Arguably the biggest hurdle for someone considering learning 3d is the steep prices of most 3d suites. Industry recognized programs used by studios or influential professionals cost anywhere between 1000 to 5000 USD for the full featured product. Some of the companies that produce these programs offer packages at more affordable costs but with fewer features, and some provide a time limited use of the full featured application for learning purposes.
These efforts may help in increasing the accessibility of 3d production to students or hobbyists, the thought of one day having to find a way to afford the continued and maximal use of the program they’ve invested in can be discouraging, and many users end up acquiring their software through illegal means.
The prevalence of certain software in CG forums or in online media hubs like Youtube or Vimeo propagate a notion of these programs being the only capable means of creating amazing 3d content, much to the dismay of users with limited financial means. Fortunately, there is one particular 3d suite that is accessible to everyone at absolutely no cost, and with functionality that can stand up to its more popular but expensive counterparts.
Blender is an open source 3d application that allows users to sculpt, model, texture, light, animate and renders content out of the box, at absolutely no cost. Its feature set is robust, extensive and more than capable of producing high-quality images or animations with a rich toolset developed alongside veteran users from all over the world to address production needs, ease of use and stability.
Blender 3d is created by the Blender Foundation under the leadership of Ton Roosendal, the original author of the software. It is sustained by donations from the community which includes entrepreneurs and companies that use the software or appreciate the vision behind it, as well as its community of independent users. The Blender Foundation aims “to give the worldwide Internet community access to 3D technology in general, with Blender as a core”.
Over the years, Blender has found its way to production pipelines for different industries, and to an increasingly receptive online community. More and more educational content is making its way to media sharing communities, enabling others to learn the basics of Blender rendering, and several educational institutions now include the teaching of the software as part of their curriculum. Its accessibility and involvement with the community have empowered many 3d aficionados to pursue the craft and create remarkable content for personal and professional use.
The relatively recent development of Cycles, a ray-trace based Blender renderer is also responsible for the establishment of the software as a professional grade 3d suite. Support for Blender is being adapted by more and more network rendering service providers, and the increasing market has even prompted the development of exclusive Blender render farms.
Blender has proven itself to be a rising force among other 3d applications and is growing at a steady pace. It continues to be at the forefront of a revolution that can change the face of 3d creation forever, and a more than viable alternative to costly 3d software.