23 April 2012

Blender, Absolute Triumph!

There are good cases to be made about Gimp and Inkscape, as a fully fledged graphics design suite. The only thing that I missed when I crossed over to Linux was the canvas rotate function in Photoshop. And wacom's support for the platform was nothing to write home about. In all honesty I found the Linux graphics design experience lacking, one year later however I can't imagine doing that type of work on a windows system. Back in my windows days I also liked to play around with 3D, and I recently got back to that hobby of mine. And the Linux experience of 3D design and modeling and animation and rendering is in no way lacking. The first piece of evidence I would like to present is:
© copyright Blender Foundation | www.sintel.org
This short movie is in part product of the open development model applied to art, it shows what the capabilities of Blender were at the time it was produced. It was made in 2010 and is my favorite of their open movie projects. If you go to the Blender website you can find more short movies, I suggest you watch Big Buck Bunny in case you are sad after watching Sintel and you need a laugh. The Blender project is probably the most shining example of FOSS success, the software is very modern and powerful and the development process seems to run very smoothly. Recently they added "Motion/Camera Tracking" that makes Blender an ideal choice for video special effects. It also has soft body simulation and cloth simulation, it actually has a build in game engine that can be used for simulations and interactive 3D applications. Here is a little experiment I made with cloth and monkey:
 
And a face I made:
By no means am I a professional but both this things took me no time to make, plus my mum says they are awesome. So there!

These are all features you would expect to have in this type of software. A feature that I don't remember using on windows in other 3D graphics suites is the UI customization ability. The user interface of Blender is like a mesh object, you can change and modify as much as you want to, you can make it look like the UI of any other piece of software that you are familiar with. Although eventually you just strip down everything to the absolute minimum, and just use the keyboard for everything, Blender is very pro oriented in that regard, once you get used to it ( and it doesn't take long ) you can chuck the menus aside and just concentrate on a full screen view of your model. That philosophy of working allows you to be very productive. Blender is based on the Python programming language and OpenGL , which allows the software to work on all platforms. Plus it has a very powerful API that allows you to change and extend the application, if you are full on geek you can write yourself custom tools or build a video game within blender. If some proprietary piece of 3d software is keeping you from crossing over to Linux, try Blender on the platform you are currently using. It may not be an argument for Linux but Blender isn't a strictly Linux thing, artists and graphics designers are using it and loving it on all platforms. Maybe I can't convince you to change your OS, but you should consider this 3D graphics suite.