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Blender Overview : Introduction

What is blender? What is this series all about?

 

The question concerning Blender that I get asked the most is what is it? and what can it do?

 

Hopefully this series will begin to answer the how rather than the what. AND, before this sentence starts to sound too much like a riddle the ‘what’ question can be answered in a sentence…

 

Blender (and Maya) are Visual FX, 3D creation and animation software packages used for TV, Film and Games. In order to do this they supply an artist with tools for animation, modeling, texturing, simulation, rendering, matchmoving, and compositing.

 

Now we’re all probably and naturally a bit more visually minded so by way of example here’s a small slice from the Blender Siggraph 2011 demo reel…

 

 

To answer the other question of ‘what is this series all about?’

 

This will be an introduction into the interface and general commands, workflow and operations within Blender. My method in doing this is to satisfy a query that many starting in 3D naturally have, which is along the lines of ‘which software package should i use?’ and ‘How does a free piece of software like Blender compare to other programs such as Autodesk’s Maya?

 

This hopefully will also serve as a helpful translation for anyone already familiar with Maya, and for those that have only so far looked into Blender, it may help satisfy and solidify some concepts by virtue of demonstrating the same thing in 2 different ways.

The comparison between Maya and Blender will be focusing on the general layout, modelling and uving. Both applications do much more of course, and I will be exploring specifically Blender in this series much more thoroughly and not just comparatively.

 

Maya ‘blending’ into Blender (geddit? – yeah, it’s not clever that is it, sorry about that.)

 

So we’ll start with lots of comparisons but then unhinge (not in an insane sense, in a confidence sense!) ourselves and drop the stabilising training wheels later on when we focus just on blender itself.

 

Where possible i’ll try to remember what it was like before I knew some of these concepts and terms. We were all there once on every subject so please try to hang in there with me when things get temporarily basic for you. We’ll all get through this in no time.

Also this is intended as a guide, to be reviewed multiple times if necessary, so don’t get concerned if you’re just starting out and this seems like a lot to take in. Just relax, repeat and review, or ask questions!

 

BLENDER IS FREE?

Yes! And for legal reasons it always will be. It’s free AND open source. Perhaps that’s the main difference between it and commercial 3D content creation tools. Open source software is a term and a concept that refers to the collaborative effort by the community at large to produce something that’s free to the community at large. This is usually driven and organised from within a core group which in Blender’s case is called the Blender Foundation.

The Blender Foundation

 

This means that anyone has access to the ‘source code’ and can change it for their own needs. So if you have access to a coder or you yourself know C, C++ or Python you can get in there and start making some fundamental changes to fit your needs.


Some other famous examples of Open Source software you might have heard of are…


 

So where can we get Blender?

 

It’s available for all platforms and there should be an appropriate install guide available at the Blender homepage www.blender.org.

Here we’ll be able to see the download link for the current official version. (This updates about every 2 to 3 months and are intended as the most stable current versions)

Also you can download the daily builds for hot off the press versions of Blender with links and exact revision numbers (meaning the number assigned to the most recent bug fix or addition to blender) here  http://projects.blender.org/scm/viewvc.php/trunk/?root=bf-blender

Also there is www.graphicall.org which is the repository for daily updates made to blender and is also the location to find other offshoot branches of the source code that people have helpfully converted into an easily downloadable zip file for you to try out.

So get stuck in!

 

Here’s a link to the next section – Maya/Blender Windows Comparison…..

blender maya windows comparison

Here’s a link back to the list of all videos in this Blender Overview series….

blender overview

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