Edges in the real world are never completely square. For realism in 3D modeling, we add bevels to objects. There are different types of bevels in Blender and different ways to add the effect. Here is a full guide on how to bevel in Blender 3D.
What is Bevel / Beveling ?
What is a bevel in Blender? A bevel is an effect which smooths out edges or rounds vertices in an object’s mesh. It’s one of the most important 3D modeling tools in Blender. Most edges in the real world are not completely square. If we have perfectly square edges in our renders, our eyes will know something is “off.”
Fortunately we can add bevels both manually and procedurally. The spin tool is another tool to help make cleaner and smoother geometry.
There are two types of bevels in Blender: Edge Bevel and Vertex Bevel.
As you may have guessed, one affects edges and one affects vertices. Both have their uses and are commonly used in many artists’ workflows. Here is an example of edge vs vertex bevel applied to a cube.
As you see above, the edge bevel smooths the edge while the vertex bevel rounds the corner vertex.
Each Bevel will use a number of segments. More segments will result in a smoother bevel but will add more geometry. How many bevel segments to use will be entirely up to you.
Fewer are likely needed if we are using Smooth Shading or Auto Smooth on the object.
Add Bevel Manually
We can manually add a bevel to selected geometry in Edit Mode. Select the edges or vertices we want to bevel and then press Ctrl + B on the keyboard.
The bevel operation will begin and we now control it with our mouse. The default bevel will be an edge bevel, but this can be changed.
Dragging the mouse will make the bevel larger or smaller. Using the scroll wheel will add or decrease the number of “segments” in the bevel. When we have the bevel how we want it, we click the left mouse button to lock the bevel and complete the operation.
Toggle Edge and Vertex Bevel
While conducting the bevel operation (After Ctrl + B but before clicking to lock in place) we can toggle between edge and vertex bevel by pressing V on the keyboard.
Bevel Operator Panel
Actions like bevel are classified as “operators” in Blender. After we complete an operation such as bevel, an Operator Panel appears in the bottom left corner of the 3D Viewport.
This can be expanded to show options that can be adjusted for the last action we took. Once we take another operator action, this panel will not be available to us.
When the operator panel is expanded for the bevel operation, we can control every aspect of the bevel and see changes in real time.
We can adjust the overall size of the bevel, the number of segments, change between edge and vertex and much more.
Remember that once we move on to another operation, these adjustments are locked in place and can no longer be made.
We would have to re-do the operation to change the bevel after this panel disappears.
At the bottom of the bevel operator panel is an option for “Profile Type” which we will cover next.
Custom Bevel Profiles
The Bevel Profile is the shape of the bevel when viewed from its side. By default, bevels have a “Superellipse” shape.
We can choose “Custom” in the operator panel and create our own shape.
This can be handy for adding decorative bevels, creating things like crown molding or even basic stairs.
We will see a large box area that displays a perfectly slanted line which represents the shape of the bevel profile.
The custom bevel profile will be limited by the number of segments we use for the bevel. If we want to add a lot of detail to our bevel profile, make sure to have enough segments.
Under “Preset” we can choose from pre-installed bevel profile shapes.
Or we can click on the graph in the box to add control points. We can move these control points around, change the handle types and completely configure our bevel profile.
Here’s a short clip on YouTube about custom bevel profiles.
The Bevel Modifier
Another way to add bevels to objects in Blender is to use the Bevel Modifier. The bevel modifier is a non-destructive modifier we add to an object to add a uniform bevel. We can adjust how (and how much) the bevel modifier affects the object’s geometry.
With the bevel modifier added to an object, we control the bevel settings in the bevel properties panel.
As we see in the bevel modifier controls, all settings from the operator panel are also here. But these settings don’t disappear and are non-destructive.
We choose whether we want the modifier to affect vertices or edges at the top.
We adjust the amount (size) of the bevel and the number of segments.
The limit angle gives us different ways to tell Blender which edges or vertices should have the bevel applied. The angle limit method is often useful. With it selected, an in put for “angle” appears below.
When an angle limit is set, only geometry which intersects at an angle above the limit will be beveled. With our example of the cube, the bevel will not affect the edges once the limit angle is set above 90 degrees.
This becomes important on more complex models where we want some edges beveled and some not.
For more information on modifiers, I have a guide to All 54 Blender Modifiers as well.
I hope this was helpful. Share as you see fit. Please check out both my site and my YouTube Channel for more Blender tutorials related to 3D modeling. You can sign up for my e-mail list below for periodic updates on what’s going on in Blender 3D. Stay creative!
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