Animation has changed and grown drastically over the years. While it has evolved in terms of drawing, technology does have a large part to play in it. Old characters were required to be hand-drawn frame by frame, a larger version of the flipbook if you must. These days there are computers and animation software to help you not only create the characters but also animate them.
With the different programs, you can now create 2D and even 3D characters with a few clicks. So, if you don’t have any background in drawing or sketching, that’s okay too. Simply create your characters with different polygons and shape them as you see fit.
One such program that can help you create and animate characters is Blender.
What Is Blender?
Blender 3D is an open-source and professional 3D computer graphics software toolset that can help you create animated films, 3D printed models, video games, and so much more. You can even design complete movies and games using nothing but Blender.
Designed as an in-house application by the animation studio, Nat Geo from the Netherlands. After Nat Geo was acquired by another company, the developers — Ton Roosendaal and Frank van Beek,— created their own company to further develop the software. Once they were bankrupt, they started a Free Blender crowdfunding campaign, which if successful at raising €100,000 would result in them making Blender an open-source platform. In 2002, post the success of the campaign, Blender was released to the public.
Since it’s release, Blender has become a favorite tool for many developers to bring their animations to life. It’s amazing features allow designers to create, provide texture, and even animate their creations without having to put in a lot of time and effort.
Features of Blender
Blender comes with a number of different features such as:
Photorealistic Rendering: The latest version of Blender includes powerful unbiased rendering engine called Cycles, that offer things such as GPU and CPU rendering, HDR lighting support, etc.
Fast Modeling: Includes a number of different modeling tools to help simplify and speed up the process of creating and transforming your models. This also includes shortcuts, N-Gon support, slide, collapse, dissolve, etc.
Realistic Materials: Blender supports Open Shading Language (OSL) for coding unique shaders. It also now offers accurate shaders for glass, translucency, and SSS.
Fast Rigging: Rigging allows you to turn your model into a character with movement. Includes a list of rigging tools for skinning, painting, mirror functionality, etc.
Animation toolset: Using this impressive toolset, you’ll be able to turn your still characters into amazing animations. Includes simple keyframing to complex walk-cycles and even pose editor, Non-Linear Animation, and sound synchronization.
Sculpting: Use the built-in sculpting feature to sculpt your organic subjects. It includes 20 different types of brushes, multi-res sculpting support, Topology sculpting, and even mirrored sculpting.
Fast UV Unwrapping: Blender makes it easier to unwrap the mesh directly inside Blender, and use image textures or paint your own directly onto the model.
Full Compositor: Eliminating the need for exporting to third-party programs, Blender’s built-in compositor includes a library of nodes for creating camera fx, color grading, vignettes, etc.
Built-in Simulations: These simulations help add more depth to your animations by offering simple ways to perform simulations such as crumbling building, rain, fire, smoke, fluid, cloth or full-on destruction, etc.
Game Creation: Includes a complete game engine that allows you to design fully featured 3D games directly inside Blender.
Camera and Object tracking: The latest version includes production-ready camera and object tracking. You can now import raw footage, track the footage, mask areas, and see the camera movements live in your 3D scene.
Extensions: Comes packed with a variety of different extensions such as Generators, Fracture Objects, 3D Printing Toolbox, Rigify meta-rigging system, etc.
Where to Learn Blender
With an amazing ability to simplify the requirements of any designer, developer or even animator, Blender has become a fan favorite among a lot of budding as well as experienced creators. It has even been used to create a complete short movie Agent 327: Operation Barbershop.
So, if you want to improve your skills or even start your career in animation, then this Blender is definitely something that you should consider. There are a few different courses that are available for learning Blender. However, this Blender course is a great way to get started with Blender. A short course that will teach you how to design Low Poly characters, which can be a great way to get your start with Blender, while becoming familiar with the Blender interface.