Everybody and their mother are interested in graphic design, in digital art in general. Making logos is a side hustle trend. One branch of digital art is 3D art. This means that you are creating models in the 3D world. Different software is available for this kind of work, the only problem is that they’re expensive. Most popular ones, also the industry standards, like Maya, 3DMax, Revit and Rhinoceros 3D cost no less than hundreds of dollars, some even go into thousands. How do you expect to learn 3D? Is it worth to invest an absurd amount of money into something you don’t even know you like?
Of course not… That’s why we have free alternatives like Blender. Many free programs usually offer only a glimpse of its capabilities for free, while they keep the good stuff for paid users, but not this one.
Blender started back in 2002 as a passion project and until now it has come a long way. Having more than 8.5 million downloads just last year. What makes this program truly special is the organization’s policy. Blender seeks to remain a community project and it’s one of the best examples for its branch. This means that when developers are implementing new features, their goal is to fulfill the community needs, and not to make as much money as possible.
Also, the program is open source using python programming language. On that note, pretty much anybody with knowledge in programming can fiddle around in blender code and adjust it to his needs. Because of this feature, we now see many addons for blender created by actual users. Moreover, most of these addons are added in future versions of the program. It’s also compatible with Windows, Linux, and macOS.
Now let’s talk a bit about what can you do with it. It offers full workflow support, whatever you want. You name it, Blender’s got it. To start, it’s pretty simple to use. The interface is intuitive and along with that, the blender community has a lot of content on the internet so you can learn it pretty fast. Once again, you can completely customize your program interface along with your needs with python.
The modeling process is a joy. With many tools, you can transform your objects completely. From a basic cube to a building. On your journey, many keyboard shortcuts will accompany you making the creation process even faster. This segment also supports many modifiers you can use. They are automated actions that modify your object in a non-destructive fashion. Furthermore, they speed up the workflow by automatizing the process which would otherwise take hours of tedious work. UV unwrapping takes your 3D objects and puts them on a 2D plane for you to easily texture paint it.
Sculpting allows you to manipulate your mesh even more. With it, you can achieve organic looks and greater detail. You have 20 different brush types available to completely transform your object. Also, features like mirror sculpting, dynamic typology and masking further improve the workflow experience.
Let’s say you’ve made your character, with Blender you can bring it to life. From simple animations like moving from point A to point B to complex walk animations and sound synchronization. Also, you can rig characters. Bluntly said you add bones and joints, so the parts of your object can bend around them while you animate. These are just the basics of animation, a separate article can be written just on that topic. Also, a simple video editor is available for you to perform actions like cutting, splicing or even color grading and video masking.
Blender comes with two main render engines, Cycles, and Eevee being the younger one. Cycles is their ray-trace engine which provides ultra-realistic renders. There’s a wide pool of options you can alter to make your render the way you want it. Also, with every update, the engine is getting faster. On the other hand, Eevee is their new engine released in the latest version. The key difference between the two is that Eevee is a real-time rendering engine. With it, you can quickly preview the image without having to render it. Additionally, it’s way faster than Cycles, it renders in seconds! The speed takes away from the detail of the image, but that can still be optimized.
All in all, Blender is a great product and it’s gaining in popularity fast. The community aimed policy of the organization makes it attractive to many artists. With recent updates, it’s also slowly entering the mainstream industry (animated movies on Netflix are being made using Blender). It supports the full 3D creation process workflow with a great interface and room for customization. From modeling, sculpting, rigging, animating, simulation, VFX, video editing and many more features it is truly a valuable program.