Blender (software)

Blender (software)

Infobox Software
name = Blender

caption = Blender 2.47
developer = The Blender Foundation
latest release version = 2.47
latest release date = release date and age|2008|08|23
latest preview version = 2.48 RC1
latest preview date = release date and age|2008|10|02
operating_system = Cross-platform
genre = 3D computer graphics
license = GPL.
website = []

Blender is a free 3D graphics application. It can be used for modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, water simulations, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulations, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications. Blender is available for several operating systems, including Microsoft Windows, Mac OS X, Linux, IRIX, Solaris, NetBSD, FreeBSD, OpenBSD with unofficial ports for BeOS, SkyOS, AmigaOS, MorphOS and Pocket PC. Blender has a robust feature set similar in scope and depth to other high-end 3D software such as Softimage|XSI, Cinema 4D, 3ds Max, Lightwave and Maya. These features include advanced simulation tools such as rigid body, fluid, cloth and softbody dynamics, modifier based modeling tools, powerful character animation tools, a node based material and compositing system and Python for embedded scripting.


Blender was developed as an in-house application by the Dutch animation studio NeoGeo (not to be confused with the Neo-Geo game console) and Not a Number Technologies (NaN). It was primarily authored by Ton Roosendaal, who had previously written a ray tracer called Traces for Amiga in 1989. The name "Blender" was inspired by a song by Yello, from the album "Baby". [cite web |url= |title=Brief history of the Blender logo |accessdate=2007-01-18 |last=Kassenaar |first=Joeri |date=2005-05-21 ]

Roosendaal founded NaN in June 1998 to further develop and distribute the program. The program was initially distributed as shareware until NaN went bankrupt in 2002.

The creditors agreed to release Blender under the terms of the GNU General Public License, for a one-time payment of €100,000 (US$100,670 at the time, approximately US$147,000 as of January 2008). On July 18 2002, a Blender funding campaign was started by Roosendaal in order to collect donations and on September 7 2002 it was announced that enough funds had been collected and that the Blender source code would be released. Blender is now Free Software and it is being actively developed under the supervision of the Blender Foundation. [cite web |url=| history]

The Blender Foundation initially reserved the right to use dual licensing, so that, in addition to GNU GPL, 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. [cite web |url= |title=Blender License |accessdate=2007-01-19 |last=Roosendaal |first=Ton |date=2005-06 ] Currently, Blender is solely available under GNU GPL.


In January/February 2002 it was quite clear that NaN could not survive and would close the doors in March. Nevertheless, they found the energy for doing at least one more release, 2.25. As a sort-of Easter egg, a last personal tag, the artists and developers decided to add a chimpanzee primitive. It was created by Willem-Paul van Overbruggen (SLiD3), who also named it Suzanne, after the chimpanzee in the Kevin Smith film "Mallrats".

Suzanne is Blender's alternative to more common "test models" such as the Utah Teapot. A low-poly model with only 500 faces, Suzanne is often used as a quick and easy way to test material, texture, and lighting setups, and is also frequently used in joke images. The largest Blender contest gives out an award called the Suzanne Awards.


Blender has a relatively small installation size and runs on several popular computing platforms. [ [ - Get Blender ] ] Though it is often distributed without documentation or extensive example scenes, the software contains features that are characteristic of high-end modelling software. [ [ Comparison of 3d tools - CGWiki ] ] Among its capabilities are:
*Support for a variety of geometric primitives, including polygon meshes, fast subdivision surface modeling, Bezier curves, NURBS surfaces, metaballs, digital sculpting, and outline fonts.

*Versatile internal rendering capabilities and integration with YafRay, a Free Software ray tracer.
*Keyframed animation tools including inverse kinematics, armature (skeletal), hook, curve and lattice-based deformations, shape keys (morphing), non-linear animation, constraints, vertex weighting, soft body dynamics including mesh collision detection, LBM fluid dynamics, Bullet rigid body dynamics, particle based hair, and a particle system with collision detection.
* Modifiers to apply non-destructive effects.

*Python scripting for tool creation and prototyping, game logic, importing and exporting from other formats such as OBJ, FBX, DXF, COLLADA and task automation.
*Basic non-linear video/audio editing and compositing capabilities.
*Game Blender, a sub-project, offers interactivity features such as collision detection, dynamics engine, and programmable logic. It also allows the creation of stand-alone, real-time applications ranging from architectural visualization to video game construction.
*A fully integrated node based compositor within the rendering pipeline

File format

Blender features an internal filesystem that allows one to pack multiple scenes into a single file (called a ".blend" file).
*All of blender's ".blend" files are forward, backward, and cross-platform compatible with other versions of blender, and can be used as a library to borrow pre-made content.
*Snapshot ".blend" files can be auto-saved periodically by the program, making it easier to survive a program crash.
*All scenes, objects, materials, textures, sounds, images, post-production effects for an entire animation can be stored in a single ".blend" file.
*Interface configurations are retained in the ".blend" files, such that what you save is what you get upon load. This file can be stored as "user defaults" so this screen configuration, as well as all the objects stored in it, is used every time you load blender.

However, a ".blend" file is less a structured specification of objects and relationships and closer to a direct binary dump of the program's memory space. This makes it very hard to convert a ".blend" file to another format using external tools, although dozens of import/export scripts that run inside Blender itself, accessing the object data via API, make it possible to inter-operate 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, a polygon mesh has at least an Object and Mesh data block, and usually also a Material. This allows various data blocks to refer to each other; there may be, for example, multiple Objects that refer to the same Mesh, allowing the mesh to be duplicated while only keeping one copy of the mesh data in memory, and allowing subsequent editing of all duplicated meshes at the same time. Data block relationships can also be changed manually. Data blocks can also be referred to in other .blend files, allowing the use of .blend files as reusable object libraries.

User interface

Blender has had a reputation as being difficult to learn. In Blender, nearly every function has a direct keyboard shortcut and, with the number of functions Blender offers, several different shortcuts per key. Since Blender became Free Software, there has been effort to add comprehensive contextual menus as well as make the tool use more logical and streamlined. There have also been efforts to visually enhance the user interface, with the introduction of color themes, transparent floating widgets, a new and improved object tree overview, and other small improvements (color picker widget, etc.).

Blender's user interface incorporates the following concepts:;Editing modes: The two primary modes of work are "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 latest stable release, 2.45, also has the UV Mapping Mode, but it has been merged with the Edit Mode in [ 2.46 Release Candidate 1] .

;Hotkey utilization: Most of the commands are accessible via hotkeys. Until the 2.x and especially the 2.3x versions, this was in fact the only way to give commands, and this was largely responsible for creating Blender's reputation as a difficult-to-learn program. The new versions have more comprehensive GUI menus.;Numeric input: Numeric buttons can directly be "dragged" to change their value without the need to aim at a particular widget, thus saving screen real estate and time. 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 be used to specify values.;Workspace management: The Blender GUI is made up of one or more screens, each of which can be divided into sections and subsections that can be of any type of Blender's views or window-types. Each window-type's own GUI elements can be controlled with the same tools that manipulate 3D view - for example one can zoom in and out of GUI-buttons in the same way one zooms in and out in the 3D viewport. The GUI viewport and screen layout is 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 utilized for the task.

Comparison with other 3D software

Blender has a depth and breadth of features comparable to commercial, proprietary, high end and mid range 3D software. A fairly comprehensive comparison between the available 3D software can be viewed at the [ TDT 3D comparison of major 3D packages] and at this [ comparison chart] . Blender has areas where it is more limited than many of its commercial counterparts such as a lack of Font Preview for text, lack of NGon based modeling workflow and some missing or incomplete modeling tools, and a lack of a standard library of material presets but does have downloadable [ resources] ; however, in other areas Blender is on the leading edge such as the advanced algorithms utilized for its UV unwrapping.

Until recently, Blender has also tended to lack up-to-date and complete documentation (because it was originally an in-house program), [ [ - Architecture ] ] an issue that is being addressed through the wikification of the [ Blender documentation project] , the 2006 [ Blender Summer of Documentation] project, and the June 2007 introductory book "Essential Blender", which was published by Blender Foundation. Additionally, a number of other books on using Blender have been published by publishers unaffiliated with the Blender Foundation.

The Blender installer is only 8 Mb and only requires 27 Mb after installation, whereas software like AutoCAD requires around 2 GB. As such, Blender can be easily downloaded (although some guide books still include Blender on a CD).


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

Recent 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.

Part of these developments were fostered by Google's Summer of Code program, in which the Blender Foundation participated in 2005, 2006 and 2007.

For a more complete and in depth view of Blender's development history, you can view the [ release logs] .

The current release version is 2.47. Primarily a bug-fix release for the previous 2.46 version. [] The latest test client is 2.48 RC1. Largely a vast update for the Blender Game Engine; including greatly increasing the quality of real-time rendering and physics. []


In the month following the release of Blender v2.44, it was downloaded 800,000 times; [cite web
title=Meeting Agenda, April 15th 2007
] this worldwide user base forms the core of the support mechanisms for the program. Most users learn Blender through community tutorials and discussion forums on the internet such as [ Blender Artists] (previously known as elYsiun); however, another learning method is to download and inspect ready-made Blender models, available from resource sites such as the [ Official Blender Model Repository] . Numerous other sites, for example [ Blenderart Magazine] —a free, downloadable magazine with each issue handling a particular area in 3D development—and [ Blendernation] , provide information on everything surrounding Blender, showcase new techniques and features, and provide tutorials and other guides.

Usage in the media industry

The first large professional project in which Blender was used was in "Spider-Man 2", where it was primarily used to create animatics and pre-visualizations for the storyboard department.

:"As an animatic artist working in the storyboard department of Spider-Man 2, I used Blender's 3D modeling and character animation tools to enhance the storyboards, re-creating sets and props, and putting into motion action and camera moves in 3D space to help make Sam's vision as clear to other departments as possible." [] - [ Anthony Zierhut] , Animatic Artist, Los Angeles

"Friday or Another Day" was the first 35mm feature film to use Blender for all the special effects, made on GNU/Linux workstations [ [ blender ] ] . 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. [ [ Blender on the History Channel at BlenderNation ] ]

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. The resulting film, "Elephants Dream", premièred on March 24 2006. In response to the success of "Elephants Dream" the Blender Foundation has founded the Blender Institute to do additional projects with two announced projects: Project Peach (A 'furry and funny' short open animated film project) and Project Apricot (an open game in collaboration with CrystalSpace that will reuse some of the assets created during Project Peach).


"Plumíferos", a commercial animated feature film created entirely in Blender, [cite web |url= |title=Blender Movie Project: Plumíferos |accessdate=2007-02-04|date=2006-03-08] is currently in the works at the Argentina-based Manos Digitales Animation Studio. Trailers of the movie were shown at the 2005 and 2006 Blender Conferences ( [ Link to Google Video] )

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 première on April 10 2008.

Yo Frankie!/Project Apricot

"Apricot" is a project for production of a game based on the universe and characters of the Peach movie (Big Buck Bunny), and the game is entitled "Yo Frankie". The project started February 1 2008, and development was completed at the end of July 2008. It is currently going through production, and a finalized product was expected at the end of August. However the release has been delayed for an unknown amount of time. It will be made using free software and it will be released under the GPL or LGPL and the artwork released under Creative Commons license. [ Yo Frankie! - Apricot Open Game Project] ]

ee also

*3D computer graphics software
*Blender Foundation
*Suzanne Awards
*Ton Roosendaal


External links

* [ Official Blender site]
* [ Official Blender wiki] , contains documentation for both users and developers
* [ Official Blender Model Repository] for free Blender3D model downloads.
* [ Links to Blender sites] from the official Blender site
* [ Blender Artists] , main forum for user-related problems with Blender (formerly
* [ BlenderNation] , Blender-related news, updated daily
* [ Blender Art Magazine] , a free downloadable magazine
* [ Blender Builds] and [ GraphicAll] , repositories of unofficial Blender builds
* [ BlenderNewbies] , a resource for learning Blender 3D.
* [ Blender Models] , a directory for free blender models.
* [ Blender Philippine Users] , a pinoy blender user group, 3D, renderer, CG artist.
* [ Blender Basics] , a free Blender teaching guide created by the Drafting and Design Technology's J. Chronister of Central Dauphin High School.
* [ Blender Clan] , Blender community.
* [ 3DMLW] , open source platform that enables showing .blend files on the web.
* [ Blender Underground] , a collection of high quality video tutorials for learning Blender.
* [ Totally Blended] , a new Site (Aug 25/05) of high quality streaming video tutorials for learning Blender.

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