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Software Graphics

Blender 2.46 Released 182

Posted by ScuttleMonkey
from the lots-of-new-toys dept.
The Penguin Man writes to mention the latest release of Blender, the popular open-source 3D graphics suite was officially launched today. You can download it from Blender.org. The culmination of half a year's work has resulted in many new features including a new particle system, approximate AO, the new cloth simulation system, and much more!
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Blender 2.46 Released

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  • But... (Score:3, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:56PM (#23467174)
    Will it blend?

    firstpost!
  • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Monday May 19, 2008 @03:58PM (#23467216)
    Looking at the screencaps I'd say they've done a lot to improve the interface. For my amateur work I started with Blender about 2 years ago and quickly switched to Maya. If these improvements are as significant as they look, I may consider installing Blender on all of my lab machines.
    • by KDR_11k (778916) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:07PM (#23467344)
      The interface is a hurdle to learning but not much for work. It has almost no click-dragging (instead you click twice), I've read comments (about another program with little dragging) that that reduces strain on the fingers or hand.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:11PM (#23467388)
      If you want, you could wait for Blender 2.50. They plan to completely rewrite the interface which will allow users the power to create their own if needed.

      Honestly, I've never found the interface too much of a problem. Sure, it's different but it has been designed well (mainly for speed). A 3D suite isn't something that's really meant to simple anyway.
      • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday May 19, 2008 @05:15PM (#23468052)

        A 3D suite isn't something that's really meant to simple anyway.


        While that is true for "real" use of it, if say a kid wanted to make a quick 3-D model of, say the solar system for a school project, they won't have time to learn all the interface commands. A "simple" view which lets someone create things, manage them, recolor them, and move them would be nice and an "advanced" view which would be the same or similar to the current layout which would allow you to do much more advanced things.
        • by mabinogi (74033) on Monday May 19, 2008 @05:30PM (#23468196) Homepage
          maybe, just maybe, Blender isn't for kids that just want to make a quick model of the Solar system for a school project.

          For what it's worth, my daughter (10) tried blender just recently, and it wasn't the interface that made her give up, it was a lack of tutorials that matched the current version.
          • by Darkness404 (1287218) on Monday May 19, 2008 @05:36PM (#23468248)

            maybe, just maybe, Blender isn't for kids that just want to make a quick model of the Solar system for a school project.


            But there are very few F/OSS programs that would fill that gap (if there are any at all) and by implementing a "simple" mode which wouldn't take too long and wouldn't bloat the binary, it could fill that need, and it wouldn't just be limited to kids, adults who want to make simple 3-D models without spending hours reading tutorials and dealing with an unfamiliar interface would also help make it be popular.
            • by TheModelEskimo (968202) on Monday May 19, 2008 @05:47PM (#23468376)
              And yet, not too many people have heard of the very intuitive software package Art of Illusion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_Illusion [wikipedia.org]
              • Thanks for the link, that looks pretty good :) I've used 3D Studio a couple of times at work to update an underwater scene which we update every year with the latest structure for our tidal turbine, but 3D Studio is slooow (probably a lot to do with the fact that I'm importing the actual CAD model of the turbine, but nevertheless one of the engineers was shocked at just how slow the program was even opening up the materials editor and such compared to Inventor) and way over the top for our needs. I think I'
              • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

                by kripkenstein (913150)

                And yet, not too many people have heard of the very intuitive software package Art of Illusion. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_of_Illusion [wikipedia.org]
                Which, I'd just like to add, is open-source, just like Blender.

                Definitely worthy trying out.
            • by Tetsujin (103070)

              maybe, just maybe, Blender isn't for kids that just want to make a quick model of the Solar system for a school project.

              But there are very few F/OSS programs that would fill that gap (if there are any at all) and by implementing a "simple" mode which wouldn't take too long and wouldn't bloat the binary, it could fill that need, and it wouldn't just be limited to kids, adults who want to make simple 3-D models without spending hours reading tutorials and dealing with an unfamiliar interface would also help make it be popular.

              Good, let me know when you've finished this project of yours. It sounds interesting, and it shouldn't take too long. Then you can start releasing patches to allow people to model things apart from the Solar System.

              Here's the trick: modeling isn't easy. This is true whether you're doing 3-D modeling on the computer or physical sculpture. It's not just about learning the software interface, you have to learn how to actually do the task. Modeling is a set of skills that has to be cultivated. But certain

          • by fractoid (1076465)

            Blender isn't for kids that just want to make a quick model of the Solar system for a school project.
            Obligatory Penny Arcade [penny-arcade.com].
          • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

            I recently finished watching the six hours of Blender Basics tutorials at http://blenderunderground.com/video-tutorials/ [blenderunderground.com] and now I'm a convert. I absolutely hated the interface before (and by extension, the whole program), but now I'm confident, productive and actually enjoying the process of modelling in Blender. I can't recommend those tutorials highly enough.
          • The interface is quirky. No doubt makes sense once you warp your mind around it, but it's certainly unlike the for-pay (i.e. not used by kids) software I've used. And it's not clear that its way of doing things provides any benefit.
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by bishiraver (707931)

        A 3D suite isn't something that's really meant to simple anyway
        Tell that to the folks over at Silo3D! http://nevercenter.com/videos/?vidclip=silo_for_high_poly.mov [nevercenter.com]
      • The largest problem isn't the interface. It's what's behind the interface.
    • by Xzzy (111297)
      Depends on what your complaints with the interface were.

      If the whole "tab to switch to vertex mode" or "don't use the menus dummy, use hotkeys" mindsets were what threw you off 2 years ago, they'll still throw you off today.

      Most of the improvements are technology related (and are big ones at that), the basic UI is unchanged.
      • by Mordok-DestroyerOfWo (1000167) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:19PM (#23467492)
        Major complaints were that the interface was very non-intuitive compared to Maya and Max. The main reason I'd switch over is I have about 20 spare machines I can build into a render farm. It would be substantially cheaper using Blender to render than it would using Maya or Mental Ray.
        • by Xzzy (111297)
          It hasn't changed at all. It still follows its own design standard and there doesn't exist anywhere in the world another program that uses the same philosophy. It's not on iota more intuitive than it was 2 years ago.

          The price does make it an attractive consideration, though I don't have the hardware available to try distributed rendering.

          I think if you can get around the interface hurdles (much as I love the Blender interface, I'm sympathetic to people's complaints, it took me months to get comfortable) it'
          • Thanks for the breakdown. It really is useful to know that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The lab I administer is geared towards undergrads and I'm hoping that their agile minds will be able to grasp Blender faster than my mid-20's mind can. I'm glad to know that there is a systematic logical approach to their interface, it should make learning it easier for the kids.
          • I'm surprised it only took you months to get comfortable. If it's one thing the blender team needs, it's usability engineers.
          • by neumayr (819083)
            Renting commercial renderfarms tend to be a lot cheaper if used to render Blender files.
            So cheap, it's afforable by hobbyists.

            Also, there's the BURP project - distributed Blender rendering using the BOINC infrastructure.
            It has some serious render power, but the output is copyrighted by the project and released under a very limiting (but probably not enforcable) license.
        • It would be substantially cheaper using Blender to render than it would using Maya or Mental Ray.
          Actually that depends on your team of artists, their command of the app in question, and the app's pros and cons when related to the specific project at hand. You can use a less-than-ideal app for a project and end up spending a good deal more money on artist time than you would on the render farm. But I'm just being nitpicky.
        • by delt0r (999393)
          The words "intuitive" and 3d software don't belong together in my experience. What people really mean is "is it the same as the other 3d software I have used?". By no means is that limited to Maya or Max. In fact they are at the thin end of the examples of 3d software.

          Personally I really like the non overlapping windows. The older dos based 3d software was similar as is real flow now (Blender in the NaN days was even weirder back then, but even faster than today).

          Frankly I hope devs don't hand in the t
        • by pugugly (152978) on Monday May 19, 2008 @06:09PM (#23468582)
          I'd like to see the interface get to a point where you can actually jump in and do something with it. Everytime I've tried to learn Blender, it has felt like High school Art class all over again - "Oh, after loads of work and effort, I have created . . a cup. An ugly cup. Crap. I *hate* this fucking class!"

          Gimp, whatever other peoples complaints about the interface, I can at least do things and come back with a product that, if not professional quality, I can look at with some pride and pleasure, and try to do something slightly more sophisticated using new features each time I work with it it. Am I good - Probably not. But I can *do* things with it.

          Blender has never gotten to that point with me.

          "Oh, look I made a cup in Blender!" - {G}

          Pug
          • >I'd like to see the interface get to a point where you can actually jump in and do something with it.

            Like MS Paint? which can't do anything *but* jump in and work with it a little?

            If you want to get across the street you walk. If you want to get across the ocean in under two hours you fly a jet plane -- which takes a whole lot more skill to pilot than just walking across the street.

            It would be very nice if an incredibly powerful program could have an intuitively obvious interface, but I don't think tha
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward
      Anybody complaining about the interface of Blender I instantly put in the same basket as the idiots who complain about GIMP's interface. Just because neither of them are 3DS/Maya/modo or Photoshop/PSP, they get bitched at because they don't follow the "in crowd" of proprietary apps.

      Blender is way easier to use than any other 3D app if you know what you're doing, you're simply used to proprietary apps and their demonstrably bad existing interfaces. You need to unlearn that.
      • by Tychon (771855) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:56PM (#23467888)

        I can't argue whether or not it's effective from the perspective of a person that "knows what they're doing", not being an artist myself.

        I can argue though that I managed to pick up 3D Studio Max, install it, and punch out a relatively simple spaceship model for a game I was working on. I'd even say it was slightly better than typical programmer art, but that's me. I did this in about an hour. I did this without tutorials or having really touched 3DSM prior to that point. I had the option to try it and I did. I won't say the interface is brilliant, but it was at the very least obvious for basic things.

        It took me a good part of that same hour just to figure out how I would achieve this in Blender because Blender's way is not obvious. I have to say I like Blender for what it is, I like the push to try something new, but not being an artist, I don't want to spend more time becoming familiar with something than the amount of time I'm actually going to spend using it.

        It may be stupid, but there's something to be said for a program that's so dumb that even a person completely unfamiliar with the field can use it to do what they want without training.

      • I bitch about photoshop's interface, 3ds/maya/modo interface. I also bitch about gimp's interface and blender's interface.

        If I didn't spend 10 hours a day making user interfaces for profit, I'd probably be more excited to sit down at night and in my free time to improve the open source interfaces out there.

        Of course, as I noted earlier, Silo3D probably has the absolute best interface for modeling out there. It doesn't do animation (yet), but for ease of use and power for strictly modeling and uv mappi
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by argent (18001)
        Anybody complaining about the interface of Blender I instantly put in the same basket as the idiots who complain about GIMP's interface.

        Complaining now, or complaining five years ago?

        Gimp's interface used to be pretty dodgy. Not because it wasn't Photoshop, but because it was simply crude. It's improved a lot. People complaining about the Gimp's interface now haven't used it recently.

        Blender's not in the same category at all.
      • by im_thatoneguy (819432) on Monday May 19, 2008 @08:42PM (#23469860)
        Speaking as someone who uses more than 3 different 3D apps and 3+ 2D apps on a regular basis. And speaking as someone who is familiar and able to work in dozens more (some with exceedingly unusual interfaces) I can say that's a load of bull.

        It's not about "in crowd" it's about responding to the ACTUAL demands of someone who uses the program day in and day out.

        I'm not going to say any program has a fantasic interface but that's partly because when people talk about "interface" they aren't talking about the button layout-- they're talking about the workflow. How the user moves from one task to another, how the program responds to actions you take, how a user can review and revise multiple versions, how a user can arrange data to their particular needs. These questions and solutions extend far beyond where you put a button or how a button is pressed. These are solutions that are largely determined by people who UNDERSTAND how the application is supposed to be used.

        How you 'use' the application is the interface and that is why people complain about Gimp and Blender. The interfaces seem to be designed by people who don't understand how their program is used to create greate art.
      • by LingNoi (1066278)

        Blender is way easier to use than any other 3D app
        I guess that's why the company making blender went bankrupt, because it was so easy to use no one wanted to use it.
  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:05PM (#23467312)
    From Groklaw (http://www.groklaw.net/article.php?story=20080511115151164): "Microsoft has just approached the Blender guys, and I would assume have or will approach other FOSS projects since we learn that Microsoft has assigned a guy to work with Open Source projects, with a request for information on how to make Blender run better on Windows." I hope all Blender developers read the rest.
  • Speed (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    One thing that always amazed me about Blender is how freakin fast it is. The load time for the interface is almost nonexistent. It's not exactly easy to use but you sure don't have to wait on it.
  • Blender... (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:10PM (#23467374)
    I have a new slogan for it

    Blender: Once you get to know how it works, it's super intuitive!
    • Re:Blender... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by MrCoke (445461) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:19PM (#23467500)
      You mean, like typing?
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        You mean, like typing?

        Intuition is not the same thing as "easy to use". Read "The psychology of everyday things" for a good study on intuition.

        The catchphrase is a play on meanings: If something is intuitive, one should not have to "get to know how it works". Classical examples of intuitive devices are:

        Hammers: There's a handle, a smashy end.

        My play on this is that, however easy blender may be... It's not easy to use right after opening it up, as compared to say a hammer.

        • by IgnoramusMaximus (692000) on Monday May 19, 2008 @05:06PM (#23467966)

          Hammers: There's a handle, a smashy end.

          If only they made the metal handle easier to grasp and that wooden smashy end less prone to breaking ....

        • Classical examples of intuitive devices are:

          Hammers: There's a handle, a smashy end.


          And here is why the term intuitive is as good as meaningless. Using a hammer well is not easy, simple or intuitive. My old wood shop technician could hit 10 pin nails in to a board of wood with a single blow each, not bending one and faster than one per second.

          Me and all of my class mates tries for ages to match this or even get close. None of us got anywhere near. If a simple hammer is this hard to use, then what hope does
          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            But they're not misusing it. The very point is that "easy" and "intuitive" are not the same thing. A hammer is indeed intuitive. Its use it totally obvious and anyone can use it. Now, it may take some experience to use it with great precision, but that's not an issue of intuitiveness.

          • by Eskarel (565631)
            They didn't misuse the term. Intuitive is not the same as easy. Generally speaking intuitive and hard tends to sell a little better than non intuitive and easy and both do better than non intuitive and hard(unless they're FOSS).

            A hammer is a very intuitive device, as previously indicated it's got a handle and a smashy end, and while if you presented a hammer and a nail to someone who had never seen either before they might not work out how to use it(though if you gave someone a hammer and told them to go ou

          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by funwithBSD (245349)
            Nipples.

            Nipples are intuitive. Best user interface ever!

            If anyone ever invented a nipple user interface for computers, they would not suck.

            Wait...
  • The UI is still an utter disaster. At least it looks like they finally improved the documentation for the mac platform - I once spent an hour trying to find out which modifier keys corresponded to which blender meta-keys, and how to get various buttons on a dual-button system. The Blender team, unfortunately, is driven exclusively by the concerns of users who are experts in the field, not beginners. If I didn't know better, I would attribute the reluctance to even CONSIDER modernizing the UI (which looks
    • Re:Ugh (Score:5, Informative)

      by NullProg (70833) on Monday May 19, 2008 @08:29PM (#23469758) Homepage Journal
      The Blender team, unfortunately, is driven exclusively by the concerns of users who are experts in the field, not beginners.
      My twelve year old learned to use it.

      Its a good thing someone did some beginners tutorials.
      http://www.blender.org/education-help/tutorials/ [blender.org]

      Enjoy,
  • Slow Down! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward
    I wish this program development would slow down. I've had the Essential Blender Guidebook since it has been released (about five months ago) and it feels like half the book is outdated due to the programs additions and rewrites.
  • by LetterRip (30937) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:38PM (#23467726)
    Please consider picking up a copy of the Big Buck Bunny DVD it supported a lot of the development that was done for this release. You can see the trailer here [vimeo.com].

    Or consider preordering Apricot [blender3d.org] the game that is currently in development that is based on the Big Buck Bunny movie. You can see the development reports here [blender.org].

    Or you can donate here [blender.org].

    Thanks for your support and we hope you enjoy the latest release,

    LetterRip

  • by ch-chuck (9622) on Monday May 19, 2008 @04:39PM (#23467744) Homepage
    Maybe it already exists, but Blender would be sweet with an interface into a rendering engine that runs on gpu's via cuda or a ps3 cell BE. I think rendering / raytracing is a good candidate for cheaply available massive parallelism.

    Maybe, I dunno.
    • I'm pretty sure that's what OpenGL (or maybe the driver itself) does. The GPU is designed for graphics, and graphics problems just happen to be massively data parallel. GPGPU is all about using the GPU for things that are NOT graphics, because OpenGL already exposes it as a graphics device, whereas CUDA exposes the GPU as a truly generic computing platform.

      What I mean is, I just finished my senior seminar on CUDA a little less than a month ago and it's meant for doing what GPU's don't already do easily; they're already very good at graphics. Multiplying huge matrices on a Core 2 Duo can take 10 minutes whereas the same operation on a Quadro 5700 with my (not very good) CUDA kernel takes 30 seconds. That's some serious horsepower when applied properly, it's just that it's not the right thing to use very often. Also, CUDA kicks Cell's ass all day long on SIMD, especially on very large datasets.
      • by pavon (30274)
        But you loose control when using OpenGL. It is fine for games and real-time graphics where speed is most important (and blender already uses OpenGL for its interface of course). But different cards can render things significantly different and so it isn't particularly useful for final rendering, which is what I think the parent was talking about. However because it is more deterministic, CUDA/CTM could be useful for rendering, especially now that cards are getting 32-bit floating point. Gelato [nvidia.com] is an example
        • by 77Punker (673758)
          I see. I really have no clue about renders and raytracing. I suppose with real-time graphics there is no single correct answer for the values on the screen, which is why different hardware can make things look different without it being considered an error. CUDA still has some issues with the floating point numbers (which is what it's really good for) not being quite up to the IEEE spec, but it's never been a problem for me. The only thing that caused me any trouble during the research for my seminar was th
  • Since I rarely share these complaints, I would like to ask: is it because you guys are instinctively comparing it to what you are familiar with? Photoshop-GIMP, Maya-Blender, etc.
    • by argent (18001)
      is it because you guys are instinctively comparing it to what you are familiar with?

      Not unless you're going to argue that Sculpt-3d, Wings-3d, and Bryce II are somehow magically similar to each other. Maya? Do I look like I'm made of money?

      Gimp? The user interface isn't really the issue with the Gimp any more. If it would do deferred rasterizing of text as well as Photoshop, and import Photoshop files with channels, I don't think that I'd really have a complaint with it. Gimp used to be bloody awful to use,
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      is it because you guys are instinctively comparing it to what you are familiar with? Photoshop-GIMP, Maya-Blender, etc.

      Nope. I'm not experienced in 3D.

      I recently tried Sketchup on Windows. I immediately got creating 3D scenes, very easily.

      I have Blender open on Linux right now. I have no idea how to achieve anything at all in it. Even the save dialogue is weird and non-standard. What's wrong with a standard GTK or QT save dialogue? Why am I seeing all the hidden files in my home directory? Do they think I'm likely to want to save the file in ~/.klamav? Why does it assume I want to save in JPEG rather than PNG?

      • by LingNoi (1066278)
        Agreed, What the hell is it with reinventing the wheel?

        Use some standard interfaces already, saving, loading and importing is so painful.
  • No, it doesn't suck, like any complex dedicated app, it takes a different mindset and some learning.

    Now that that is over, we have yet another batch of great features! Go Ton and crew!
  • by Daishiman (698845) on Monday May 19, 2008 @09:50PM (#23470376)
    have evidently never tried Maya either.
    I mean, at least I found tutorials on blender and in 2 minutes I was navigating the screen with easy. Once I learned that it was frustrating as hell to do the equivalent with Maya, at which point I got up and did something else.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kaizokuace (1082079)
      Finally someone sees that Maya isn't so simple! I kind of hate maya's UI. To me it feels like someone made the UI haphazardly while working on a project and just put things anywhere that was convenient at the moment! Great for that original user bad for everyone else. Atleast in 3dsmax the command panel is essentially context sensitive and easy to visually understand at a glance. In maya they just had to make a picture icon for EVERYTHING. And some of them are hard to understand so you gotta mouse over fo
    • by neumayr (819083)
      When you're used to Blender's interface, probably every other interface is going to be weird for you.
      Having learned 3D modelling using Blender, I find using other packages' interfaces very strange.
      Especially Cinema4d's.
  • by Augusto (12068) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @12:51AM (#23471526) Homepage
    Why do so many 3D tools use custom controls and weird windowing that often doesn't match at all the look and feel of the operating system they run on? So many 3D tools can't even feature normal buttons, for some reason they feel the need to have their own widget components, which makes the usability of already complex tools ... well ... more complex.

    I always thought this had to with the history of some of these tools in X-windows and the lack of standard widget toolkits, and maybe also because this makes porting the tools to other platforms? I'm curious why this is so prevalent in so many of these tools ...
    • by neumayr (819083)
      Portability probably is the main reason. Those tools are often marketed as a part of a "platform", as in the hardware and the OS don't matter (that's the idea anyway), that everyone that knows how to use the tool can do so on whatever system that happens to be en vogue at the moment.

      Also, these tools are very specialized. Very often, a desktop environment's standard widget set won't provide all the widgets the tool needs.

      Besides, try looking at the default Blender interface and imagine all those buttons
  • by Eth1csGrad1ent (1175557) on Tuesday May 20, 2008 @02:34AM (#23472156)
    ..this is what will eventually KILL blender. Any time Blender is mentioned mainstream it quickly turns into a crap-fest argument about the interface - and any and all other discussion topics disappear into dust.

    There are two camps:
    1. People who want 3DS MAX/Maya/Lighwave for FREE and Blender happens to be the closest thing... so take that an MAKE IT MAYA.

    2. People who have been using Blender for many, many years and have come to either appreciate or at least get used to the speed that the interface allows... ONCE YOU KNOW IT!

    Given that the interface HASNT changed much in all this time... perhaps its time for the GIVE ME MAYA FOR FREE crowd to go and write their own FOSS 3D app.

    PS. For all those Blenderheads out there who haven't already seen it... check out www.indigorenderer.com for photorealism.
    • by neumayr (819083)

      PS. For all those Blenderheads out there who haven't already seen it... check out www.indigorenderer.com for photorealism.
      Great, another photorealistic renderer for Blender.
      NPRs been around for so long, why doesn't anyone make one compatible with Blender?
      Are they so hard to make?

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