If you are into game development, video editing, or 3D modeling as a professional or a hobby, then Blender is a tool you should definitely look at. Blender is a FOSS solution/alternate to many commercial tools that are available and it is able to strongly match most of these commercial tools. Blender is a cross-platform application which means you can not only run it on Linux but also on Windows and MacOS. Blender is well suited to individuals and small studios who benefit from its unified pipeline and responsive development process. It supports the entirety of the 3D pipeline, anything from modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking, video editing and game creation.
1. Photorealistic Rendering
– Blender now features a powerful new unbiased rendering engine called Cycles that offers stunning ultra-realistic rendering. The built-in Cycles rendering engine offers:
- GPU & CPU rendering
- Realtime viewport preview
- HDR lighting support
- Permissive License for linking with external software
2. Fast Modeling
– Blender’s comprehensive array of modeling tools make creating, transforming and editing your models a breeze. Blender’s modeling tools include:
- Keyboard shortcuts for a fast workflow
- N-Gon support
- Edge slide, collapse and dissolve
- Grid and Bridge fill
- Python scripting for custom tools and add-ons
3. Realistic Materials
– With Blender’s new rendering engine the possibilities for materials are endless. Key features are:
- Complete Node Support for full customization
- Physically accurate shaders like glass, translucency and SSS
- Open Shading Language (OSL) support for coding unique shaders
4. Fast Rigging
– Transforming a model into a posable character has never been easier! Blender offers an impressive set of rigging tools including:
- Envelope, skeleton and automatic skinning
- Easy weight painting
- Mirror functionality
- Bone layers and colored groups for organization
- B-spline interpolated bones
– Experience the joy of sculpting organic subjects using the built-in sculpting feature set of Blender. Sculpting in Blender includes:
- 20 different brush types
- Multi-res sculpting support
- Dynamic Topology sculpting
- Mirrored sculpting
6. Fast UV Unwrapping
– Easily unwrap your mesh right inside Blender, and use image textures or paint your own directly onto the model. Blender allows for:
- Fast Cube, Cylinder, Sphere and Camera projections
- Conformal and Angle Based unwrapping (with edge seams and vertex pinning)
- Painting directly onto the mesh
- Multiple UV layers
- UV layout image exporting
7. Full Compositor
– Blender comes with a fully fledged compositor built right in. That means no more exporting to third party programs, you can do it all without leaving the program. The compositor comes with:
- Impressive library of nodes for creating camera fx, color grading, vignettes and much more
- Render-layer support
- Full compositing with images and video files
- Ability to render to multiLayer OpenEXR files
8. Amazing Simulations
– Whether you need a crumbling building, rain, fire, smoke, fluid, cloth or full on destruction, Blender delivers great looking results. Blender’s simulation tools include
- Fluid – Realistic water and fluid simulations.
- Smoke – Billowing smoke with flames and scene interaction.
- Hair – Beautiful wafts of hair that blows in the wind and interacts with collisions.
- Cloth – Amazingly realistic cloth simulations for clothing and environments
- Rigid Body Physics – Makes any object destructible and collidable
- Particles – For creating things like rain, sparks and shrapnel
9. Game Creation
– Included in Blender is a complete game engine, allowing you to create a fully featured 3d game right inside Blender. The game engine includes:
- Ability to port your models to any third-party game engine
- Create or code your own game logic
- Full Bullet Physics integration
- Python scripting API for advanced control and AI
- Support for all OpenGLTM dynamic lighting, toon shading, animated materials as well as Normal and Parallax Mapping
- Playback of games inside Blender without compiling or preprocessing
- 3D spatial audio using OpenAL
10. Camera and Object tracking
– Blender now includes production ready camera and object tracking. Allowing you to import raw footage, track the footage, mask areas and see the camera movements live in your 3d scene. Eliminating the need to switch between programs. The Camera and Object Tracker includes:
- Auto and manual tracking
- Powerful camera reconstruction
- Real-time preview of your tracked footage and 3d scene
- Support for Planar tracking and Tripod solvers
11. Library of Extensions
– With a large community of enthusiasts and developers, Blender comes loaded with a vast array of extensions that you can turn on or off easily. Some existing extensions include:
- Generators for trees, terrain, ivy and clouds.
- Fracture Objects.
- 3D Printing Toolbox.
- Rigify meta-rigging system.
- Import and Export format support for AfterEffects, DirectX, Unreal Game Engine and more!
12. Flexible Interface
– Novice and advanced users will love the ability to customize their layout completely. From simply splitting their viewport, to fully customizing it with python scripting, blender works for you. Layout, colors, size and even fonts can be adjusted. Use hundreds of add-ons by the community or create your own using Blender’s accessible Python API. Blender’s interface also offers:
- Consistency across all platforms
- No disruptive pop-up windows
Crisp text (Hi-res/Retina screen support)
13. Video Editing
– Blender even comes with a built-in Video Editor. The Video Editor allows you to perform basic actions like video cuts and splicing, as well as more complex tasks like video masking. – The Video Editor includes:
- Live preview, luma waveform, chroma vectorscope and histogram displays
- Audio mixing, syncing, scrubbing and waveform visualization
- Up to 32 slots for adding video, images, audio, scenes, masks and effects
- Speed control, adjustment layers, transitions, keyframes, filters and more.
14. File Formats
– Blender comes packed with import/export support for many different programs, including:
- Image -JPEG, JPEG2000, PNG, TARGA, OpenEXR, DPX, Cineon, Radiance HDR, SGI Iris, TIFF
- Video -AVI, MPEG and Quicktime (on OSX).
- 3D – 3D Studio (3DS), COLLADA (DAE), Filmbox (FBX), Autodesk (DXF), Wavefront (OBJ), DirectX (x), Lightwave (LWO), Motion Capture (BVH), SVG, Stanford PLY, STL, VRML, VRML97, X3D.
15. Animation toolset
– Whether it’s simple keyframing or complex walk-cycles, Blender allows artists to turn their still characters into impressive animations. Blender’s animation feature set offers:
- Automated walk-cycles along paths
- Character animation pose editor
- Non Linear Animation (NLA) for independent movements
- IK forward/inverse kinematics for fast poses
- Sound synchronization
32-bit dual core 2Ghz CPU with SSE2 support.
64-bit quad core CPU
64-bit eight core CPU
2 GB RAM
8 GB RAM
16 GB RAM
24 bits 1280×768 display
Full HD display with 24 bit color
Two full HD displays with 24 bit color
Mouse or trackpad
Three button mouse
Three button mouse and graphics tablet
OpenGL 2.1 compatible graphics with 512 MB RAM
OpenGL 3.2 compatible graphics with 2 GB RAM
Dual OpenGL 3.2 compatible graphics cards with 4 GB RAM
As a community-driven project, the public is empowered to make small and large changes to the code base, which leads to new features, responsive bug fixes, and better usability. Blender’s user manual is available online in several languages and is constantly updated by a worldwide collaboration of volunteers every day. Check out this link to a large collection of free tutorials and demo files to get started with Blender and to explore the more advanced Blender features. Blender Institute also provides extensive training materials in the e-Store (books, DVDs) and on the Blender Cloud.
If you are a 3D artist in need of either one or more of these 3D development tools or features, you should definitely check out blender. You will find that all the standard tools you’ve come to expect will all be available. Professionals will jump right in as they would find things much like they have come to expect. If you are a newbie, getting started can be a bit intimidating with the interface and the plugins but that can be mastered quite easily. Blender has no price tag, but you can invest, participate, and help to advance a powerful collaborative tool: Blender is your own 3D software.Share your thoughts on Blender with us in the comments.