|Original author(s)||Ton Roosendaal|
|Developer(s)||Blender Foundation, community|
|Initial release||January 2, 1994|
2.93.0 (June 2, 2021)
3.0.0 Alpha (June 2, 2021 )
|Written in||C, C++, and Python|
|Operating system||Linux, macOS, Windows, Android, FreeBSD, OpenBSD, NetBSD, DragonFly BSD, Haiku|
|Size||147–188 MiB (varies by operating system)|
|Available in||36 languages|
|Type||3D computer graphics software|
Blender is a free and open-source 3D computer graphics software toolset used for creating animated films, visual effects, art, 3D printed models, motion graphics, interactive 3D applications, virtual reality, and computer games. Blender's features include 3D modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, raster graphics editing, rigging and skinning, fluid and smoke simulation, particle simulation, soft body simulation, sculpting, animating, match moving, rendering, motion graphics, video editing, and compositing.
The Dutch animation studio NeoGeo (not associated with the Neo Geo video game hardware brand) 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. The version 1.00 was released in January 1995, 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. Some of the 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.
On January 1, 1998, Blender was released publicly online as SGI freeware. 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 meant, at the time, discontinuing the development of Blender.
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. 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. 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.
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 that did not require disclosing source code but required payments to the Blender Foundation. However, they never exercised this option and suspended it indefinitely in 2005. Blender is solely available under "GNU GPLv2 or any later" and was not updated to the GPLv3, as "no evident benefits" were seen.
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 users migrate to more powerful open source game engines such as Godot instead.
Around 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 a cube or plane.
The largest Blender contest gives out an award called the Suzanne Award.
The following table lists notable developments during Blender's release history: green indicates the current version (2.93 LTS), 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).
|Version||Release Date||Notes and key changes|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.00||January 1994||Blender in development.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.23||January 1998||SGI version released, IrisGL.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.30||April 1998||Linux and FreeBSD version, port to OpenGL and X11.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.4x||September 1998||Sun and Linux Alpha version released.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.50||November 1998||First Manual published.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.60||April 1999||New features behind a $95 lock. Windows version released.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.6x||June 1999||BeOS and PPC version released.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 1.80||June 2000||Blender freeware again.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.00||August 2000||Interactive 3D and real-time engine.|
|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.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.20||August 2001||Character animation system.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.21||October 2001||Blender Publisher launch.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.2x||December 2001||Apple macOS version.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.25||October 13, 2002||Blender Publisher freely available.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.26||February 2003||The first truly open source Blender release.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.48||October 14, 2008||Due to development of Yo Frankie!, the game engine was improved substantially.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.49||June 13, 2009||New window and file manager, new interface, new Python API, and new animation system.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.58a||July 4, 2011||Some bug fixes, along with small extensions in GUI and Python interface.|
|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"). 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.|
|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.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.74||March 31, 2015||Cycles got several precision, noise, speed, memory improvements, and a new Pointiness attribute.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|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.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.80||July 30, 2019||Revamped UI, added a dark theme, EEVEE realtime rendering engine on OpenGL, Principled shader, Workbench viewport Grease Pencil 2D animation tool, multi-object editing, collections, GPU+CPU rendering, Rigify.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.81a||November 21, 2019||OpenVDB voxel remesh, QuadriFlow remesh, transparent BSDF, brush curves preset in sculpting, WebM support.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.82||February 14, 2020||Improved fluid and smoke simulation (using Mantaflow), UDIM support, USD export and 2 new sculpting tools.|
|Older version, yet still maintained: 2.83
|June 3, 2020||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.) Actual state is 2.83.15 in May 2021 with about 300 bugfixes in comparison to initial 2.83.0. Cuda 11 support for last Nvidia Series with Ampere and OptiX support for Maxwell+ are included in last patches.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.90||August 31, 2020||Built-in Nishita realistic sky texturing, completely rewritten EEVEE motion blur, viewport denoising with OpenImageDenoise, new shadow terminator offset which fixes some shading artifacts, the Multires Modifier can now rebuild lower subdivisions levels and extract its displacement, new scale/translate and squash & stretch pose brushes, extrude manifold tool removes adjacent faces when extruding inwards, bevel custom profile now supports bezier curve handle types, spray direction maps in ocean modifier, automatic UV adjustment when editing mesh, updated search UI showing the location for menu items, UI improvements like feature headings and more readable checkbox layouts, reordering the modifier stack, and more stats display options.|
|Old version, no longer maintained: 2.91||November 25, 2020||New booleans, better cloth sculpting with support for collisions, volume objects modifiers, and improved animation tools.|
|Older version, yet still maintained: 2.92||February 25, 2021||Geometry nodes, UI updates, primitive add tool, copy modifier operator, sculpting silhouettes, EEVEE AOV and cryptomatte, APIC fluid sims, toggle colliders, bone constraint custom space, NLA strip sync length, new exposure compositor node|
|Current stable version: 2.93
|June 2, 2021||This LTS version is scheduled to be maintained until 2023. Windows 7 is no longer supported. Windows 8.1 or newer is required. contain geometry nodes improvements, a new spreadsheet editor, a new asset browser as-well as sculpting and grease pencil improvements. Python 3.9 support. Last Version with Cycles OpenCL Support for Intel and AMD graphic cards|
|Future release: 3.0||August 25, 2021||Possible UI changes and breaking backwards compatibility., Alpha Version available since 2021-04-16 with daily builds, Cycles X without OpenCL and only with Nvidia CUDA and OptiX support|
As of 2021, official releases of Blender for Microsoft Windows, MacOS and Linux, as well as a port for FreeBSD, are available in 64-bit versions. Blender is available for Windows 7 and above, and Mac OS X 10.6 and above.
2.92 and 2.83 LTS are the last supported Releases for Windows 7. MacOS 10.12 with 2.8x and 10.13 and higher with 2.92 are also needed at Apple PC. 
Blender 2.76b was the last supported release for Windows XP and version 2.63 was the last supported release for PowerPC. In 2013, Blender was released on Android as a demo but hasn't been updated since.
Blender has support for a variety of geometric primitives, including polygon meshes, fast subdivision surface modeling, Bezier curves, NURBS surfaces, metaballs, icospheres, text, and an n-gon modeling system called B-mesh.
Modifiers apply non-destructive effects.
Blender has multi-res digital sculpting, which includes dynamic topology, maps baking, remeshing, re-symmetrize, and decimation.
Blender's Geometry nodes is a node based system for creating and manipulating geometry. It was first added to Blender 2.92, which focuses on object scattering and instancing.
Blender can be used to simulate smoke, rain, dust, cloth, fluids, hair and rigid bodies.
The fluid simulator can be used for simulating liquids, like water hitting a cup. It uses the Lattice Boltzmann methods to simulate the fluids and allows for lots of adjusting of the amount of particles and the resolution.
The particle physics fluid simulation creates particles that follow the Smoothed-particle hydrodynamics method. Simulation tools for soft body dynamics including mesh collision detection, LBM fluid dynamics, smoke simulation, Bullet rigid body dynamics, and an ocean generator with waves. A particle system that includes support for particle-based hair. Real-time control during physics simulation and rendering.
In Blender 2.82 a new fluid sim system called mantaflow was added, replacing the old system.
In Blender 2.92 a new fluid sim system called APIC was added. Vortices and more stable calculations are improved in Relation to FLIP system. Improved Mantaflow is here the source of the APIC part.
Blender's Grease Pencil tools allow for 2D animation within a full 3D pipeline.
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. Cycles Hybrid Rendering is possible in Version 2.92 with Optix. Tiles are calculated with GPU in combination with cpu.
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 realtime viewport for creating assets. Blender Internal was removed in 2.8.
Texture and shading
Blender has a node-based compositor within the rendering pipeline accelerated with OpenCL.
Blender 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 multi-core support for rendering video with the VSE.
Plugins/addons and scripts
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 a number of external render engines through plugins/addons.
The Blender Game Engine was a built-in real-time graphics and logic engine with features such including 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 it was removed from the upcoming Blender 2.8 release series, having long lagged behind other game engines such as the open-source Godot, and Unity. In the 2.8 announcement, the Blender team specifically mentioned the Godot engine as a suitable replacement for migrating Blender Game Engine users.
Blender Internal, a biased rasterization engine / scanline renderer used in the previous versions of Blender was also removed for the 2.80 release, in favor of the new "EEVEE" renderer, a realtime PBR renderer.
Blender features an internal file system that can pack multiple scenes into a single file (called a ".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.
- All scenes, objects, materials, textures, sounds, images, post-production effects for an entire animation can be 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 pathname. Likewise, ".blend" files themselves can also be used as libraries of Blender assets.
- Interface configurations are retained in the ".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", 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 result in shape changes in all Objects using this Mesh. Objects, meshes, materials, textures etc. can also be linked to from other .blend files, which is what allows the use of .blend files as reusable resource libraries.
Import and export
The software supports a variety of 3D file formats for import and export, among them Alembic, 3D Studio (3DS), Filmbox (FBX), Autodesk (DXF), SVG, STL (for 3D printing), UDIM, USD, VRML, WebM, X3D and Obj.
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.
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, 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.
The Blender GUI builds its own 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 types 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.
Cycles is a path-tracing render engine that is designed to be interactive and easy to use, while still supporting many features. It has been included with Blender since 2011, with the release of Blender 2.61. Cycles supports with AVX, AVX2 and AVX-512 extensions a cpu acceleration in modern hardware of Intel and AMD.
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 graphics cards and added Intel Iris and Xe in 2.92.
Multiple GPUs are also supported, which can be used to create a render farm – although having multiple GPUs doesn't increase the available memory, because each GPU can only access its own memory. Since Version 2.90 this limitation of SLI cards is broken with Nvidia Systems with NVlink.
|Hardware Minima for 2.92||x86-64 and other 64-Bit||Cuda 3.0+: Nvidia cards Kepler to Ampere||OpenCL 1.2+: AMD GCN 2+, RDNA+; Intel Iris, Xe (last Version 2.93 LTS, deprecated OpenCL support in 3.0 with new Cycle X) ||OptiX 7.1 with driver 450+: Full: Nvidia RTX Series; Parts: Maxwell+|
|Smoke and fire||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Open Shading Language (OSL 1.11)||Yes||No||No||No|
|Correlated multi-jittered sampling||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Branched path tracing||Yes||Yes||Yes||No|
|Bevel and AO shaders||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes 2.92 |
|Can use CPU memory||Yes||No||Yes|
|Distribute memory across devices||Yes render farm ||Yes with NVlink||No||Yes with NVlink|
|Baking ||Yes||Yes||Yes||Yes, but only redirected to CUDA|
|Advanced volume light sampling to reduce noise||Yes||No||No||No|
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.
The two types of integrators
- The default path tracing integrator is a "pure" path tracer. This integrator works by sending a number of 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 individual 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.
- 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
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. The alpha value is one measure of translucency.
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.
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.
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. Cycles X is currently only accessible on an experimental branch.
EEVEE (or Eevee) is a real-time PBR renderer included in Blender from version 2.8. This render engine was given the nickname Eevee, after the Pokémon. The name was later made into the backronym "Extra Easy Virtual Environment Engine" or EEVEE.
Using the default 3D viewport drawing system for modeling, texturing, etc.
- Mitsuba Renderer
- YafaRay (previously Yafray)
- LuxCoreRender (previously LuxRender)
- Appleseed Renderer
- NOX Renderer
- Radeon ProRender — Radeon ProRender for Blender
- Pixar RenderMan — Blender render addon for RenderMan
- 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
- Corona Renderer — Blender To Corona exporter, Corona Standalone is needed for rendering
Blender's non photorealistic renderer. It was removed from Blender in version 2.8. Render clay is an add-on by Fabio Russo; it overwrites materials in Blender Internal or Cycles with a clay material in a chosen diffuse color. Included in Blender version 2.79.
Blender Game Engine
A real-time renderer removed in 2019 with the release of 2.8
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; a stack-based modifier system; an updated particle system (which can also be used to simulate hair and fur); fluid dynamics; soft-body dynamics; GLSL shaders support in the game engine; advanced UV unwrapping; a fully recoded render pipeline, allowing separate render passes and "render to texture"; node-based material editing and compositing; and projection painting.
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. Blender Internal renderer has been removed from 2.8. Code Quest was a project started in April 2018 set in Amsterdam, at the Blender Institute. 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. By June 29, 2018, the Code Quest project ended, and on July 2, the alpha version was completed. Beta testing commenced on November 29, 2018 and was anticipated to take until July 2019. Blender 2.80 was released on July 30, 2019.
Blender is extensively documented on its website, with the rest of the support provided via community tutorials and discussion forums on the Internet. The Blender Network provides support and social services for Blender professionals. Additionally, YouTube is known to have many video tutorials available.
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, the latter being recognized as Blender-based.
Use in industry
- Blender started out as an in-house tool for NeoGeo, a Dutch commercial animation company. Blender has been used for television commercials in several parts of the world including Australia, Iceland, Brazil, Russia and Sweden.
- Blender is used by NASA for many publicly available 3D models. Many 3D models on NASA's 3D resources page are in a native .blend format.
- NASA also used Blender to develop an interactive web application Experience Curiosity to celebrate the 3rd anniversary of the Curiosity rover landing on Mars. This app makes it possible to operate the rover, control its cameras and the robotic arm and reproduces some of the prominent events of the Mars Science Laboratory mission. The application was presented at the beginning of the WebGL section on SIGGRAPH 2015.
- The first large professional project that used Blender was Spider-Man 2, where it was primarily used to create animatics and pre-visualizations for the storyboard department.
- The French-language film Friday or Another Day (Vendredi ou un autre jour [fr]) was the first 35 mm feature film to use Blender for all the special effects, made on Linux workstations. It won a prize at the Locarno International Film Festival. The special effects were by Digital Graphics of Belgium.
- Blender has also been used for shows on the History Channel, alongside many other professional 3D graphics programs.
- Tomm Moore's The Secret of Kells, which was partly produced in Blender by the Belgian studio Digital Graphics, has been nominated for an Oscar in the category "Best Animated Feature Film".
- Plumíferos, a commercial animated feature film created entirely in Blender, had premiered in February 2010 in Argentina. Its main characters are anthropomorphic talking animals.
- Video Copilot used blender for their bullet vfx course.
- Special effects for episode 6 of Red Dwarf season X, screened in 2012, were created using Blender as confirmed by Ben Simonds of Gecko Animation.
- Blender was used for both CGI and compositing for the movie Hardcore Henry.
- The special effects for the TV series The Man in the High Castle were done in Blender, with some of the particle simulations relegated to Houdini.
- Blender was used for previsualization in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and many of the visual effects in the feature film Sabogal were done in Blender. Director David F. Sandberg used Blender for multiple shots in Lights Out, and Annabelle: Creation. Blender was used for parts of the credit sequences in Wonder Woman and for doing the animation in the film Cinderella the Cat.
- Some promotional artwork for Super Smash Bros. for Nintendo 3DS and Wii U was partially created using Blender.
- The experimental hip-hop group Death Grips has used Blender to produce music videos. A screenshot from the program is briefly visible in the music video for Inanimate Sensation.
- The 2018 film Next Gen was fully created in Blender by Tangent Animation. A team of developers worked on improving Blender for internal use, but it is planned to eventually add those improvements to the official Blender build.
- Blender was used to create the character "Murloc" in the 2016 film Warcraft.
- Ubisoft Animation Studio will use Blender to replace its internal content creation software starting in 2020.
- Khara and its child company Project Studio Q are trying to replace their main tool, 3ds Max, with Blender. They started "field verification" of Blender during their ongoing production of Evangelion: 3.0+1.0. They also signed up as Corporate Silver and Bronze members of Development Fund.
- The 2020 film Wolfwalkers was partially created using Blender.
- In 2021 SPA Studios started hiring Blender artists.
Since 2005, every 1–2 years the Blender Foundation has announced a new creative project to help drive innovation in Blender. 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 CrystalSpace game engine that reused some of the assets created for Big Buck Bunny.
Elephants Dream (Project Orange)
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", in reference to 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)
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 totally different. Instead of the deep and mystical style of Elephants Dream, things are more "funny and furry" according to the official site. The movie had its premiere on April 10, 2008. This later made its way to Nintendo 3DS's Nintendo Video between 2012 and 2013.
Yo Frankie! (Open Game Project: Apricot)
"Apricot" was the project name for 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.
Sintel (Project Durian)
The Blender Foundation's Project Durian (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, starring a teenage girl and a young dragon as the main characters. The film premiered online on September 30, 2010. A game based on Sintel was officially announced on Blenderartists.org on May 12, 2010.
Many of the new features integrated into Blender 2.5 and beyond were a direct result of Project Durian.
Tears of Steel (Project Mango)
On October 2, 2011, the fourth open movie project, codenamed "Mango", was announced by the Blender Foundation. 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.
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."
Cosmos Laundromat: First Cycle (Project Gooseberry)
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. The film was to be written and produced by a coalition of international animation studios. The studio lineup was announced on January 28, 2014, and production began soon thereafter. As of March 2014, a moodboard had been constructed and development goals set. The initial ten minute pilot was released on YouTube on August 10, 2015. It won the SIGGRAPH 2016 Computer Animation Festival Jury's Choice award.
On November 13, 2015, Glass Half was released in HD format. 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. It is a short, roughly three-minute long comedy in a gibberish language that addresses subjectivity in art.
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
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.
"Spring is the story of a shepherd girl and her dog, who face ancient spirits in order 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 upcoming animated short film named Spring was announced, to be produced by the Blender Animation Studio. Spring was released April 4, 2019. Its purpose was to test Blender 2.8's capabilities before its official release.
"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 use the EEVEE render engine released on July 30, 2019.
Spright Fright is the next announced Open Movie Project. The 13th open movie will be set in Britain and draw inspiration from 1980's horror comedy.
The Blender Cloud platform, launched in March 2014 and operated by the Blender Institute, is a subscription-based cloud computing platform and Blender client add-on which provides hosting and synchronization for backed-up animation project files. It was launched to promote and fundraise 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. A feature of the Blender Cloud is Blender Sync, which provides synchronization between Blender clients for file changes, user preferences and other features.
The Blender ID is a unified login for Blender software and service users, providing a login for Blender Cloud, the Blender Store, the Blender Conference, Blender Network, Blender Development Fund and the Blender Foundation Certified Trainer Program.
Blender Open Data
The Blender Open Data is a platform to collect, display, and query benchmark data produced by Blender community with related Blender Benchmark software.
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