Blender, as most modellers know, is a free, open source 3D animation suite. What many folks do not know are some of its amazing features. These tools and features together make it one of the most popular, integrated 3D applications. Apart from being feature rich, Blender also allows users to script their own tools via Python scripting language, an API which is built into the application. Blender is cross platform, with support for all major Operating Systems. So what makes Blender so exciting and a boon for developing 3D projects? Mentioned below are 8 hidden features.
1. Rendering Par Excellence
Yes, Blender now boasts powerful GPU rendering which offers real life experience of objects and landscapes. It simply means you can now expect a photorealistic expression of digital description. The true to life images look stunning on the screen offering 3D modellers a tool which makes real time viewport preview a joy to exploit.Incidentally, the rendering engine of Blender is called Cycles. Blender rendering engine not only rapidly manipulates and alters memory to accelerate the creation of images but also boasts HDR lighting support.
High dynamic range rendering simply enhances the detailing of any given scene or an object. Modellers can use lighting calculations for larger dynamic range. HDR translates into scenes which look natural; unlike those with do not have HDR support.
2. Character Rigging
Character animation is an important aspect of any decent 3D software. Blender offers all the regular and advanced features. This typically means modellers can now manipulate the skin or mesh and the interconnected set of bones also called as rig.
Blender makes organic modelling or animation a joy to work with. The advantage of rigging means modellers can now control animation by simple movements of bones instead of large polygonal meshes. The reason is because bones are created using a set of vertices. This form of construction allows better individual and group motion control.
Blender also makes it easy to paint, skin and apply different set of colours to bone layers for better organisation. With these amazing tools it is easy to convert a model into a character.
3. Building Vertices on the Fly
Blender uses dynamic topology. It simply means modellers can now add details to their models without worrying about the underlying topology. Now isn’t that something wonderful?
To start sculpting in dynamic topology mode the user simply needs to enable “Dynamic” option in sculpting mode. Once this feature is turned on, a modeller need not worry about the mesh size or density as it is dynamically created with each brush stroke. Some of the other built-in features of sculpting tool are as follows.
- An array of brush sets; twenty to be precise.
- Varying resolution sculpting support.
4. Model Ageing
Ageing a particular model or a piece of landscape can be a tricky affair if done the hard way, typically via the edit mode. This would mean manipulating the vertices and shading the said object to give it that “Used” or contrived appearance. Chances are even after hours of dedicated efforts the final outcome may not look natural. In such a scenario Blender’s Sculpt tool comes to the rescue. It is an innovative and easy way to age objects. However, the final result still depends on several factors. Some of the essential considerations are mentioned below.
- How the quads, especially vertices are stacked.
- The density of quads also plays an important role in getting that authentic aged look.
- Position of similar vertices.
5. Simulations Galore
Now, simulation is an integral part of any game, virtual film or digital presentation. Some of the most compelling simulations such as fire, water falls, rain, smoke or even snow are vital elements of any gaming or movie scenarios. Blender allows users to achieve all of this with great accuracy. Some of the built-in simulation tools include but not limited to;
- Smoke or cloud – Smoke can simply be accompanied by flame and sparks while clouds could be complemented with lighting.
- Water flow – Need to create river, waterfall etc? Yes! Then Blender is s perfect software for you.
- Physics – Colliding vehicles or a blast.
Flowing hair, soaring birds, flying hat and rustling of fabrics are some of the other simulations which can lift your 3D projects to newer heights.
6. Camera and Object Tracking
One of the latest Blender features which has really stunned many users, especially filmmakers is the integration of camera and object tracking. Films like Matrix, Men in Black typically use 3D components or objects in their footage. In such a scenario it becomes really tricky to incorporate models if the camera is in full motion. In other words matching the motion of 3D scene or model turns out to be a dicey affair. However, thanks to this new addition tracking camera motion has become a reality and that too from within the Blender application.Once the object or the 3D scene is added users can render, composite, edit and save the video footage in its new avatar via blender application. Isn’t that amazing?
One of the hidden features of Blender is its array of unknown extensions built by community of programmers and coders. These libraries are like steroids, turning docile Blender tools into supercharged creative armoury with astounding capabilities. This ease of integration makes sure users do not have to spend even a single dollar for additional requirements. Some of the most prominent extensions include; simulation tools such as clouds, rain, fire, generators for trees and terrain and even a 3D printing toolbox. Yet another set of library which allows users to import files between various gaming engines and video software makes it a truly, unified 3D software.
8. Inclusion of Gaming Engine
Last but not the least is the gaming engine. Although it is still too early to contemplate where this feature will actually head, its presence definitely instils confidence in modellers because some of the components of gaming engine can now be used for traditional projects.
Because the entire gaming feature is GUI based, creating real time scenarios or behaviours such as blasts, collisions or even jumps is relatively simple and doesn’t require complex arithmetic calculations.