How to use a MIDI controller to control brush sizes in Blender with REAL sliders!

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While I was working on a 3D sculpting ‘sculpted’ hair for a model of Dr. Michio Kaku in Blender, I wondered how much nicer it would be to control the three main settings for the sculpting brushes in blender; size, strength and smoothness, with real physical sliders instead of the onscreen digital sliders.
Since I already bought a KORG nanoKONTROL2 MIDI controller with 8 sliders, for experimenting with the Unity game engine a while ago I started looking into a way to hook it up to Blender also..
It turns out there is a plugin called AddMIDI that does just that, it adds MIDI support to Blender. It did require a little bit of Python scripting to get it going, but lucky for me I have some experience with Python code from messing around with Raspberry Pi’s.
It also requires clicking two buttons every time I want to use the MIDI controller but the nice thing about it is that with a few lines of code you can basically program the sliders and knobs on the MIDI controller to do anything in Blender!
At the moment I’m using three sliders to control the sculpting brushes in blender and I also programmed undo, redo, zoom in and zoom out buttons on the midi controller.

There are a couple of Ā advantages to having real physical sliders:

  • Controlling size and strength together at the same time
  • Controlling the size of a brush while drawing lines
  • No need to move the cursor away from the model to adjust
    onscreen sliders in the UI
  • A nice mechanical feeling

 

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So if you are in the possession of a MIDI controller yourself and you want to give this a try, then I made a hopefully easy enough to use .blender startup scene file that you can download from Dropbox with this link:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/e8y2e2h2d1c9284/AddMidiStartupScene.blend?dl=0

You have to install the AddMIDI plugin first!:

http://www.jpfep.net/pages/addmidi/

Also you may have to use your MIDI controllers software to change some CC numbers to match with those in Blender,.. I had change CC0 slider to be CC80 because the AddMIDI plugin doesn’t allow a CC number lower than 1: Screenshot 2018-10-30 at 12.21.41.pngI also changed the buttons used for undo and zoom on the MIDI controller to be of type toggle..

If you happen to also have the nanoKONTROL2 than you can download this KORG scene file and upload it to your nanoKONTROL2:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/gaec7rog4nu85zo/KorgButtonMapBlender.nktrl2_data?dl=0

3 comments

    • Haha great idea Ian!:D Great minds think alike;) But yeah it really is a super nice way to control brush size etc. with. So much better than touchscreen sliders because you can actually hold on to them while drawing. I got the idea from watching this GDC talk: https://youtu.be/NwPIoVW65pE?t=1304
      It would be great if there were two or three physical sliders built into Wacom tablets but i guess it would make the devices too fragile and difficult to clean having sliders sticking out :(..but maybe something magnetic would work..
      I’ve also used it to control the character joints of a dog rig in Unity which was really fun as well..like controlling a puppet with strings:D For Unity I used this package: https://github.com/keijiro/MidiJack if you want to try it in Unity.

      Cheers!

      Like

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