What is Blender?
Blender is a free and open-source software suite that provides comprehensive support for virtually all aspects of 3D development. It offers powerful modelling capabilities, as well as extensive texturing, rigging, animation, and lighting capabilities, and an additional variety of other tools for creating 3D models.
Blender can be an excellent tool for creating static models or for exploring the world of animation. It also includes a video editor and a game engine, providing users with a wide range of options. The history of Blender can be traced back to 1994, when it was initially created by the Dutch software developer, Ton Roosendaal, for internal use by his studio.
From the outset, the goal of Blender was to provide access and enable individuals to bring their imaginations to life. As such, it is an essential tool for those who wish to create their own 3D printed models.
Currently in its alpha stage, the fourth iteration of Blender (or Blender 4.0), is ready to redefine the realm of 3D design, animation, and creativity. This version is expected to provide a wide range of improvements, ranging from subtle animation refinements to cutting-edge features.
Not only is it an upgrade, but it is also anticipated to be a game-changer in the 3D industry, especially in terms of functionality. Some latest Blender addons include: enhanced Python, key map configurations, cycles, and user interface, as well as potential future enhancements such as simulation remarks and advanced rendering methods.
Let us now get into the details of these new features!
Blender 4: Latest Features and Add-ons
The latest Blender 4.0 brings a range of improvements to its modeling features and capabilities. Highlights include the Transform feature, which enables artists to navigate their models more smoothly while transforming them, as well as updates to the bone handling and UV Editing.
The software focuses on optimizing the modeling process to create a seamless and more cohesive experience. A major tool change in modeling for Blender 4 is that you will be able to define your own snapping point during the transformations. You can also navigate your 3D view by holding Alt during the transformations.
Blender 4.0’s UI changes are relatively minor, so you won’t notice much of a difference from the previous version (Blender 3.6). One area of the Properties Editor, though, is likely to receive a refresh: the modifier tab. We don’t know for sure, but it could be more of a list with properties below, like the material tab.
That would make things a lot easier, since you would not have to worry about separate physics tabs and particle tabs, and it would also make it easier to communicate the new “active modifier” concept.
There are a few notable changes to the UI, however: a larger color picker, the ability to color pick outside of Blender on Windows, a new option to save incrementally, file browser previews for SVG images, a reorganized snapping menu, and node previews moving to sit on top of each node instead of inside of them.
Dynamic Topology is anticipated to receive a significant rewrite, which will not only enhance performance but also enable the interpolation of mesh attributes, thus ensuring that enabling it does not compromise features such as custom normals or UVs.
Additionally, the hotkeys associated with sculpt mode will be altered to ensure consistency with other Blender features.
Geometry Nodes & Physics:
In the Nodes and Physics segment, Blender has made some improvements with the release of 4.0. In the Geometry Nodes area, the Mesh has been upgraded to a Volume node and a new Repeat zone has been added. Also, performance optimization has been implemented to ensure a seamless user experience. Here’s a sneak peek of some of the Blender 4 add-ons:
With the new Repeat Zone, node artists will be able to run any operation on the same frame multiple times.
Node interfaces will support collapsible sections, making large groups and modifiers easier to manage.
As usual, there will be a large number of new nodes added. The most noteworthy of these is Set Custom Normals, which enables the manipulation of mesh normals. Additionally, geometry can be instance-formed and realized without disrupting custom normals.
Finally, some node groups will be able to be utilized throughout the Blender interface, allowing users to access their power without having to open the node editor.
Bone layers, which were one of the last features to exist prior to the release of 2.8, have been replaced with bone collections in Blender 4.
Animation has been enhanced with the addition of several new sliders to the graph editor, allowing for smoother blending between poses, as well as increased speed when working with large numbers of keyframes.
The third major rewrite of the Grease Pencil in Blender is currently in progress, which is expected to result in better interoperability with third-party software, enhanced performance, compatibility with geometry nodes, compatibility with materials and shadows from Eevee, and more.
It is uncertain whether this rewrite will be completed in time for this latest version of Blender (4.0). It is possible that it may be postponed to the next version (Blender 4.1/4.2).
Eevee is about to get a major update to its shading that will drastically improve its handling of shadows, volumes and environmental light. This update was supposed to be available with 4.0 but has now apparently been delayed to come with 4.1.
We’ll just have to wait and see what the big news is, but here’s what we can expect in 4.0:
The Principled shaders will be updated to make them more physically accurate and more user-friendly.
Eevee’s Anisotropic shaders will be removed to make room for an Anisotropic control to be added to the Glossy shaders.
The Velvet shaders will be renamed to the Sheen shaders and will produce much more realistic effects in Cycles.
Cycles will now be equipped with light linking, allowing artists to determine precisely which objects will be impacted by each light.
Cycles path guiding will now support glossy materials, which will help to reduce noisy scenes with a high number of reflections.
The default color transform will be changed from Filmic to AgX, which will handle brighter lights and saturated colors more naturally. This will work in tandem with Cycles' spectral rendering, which is yet to be implemented, but is planned to be implemented in the near future.
Blender will now be supporting HDR output in Mac viewport when using the standard color transform. Furthermore, add-on developers will now be able to utilize USD Hydra delegates to incorporate external render engines into Blender, which will improve wperformance and compatibility with 3D applications. This shall lead to an increase in the number of Renderers supporting Blender if they are not already.
Anyone into video-editing will be lucky since the Visual Experience Server (VSE) has been updated with a retiming tool that enables users to adjust the speed and duration of video clips.
This feature allows for multiple control points to be added to each clip, eliminating the need to divide clips for intricate timing adjustments. Along with this, audio editing has been improved, with sound strips now receiving an equalizing modifier.