Blender 2.66 Is Here: How to Get Going With It
The Blender Foundation has announced the release of version 2.66 of the truly awesome 3D graphics and design application Blender. Among new features in this release are: rigid body physics simulation; dynamic topology sculpting; and matcap display. Other new features include Cycles hair rendering, support for high pixel density displays, much better handling of premultiplied and straight alpha transparency, a vertex bevel tool, a mesh cache modifier and a new SPH particle fluid dynamics solver.
If you're unfamiliar with Blender, we've covered free tools for getting going with it before, and here are some of the best resources you can find without spending a dime.
In the graphics and animation software arena, you can find plenty of expensive, proprietary applications, but few are as powerful as Blender. Here are details on some very valuable free resources you can take advantage of to get started with Blender, and some free movies created with it that you can dive into.
Blender is so powerful that it's been used to create very professional looking full-length animated movies. Here are six movies and animations created with it. In addition to these, Tears of Steel, a new Blender created movie is out now. You can watch it at blender.org.
So what if you want to get started with Blender? Here are some free, great tools to get going with, including an amazingly rich, free online course you can take:
Blender 3D: Noob to Pro is a free wikibook on using Blender. It's very thorough, and you can jump through the Table of Contents from the home wiki page. There are graphics that take you through exercices such as rendering a goblet, lighting and spinning your goblet, and more. For getting started with the application, it's a must-have resource.
Like any top-notch graphics and animation application, Blender has very flexible options for lighting scenes. Especially if you already have some facility with Blender, check out Aaron Powell's discussion of lighting and rendering techniques. Powell is the author of the book on these topics and knows his stuff.
Are you absolutely new to Blender? If so, the web, and the Blender.org site both have many Blender tutorials, and the free online book "Blender Basics" is a great place to start with the application. There are also many fee-based books on Blender, and one is reviewed here. Still, Blender is one of those open source wonders for which the free resources are easily as good as any fee-based ones.
Many have noted that, if you have the time to spare, Tufts University's free online course on Blender is absolutely outstanding. The Tufts free online Blender course is broken up into Learning Units, as seen here, and if you go through the whole course you get 68 hours of education. Of all the Blender resources we've collected, the Tufts material is the richest, and it's also fun to go through the online course. Just be advised that it requires a time commitment.