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Graphics Technology

Blender 2.66 Released 158

Posted by samzenpus
from the get-it-while-it's-hot dept.
First time accepted submitter hochl writes "The Blender Foundation has announced a new release of the popular, free 3D design program Blender. From the release page: The Blender Foundation and online developer community is proud to present Blender 2.66. This release contains long awaited features like rigid body physics simulation, dynamic topology sculpting and matcap display. Other new features include Cycles hair rendering, support for high pixel density displays, much better handling of premultiplied and straight alpha transparency, a vertex bevel tool, a mesh cache modifier and a new SPH particle fluid dynamics solver."
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Blender 2.66 Released

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  • by mapuche (41699)

    Lots of nice new little features!

  • Usability (Score:5, Informative)

    by SplashMyBandit (1543257) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @08:33PM (#42974337)
    Good on the Blender crew for plugging away at it. When I saw "UI and Usability" my heart leapt, until I saw that was about Retina. The UI in Blender is pretty much the best example of how not to design a UI. The UI has grown by evolution and not by sensible design. Every time I have to use Blender I wish for something better - not in terms of features (although improved reliability of import and export formats would be nice), but in terms of usability. Navigation is loathsome and I find to be troublesome as UI panels don't seem logically arranged to me (its hard to get from import to 3D view and back using menus, so you have to remember the accelerators instead). I hope that someone takes the bull by the horns and rationalizes the Blender UI (sorry, my development time is on another project).
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      No kidding. Blender's UI sucks ass. It's not an evolutionary thing, it has always sucked from the beginning. It's an idiotic design.

      Use Wings 3D [wings3d.com] or similar (Mirai, Nendo) for a usable interface.

    • Re:Usability (Score:4, Insightful)

      by nametaken (610866) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @08:57PM (#42974497)

      I don't know if you saw, but they completely gutted and redid the UI a while back. It's just my opinion, but I think it's fantastic now. One of the few cases where a project listened and made a good, major change.

      Of course you might disagree.

      • I tried Blender for the first time a couple of weeks ago (version 2.65) and I found the UI horrendous. Multiple menu bars, non-standard file browsers, not to mention having to press X instead of Delete to remove objects. I shudder to think what the old UI was like if this is a "new and improved" one.

        • by mapuche (41699)

          Blender interface is pretty configurable. There's a chance to change the shortcuts to something more standard, like a BlendMax or BlendMaya UI setup. It just requires someone to put some work on this (I know, it takes somone else time).

          Daniel Martinez started something with his maxmaya interface:

          http://www.daniel3d.com/pepeland/misc/3dstuff/blender/maxmayainterface/maxmayainterface.htm

        • Re:Usability (Score:4, Informative)

          by kayoshiii (1099149) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:29PM (#42975581)

          the x and delete keys do exactly the same thing in blender. x is also available because delete is a common operation and x is in the part of the keyboard where the left hand normally sits

    • by Sigma 7 (266129)

      Actually, you could say the UI is broken. In Blender 2.64 (still applies to 2.66), go to the help menu, and click "Operator Cheat Sheet". The most you see is a small message saying to check something like the operatorlist.txt textblock - and no clue on how to get that.

      When an experienced user needs to ask for help on how to use help, then it's time to focus on making Blender usable.

    • by dbIII (701233)
      So Kid - how do you go about designing a GUI for handling 3D objects shown on a 2D screen?
      AutoCAD etc has had interfaces just as initially confusing for decades without much obvious improvement (apart from the hack of hiding stuff in menus) simply because when you are displaying a lot of options at once the GUI gets busy.
      • Re:Usability (Score:5, Informative)

        by sg_oneill (159032) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @09:44PM (#42974871)

        Pretty much how Max, Maya or Cinema4d are doing it. You should be able to open a new program and see at a glance how the basic operations are performed, and if you can't find out how to do it without consulting a manual. Blender is the only 3d software I know where its impossible to learn without a manual.

        UI design isn't a black art, its a science with a lot of research behind it and its abundantly clear the blender team never consulted with it. Its an undoubtably power piece of software, and with inbuilt sculpting and matchmoving (I think), it may well be one of the most powerful 3D pieces of software on the market. But if nobody knows how to use the damn thing, it'll never achieve its goal of bringing that power to the masses.

        Tough decisions need to be made that will disrupt the comfort of the power users by adjusting for workflow and ease of learning. My understanding is that blender can be operated well with a keyboard, and that doesn't need to change at all since keyboard shortcuts are largely non-discoverable. But The UI needs a massive redesign to create discoverability for new users.

        • Seriously, I am only saying this:
          >Implying Blender has a bad UI

        • Blender is the only 3d software I know where its impossible to learn without a manual.

          What else do you know, then? As just another "pro", I don't feel ashamed to say that I was unable to get anything out of Cinema 4D without the manual when I tried for the first time. Not even to talk about AutoCAD in 3D mode. I dare to claim that practically nobody will get anything three-dimensional done using AutoCAD without the help of a manual (still hard enough) or some training. Maybe newer versions are better, but anything I've seen between 1992 and 2009 was just terrible.

          This applies even to 3D soft

          • Some time ago, I decided to try creating some models for 3D printing. I'd never used a 3d CAD package before. I do have experience with 2D vector programs, mainly Adobe Illustrator.

            So I started by trying several CAD apps. I'd download one and try to create a simple shape (cube, cylinder).
            - Sketchup is great. You're up and running in seconds. The version I used had one big flaw though: there was no way to enter exact dimensions for an object. So no Sketchup for me. (The latest version may be more capable in

          • by sg_oneill (159032)

            Unless your doing industrial CAD, your not actually going to be using Autocad for 3d work, its not its strong point.

            Personally I found Cinema 4D very intuitive although the tag thing admittedly had me scratching my head a bit. However I'm not talking about advanced features (Nobody would deny that basic primitive modeling is very straightforward in C4d. Select if from the menu and drag it about).

            The problem with blender is that its not even obvious how to do THAT. Its a huge cognitive load at step 1.

        • I've got no problem with the "hard to learn, easy and fast to use" philosophy of Blender.
          It's basically the same with Emacs/Vim.
          You want an "easy to learn, not so powerful and not so easy to do advanced stuff"?
          Use Sketchup and Notepad.

      • Well, there are numerous ways to improve Blender for those skilled in UI design and workflow. As a software developer and trained technical writer (both with plenty of international experience) I see that changing the structure of Blender could improve the product a great deal. It turns out that in my spare time I'm working on a jet combat flight simulator. It's multi-threaded and cross platform (its written in modern Java, so already works on Linux, Windows and Mac with fantastic runtime performance) and

        • by dbIII (701233)
          Since I haven't as yet seen any 3d solid modelling program with more than a handful of features that doesn't look like somebody dumped a wheelbarrow full of icons on the screen I really cannot see how the GUI of any of those things can be dumbed down to a far enough point to stop complaints about confusion and still be useful. Here's why I called you "kid" - your comment (along with many others here on the same subject - sorry about the baggage from reading stuff from a dozen idiots I dumped on you instead
    • Re: Usability (Score:5, Informative)

      by deathguppie (768263) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @09:53PM (#42974961)
      Are you even talking about the same product? Or have you actually tried Blender in the last few years? The non overlapping window layout can be modified any way that you desire. Import is on the main file menu in the upper right hand corner at all times.. You can even change the key keymapping to that of Maya with one click in the preferences. I understand when people have valid complaints about products, but what you are saying neither makes any sense or is in any way even truthful.
    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Yep. Nevermind that they overhauled the UI between 2.4 and 2.6, throwing just about everything away in the process.

    • So tired of these comments, the UI in Blender is some of the BEST and FASTEST most EFFICIENT there is.

      If you want an example of how NOT to design a UI look no further than 3Ds Max.

      • The UI may be fast and efficient. What it is not is 'discoverable'. This makes Blender a pig for those learning it - especially those who know what they want to do (eg. understand computer graphics) and find that trying to get Blender to do what they want is unnecessarily obscure. This appears to be something you don't get, which is why you also fail to understand what so many people are trying to so. I hope this clears the issue people are talking about for you. They are not complaining you can't get by

        • Re:Usability (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Mystery00 (1100379) on Friday February 22, 2013 @03:36AM (#42976843)

          Saying 's is not "discoverable" is the same as saying a jet plane's cockpit controls aren't "discoverable". This is a tool for PROFESSIONALS, the only thing they care about is speed, efficiency (time is money) and functionality. If it takes an hour to learn something but then takes 5 minutes to DO something, that is better for a professional than being able to learn something in 5 minutes but then take an hour to actually do your work.

          People complaining about Blender's UI are usually kids who jump on the "bad UI" bandwagon because they can't figure out how to make the next Pixar movie in half an hour.

          The UI of Blender is very well thought out, for the people that actually use it, and those people are more important than the ones that are still figuring it out. If you want to "discover" how to use it, read the manual, tutorials and learn how 3D production works.

          • Actually, great effort is spent to make aircraft controls as simple and *consistent* as possible. Even beginners can perform basic flight maneuvers in complex aircraft. More complicated things require more study in aircraft, but the simple things remain simple and *obvious* to any pilot with as little as a few hours hands-on training. Think of Einstein who is paraphrased as, "As simple as possible, but no simpler". If simplification of complex systems is good enough for Einstein then its good enough for

          • by mikael_j (106439)

            I first tried Blender back when it was a NaN product and not open source. I've downloaded and tried it every now and then since but most of my experience is with Maya and 3dsmax.

            I'll agree with those who say that Blender has made huge steps forward. However, the UI feels, to me with experience from other 3D software, a lot like a "programmer UI". It's not just a UI for 3D graphics professionals, it's a UI for Blender-using 3D graphics professionals. That's the problem with it. If you know 3D graphics in gen

    • part of the problem is that the blender developers have been working on writing the Program and have considered Documentation as SEP.

      so what we have is

      1 Video "tutorials" that don't document %feature% IN DETAIL (hows about starting with a good transcript of the vids BC??)
      2 Outdated and or completely WRONG tutorials (they used an old version and or had a number of nonstandard plugins)
      3 a wiki that has MASSIVE sections that are backlinked to older versions

      So what i would like to do is as part of a Bad Wolf Ba

      • Fantastic! Good luck with the project - it'll make a huge difference.
        • You don't have any of the needed skills do you???

          • Lol. Actually I'm a practicing software developer and technical writer trained in the Information Mapping methodology. I'm not a Blender expert, more of a casual user, but am working on an cross-platform OpenGL+Java jet combat flight simulator in my spare time. So I have the skillz but unfortunately not the time. If I wasn't already committed to getting my sim out the door I'd be helping you for sure. I'm a big believer that good documentation can do a great deal to help users cope with even Blender's poor
  • UI (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday February 21, 2013 @09:00PM (#42974535)

    Since 2.5 came out Blender's UI has improved incredibly. I now prefer it to tools like 3ds Max and Maya, which feel clunky by comparison. And anyone who says Blender is a toy and can't be used for serious projects clearly doesn't know what they are talking about. Blender can read/write most formats, has excellent rigging and animation tools, an incredible compositor, integrated video editing, UV editing, sculpting, remeshing tools, motion tracking, soft and hard body simulation, hair, network rendering, several renderers available, including the new (excellent) cycles renderer, the list goes on and on. It has improved FBX support now, which means it integrates with most game engine asset pipelines seamlessly. Plus it has fairly easy-to-pick-up python scripting built-in, which means whatever you need that isn't there you can hack in without too much work.

    Unlike many OSS projects, the blender foundation does a really good job of accepting patches, and creating branches for what seem at first to be random ideas, that quickly develop into can't-live-without features. And yes, that does lead to some bloat, but so what -- it's still a fraction of the size of 3dsMax, and far more functional in most areas.

    Seriously, if you haven't tried Blender since 2.49, you haven't used blender at all.

    Heh, captcha "approval"

    • by wilhoitm (2794165)
      I agree and correct me if I am wrong but even Maya and 3ds Max have nothing like the Cycles unbiased renderer. With Maya and 3ds Max you have to shelling out $1000 or $2000 more for an external unbiased renderer. I think this "Introduction to Cycles" video says it all http://www.blenderguru.com/videos/introduction-to-cycles [blenderguru.com] Also, once the Pie Menus ( http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tCIoYf8-5pI [youtube.com] ) are added to the next version I think Blender might just be the best out there!
    • by pspahn (1175617)

      Once, when I was young and idealistic, I really had a lot of fun playing around with TrueSpace, and subsequently Blender... for a bit.

      Of course, then I got older and got into web development and lost touch with the creative side of things, and this article and your comment comes along.

      Cheers, I think I might check out Blender for the first time in 10+ years. I'm sure I'll be delighted at what is possible now.

      • 10 years? Well, prepare to be surprised. I still remember the -horrific- 1.x GUI. Can't believe that I really used it for everyday's work back then.
  • by X0563511 (793323) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @10:23PM (#42975159) Homepage Journal

    How about linking to the changelog [blender.org] instead of directly to the download page? Or even better, both?

  • by Tarlus (1000874) on Thursday February 21, 2013 @11:28PM (#42975577)

    ...but will it blend?

  • Regarding the UI (Score:5, Insightful)

    by razorshark (2843829) on Friday February 22, 2013 @12:00AM (#42975785)

    There have already been several posts about Blender's UI, and the topic of its UI always seems to come up every time a story about Blender appears.

    The problem seems to be an assumption about modern software being easy enough to pick up and use without requiring a manual or even a basic tutorial. This might suffice for some software, maybe most, but for a complex 3D development package with thousands of different features and functions, there's a limit as to how far that "dive-in-and-use" approach works. I'm not suggesting there aren't ways the UI could be improved further; of course there are. It's just that sometimes you need to read and study in order to learn, and you can't just click buttons and expect to pick things up from a cursory approach.

    3D modelling and development is hard. There are a ton of different things that are expected in modern 3D packages and if Blender is to support them, then that means more buttons, more options, and more complexity. Some of it can be redesigned to provide novice users a less intimidating experience, but it's the nature of the beast, and it's unfair to harp on about it when it's been shown that you CAN use Blender to do good work.

    • Well said. Blender has come so far since the 2.49 series. I actually find the interface in Blender to be far and away the quickest workflow in any 3D package I've used.
  • OSS graphics tools (Score:4, Informative)

    by jones_supa (887896) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:31AM (#42976327)

    While the desktop is always a bit broken, at least the open source graphics tools for Linux are excellent.

    - Blender
    - Inkscape
    - Gimp

    There might be some certain enterprise features missing, but the tools are not "broken" in any way. The pack is completely usable for semi-professional work right now.

    This works, and should be improved even further.

    • While the desktop is always a bit broken,

      Indeed it is! That's why I like Linux, where I don't have to suffer the desktop metaphor. FVWM FTW.

      There might be some certain enterprise features missing,

      Well, I'm sure if you paid someone, they could throw in a licensing server, a dependency on an obscure version of java with no option to upgrade and some very expensive 19" rackmount hardware which is inexplicably slower and less reliable than a commodity rackmount box.

    • Though I love all of those programs, I do have one complaint about Inkscape in that it quickly becomes overwhelmed when using effects or blur in multiple layers, and becomes completely non responsive. I don't know what can be done to overcome this but it is a serious problem if you are trying to do large or complex projects as they are at this time out of reach for the product.

  • by G3ckoG33k (647276) on Friday February 22, 2013 @01:49AM (#42976411)

    Please specify why the Maya UI (or any other 3D package) is easier to use than the Blender UI. I've never used Maya and would like to get some idea what are the differences.

    Please be specific.

  • by Quakeulf (2650167) on Friday February 22, 2013 @05:57AM (#42977461)
    What part of free do you not understand? Stop complaining about it. You have no reason at all. I switched from 3Dsmax to Blender and have never looked back. Seamless integration with the Unity made it superior as a development tool for graphics and animations. Whenever I see people complain about a free product like Blender for petty reasons remember that jumping off a bridge is free too.
    • Stop complaining about it.

      But I like pretending to be a professional photographer, 3D animator, enterprise network administrator, web-scale programmer and professional musician on the internet.

    • by Sigg3.net (886486)

      What part of free do you not understand? Stop complaining about it. You have no reason at all.

      It's quite obvious _you_ don't understand free software. Free does not mean no-cost or gratis (as in grace). It means that the software is licensed under a Free software license (specifically GPL2) which invokes the right to certain Freedoms.

      What you're talking about is that something that comes at no charge and without responsibility on provider and user, a gratis give-away. Free software, in contrast, comes with responsibilities on both parties. If someone discovers something that is wrong, they should re

  • by sa1lnr (669048)

    Hah, 2.66a will be out in a day or so. :)

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