Sunday, September 7, 2008

Getting into 3D

There are plenty of reasons to get into 3D modeling, you might want to see how something would look before it is built, you might want to experiment with game design or you might want to take it on for a challenge. Well I fell into all of these categories and started mucking about with a number of commercial packages but without ever really bonding with one of them.

One day out of curiosity I downloaded a version of Blender, which is an opensource 3D modelling application and well I have been hooked ever since.

If it's free, doesen't that mean its dodgey?
Well that was my first reaction but once I started working through the tutorials and checking out the help forums I realised that just the opposite was true. After putting up with Adobe's pathetic attitude towards developing products for Mac OS (I still can't hide CS3 Indesign in 10.5) I found the positive approach of Blender users to be exactly what I was after. The community has a can do attitude that is developing the software at an amazing pace.

If you are in doubt check out the amazing list of features in the current build of Blender at The software is capable of anything from basic modelling and rendering through to work that is truly amazing.

What are the good points?
If you are going to invest you time in learning a new program it is important to know what you are in for, so here is my list of things that make this a worthwhile application.

1. It has a great development community and very friendly help forums
2. There is a huge amount of online resources
3. It runs on a range of operating systems
4. It can produce work of the highest quality
5. It has a really efficient interface
6. This program is building momentum!

What are the drawbacks?
1. It is lacking in presets compared with Maya and Max
2. You have to invest time to learn the software (true with all powerful 3d apps)
3. It tends to have a few idiosyncrasies in it's design

Well they are pretty minor drawbacks and Blender is curenty in the process of being rewritten for a new 2.5 version which will standardise many features of the software and make it easier for people to write plugins for. I think this will be a huge step forward for the software.

If you are a graphic artist then you really owe it to yourself to checkout Blender for yourself and decide on whether it is a tool you can get into. Check out the noob to pro wiki book and try out the "modelling a simple person" tutorial right near the start.

If you are a photographer then 3d gives you a crazy amount of control, infinitely variable focal length, adjustable depth of field, incredible lighting possibilities and the ability to move the camera to any angle in 3d space, it can be a great tool for testing out interesting shots and composition or a way of extending those skills into an entirely new area.

I wil get some tutorials happening in the coming months so stay tuned!

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