Contemplating edges

Baby Fred contemplates Bevelling sharp edges in Blender

The Blender elders say that all sharp edges should be bevelled. As Baby Fred, I was again looking at it from a 2d perspective. My Baby Blender brain is not making sense of this concept.

My object has a few round edges but, in my humble opinion, many sharp edges need to stay sharp.

I am still standing tall after achieving so much on this one tiny object, causing me to have developed a little bit of an attitude. Let’s just say Baby Fred thinks she knows it all now and dares to challenge the elders.

I take a page of paper and scrutinise the edges. “What are they talking about?” I mumble softly under my breath. “Why would I want to bevel the edge of a sheet of paper if I was modelling it in Blender?”

Sometimes, it is not easy being a Baby Blender when the going gets tough. It feels like Blender life is soup, and I am a fork. We just don’t work well together.

I sit on my chair and think it through carefully. I need to be confident if I will challenge the elders or even my “mentor, guru guy” on this one.

I am very puzzled but fascinated by this; I take the paper and look at it from all angles. I look at the edge. This way and that way, trying to understand why I would bevel an edge. At some angles, the light shines on the edge of the paper, and I can see the edge more clearly.

Looking at sharp edge

This is not working for Baby Fred, and I decide to quietly ditch the idea of challenging the Blender Elders. I make my way to approach my “mentor, guru guy” with this problem.

My “mentor, guru guy” prefers me to try things out first before asking the questions, but, in this case, it is a theoretical question that will assist me in understanding the concept of sharp edges needing bevelling.

As I approach him, he sits there on his “mentor, guru guy” chair and waits for me to ask. He is quite intimidating at times, so I stumble a little over my words when asking the question. He has a sly grin on his face. He has been watching me struggle with the paper and knew I would turn to him for advice.

“What is it Baby Fred?”, he says with a giggle in his voice. “Have you given up on challenging me already?”.

I feel shy and small for even daring to question. “Yes, I have, uhm, sorry” looking down at the floor.

“Why would you place a bevel on a sharp edge? It does not make sense”, I ask in a soft, questioning voice.

“Aaah! Good question, Baby Fred. Even adult Blenders have had the same question at some point. In real life, it is almost impossible to have super sharp edges. Many times, we notice that a lot of 3d renders look fake. That is because the edges are ultra-sharp and have not been bevelled. Once an edge is bevelled, the light reflection on the bevel makes the object look more realistic.”

Bevelling a sharp edge
Just the slightest bevel immediately transforms visual perception of the edge

I grab the paper again and look at it. I put it down on the table and look up at “mentor, guru guy” and again at the paper—lightbulb moment. In my Baby Fred head, I sum it up.

Any object with two faces (each side of the page, in case anyone is unsure) must have a thickness, even if it is the smallest of thickness. In 3D, this thickness needs to be highlighted to make it look realistic. To do that, we bevel the edge. The same thing applies to sharp-looking edges at an acute angle to each other (like the sides of a box) – we round it slightly, making 3D images look more realistic.

Now! That is how you think about it; the Baby Fred way. And Blender life will remain as uncomplicated and straightforward as a newborn baby’s thoughts.

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