What Are The Main Features Of The Blender Software?

When you are first introduced to Blender, you will have the impression that it is used primarily as 3D modeling software. While this is true, it is only the tip of the iceberg and Blender 3D goes way beyond this as a jack of all trades kind of software that can do a little bit of everything.

Below is a list of all of the main functions of the Blender 3D software:

  • 3D Modeling
  • 3D and 2D Animation
  • PBR Material And Texture Creation
  • 3D Scene Creation And Lighting
  • Video Editing
  • Image And Video Compositing
  • Python Scripting
  • Sculpting

Blender 3D is often referred to as a jack of all trades kind of software, as it is able to perform almost any task that you need it to in relation to 3D art but there is usually at least one better alternative for each field.

Is Blender Good At 3D Modeling?

The software is capable of a lot of things, but 3D modeling is what it is perhaps best known for. It was originally developed in-house as a 3D modeling toolkit with additional functionality being added over time. You will find that it is as good as almost any other modeling software out there, allowing you to bevel, extrude, and cut your geometry into any shape you wish.

Where Blender really shines is its system of being able to use the same tool in several different ways. For example, the extrude tool can be accessed from the tool shelf, the face menu, or even via a keyboard shortcut. This allows an artist to create their own workflow within Blender.

In short, Blender is great as a 3D modeling tool, allowing you to create 3D models for any purpose from character design for animations, to environments for use in video games, to 3D printable objects.

What Is A Better Alternative?

This is determined by the purpose of the 3D model, as there are different solutions for different fields. For example, if you are creating 3D models for video games, then 3Ds Max is probably the best option. However, if you are designing models for 3D printing, then Autodesk Fusion 360 is the industry choice.

Is Blender Good For Animation?

Blender is a fantastic tool for creating both 2D and 3D animations, with almost all of the tools needed already available to you within Blender itself. The biggest gripe here is that animation suffers the most with regard to Blender’s choice of UI, as many of the tools are stored in different locations, and some of the animation tools can be difficult to find if you don’t already know where they are.

In recent times, 2D animation has received a lot of attention in the form of the grease pencil, which allows you to draw out your scenes in 2D space. This also presents the opportunity to combine 2D and 3D visuals together for your animations.

Rigging is also present in Blender, allowing you to create far more complex animations with objects that have many moving parts, like a train or a human character. It can be a little bit clunky at times though and this is one of the areas of Blender that may take more practice to get things right.

What Is A Better Alternative?

Maya has a fantastic toolset for animation and has several great render engines for producing high-quality results. Another great option for animating in 3D is Cinema4D, though it is particularly suited towards motion graphics. That said, Blender really isn’t that far behind and is more than capable of creating phenomenal 3D animated films, adverts, etc.

Is Blender Suited For PBR Material And Texture Creation?

Blender uses a node-based system to create almost every type of material imaginable. It is difficult to see how much more they could add on top of the dozens of nodes available. PBR materials in particular are incredibly easy thanks to the node wrangler add-on which allows you to set up a full material from scratch in under a minute.

There is also the toolset for texture painting which allows the artist to actually paint onto the object itself provided that the object has a UV map. This area is slightly limited in the number of tools available but there is enough here to do the job. Viewport performance can hinder this on high-density models though.

What Is A Better Alternative?

Only a dedicated solution could beat Blender for material and texture creation, especially on the material side. That exists in two applications. Substance Painter is the perfect tool for painting your material textures onto your models and those this better than anyone else.

Substance Designer uses a node-based system like Blender but takes things to a whole other level, allowing you to mathematically generate any texture imaginable without the need of using external png image textures.

If you are working in a professional environment, then we definitely recommend learning how to use Substance software to create materials and textures, but as a hobbyist, there are other less expensive options out there, and if you are a game designer then Quixel is a great tool for accessing high-quality textures.

Can Blender Create 3D Scenes With Accurate Lighting?

Any 3D modeling software requires a render engine to create images and animations of the created scene. However, each render engine is unique in how it approaches the rendering of objects, materials, and lighting.

The Blender software uses several different render engines and you can switch between these render engines at any time in the render tab of the Properties panel. The main ones are Cycles and Eevee, with the former being an offline render engine that uses path tracing to create accurate lighting for its environments. The latter option is used for speed at the expense of realism, so between the two, Cyles is the definitive choice for realistic lighting.

That does not mean it is perfect, for example, caustics, an effect caused by light refracting through glass, are not calculated as accurately in Cycles as in other known render engines.

What Is A Better Alternative?

Since we are talking about how lighting is calculated specifically, it is the render engines for which we are comparing rather than the modeling software this time. So the question is, whether there is an application that uses a renderer that is better than cycles, or if any other render engines are compatible with Blender.

The answer to both of these questions is yes. Renderman is Pixar’s own in-house render engine and is fantastic when it comes to producing realistic lighting setups. Recently an add-on was introduced so that Blender users can use RenderMan for their own projects. The workflow is very different from cycles, but the results can be fantastic if you learn how to use it.

Did You Know That Blender Is Also A Video Editor?

Because it is not actually found in the base template, a lot of people don’t realize that Blender has a fully functioning video sequence editor that can be used to edit videos from a variety of formats. Not only can it be used to edit animations that have been rendered in Blender, but it can also use imported files of any video content that you wish to edit.

On top of that, you can import image sequences, which are a series of png files that form an animation from a specific sequence, and convert them into a single video file, which is a preferred practice for animators to avoid losing their video files when Blender crashes during a render.

What Is A Better Alternative?

In truth, if you are not converting an image sequence into a movie file, or you are planning to EDT footage not created in Blender itself, then just about every option out there will probably suit your needs better than Blender. Adobe Premiere Pro is an expensive yet viable object for any project related to video content, while DaVinci Resolve is an incredible free alternative.

The video sequence editor can do everything that it needs though as a video editor, but not much beyond that. Dedicated video editors are often a much better choice for these kinds of tasks.

Edit Photos And Videos With The Compositor

Blender has the ability to act as a photo editor where you can create masks, adjust colors, and more, but does this in a rather unique way. While most applications focused on photo editing are similar to Adobe photoshop, the compositor which is used in Blender to edit these images is in the form of a node system.

This is because the primary purpose of the compositor is to edit images that have been rendered in Blender itself, and so whole it can certainly be used to edit any image or video, it is not really built for that purpose.

The system is powerful nonetheless, allowing the artist procedural control over how they edit their images. This is the main advantage of the compositor, as any change made can be unmade or adjusted at any point. Node systems are certainly more complicated, but they allow for nondestructive workflows that are invaluable to an artist’s time.

What Is A Better Alternative?

There are several better options here that follow the more traditional workflow for editing photos and images in general. Pretty much everyone has heard of Adobe Photoshop at this point and while it is still up there with the best even if it is also the most expensive option.

There are other alternatives such as affinity and photopea which are both fantastic and follow the same workflow as photoshop.

The only scenario where you would look to use Blenders compositor over these options is with the rendered images that were created in Blender.

Learn How To Code Using Python With Blender

This is more of an isolated feature as it focuses on a topic that is more technical than it is creative. Blender runs using a special version of Python, which is an extremely popular object-oriented programming language. Years ago you needed to actually code in order to create 3D models, but now it is available as an alternative workflow to more creative methods.

Blender has a workspace dedicated to scripting python code so that you can learn coding with Python and even potentially create your own add-on to make your Blender experience better.

What Is A Better Alternative?

Honestly, if you are not learning to code for creating 3D objects then really any text and code editor will work fine for learning how to program. You are also restricted in Blender to using Python and even then only a specific form of Python is designed for use with Blender itself.

Unless you want to learn to code to create add-ons for Blender itself, look at more traditional objects like standalone text editors to begin learning.

Can You Create Works Of Art Through Sculpting?

Sculpting is effectively a different workflow from traditional polygonal modeling techniques and is more focused on creating the highest quality 3D models for concept art, at the initial expense of performance. Since Blender 2.8 this is the area that has seen the most improvement with a ton of new brushes and tools being added to the sculpting workflow.

What Is A Better Alternative?

The dedicated software for 3D sculpting is Z brush, which is perhaps best known for its ridiculously high levels of viewport performance and complete sweep of sculpting tools.

If the focus of your workflow is to be as streamlined as possible to great results in minimal time, then you can happily stick with keeping things in Blender. However, if you are looking to achieve maximum quality then exporting your base model to Zbrush will make things easier, with an extra couple of steps.

Thanks For Checking Out Our Article

Thank you for taking the time to read our article, we hope you found the information that you were looking for. Below we have created a list of additional topics that you may be interested in reading.

  • Render Layers & Passes: Blender Compositing

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  • Mastering Textures: Blender Node Guide

    Navigating Blender’s Node Editor for texture mastery.

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  • Lighting Your Scenes in Blender

    Lighting techniques for enhancing mood and realism in Blender scenes.

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