Blender (software)

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Blender
Logo Blender.svg
Blender 3.2.0 screenshot.png
Blender version 3.2.0 (2022)
Original author(s)Ton Roosendaal
Developer(s)Blender Foundation, community
Initial releaseJanuary 2, 1994; 28 years ago (1994-01-02)[1]
Stable release
3.2.2 Edit this on Wikidata / 3 August 2022
Preview release
3.3.0-beta Edit this on Wikidata / 29 July 2022
Repository
Written inC, C++, and Python
Operating systemLinux, macOS, Windows,[2] FreeBSD,[3] OpenBSD,[4] NetBSD,[5] DragonFly BSD,[6] Haiku[7]
Size147–220 MiB (varies by operating system)[8][9]
Available in36 languages
List of languages
Abkhaz, Arabic, Basque, Brazilian Portuguese, Castilian Spanish, Catalan, Croatian, Czech, Dutch, English (official), Esperanto, French, German, Hausa, Hebrew, Hindi, Hungarian, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Kyrgyz, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian, Simplified Chinese, Slovak, Spanish, Swedish, Thai, Traditional Chinese, Turkish, Ukrainian, Vietnamese
Type3D computer graphics software
LicenseGPL-2.0-or-later[10]
Websitehttps://www.blender.org
Art by Oksana Dobrovolska
Blender 3.2.0 splash screen

Blender is a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software tool set used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D-printed models, motion graphics, interactive 3D applications, virtual reality, and, formerly, video games. Blender's features include 3D modelling, UV mapping, texturing, digital drawing, raster graphics editing, rigging and skinning, fluid and smoke simulation, particle simulation, soft body simulation, sculpting, animation, match moving, rendering, motion graphics, video editing, and compositing.

History[edit]

A Blender Cube (Version 2.93).

The Dutch animation studio NeoGeo (not related to Neo Geo video game hardware) started to develop Blender as an in-house application, and based on the timestamps for the first source files, January 2, 1994 is considered to be Blender's birthday.[11] Version 1.00 was released in January 1995,[12] with the primary author being company co-owner and software developer Ton Roosendaal. The name Blender was inspired by a song by the Swiss electronic band Yello, from the album Baby, which NeoGeo used in its showreel.[13][14][15] Some design choices and experiences for Blender were carried over from an earlier software application, called Traces, that Roosendaal developed for NeoGeo on the Commodore Amiga platform during the 1987–1991 period.[16]

On January 1, 1998, Blender was released publicly online as SGI freeware.[1] NeoGeo was later dissolved, and its client contracts were taken over by another company. After NeoGeo's dissolution, Ton Roosendaal founded Not a Number Technologies (NaN) in June 1998 to further develop Blender, initially distributing it as shareware until NaN went bankrupt in 2002. This also resulted in the discontinuation of Blender's development.[17]

In May 2002, Roosendaal started the non-profit Blender Foundation, with the first goal to find a way to continue developing and promoting Blender as a community-based open-source project. On July 18, 2002, Roosendaal started the "Free Blender" campaign, a crowdfunding precursor.[18][19] The campaign aimed at open-sourcing Blender for a one-time payment of €100,000 (US$100,670 at the time), with the money being collected from the community.[20] On September 7, 2002, it was announced that they had collected enough funds and would release the Blender source code. Today, Blender is free and open-source software, largely developed by its community as well as 24 employees employed by the Blender Institute.[21]

The Blender Foundation initially reserved the right to use dual licensing so that, in addition to GPL 2.0-or-later, Blender would have been available also under the "Blender License", which did not require disclosing source code but required payments to the Blender Foundation. However, this option was never exercised and was suspended indefinitely in 2005.[22] Blender is solely available under "GNU GPLv2 or any later" and was not updated to the GPLv3, as "no evident benefits" were seen.[23]

In 2019, with the release of version 2.80, the integrated game engine for making and prototyping video games was removed; Blender's developers recommended that users migrate to more powerful open source game engines such as Godot instead.[24][25]

Suzanne[edit]

Preset Low poly 3D mesh

In February 2002, it was clear that the company behind Blender, NaN, could not survive and would close its doors in March. Nevertheless, they put out one more release, Blender 2.25. As a sort of Easter egg and last personal tag, the artists and developers decided to add a 3D model of a chimpanzee head (called a "monkey" in the software). It was created by Willem-Paul van Overbruggen (SLiD3), who named it Suzanne after the orangutan in the Kevin Smith film Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back.

Suzanne is Blender's alternative to more common test models such as the Utah Teapot and the Stanford Bunny. A low-polygon model with only 500 faces, Suzanne is included in Blender and often used as a quick and easy way to test materials, animations, rigs, textures, and lighting setups. It is as easily added to a scene as primitives such as a cube or plane.

The largest Blender contest gives out an award called the Suzanne Award.[26]

Release history[edit]

The following table lists notable developments during Blender's release history: green indicates the current version, yellow indicates currently supported versions, and red indicates versions that are no longer supported (though many later versions can still be used on modern systems).[citation needed]

Version Release date[27] Notes and key changes
Old version, no longer maintained: 1.00 January 1994 Blender in development.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 1.23 January 1998 SGI version released, IrisGL.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 1.30 April 1998 Linux and FreeBSD version, port to OpenGL and X11.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 1.4x September 1998 Sun and Linux Alpha version released.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 1.50 November 1998 First Manual published.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 1.60 April 1999 New features behind a $95 lock. Windows version released.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 1.6x June 1999 BeOS and PPC version released.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 1.80 June 2000 Blender freeware again.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.00 August 2000 Interactive 3D and real-time engine.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.03 2000 Handbook The official Blender 2.0 guide.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.10 December 2000 New engine, physics, and Python.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.20 August 2001 Character animation system.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.21 October 2001 Blender Publisher launch.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.2x December 2001 Apple macOS version.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.25 October 13, 2002 Blender Publisher freely available.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.26 February 2003 The first truly open source Blender release.[28]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.30 November 22, 2003 New GUI; edits are now reversible.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.32 February 3, 2004 Ray tracing in internal renderer; support for YafaRay.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.34 August 5, 2004 LSCM-UV-Unwrapping, object-particle interaction.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.37 May 31, 2005 Simulation of elastic surfaces; improved subdivision surface.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.40 December 22, 2005 Greatly improved system and character animations (with a non-linear editing tool), and added a fluid and hair simulator. New functionality was based on Google Summer of Code 2005.[29]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.41 January 25, 2006 Improvements of the game engine (programmable vertex and pixel shaders, using Blender materials, split-screen mode, improvements to the physics engine), improved UV mapping, recording of the Python scripts for sculpture or sculpture works with the help of grid or mesh (mesh sculpting) and set-chaining models.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.42 July 14, 2006 The film Elephants Dream resulted in high development as a necessity. In particular, the Node-System (Material- and Compositor) has been implemented.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.43 February 16, 2007 Sculpt-Modeling as a result of Google Summer of Code 2006.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.46 May 19, 2008 With the production of Big Buck Bunny, Blender gained the ability to produce grass quickly and efficiently.[30]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.48 October 14, 2008 Due to development of Yo Frankie!, the game engine was improved substantially.[31]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.49 June 13, 2009 New window and file manager, new interface, new Python API, and new animation system.[32]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.57 April 13, 2011 First official stable release of 2.5 branch: new interface, new window manager and rewritten event — and tool — file processing system, new animation system (each setting can be animated now), and new Python API.[33]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.58 June 22, 2011 New features, such as the addition of the warp modifier and render baking. Improvements in sculpting.[34]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.58a July 4, 2011 Some bug fixes, along with small extensions in GUI and Python interface.[35]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.59 August 13, 2011 3D mouse support.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.60 October 19, 2011 Developer branches integrated into the main developer branch: among other things, B-mesh, a new rendering/shading system, NURBS, to name a few, directly from Google Summer of Code.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.61 December 14, 2011 New Render Engine, Cycles, added alongside Blender Internal (as a "preview release").[36] Motion Tracking, Dynamic Paint, and Ocean Simulator.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.62 February 16, 2012 Motion tracking improvement, further expansion of UV tools, and remesh modifier. Cycles render engine updates to make it more production-ready.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.63 April 27, 2012 Bug fixes, B-mesh project: completely new mesh system with n-corners, plus new tools: dissolve, inset, bridge, vertex slide, vertex connect, and bevel.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.64 October 3, 2012 Green screen keying, node-based compositing.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.65 December 10, 2012 Over 200 bug fixes, support for the Open Shading Language, and fire simulation.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.66 February 21, 2013 Rigid body simulation available outside of the game engine, dynamic topology sculpting, hair rendering now supported in Cycles.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.67 May 7–30, 2013 Freestyle rendering mode for non-photographic rendering, subsurface scattering support added the motion tracking solver is made more accurate and faster, and an add-on for 3D printing now comes bundled.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.68 July 18, 2013 Rendering performance is improved for CPUs and GPUs, support for NVIDIA Tesla K20, GTX Titan and GTX 780 GPUs. Smoke rendering improved to reduce blockiness.[37]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.69 October 31, 2013 Motion tracking now supports plane tracking, and hair rendering has been improved.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.70 March 19, 2014 Initial support for volume rendering and small improvements to the user interface.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.71 June 26, 2014 Support for baking in Cycles and volume rendering branched path tracing now renders faster.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.72 October 4, 2014 Volume rendering for GPUs, more features for sculpting and painting.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.73 January 8, 2015 New fullscreen mode, improved Pie Menus, 3D View can now display the world background.[38]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.74 March 31, 2015 Cycles got several precision, noise, speed, memory improvements, and a new Pointiness attribute.[38]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.75a July 1, 2015 Blender now supports a fully integrated Multi-View and Stereo 3D pipeline, Cycles has much-awaited initial support for AMD GPUs, and a new Light Portals feature.[38]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.76b November 3, 2015 Cycles volume density render, Pixar OpenSubdiv mesh subdivision library, node inserting, and video editing tools.[38]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.77a April 6, 2016 Improvements to Cycles, new features for the Grease Pencil, more support for OpenVDB, updated Python library and support for Windows XP has been removed.[39]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.78c February 28, 2017 Spherical stereo rendering for virtual reality, Grease Pencil improvements for 2D animations, Freehand curves drawing over surfaces, Bendy Bones, Micropolygon displacements, and Adaptive Subdivision. Cycles performance improvements.[40]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.79b September 11, 2017 Cycles denoiser, improved OpenCL rendering support, Shadow Catcher, Principled BSDF Shader, Filmic color management, improved UI and Grease Pencil functionality, improvements in Alembic import and export, surface deformities modifier, better animation keyframing, simplified video encoding, Python additions and new add-ons.[41]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.80 July 30, 2019 Revamped UI, added a dark theme,[42] EEVEE realtime rendering engine on OpenGL, Principled shader,[43] Workbench viewport[44] Grease Pencil 2D animation tool,[45] multi-object editing, collections, GPU+CPU rendering, Rigify.[46]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.81a November 21, 2019 OpenVDB voxel remesh, QuadriFlow remesh, transparent BSDF, brush curves preset in sculpting, WebM support.[47]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.82 February 14, 2020 Improved fluid and smoke simulation (using Mantaflow), UDIM support, USD export[48] and 2 new sculpting tools.
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.83
LTS
June 3, 2020[49] - June 13, 2022[50] Improved performance and user interface with the grease pencil tool, added VR capability, hair simulation uses same physics as cloth simulation, cloth self-collision has been optimized with 15-20% performance increase, bug fixes and usability improvements for fluid systems, new cloth brush added, new clay thumb brush, layer brush was redesigned, voxel remesh can be previewed, voxel mode added for remesh modifier, multiresolution rewritten to resolve artifacts, adaptive sampling for cycles, EEVEE supports more passes to make it more viable for final renders. (This LTS version is now being maintained until 2022.) The current version is 2.83.20 (April 2022), with about 330 bug fixes in comparison to the initial 2.83.0. Cuda 11 support for the last Nvidia Series with Ampere and OptiX support for Maxwell+ are included in the last patches.[51]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.90 August 31, 2020[52][53][54] Built-in Nishita realistic sky texturing,[55][56] completely rewritten EEVEE motion blur,[57] viewport denoising with OpenImageDenoise,[58][59] new shadow terminator offset which fixes some shading artifacts,[60] the Multires Modifier can now rebuild lower subdivisions levels and extract its displacement,[61][62][63] new scale/translate and squash & stretch pose brushes,[64][65][66] extrude manifold tool removes adjacent faces when extruding inwards,[67][68] bevel custom profile now supports bezier curve handle types,[69] spray direction maps in ocean modifier,[70][68] automatic UV adjustment when editing mesh,[71] updated search UI showing the location for menu items,[72] UI improvements like feature headings and more readable checkbox layouts,[73] reordering the modifier stack,[74] and more stats display options.[75]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.91 November 25, 2020[76] New more advanced exact boolean solver for more accurate cuts.[77][78] Curves objects now can have a custom bevel profile.[79] Cloth brush improvements with support for collisions[80][81] and posing.[82] New boundary brush[83] and trimming tools.[84] New Volume modifers for converting mesh to volume,[85][86] Volume to mesh[87] and Volume displace.[88] New compound shapes for rigid body physics simulations.[89][90] Improved animation F-curves to be more snappier.[91][92] The properties editor now has a search tool for searching for settings.[93][94][95][96] Search results now improved due to fuzzy search implementation.[97] Library Override improvements.[98]
Old version, no longer maintained: 2.92 February 25, 2021[99] A new modifier for more advanced procedural modelling called Geometry Nodes which connects to a custom node editor.[100] Main functionality is with procedural scattering. New about dialog[101] and other UI tweaks and changes.[102] A new tool for creating primitive objects interactively[103][104] and a new copy modifier operator.[103] A new sculpt brush that's manipulates the geometry based on the silhouette.[105][106] EEVEE support for AOV[107] and cryptomatte passes. Mantalfow fluid simulations now support APIC.[108][109] Colliders can now be disabled with a toggle button.[110] Bone Constraints now have a custom space option[111] NLA strip can now sync length based on the position of the key-frames.[112] New exposure node for the compositor.[113][114]
Older version, yet still maintained: 2.93
LTS
June 2, 2021[115][116] Expansion of Geometry Nodes Attributes and Nodes including such as Mesh Primitives. A new spreadsheet editor for viewing attributes.[117] Sculpting improvements.[118] Grease Pencil Line Art modifier, interpolate tool, fill tool improvements. Import and export grease pencils as SVGs and PDFs.[119] EEVEE improvements with volumetrics, ambient occlusion and depth of field.[120] Cycles persistent data and support for Intel Open Image Denoise version 1.3.[121] Python 3.9 support.[122] This LTS version is scheduled to be maintained until 2023. Windows 7 is no longer supported. Windows 8.1 or newer is required.[116] The current version is 2.93.9 (April 2022). More than 200 bug fixes are done to Version 2.93.0.
Old version, no longer maintained: 3.0 3.0.1 December 3, 2021[123]

(January 26, 2022)

New Asset Browser editor with Pose library.[124][125][126] USD importer.[127] Geometry Nodes Curve support[128][129][130] and new fields system which makes geometry nodes more like working with shaders.[131][132] A new posterize node for the compositor.[133] Dash to Dot grease pencil modifier.[134] Spreadsheet editor improvements.[135] Merging of the Cycles X branch giving performance improvements.[136][137][138] Removal of branched path tracing and OpenCL rendering.[139] Cycles HIP support for AMD graphics cards.[140] EEVEE support for the wavelength node and the attribute node.[141] The VR inspection add-on now supports controller visualisation and navigation functionality such as teleporting, flying and grabbing.[142] Video Sequence editor Thumbnails,[143][144] Transform tools[145][144] and an increase of strip limit from 32 to 128.[146][144][147] Knife tool improvements from the Google Summer of Code.[148][144][149] Modelling performance improvements.[150] A new design for Panels[151] and Nodes,[152] Node Editor overlays for noodle colours and annotations,[153][154] node editors now have a dot grid,[155] Theme changes[156] and other UI tweaks.[157], Version 3.0.1 with bugfixes
Old version, no longer maintained: 3.1 3.1.2 March 9, 2022[158] (April 1, 2022) Cycles now has a GPU backend for Metal,[159][160] support for rendering Point Cloud Geometry type,[161] and a new OptiX temporal denoiser.[162] Panoramic cameras now support the Fisheye Lens Polynomial camera model.[163][164] The Subdivision surface modifier now benefits from GPU acceleration.[165] Add node search menu now can be triggered by dragging a noodle in empty space[166] and is also able to search through math operations,[167] compare operations (geo nodes)[168] and group input nodes.[169] There is now a new scene time node for geometry nodes[170] and compositor.[171] A new convert colour space node for compositor.[172] The map range node now supports vectors in both Shader nodes and Geometry Nodes.[173] Geometry Nodes now has a execution time overlay,[174] an extrude mesh node,[175] a new merge by distance node which handles functionality from the weld modifier.[176] A new shrink wrap modifier for grease pencil.[177] A new faster wavefront obj exporter.[178][179], Version 3.1.1 and 3.1.2 with bugfixes
Current stable version: 3.2 3.2.2 June 8, 2022[180]

(August 3, 2022)

HIP support for linux.[181] Cycles Manifold Next Event Estimation Sampling which allows for faster and improved caustic rendering.[182] Cycles Light Groups.[183] Motion Blur support for volume.[184] Cycles Metal GPU backend now supports AMD GPUs.[185] ACES color space now available in the configuration.[186] Vertex Color attributes can be painted in Sculpt Mode with filters available for color modifications and effects.[187] New curve pen tool.[188] Proxies have now been fully removed.[189] Asset Browser Collection support.[190] Combine and Combine and separate XYZ nodes for compositor.[191] A new Sharpen Less kernel for the filter node in the compositor.[192] Return of custom named attributes.[193] Grease Pencil Envelope modifier.[194] Apply object transform for multi user objects.[195], Version 3.2.1 with bugfixes
Latest preview version of a future release: 3.3
LTS
September 7, 2022[196] Support for Intel Arc GPUs through oneAPI.[197][198] Support for AMDs Vega GPUs. New hair grooming system through new curve object type with support for sculpting mode and geometry nodes.[199] New Geometry Nodes icon.[200][201] New Volume Cube Node.[202] New points nodes.[203] New nodes for UV unwrapping.[204] New feild on domain node.[205] New experimental C++ based STL importer.[206] New planar tracking functionality which allows for extracting an image from a planar surface.[207] New Shade autosmooth operator.[208] You can now pin a scene to a workspace.[209] Scrollbars are now visible at all times.[210] Windows title bar will appear dark when system dark mode is enabled.[211] Alpha version available since 2 May 2022, Beta version available since 27 July 2022.
Latest preview version of a future release: 3.4 December 7, 2022[212] TBC

Alpha version available since 27 July 2022

Future release: 3.5 TBD[213] TBC
Future release: 4.0 TBD[214] TBC
Legend:
Old version
Older version, still maintained
Latest version
Latest preview version
Future release

As of 2021, official releases of Blender for Microsoft Windows, macOS and Linux,[215] as well as a port for FreeBSD,[216] are available in 64-bit versions. Blender is available for Windows 8.1 and above, and Mac OS X 10.13 and above.[217]

Blender 2.76b was the last supported release for Windows XP and version 2.63 was the last supported release for PowerPC. Blender 2.83 LTS and 2.92 were the last supported versions for Windows 7.[218] In 2013, Blender was released on Android as a demo, but hasn't been updated since.[2]

Features[edit]

Modeling[edit]

Forensic facial reconstruction of a mummy by Cícero Moraes

Blender has support for a variety of geometric primitives, including polygon meshes, Bézier curves, NURBS surfaces, metaballs, icospheres, text, and an n-gon modeling system called B-mesh. There is also an advanced polygonal modelling system which can be accessed through an edit mode. It supports features such as extrusion, bevelling, and subdividing.[219]

Modifiers[edit]

Modifiers apply non-destructive effects which can be applied upon rendering or exporting, such as subdivision surfaces.

Sculpting[edit]

Blender has multi-resolution digital sculpting, which includes dynamic topology, "baking", remeshing, re-symmetrization, and decimation. The latter is used to simplify models for exporting purposes (an example being game assets).

Geometry nodes[edit]

Geometry Nodes Editor in Blender 3.2

Blender has a geometry node system for procedurally and non-destructively creating and manipulating geometry. It was first added to Blender 2.92, which focuses on object scattering and instancing.[220] It takes the form of a modifier, so it can be stacked over other different modifers.[221] The system uses object attributes, which can be modified and overridden with string inputs. Attributes can include positions, normals and UV maps.[222] All attributes can be viewed in an attribute spreadsheet editor.[223] The Geometry Nodes utility also has the capability of creating primitive meshes.[224] In Blender 3.0, support for creating and modifying curves objects was added to Geometry Nodes.[130] In Blender 3.0, the Geometry Nodes workflow was completely redesigned with fields, in order to make the system more intuitive and work like shader nodes.[131][225]

Simulation[edit]

Cloth simulation

Blender can be used to simulate smoke, rain, dust, cloth, fluids, hair, and rigid bodies.[226]

Fluid simulation[edit]

Physics fluid simulation

The fluid simulator can be used for simulating liquids, like water being poured into a cup.[227] It uses Lattice Boltzmann methods (LBM) to simulate fluids and allows for plenty of adjustment of particles and resolution. The particle physics fluid simulation creates particles that follow the smoothed-particle hydrodynamics method.[228]

Blender has simulation tools for soft-body dynamics, including mesh collision detection, LBM fluid dynamics, smoke simulation, Bullet rigid-body dynamics, an ocean generator with waves, a particle system that includes support for particle-based hair, and real-time control during physics simulation and rendering.

In Blender 2.82, a new fluid simulation system called Mantaflow was added, replacing the old FLIP system.[229] In Blender 2.92, another fluid simulation system called APIC, which builds on Mantaflow,[citation needed] was added. Vortices and more stable calculations are improved from the FLIP system.

Animation[edit]

Blender's keyframed animation capabilities include inverse kinematics, armatures, hooks, curve- and lattice-based deformations, shape keys, non-linear animation, constraints, and vertex weighting. In addition, its Grease Pencil tools allow for 2D animation within a full 3D pipeline.

Rendering[edit]

Rendering of different materials using the Cycles render engine.

Internal render engine with scanline rendering, indirect lighting, and ambient occlusion that can export in a wide variety of formats; A path tracer render engine called Cycles, which can take advantage of the GPU for rendering. Cycles supports the Open Shading Language since Blender 2.65.[230]

Cycles Hybrid Rendering is possible in Version 2.92 with Optix. Tiles are calculated with GPU in combination with cpu.[231]

EEVEE is a new physically based real-time renderer. It works both as a renderer for final frames, and as the engine driving Blender's real-time viewport for creating assets.

Texturing and shading[edit]

Blender allows procedural and node-based textures, as well as texture painting, projective painting, vertex painting, weight painting and dynamic painting.

Post-production[edit]

The Video Sequence Editor (VSE)

Blender has a node-based compositor within the rendering pipeline, which is accelerated with OpenCL. It also includes a non-linear video editor called the Video Sequence Editor (VSE), with support for effects like Gaussian blur, color grading, fade and wipe transitions, and other video transformations. However, there is no built-in multi-core support for rendering video with the VSE.

Plugins/addons and scripts[edit]

Blender supports Python scripting for the creation of custom tools, prototyping, game logic, importing/exporting from other formats, and task automation. This allows for integration with several external render engines through plugins/addons.

File format[edit]

Blender features an internal file system that can pack multiple scenes into a single ".blend" file.

  • Most of Blender's ".blend" files are forward, backward, and cross-platform compatible with other versions of Blender, with the following exceptions:
    • Loading animations stored in post-2.5 files in Blender pre-2.5. This is due to the reworked animation subsystem introduced in Blender 2.5 being inherently incompatible with older versions.
    • Loading meshes stored in post 2.63. This is due to the introduction of BMesh, a more versatile mesh format.
    • Blender 2.8 ".blend" files are no longer fully backward compatible, causing errors when opened in previous versions.
    • Many 3.x ".blend" files are not completely backwards-compatible as well, and may cause errors with previous versions.
  • All scenes, objects, materials, textures, sounds, images, and post-production effects for an entire animation can be packaged and stored in a single ".blend" file. Data loaded from external sources, such as images and sounds, can also be stored externally and referenced through either an absolute or relative file path. Likewise, ".blend" files themselves can also be used as libraries of Blender assets.
  • Interface configurations are retained in ".blend" files.

A wide variety of import/export scripts that extend Blender capabilities (accessing the object data via an internal API) make it possible to interoperate with other 3D tools.

Blender organizes data as various kinds of "data blocks" (akin to glTF), such as Objects, Meshes, Lamps, Scenes, Materials, Images, and so on. An object in Blender consists of multiple data blocks – for example, what the user would describe as a polygon mesh consists of at least an Object and a Mesh data block, and usually also a Material and many more, linked together. This allows various data blocks to refer to each other. There may be, for example, multiple Objects that refer to the same Mesh, and making subsequent editing of the shared mesh results in shape changes in all Objects using this Mesh. Objects, meshes, materials, textures, etc. can also be linked to other .blend files, which is what allows the use of .blend files as reusable resource libraries.

Import and export[edit]

The software supports a variety of 3D file formats for import and export, among them Alembic, 3D Studio (3DS), FBX, DXF, SVG, STL (for 3D printing), UDIM, USD, VRML, WebM, X3D and OBJ.[232]

Deprecated features[edit]

Blender Game Engine[edit]

The Blender Game Engine was a built-in real-time graphics and logic engine with features such as collision detection, a dynamics engine, and programmable logic. It also allowed the creation of stand-alone, real-time applications ranging from architectural visualization to video games. In April 2018, the engine was removed from the upcoming Blender 2.8 release series, due to updates and revisions to the engine lagging behind other game engines such as the open-source Godot, and Unity.[24] In the 2.8 announcements, the Blender team specifically mentioned the Godot engine as a suitable replacement for migrating Blender Game Engine users.[25]

Blender Internal[edit]

Blender Internal, a biased rasterization engine and scanline renderer used in previous versions of Blender, was also removed for the 2.80 release in favor of the new "Eevee" renderer, a realtime physically based renderer.[233]

User interface[edit]

Blender's user interface underwent a significant update with Blender 2.57, and again with the release of Blender 2.80.

Commands[edit]

Most of the commands are accessible via hotkeys. There are also comprehensive graphical menus. Numeric buttons can be "dragged" to change their value directly without the need to aim at a particular widget, as well as being set using the keyboard. Both sliders and number buttons can be constrained to various step sizes with modifiers like the Ctrl and Shift keys. Python expressions can also be typed directly into number entry fields, allowing mathematical expressions to specify values.

Modes[edit]

Blender includes many modes for interacting with objects, the two primary ones being Object Mode and Edit Mode, which are toggled with the Tab key. Object mode is used to manipulate individual objects as a unit, while Edit mode is used to manipulate the actual object data. For example, an Object Mode can be used to move, scale, and rotate entire polygon meshes, and Edit Mode can be used to manipulate the individual vertices of a single mesh. There are also several other modes, such as Vertex Paint, Weight Paint, and Sculpt Mode.

Workspaces[edit]

The Blender GUI builds its tiled windowing system on top of one or multiple windows provided by the underlying platform. One platform window (often sized to fill the screen) is divided into sections and subsections that can be of any type of Blender's views or window types. The user can define multiple layouts of such Blender windows, called screens, and switch quickly between them by selecting from a menu or with keyboard shortcuts. Each window type's own GUI elements can be controlled with the same tools that manipulate the 3D view. For example, one can zoom in and out of GUI-buttons using similar controls, one zooms in and out in the 3D viewport. The GUI viewport and screen layout are fully user-customizable. It is possible to set up the interface for specific tasks such as video editing or UV mapping or texturing by hiding features not used for the task.

Rendering engines[edit]

An architectural render showing different rendering styles in Blender, including a photorealistic style using Cycles

Cycles[edit]

Cycles is a path-tracing render engine that is designed to be interactive and easy to use, while still supporting many features.[234] It has been included with Blender since 2011, with the release of Blender 2.61. Cycles supports with AVX, AVX2 and AVX-512 extensions, as well as CPU acceleration in modern hardware.[235]

GPU rendering[edit]

Cycles supports GPU rendering, which is used to speed up rendering times. There are three GPU rendering modes: CUDA, which is the preferred method for older Nvidia graphics cards; OptiX, which utilizes the hardware ray-tracing capabilities of Nvidia's Turing architecture & Ampere architecture; and OpenCL, which supports rendering on AMD Radeon graphics cards (with added Intel Iris and Xe support in 2.92). The toolkit software associated with these rendering modes does not come within Blender and needs to be separately installed and configured as per their respective source instructions.

Multiple GPUs are also supported, which can be used to create a render farm—having multiple GPUs, however, does not increase the available memory since each GPU can only access its own memory.[236] Since Version 2.90, this limitation of SLI cards is broken with Nvidia's NVlink.[237]

Apple's Metal API got initial implementation in blender 3.1 for Apple computers with M1 chips and AMD graphics cards.[238]

A Benchmark of Blender 3.2 shows great advantages of long supported CUDA against newer API OptiX and brand new HIP for AMD Hardware.[239] Some Improvements in performance will be available for HIP and OptiX in Blender 3.3 and 3.4.

Support for Intel Arc GPUs is expected to arrive in Blender 3.3 LTS.[198]

Supported features [240]
Feature CPU CUDA OPTIX [241] HIP Metal
Hardware Minimum for 3.0 x86-64 and other 64-Bit[242] Cuda 3.0+: Nvidia cards Kepler to Ampere (CUDA Toolkit 11.1+)[243] OptiX 7.3 with driver 470+: Full: Nvidia RTX Series; Parts: Maxwell+ AMD RDNA architecture or newer, Radeon Software Drivers (Windows, Linux) Apple Computers with Silicon in MacOS 12.2, AMD Graphics Cards with MacOS 12.3
Basic shading Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Shadows Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Motion blur Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Hair Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Volume Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Subsurface scattering Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Open Shading Language (OSL 1.11) Yes No No No No
Correlated multi-jittered sampling Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Bevel and AO shaders Yes Yes Yes 2.92+ [244] Yes Yes
Baking [245] Yes Yes Yes 3.0+ [246] Yes Yes
Can use CPU memory
Yes Yes Yes Yes
Distribute memory across devices Yes render farm [247] Yes with NVlink Yes with NVlink No No
Experimental features
Adaptive subdivision[248] Experimental Experimental Experimental Experimental Experimental

Integrator[edit]

The integrator is the core rendering algorithm used for lighting computations. Cycles currently supports a path tracing integrator with direct light sampling. It works well for a variety of lighting setups, but it is not as suitable for caustics and certain other complex lighting situations. Rays are traced from the camera into the scene, bouncing around until they find a light source (a lamp, an object material emitting light, or the world background), or until they are simply terminated based on the number of maximum bounces determined in the light path settings for the renderer. To find lamps and surfaces emitting light, both indirect light sampling (letting the ray follow the surface bidirectional scattering distribution function, or BSDF) and direct light sampling (picking a light source and tracing a ray towards it) are used.[249]

The two types of integrators[edit]
  1. The default path tracing integrator is a "pure" path tracer. This integrator works by sending several light rays that act as photons from the camera out into the scene. These rays will eventually hit either: a light source, an object, or the world background. If these rays hit an object, they will bounce based on the angle of impact, and continue bouncing until a light source has been reached or until a maximum number of bounces, as determined by the user, which will cause it to terminate and result in a black, unlit pixel. Multiple rays are calculated and averaged out for each pixel, a process known as "sampling". This sampling number is set by the user and greatly affects the final image. Lower sampling often results in more noise and has the potential to create "fireflies" (which are uncharacteristically bright pixels), while higher sampling greatly reduces noise, but also increases render times.
  2. The alternative is a branched path tracing integrator, which works mostly the same way. Branched path tracing splits the light rays at each intersection with an object according to different surface components,[clarification needed] and takes all lights into account for shading instead of just one. This added complexity makes computing each ray slower but reduces noise in the render, especially in scenes dominated by direct (one-bounce) lighting.

Open Shading Language[edit]

Blender users can create their own nodes using the Open Shading Language (OSL), although it is important to note that this feature is not supported by GPUs.[250]

Using the node editor to create a moldy gold material

Materials[edit]

Materials define the look of meshes, NURBS curves, and other geometric objects. They consist of three shaders to define the mesh's surface appearance, volume inside, and surface displacement.[234]

Surface shader[edit]

The surface shader defines the light interaction at the surface of the mesh. One or more bidirectional scattering distribution functions, or BSDFs, can specify if incoming light is reflected, refracted into the mesh, or absorbed.[234] The alpha value is one measure of translucency.

Volume shader[edit]

When the surface shader does not reflect or absorb light, it enters the volume (light transmission). If no volume shader is specified, it will pass straight through (or be refracted, see refractive index or IOR) to another side of the mesh.

If one is defined, a volume shader describes the light interaction as it passes through the volume of the mesh. Light may be scattered, absorbed, or even emitted[clarification needed] at any point in the volume.[234]

Displacement shader[edit]

The shape of the surface may be altered by displacement shaders. In this way, textures can be used to make the mesh surface more detailed.

Depending on the settings, the displacement may be virtual-only modifying the surface normals to give the impression of displacement (also known as bump mapping) – real, or a combination of real displacement with bump mapping.[234]

EEVEE[edit]

EEVEE (or Eevee) is a real-time PBR renderer included in Blender from version 2.8.[251] This render engine was given the nickname Eevee,[252] after the Pokémon. The name was later made into the backronym "Extra Easy Virtual Environment Engine" or EEVEE.[253]

Workbench[edit]

Using the default 3D viewport drawing system for modeling, texturing, etc.[44]

External renderers[edit]

Free and open-source:[254]

Proprietary:

  • Pixar RenderMan – Blender render addon for RenderMan[260]
  • Octane Render – OctaneRender plugin for Blender
  • Indigo Renderer – Indigo for Blender
  • V-Ray – V-Ray for Blender, V-Ray Standalone is needed for rendering
  • Maxwell Render – B-Maxwell addon for Blender
  • Thea Render – Thea for Blender[261]
  • Corona Renderer – Blender To Corona exporter, Corona Standalone is needed for rendering[262]

Development[edit]

Game engine GLSL materials

Since the opening of the source code, Blender has experienced significant refactoring of the initial codebase and major additions to its feature set.

Improvements include an animation system refresh;[263] a stack-based modifier system;[264] an updated particle system[265] (which can also be used to simulate hair and fur); fluid dynamics; soft-body dynamics; GLSL shaders support[266] in the game engine; advanced UV unwrapping;[267] a fully recoded render pipeline, allowing separate render passes and "render to texture"; node-based material editing and compositing; and projection painting.[268]

Part of these developments was fostered by Google's Summer of Code program, in which the Blender Foundation has participated since 2005.

Historically, Blender has used Phabricator to manage its development but due to the announcment in 2021 that Phabricator would be discontinued[269], the Blender Institute began work on migrating to another software in early 2022.[270] After extensive debate on what software it should choose[271] it was finally decided to migrate to Gitea.[272] The migration from Phabricator to Gitea is currently a work in progress.[273]

Blender 2.8[edit]

Official planning for the next major revision of Blender after the 2.7 series began in the latter half of 2015, with potential targets including a more configurable UI (dubbed "Blender 101"), support for Physically based rendering (PBR) (dubbed EEVEE for "Extra Easy Virtual Environment Engine") to bring improved realtime 3D graphics to the viewport, allowing the use of C++11 and C99 in the codebase, moving to a newer version of OpenGL and dropping support for versions before 3.2, and a possible overhaul of the particle and constraint systems.[274][275] Blender Internal renderer has been removed from 2.8.[233] Code Quest was a project started in April 2018 set in Amsterdam, at the Blender Institute.[276] The goal of the project was to get a large development team working in one place, in order to speed up the development of Blender 2.8.[276] By June 29, 2018, the Code Quest project ended, and on July 2, the alpha version was completed.[277] Beta testing commenced on November 29, 2018 and was anticipated to take until July 2019.[278] Blender 2.80 was released on July 30, 2019.[279]

Cycles X[edit]

On the 23rd April 2021 the Blender Foundation announced the Cycles X project, where they will improve the Cycles architecture for future development. Key changes include a new kernel, removal of tiled rendering (replaced with progressive refine), removal of branched path tracing and removal of OpenCL support. Volumetric rendering will also be replaced with better algorithms.[136][280][138] Cycles X had been accessible only on an experimental branch[281] until 21 September 2021 when it was merged into master.[137]

Support[edit]

Blender is extensively documented on its website.[282] There are also a number of online communities dedicated to support, such as the Blender Stack Exchange.[283]

Modified versions[edit]

Due to Blender's open-source nature, other programs have tried to take advantage of its success by repackaging and selling cosmetically-modified versions of it. Examples include IllusionMage, 3DMofun, 3DMagix, and Fluid Designer,[284] the latter being recognized as Blender-based.

Use in industry[edit]

Open projects[edit]

Big Buck Bunny promotional poster
Sintel promotional poster
Tears of Steel promotional poster

Since 2005, every 1–2 years the Blender Foundation has announced a new creative project to help drive innovation in Blender.[329][330] In response to the success of the first open movie project, Elephants Dream, in 2006, the Blender Foundation founded the Blender Institute to be in charge of additional projects, with two projects announced at first: Big Buck Bunny, also known as Project Peach (a "furry and funny" short open animated film project); and Yo Frankie!, or Project Apricot, an open game utilizing the Crystal Space game engine that reused some of the assets created for Big Buck Bunny.

Elephants Dream (Project Orange)[edit]

In September 2005, some of the most notable Blender artists and developers began working on a short film using primarily free software, in an initiative known as the Orange Movie Project hosted by the Netherlands Media Art Institute (NIMk). The codename, "Orange", about the fruit, started the trend of giving each project a different fruity name. The resulting film, Elephants Dream, premiered on March 24, 2006.

Big Buck Bunny (Project Peach)[edit]

On October 1, 2007, a new team started working on a second open project, "Peach", for the production of the short movie Big Buck Bunny. This time, however, the creative concept was different. Instead of the deep and mystical style of Elephants Dream, things are more "funny and furry" according to the official site.[331] The movie had its premiere on April 10, 2008. This later made its way to Nintendo 3DS's Nintendo Video in May 2012.[332]

Yo Frankie! (Open Game Project: Apricot)[edit]

"Apricot" was the project name for the production of a game based on the universe and characters of the Peach movie (Big Buck Bunny) using free software, including the Crystal Space framework. The resulting game is titled Yo Frankie!. The project started on February 1, 2008, and development was completed at the end of July. A finalized product was expected at the end of August; however, the release was delayed. The game was eventually released on December 9, 2008, under either the GNU GPL or LGPL, with all content being licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 3.0.[333]

Sintel (Project Durian)[edit]

The Blender Foundation's Project Durian[334] (in keeping with the tradition of fruits as code names) was this time chosen to make a fantasy action epic of about twelve minutes in length,[335] starring a teenage girl and a young dragon as the main characters. The film premiered online on September 30, 2010.[336] A game based on Sintel was officially announced on Blenderartists.org on May 12, 2010.[337][338]

Many of the new features integrated into Blender 2.5 and beyond were a direct result of Project Durian.

Tears of Steel (Project Mango)[edit]

The Dutch actor Derek de Lint in a composited live-action scene from Tears of Steel that used VFX

On October 2, 2011, the fourth open movie project, codenamed "Mango", was announced by the Blender Foundation.[339][340] A team of artists assembled using an open call of community participation. It is the first Blender open movie to use live action as well as CG.

Filming for Mango started on May 7, 2012, and the movie was released on September 26, 2012. As with the previous films, all footage, scenes and models were made available under a free content compliant Creative Commons license.[341][340]

According to the film's press release, "The film's premise is about a group of warriors and scientists, who gather at the 'Oude Kerk' in Amsterdam to stage a crucial event from the past, in a desperate attempt to rescue the world from destructive robots."[342]

Cosmos Laundromat: First Cycle (Project Gooseberry)[edit]

Cosmos Laundromat: First Cycle

On January 10, 2011, Ton Roosendaal announced that the fifth open movie project would be codenamed "Gooseberry" and that its goal would be to produce a feature-length animated film. He speculated that production would begin sometime between 2012 and 2014.[343] The film was to be written and produced by a coalition of international animation studios. The studio lineup was announced on January 28, 2014,[344] and production began soon thereafter. As of March 2014, a moodboard had been constructed[345] and development goals set. The initial ten minute pilot was released on YouTube on August 10, 2015.[346] It won the SIGGRAPH 2016 Computer Animation Festival Jury's Choice award.[347]

Glass Half[edit]

On November 13, 2015, Glass Half was released in HD format.[348] This project demonstrates real-time rendering capabilities using OpenGL for 3D cartoon animation. It also marks the end of the fruit naming scheme. Glass Half was financed by the Blender Foundation with proceeds from the Blender Cloud.[349] It is a short, roughly three-minute long comedy in a gibberish language that addresses subjectivity in art.

Glass Half

Caminandes[edit]

Gran Dillama

Caminandes is a series of animated short films envisioned by Pablo Vazquez of Argentina. It centers on a llama named Koro in Patagonia and his attempts to overcome various obstacles. The series only became part of the Open Movie Project starting with the second episode.

  • Caminandes 1: Llama Drama (2013)
  • Caminandes 2: Gran Dillama (2013)
  • Caminandes 3: Llamigos (2016)

Agent 327: Operation Barbershop[edit]

Agent 327: Operation Barbershop is a three-minute teaser released on May 15, 2017 for a planned full-length animated feature. The three-minute teaser is uploaded to YouTube by the official Blender Studio channel. Co-directed by Colin Levy and Hjalti Hjálmarsson,[350] it is based on the classic Dutch comic series Agent 327. This teaser film also acts as a proof-of-concept to attract funding for the full-length animated feature.[351] Agent 327: Operation Barbershop showcases the latest technology of Cycles engine, the render engine that has been included in Blender since 2011.[352] Assets from this teaser have been released under Creative Commons license via Blender Cloud.[351]

Agent 327

Hero[edit]

Hero is the first open movie project to demonstrate the capabilities of the Grease Pencil, a 2D animation tool in Blender 2.8. It was put on YouTube on April 16, 2018. It has a roughly four-minute runtime, which includes over a minute of "behind-the-scenes" "making-of" footage. It showcases the art of Spanish animator Daniel Martínez Lara.

Hero

Spring[edit]

Spring

"Spring is the story of a shepherd girl and her dog, who face ancient spirits to continue the cycle of life. This poetic and visually stunning short film was written and directed by Andy Goralczyk, inspired by his childhood in the mountains of Germany."

On October 25, 2017, an animated short film named Spring was announced. Spring was released April 4, 2019.[353][354] Its purpose was to test Blender 2.8's capabilities before its official release.

Coffee Run[edit]

Coffee Run

"Fueled by caffeine, a young woman runs through the bittersweet memories of her past relationship."

On May 29, 2020, the open movie Coffee Run was released. It was the first open movie to be rendered in the EEVEE render engine. It was released on July 30, 2019.[355]

Settlers[edit]

A collection of assets and animated scenes created by the Blender Studio in 2020, with an emphasis on expressive non-photorealistic rendering and experimental shading. All assets created for this are freely available to all.[356]

Sprite Fright[edit]

Sprite Fright

Sprite Fright is the 13th open movie. It is set in Britain and draws inspiration from 1980's horror comedy. It is directed by Pixar story artist Mathew Luhn with Hjalti Hjalmarsson.[357][358][359] It is about a group of teenagers being attacked and killed by Sprites after they litter the forest.[360]

It premiered at Eye Film in the Netherlands on 28 October 2021 and was publicly released on Blender Studio and YouTube on 29 October 2021.[361][362]

Project Heist[edit]

An upcoming cinematic short with an emphasis on photo-realism. The short will take place in Iceland and will be intended to improve Blender's PBR texturing workflow.[363]

Online services[edit]

Blender Foundation[edit]

Blender Studio[edit]

The Blender Studio platform, launched in March 2014 as Blender Cloud,[364][365][366] is a subscription-based cloud computing platform where members can access Blender add-ons, courses and to keep track of the production of Blender Studio's open movies.[367] It is currently operated by the Blender Studio, formerly a part of the Blender Institute.[21] It was launched to promote and fundraiser for Project: Gooseberry, and is intended to replace the selling of DVDs by the Blender Foundation with a subscription-based model for file hosting, asset sharing and collaboration.[364][368] Blender Add-ons included in Blender Studio are CloudRig,[369] Blender Kitsu,[370] Contact sheet Add-on,[371] Blender Purge[372] and Shot Builder.[373][374][375] It was rebranded from Blender Cloud to Blender Studio on 22 October 2021.[376]

The Blender Development Fund[edit]

The Blender development fund is a subscription where individuals and companies can fund Blender's development.[377] Corporate members include Epic Games,[378] Nvidia,[379] Microsoft,[380] Apple,[381] Unity,[382] Intel,[383] Decentraland,[384] Amazon Web Services,[385] Meta,[386] AMD,[387] Adobe[388] and many more. You can also provide one time donations to Blender. It supports Bank Transfer, PayPal and Cryptocurrency.[389]

Blender ID[edit]

The Blender ID is a unified login for Blender software and service users, providing a login for Blender Studio, the Blender Store, the Blender Conference, Blender Network, Blender Development Fund, and the Blender Foundation Certified Trainer Program.[390]

Blender Open Data[edit]

Blender Benchmark showing an example, a classroom render
Example of Blender Benchmark in use

The Blender Open Data is a platform to collect, display, and query benchmark data produced by the Blender community with related Blender Benchmark software.[391]

Blender Network[edit]

The Blender Network was an online platform to enable online professionals to conducts business with Blender and provide online support.[392] It was terminated on 31 March 2021.[393]

Blender Store[edit]

A store to buy Blender merchandise, such as shirts, socks, beanies, etc.[394]

Blender Community[edit]

There are several communities around Blender, such as BlenderArtists and Blender Market. All user communities are independent from blender.org and Blender Foundation.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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