Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Blender 2.77 - What's New

Well, Blender 2.77 came out a week ago, so I thought I'd make a compilation of all the new features that I really notice a lot and think will make a big splash. If you want to view the full release notes, you can visit the wiki page.

1. GPU Smoke Rendering

This has been the most requested feature from GPU users for the past several releases, and finally the devs hard work is ready. I made a quick review when the first release candidate came out with GPU support, and the results far exceeded my expectations. Contrary to some opinions voiced on various Blender forums leading up to this, GPU rendering on my GeForce GTX 980 leaves my Intel Core i7 (4 cores [8 threads] at 3.07 GHZ) in the dust. 

There is practically no comparison to be made. I think this is the single greatest addition to the Cycles render engine for many releases in the past, and will completely change the rendering accessibility of more complex simulations.

2. Cycles Point Density

Point density textures are now officially supported in the Cycles render engine. Using this new addition you can effectively make halo particles within Cycles as well as several other interesting effects.

3. Decimate is now Symmetry Aware

Now in 2.77 when you add the Decimate modifier it will try and keep the mesh symmetrical instead of the previous versions which would seem to give fairly random results. Personally I think it is high time a few modifiers got a new face. The most notable of these is the Boolean modifier, which leaves ugly geometry and has glitchy performance on unusual meshes. Currently users of the modifier are reduced to workarounds like using the Remesh Modifier below the Boolean modifier on the stack.

4. New Motion Blur Features

Some exciting new motion blur features were also introduced, allowing for a much greater degree of customization. Now not only do you have the standard shutter speed, but you can define a curve, and a top-bottom shutter to simulate rolling shutter when moving the camera quickly. I can't wait for some skilled animators to utilize these features, as I think they could add a bit more believability to a lot of productions in future.

Thanks for taking a read through this quick summary of the heavy hitters from this release, if you want to see the full release notes you can visit the 2.77 release wiki page

Thanks for stopping by, and I'll see you all next week!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Back to Blender

Recently I have had very little time for personal projects, but yesterday I took some time to experiment with a new add-on that I thought was quite interesting. The add-on is called CubeSter, and generates a 3D block mesh based on an image's colors and assigns vertex colors based on the original image. It appears to have a decent number of options to modify and will let you get some cool results.

Westward Expansion


Terra Firma



This add-on is a great addition to my toolset, I can't wait to experiment with it further. I also am interested in taking a look into the code, looks like there could be some helpful techniques hidden in there.

Download the add-on here: CubeSter: Images to Geometry

Yep, I'm here again. Next week? We'll see.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


It is amazing how hard it is to balance work and hobbies. Careful time management, squeaking every last minute out of your day, and still you don't know where it all goes. But there are very few things better than getting paid good money for good work, for doing something that you love to do.

Enjoy your work

This is so important, if you don't enjoy your job it will constantly seem like a chore, and hours will seem twice as long. For the past year or so I have been doing web development on the side, but I didn't enjoy it. I spent only a small portion of my workweek on it, but it still seemed like a tremendous chore. In contrast, recently I have been hired as a junior Motion Graphics artist for a content creation website, and it has been great. For the first time in the past 4+ years being able to make a living doing something I enjoy doing begins to seem possible. I don't so much mind the long hours and the crazy logistical juggling, because I am not just in it for the money. Which takes me to my next point.

Learn from your work

Sure you may be working professionally, but don't let that scare you off from trying new things. Gaining new skills in the field while actively working on a project is vastly more effective than learning it in a stale classroom environment. I have recently decided to start learning Python scripting and the specifics of BPY to help facilitate my projects, and already I have learned more than I had previously learned in my several attempts.

Let your work motivate you

I have found that working for an employer at an hourly rate has tremendously helped my efficiency. No more "quickly" checking social media and emails every 15-30 minutes, as now that time I was wasting has a tangible price tag. Instead I find myself more easily making the distinction in my life between work and life. All that is left is making sure I keep it balanced.

In the end, a balanced life is surprisingly subjective. Do you have friends/family that need attention? Do you have other responsibilities that you need to care for? How much leisure do you need to unwind to keep you from burning out? I think the only way to really find what balance is right, is to give it a shot, and make adjustments along the way. 

And so it continues. It is this week, and I'm still here. Next week? You bet.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016


What is the most effective way to increase your output? I think that is regularity. Making something every week, no matter how busy or tired you are, no matter how little you want to do it.
I have to admit, this week is hard. I am flat out working towards a looming deadline, with several other work related checkpoints impending. But here I am. Writing a blog post.

In a way, it seems like I am trying to check off another thing on a list fast growing out of control, but then again, there is something more. I considered letting one week slip, maybe wait until the deadline is past, wait until things settle down again. But then I realized, you know, that is never going to happen. You give an inch, you give a mile. Before long the blog dies again, and with it, a precious little part of my week. So I started writing.

This post isn't about Blender, or art even specifically. It is about life. Time is precious, but so also are many other things, and if you don't spend a little of your invaluable time on them, they vanish. Balancing work and hobbies is tough, but I can tell you one thing. If you don't balance them, your job will do the balancing for you.

So maybe, take a few minutes this week. Do something you love, take a break. Life is only as good as you make it.

Next week, I'll be here.

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

AnimationMarch is underway!

Today is a big day! Animation March was just launched, and we are all scurrying to complete the first challenge, "Appearing Text". To view all the topics and more details, visit the event page here:

I will be posting my results on this blog, instead of the every Wednesday posts I have been doing. We will return to that schedule in April after this event is completed.