In 2022, we have more alternatives for creative tasks than we ever have before, with an increasing number of open-source projects popping up all over the place as well as the old favorites getting a new lease of life with updates. Now is the best time to learn a creative skill like 3D modeling or digital art.
Blender is one of the most powerful creative applications on the web and arguably the most powerful open-source application currently available. It is a jack of all trades software that allows you to do almost anything to a professional-grade standard.
There are many alternatives that you can choose from and some of these are going to be better options than others. So why does Blender position itself towards the top of this list?
What Can You Do Using Blender 3D?
It would be quicker to list the things that you cannot do in Blender compared to listing all the things you can do. When it was first created, Blender was primarily used as a 3D modeling platform that made it easier for animation studios to create their 3D assets. While this is still generally the case you can now do a lot more using the Blender software.
Blender is regarded as a jack of all trades kind of application, which implies that it is good at many things while never being particularly great at any one thing. But to be honest, Blender is great at a lot of tasks that it is used for.
As a 3D modeling suite Blender is just as powerful as any comparable 3D application for not only designing single models but also for building entire scenes.
Below is a list of all the things that you can do in Blender on top of just 3D modeling objects…
- 3D Modeling
- 3D Sculpting
- Procedural Modeling With Geometry Nodes
- Curve Modeling
- Nondestructive Modeling With Modifiers
- Material Application With Nodes
- Procedural Texturing
- Texture Painting
- UV Mapping
- Game Asset Modeling
- Environmental Design
- Concept Art
- 3D Printing Design
- 3D Animation
- 2D Animation
- Character Rigging
- Image Compositing
- Python Coding
The Different Methods Of Modeling
As you can see there is an incredible array of tasks that you can do using Blender 3D, including different methods for 3D modeling that allows you to determine what workflow to use when modeling.
For example, say you wanted to create a scene of a classroom with desks and chairs and all the things that you would expect to see in the classroom. With Blender, you can choose exactly how you want to create your models for the classroom.
You could use traditional modeling techniques like using the scale, loop cut, and extrude tools to make hard surface objects like the tables. Or you could create the same objects by combining primitive objects like cubes and then joining than into one with Control + J.
If you want to go the fast route, you can use the modifier workflow to make modeling certain objects easier, like using the mirror modifier on a desk to speed up our modeling or using the array modifier to multiply your desks across the classroom.
Think that’s it? Not quite, as you can even go the fully procedural route and create your objects using geometry nodes to procedurally control every single aspect of your object.
Certain types of objects may work better with certain workflows. Pipes for example are cylinders that follow a specific path. The structure of a pipe is easier to create using a curve object than a mesh object. So it would be better to use a curve workflow when modeling this kind of object.
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Choosing How To Texture The Model
There is just as much variety in how you want to texture objects as there is to model them. All objects should have a material assigned to them to create the color and correct lighting behaviors of the model. Standard material application is as simple as adding a material in the properties panel for the selected object and then choosing the color and roughness of the material, but this is not even the tip of the iceberg.
The creation of materials is now primarily done using the shader editor where you have access to the material node tree. Using this system allows you to procedurally create any material that you can imagine, and an infinite number more that you can’t, as you have access to dozens of different nodes and are able to combine them in an infinite number of ways.
Texturing is the aspect of material creation that allows you to create the actual patterns on your model, and there are different ways to go about this. The easy method is to use external PBR image textures that are already made for you on sites like textures and Poliigon. All you need to do is download them and add to your node tree as image texture nodes.
If you want to be creative and create your own textures using the node system then you can combine texture nodes with converter nodes to generate any pattern that you want, provided that you know how to. These procedural textures benefit from normal image textures in that they have an infinite resolution.
And then if you really want to flex your creative muscles you can instead use the texture paint tools to actually paint on your model like its a canvas, using either the object in the 3D viewport or the image editor as the base for your painting, and connect it to your node set up as an image texture.
Creating Awesome Animations
Not only does Blender have the power to create incredible scenes that you can render but you can also animate those scenes to an almost PIXAR level of quality.
Animation in Blender is primarily done by adding keyframes to changeable attributes like the location of an object, or the strength of a light source. You can also better control more complex objects in your scene like human characters through a process called rigging, which creates a skeleton or armature that allows you to move the various parts of the body how you want.
You can edit your animations as well by using tools like the dope sheet, for manipulating keyframe positioning, and the graph editor, for controlling how the keyframes themselves behave.
This is all for 3D animations, but did you know that Blender also has a suite for 2D animation tools as well. The grease pencil allows you to paint digital art similar to applications like Krita while also allowing for those pencil strokes to be animated in various ways.
Is Blender A Better Choice Than A Paid Application Like Maya?
Some applications like Maya benefit from the fact that they have a large company like Autodesk backing the development of the software, which also means that not only do you get the software but you also get professional-grade technical support as well in case things go wrong with the software.
This has recently been added to Blender in the form of its LTS versions but has been a mainstay for years with products like Maya and 3Ds Max.
You also need to consider who uses what applications in major companies if the defining factor of what software you choose is based on the potential opportunities for employment.
But when comes down to the actual tools themselves and how effective they are, there is no doubt that Blender is able to go toe to toe with even the most powerful 3D applications.
From a 3D modeling perspective, Blender has been refined to make modeling as efficient as possible for the end-user allowing for many different workflows towards completing the same goal.
You can use polygonal modeling techniques like extrusions or loop cuts to adjust the shape by manipulating its geometry.
You could follow a nondestructive workflow by using modifiers like solidify. You can even go the procedural route and use geometry nodes for full control.
How Good Are Blenders Rendering Solutions?
Some 3D application suites will have their own render engines or use third-party render engines, to process an image or animation from the constructed scene.
Different render engines have different characteristics and are unique in how they are designed to work. Blender has two render engines for two use cases, and these are Eevee and Cycles.
The Eevee render engine is known as an online renderer which allows you to work on your models in real-time while in rendered view mode for the 3D viewport.
It is primarily built for speed and allows entire scenes to be rendered in a matter of seconds at the cost of realism, as it uses rasterization techniques similar to those used by game engines to achieve real-time rendering.
By contrast, you have the cycles render engine is designed to create realistic-looking scenes by using path tracing to calculate the direction of light sources naturally.
It takes considerably longer to render a scene in cycles than it does in Eevee, but you are able to get much better results without having to change any of the settings.
The introduction of cycles X in Blender version 3.0 has resulted in Blender being faster than ever before, and it has reached the point in the viewport where cycles has begun to blur the lines between online and offline rendering. Cycles by the way is an offline renderers.
Eevee is all about speed but has a wide range of options that you can enable to bring Eevee closer to achieving realism in its scenes. While this is all to fake realism, the results can be striking.
While both render solutions are different in their approach, both of them are fantastic at what they are designed to do. The best thing about both engines is their ease of use, which is an easier process for a beginner artist to set up compared to using the Arnold engine in Maya.
How Is Blender Developed And Will It Continue To Improve?
The development of the Blender software is the responsibility of the developers and programmers at the Blender Foundation, a nonprofit charity that exists purely with the singular focus of improving Blender as a software. It is their job to ensure that Blender continues to grow and become more powerful as a creative software solution.
In recent years changes have been made to the development cycle of the Blender software which sees the release of a new version every 3 to 4 months. This is one of the reasons why Blender has such a large community of artists focused around it.
These updates are nearly always significant and can involve both major and minor improvements to the tool ranging from changes to the UI to additional brushes for sculpt mode to new versions of existing render engines like Cycles X.
On top of that, the fact that Blender is open source means that the Blender Foundation is very transparent when it comes to the development of Blender and often showcases new tools and features for future versions.
If you are willing to check out the blender youtube channel and the website often enough you can learn about tools that will be implemented into Blender two versions from now, as every update is made available to the public eye.
This is set to continue certainly for the foreseeable future, and the Blender Foundations approach to its continued development has been lauded in both the industry itself and by its own community of artists.
Do Professionals Use Blender Software For Their Work?
More and more Professional artists are turning to Blender as the tool that they use with projects of various sizes. While the major companies still use the so-called industry-standard applications like Maya, smaller companies and freelance professionals are choosing to adopt Blender as their chosen software.
The main reason why is because Blender offers a powerful, free solution to what would otherwise cost $1000’s to license over a three-year period. So the software is more cost-effective for the smaller companies as well as the individual professionals to acquire.
Not only that but because Blender is so accessible there are now more people downloading Blender than there are people downloading alternative applications. This results in there, over time, being a larger pool of potential artists who have learned their craft using the software.
Thanks For Reading The Article
We appreciate you taking the time to read through the article and we hope that you found the information that you were looking for. We have included a list of other topics that you may be interested in using.
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- Troubleshooting Problems With The Subdivision Surface Modifier
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