Every time a new enthusiastic CG (computer graphics) artist starts to learn about creating 3D objects, the most important thing he or she has to do is to choose among a variety of free and paid 3D software packages available on the market. Talking about my own experience, I started by using 3DSMax and continued until the point where the license became a burden to pay. The reason being that about 70% of the things I did were as a hobby or for experimentation, and only the remaining 30% was for actual work, so that’s when I started looking for other alternatives.
After searching around for a while I came across Blender, which was the most popular open source software to do just that. But at that time Blender’s tools were complex and hard to use, and the ability to create quality 3D models and animations was limited. All of this made it be at a real disadvantage in comparison to other options. However, all of this has now changed with the arrival of Blender 2.80, making it more similar to other professional software like 3DSMax. Even so, Blender is not a tool that can replace the most famous paid options like Maya, ZBrush or 3DSMax, since those have been under continuous development for a longer time, and they also have a user base consisting mostly of professional creators and artists. But in my personal opinion, Blender now brings a real opportunity for new enthusiastic users, game companies and CG artists to get into the 3D world.
The most recent update of Blender 2.81 also comes with new cursor and brush settings, more tools and many performance improvements. But the new “Eevee” renderer in particular, which debuted in version 2.80, is an amazing new addition.
Eevee Material Preview
Eevee is a new physically based real-time renderer that lets you check details like shadows, volumes, lights, opaques, transparencies and reflecting surfaces in realtime. 3DSMax and Maya may have similar or better ways of doing this, but for the reasons previously mentioned, comparing them to a free tool like Blender is not the purpose of this article.
Sculpting has now become pretty simple. Using new brushes, properties, basic shortcuts and a pen tablet, this last one being my personal opinion, you can create really high quality 3D models. It is important to mention in this point that not for sculpting but rather for retopology, Blender is awesome because of its simplicity and practicality, to the point that it becomes a serious option to do the job since no other professional 3D software can do it in the same way.
Updated physics properties brings us a better experience for creating fluids, smoke, fire, soft elements, etc. It might not have the most advanced physics system, but for simple simulations or standard level animations it gets the job done.
Nodes Procedural Materials
The node shader editor and procedural material interface now looks a lot more professional and is easier to use and understand. There are now more things that you can do, such as grouping nodes and saving these groups to use in future projects. Try experimenting with both rendering engines (eevee and cycles) to see the difference yourself.
Hair in Blender
In Blender, hair is not a fake alpha map texture nor an extension in loaded geometry. You can actually create hair fibers and view the result within the cycles engine. Practice using this tool and you will surely achieve similar results to those of much more expensive software.
Pencil and Animation
The Greasy Pencil and the 2D animation interface makes Blender a really good choice if you are thinking about animating something in 2D adding depth effects as backgrounds and landscapes.
There are many other situations I could talk about that Blender can solve very well, but in my opinion, the most important thing is that if you ever need to design or animate something, just give Blender a try, and surely you will not be disappointed.
This is an Article for Fenrir Design and Technology Advent Calendar 2019.