts

OK, what about the horrid looking artefacts? Add a second modifier, Remesh to the text.

Now we get this:

Don’t panic, I know this looks hideous!

Go to the Sharp section of the Remesh modifier you’ve just applied, and deselect the check box for Remove Disconnected

Still looks awful, but stay cool…

Increase the Octree value to 7 or 8, and the text comes back:

But the deformities are still there – don’t worry. Swap the order of the two modifiers (Curve and Remesh) so that the Remesh is applied first. (I don’t know why this works, but monkey see, monkey do):

There are other ways to achieve this (eg by converting the text to a mesh and then deforming it) but I don’t like those, because if you want to make several trophies with the same layout but different text, the workflow becomes harder (right now, you can just select the text, hit Tab, and then edit it, and make versions of your first prize/last prize/whatever else you want, without doing extra work.

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