Saturday, November 5, 2011

Beyond Blender 2.60

Not only has Blender 2.60 come out in the last couple weeks, but also a bugfix 'a' release, which brings the latest version of Blender up to 2.60a (Which you can download here, if you haven't already...)! This release brought us 3D audio, video sequencing improvements, vertex weight groups, navigation meshes (for the game engine), even greater improvements to the animation system and better support for other languages. You can see the full release log here if you want.

Now it's the Blender developers are gearing up for their 2.61 release, which should occur sometime in December. This release is set to bring a number of very large improvements!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

The Future of the GIMP

GIMP 2.7.3, the latest development release of GIMP was released a week ago, continuing to impress those who have been using it for a while. 2.7.3 introduced a fully working single-window mode, as well as working session management, and a new scale widget which takes less space in the dockable dialogs. Those were very visible changes in 2.7.3, however that short list, doesn't go anywhere near doing justice to the large amount of work that was put into this latest development release. For the whole list of changes since 2.7.2 you can read here. If you want to read about all the changes in the 2.7.x series you can read in the 2.7 release notes.

Along with this latest development release, you can check out the GIMP Roadmap, which shows some (but definitely not all) of the major targets for future versions of GIMP. 2.8 will, in itself, be a major milestone for the GIMP, however, what really excites me is the other milestones on the Roadmap page. Many of the changes are critical if GIMP is to start gaining a larger audience, specifically if it is to try to grab designers from  Photoshop. These changes include the major targets for 2.8, gaining single-window mode and layer groups, as well as many of the targets for later versions, such as 3.6 - smart objects, and 3.8 - a unified transform tool.

GIMP development is looking forward to exciting changes. Mentioned on the GIMP website was the fact that GIMP is also shortening it's development cycle (like a lot of other major programs these days!), starting with trying to release 2.8 in the end of 2011 (probably around December).

With all these changes, and more attention being focused on GIMP, many people are starting to wonder about first impressions. A well known designer has contacted the development team to ask about designing a new icon. Although no one with authority responded to him, he raises a good point. Is the icon getting old? An Ubuntu blog, and a web designer both mentioned GIMP's name, wondering if it might be time to change it, in order to better attract people to the program. You can head over to the Ubuntu blog to vote on a poll about the matter.

Keep checking up on the GIMP as it undergoes these dramatic changes.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Journey of Blender 2.6 has Just Begun...

Blender 2.59, the final release in the 2.5x series, has been put up on the Blender website. There was some last minute hassles that popped up behind the scenes as you might have seen if you subscribe to bf-commiters, the development mailing list. This was mostly due to the fact that a number of Blender developers were away at the SIGGRAPH conference. However despite this inconvenience and a number of last minute bugs that were found, Campbell Barton and the rest of the crew made it through and release version 2.59, definitely the best version of Blender yet!

Now the focus turns to Blender 2.6x, starting with 2.60, where many branches which have not been combined with Blender will be. The official list of branches about to be merged is on the Blender Wiki here, however I'm sure that those won't be the only goodies added to Blender 2.6. On Blenderartists there is already mention of all of Nicholas Bishops work, which hasn't been listed on the Blender Wiki. Besides that there is also the 8 branches from GSOC this year. Need I even mention the fact the Bmesh will (hopefully) finally be integrated!

Exciting times ahead for Blender.

Monday, May 16, 2011

The New Blender Support Network?

Announced in this week's Blender Developer's Meeting notes, is a new idea for a Blender support network.
- (Not code releated) Blender Network proposal is open for review
The proposal (which can be found using the link above), is a great idea for connecting professional Blender artists and customers. It is an easy way to provide support to studios as well as individuals.
To use the network you will have to sign up as a member. The membership fees will help cover the costs of the web hosting/maintenance and moderators. There are three different membership types planned:
  • Academic (free)
  • Freelance (50 euro/year)
  • Corporate (250 euro/year)
There will be various ways of "networking" with fellow artists and corporations. And each member will have a private page which can be updated with jobs he/she has done, and other information.
If the proposal goes through the BF has already asked Lumikuu to help set up the network and then maintain it for the first couple of months. 
You can find the discussion thread on here.
We'll see how far this goes in the coming months, but this could be the new big thing for Blender.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Cycles - A New Blender Renderer

The Buzz is growing as we learn more and more about this amazing new renderer for Blender - Cycles.

After leaving the Blender Foundation to work at Octane Renderer, the amazing developer Brecht has returned and will be working for the Blender Foundation in these coming months. He brought with him a new, experimental renderer that he had been working on in his spare time: it's name was Cycles.

The new renderer (which is still very much a work in progress), is blisteringly fast and looks to completely revolutionize Blender's rendering. It includes fully integrated physical based rendering, with Global Illumination, and all sorts of great materials. It can utilize both the GPU and the CPU, which is what makes it so much faster. In fact, in the video below the rendering speed is almost real-time!

You can see an example of Cycles that Brecht posted on YouTube:

If you want to check it out for yourself run over to Graphicall where there are already a few builds of Cycles being distributed.

You can read more on the BlenderArtists Thread.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Blender 2.57 Released

The last stable version of Blender was released on September 16, 2009. We've come a long way in the last one and a half years. Through three alpha releases and four betas (five if you count the 2.56 re-release). It's been a long road. One with many changes, hundreds of bugs fixed, lots of features added (and quite a few that weren't quite ready), and most of all: a lot of hard work. Someone posted a link to a very neat pdf document on the Blender website, from the very beginnings of the 2.5x project, describing the evolution of the Blender UI.

From all that, we got Blender 2.57.

It's always nice to see a few screenshots so I thought I'd go through an old project I'd done (Oceanscape) in 2.49 and see what it looked like in 2.57. It opened up fine, although I did have to readjust the layout a little, since the properties windows does not deal that well in horizontal view. 

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

The Light at the End of the Tunnel - Blender 2.57

The rumors are out.

Blender 2.57 is coming.

And with it comes the light at the end of the tunnel for Blender 2.5x development. It has been announced on the developers mailing list that 2.57 will be considered the first 'stable' release.
2.57 will be a final release. The first stable one of the 2.5 series.
The release is supposed to happen around the end of March, and already plans are being set in motion. Python has been updated from 3.1 to 3.2, the newest release. Although it has been causing some pain for linux developers, because 3.2 is not yet packaged for their releases, for the most part the change has gone off without a hitch.
The other exiting development is the splash screen competition, which hasn't been seen recently because all of the splash screens have come from Sintel. This is the first splash screen for the 2.5x series that will be from the community. You can visit the thread for submissions here on BlenderArtists and you can see some of my favourites after the break.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Dead Anim8or Not so Dead After All!

Looks like Anim8or has made a partial recovery after being pronounced clinically dead. Posts were already up on, and here, when Raxx, a senior moderator at posted about an email he had received from the sole developer of Anim8or, Steve. Apparently Steve has been rather busy lately, and is also completely revamping Anim8or. Because of this unfortunate combination, it looks like there still won't be much activity on the release side of things, however, at least there is a hope for the future.

Look forward to a year from now when v1.0 has been released and we are all sitting there scoffing at how we thought there was an end to Anim8or.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Anim8or is dead

Anim8or, a small, free 3D modelling and animation program, has been proclaimed dead by the members of the official forum over at Anim8or is where I was first introduced to 3D, and it helped me learn a lot of basic concepts that have been very useful in learning other programs like Blender. A post by one of the senior moderators has brought all the fun to an end: 

He has come up with four reasons why Anim8or is dead and won't be coming back.
  1. Steve (The sole developer of the program) hasn't logged in to the Anim8or forum for more than a month
  2. Steve hasn't answered any emails from the moderator
  3. It's been more than 2 years since even a small update to the program has been released, the last update being v0.97d
  4. Steve has disabled new user registration to the forum since December 8th

It would appear that Steve has found different interests, and the program has stagnated. A shame considering all the hard work other people have put into the community and the program (you can see my contributions here). Hopefully all the great Anim8or users will be able to find a new program to put their effort into like Wings3D or Blender, which are much less likely to stop being supported.

So long Anim8or, and thanks for all the Fish.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A New Year and a New Blender Beta

2011 has arrived (a couple days ago, but still it's here!), and with it a new Blender beta has been released, 2.56. Unfortunately a few days after the release, a show-stopping bug  was uncovered, which forced the Development team to do an update release, named 2.56a, which was just released today. So to get the latest release, which included more then 20 bugs which have been fixed since the other release days before, visit the Download page. The release logs also contain some information on the newest release.

Since Blender 2.55 over 400 bugs have been fixed in Blender, which has brought a lot of stability to Blender, not to mention that (as of writing this post) there are only 48 bugs listed! Now that most of the bugs are fixed many developers can focus on some of their todo list, and it also gives external branches (such as Bmesh) a chance to more easily add to their projects, without worrying about bugs that will block their work. I even found and fixed a (rather small) bug.

Over in bf-extensions, I myself have been helping out a little trying to get scripts organized and finalizing what will go into release and what will stay out. Besides organizational and documentary stuff (like writing up the change log on scripts for 2.56) I have also been working on the Dynamic Spacebar Menu addon, fixing up some stuff and adding some more features. Although most of the changes didn't make it into 2.56, they did all make it into 2.56a so make sure you download that release!

So with the new year, things are starting to look up for Blender. We can start to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and a tentative release date for Blender 2.6 is around the summer time of this year (note: very tentative!). The next Blender version (2.57) is supposed to be a release candidate meaning that Blender will very soon be out of beta:
        "Meeting also agrees to publish Release Candidates again for next (2.57) version, especially when that's the first "out of beta" release :)" (From the bf-commiters mailing list)
Happy Developing in 2011