Category Archives: 3D Tools

3D Creation with Blender – Free Open Source Animation Program

Opening Image I’m not an artist, movie producer or director, but I do like to “fool around” with creative software of every stripe and color. I suppose that goes with the “geeky” side of my nature.

Last year, I came across an incredible free program capable of building astonishingly complex and realistic simulations and interactive 3D applications.

Blender is an incredibly robust 3D software animation program. It has been designed for modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulating, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications.

The program is made up of a feature set that is characteristic of high-end modeling software such as Cinema 4D, 3ds Max and Maya. These features include advanced simulation tools such as rigid body, fluid, and soft body dynamics, modifier based modeling tools, powerful character animation tools, Python for embedded scripting and a node based material and compositing system.

Take a look at the movies and videos created with Blender; I guarantee that you will be astonished!

In a review of this type it is impossible to adequately describe all of the advance features that make up this incredible software package. Only selected features have been highlighted for this review.

There are many more features other than those noted below.

Features:

· Revolutionary non-overlapping and non-blocking UI delivers unsurpassed workflow

· Flexible and fully configurable window layout with as many screen setups as you prefer

· Undo support on all levels

· Anti-aliased fonts with international translation support

· Windows for animation curves/keys, outliner, schematic scene diagram, generic node editing system, non-linear video sequence editing, character animation action editor, non-linear animation mixer, image/UV editing, file/image selection and file management

· Built-in text editor for annotations and editing Python scripts

· Graphical user interface for Python scripts

· Custom themes

· Consistent interface across all platforms

Rigging:

Rigging

· Fast skeleton creation mode

· Interactive 3D paint for vertex weighting

· Fast envelope based skinning

· Mirror editing (bone creation and weight painting)

Animation:

· Armature (skeleton) deformation with forward/inverse kinematics

· Auto IK allows posing FK chains easily

· Non-linear animation editor for mixing individual actions created in Action editor

· Automated walk cycles along paths

· Animated constraint system

· Vertex key framing for morphing, with controlling sliders

· Edit and create new blend shapes from existing targets

· Character animation pose editor

3D/Game Creation:

Game 1

· Graphical logic editor for defining interactive behavior without programming

· Collision detection and dynamics simulation now support Bullet Physics Library. Bullet is an open source collision detection and rigid body dynamics library developed for Play Station 3

· Shape types: Convex polyhedron, box, sphere, cone, cylinder, capsule, compound, and static triangle mesh with auto deactivation mode

· Discrete collision detection for Rigid Body simulation

· Support for in-game activation of dynamic constraints

· Full support for vehicle dynamics, including spring reactions, stiffness, damping, tire friction etc

· Python scripting API for sophisticated control and AI, fully defined advanced game logic

· Support all OpenGLTM lighting modes, including transparencies, Animated and reflection-mapped textures

Modeling:

Modelling

· A range of 3D object types including polygon meshes, NURBS surfaces, Bezier and B-spline curves, metaballs, vector fonts (TrueType, PostScript, Open Type)

· Very fast Catmull-Clark subdivision surfaces with optimal iso-lines display and sharpness editing

· Full multiresolution sculpting capabilities with 2D bitmap/3D procedural brushes (Paint, Smooth, Pinch, Inflate, Grab) supporting symmetry

· Modifier stack deformers such as Lattice, Curve, Armature or Displace

Rendering:

Rendering

· Very fast inbuilt ray tracer

· Over sampling, motion blur, post-production effects, fields, non-square pixels

· Tile-based and fully threaded

· Render layers and passes

· Render baking to UV maps (full render, ambient occlusion, normal, textures)

· Render engine tightly integrated with the node compositor

· Halo, lens flares and fog effects

· Vector motion-blur post-process effect (using node compositor)

· Realistic defocus (DOF) post-process effect (using node compositor)

· Edge rendering for toon shading

· Interactive preview rendering panel in any 3d view

Shading:

Shading

· Diffuse shaders such as Lambert, Minnaert, Toon, Oren-Nayar, Lambert

· Specular shaders such as WardIso, Toon, Blinn, Phong, CookTorr

· Node editor for creating and mixing complex materials

· Material previews rendered by main render engine

· Fast, realistic subsurface scattering

Physics and Particles:

Physics

· Particle system can be attached to any mesh object. Control methods include weight painting, textures, curve guides, wind and vortex effects. Particles can be deflected by moving geometry

· Hair strands can be created by a static particle system, supporting all particle control methods

· Fluid simulator with fully animated inflow, outflow, obstacle and fluid objects. Gravity and viscosity settings can also be animated. Supports vector blur and is integrated with the particle system

The Blender Web Site is an astonishingly complete site which includes the following: Features & Gallery, Download, Tutorials & Help, Community, Development, and e-Shop.

If you’re into 3D creation, then this solid program will more than meet your needs.

System Requirements:

· Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista

· Mac OS X (PPC and Intel)

· Linux (i386)

· Linux (PPC)

· FreeBSD 5.4 (i386)

· SGI Irix 6.5

· Sun Solaris 2.8 (sparc)

Download the latest version (2.48a), from the Blender Foundation.

11 Comments

Filed under 3D Tools, Drawing Software, Freeware, Geek Software and Tools, Graphic Software, Multimedia Tools, Open Source, Productivity Software, Software

Free Serif 3DPlus 2 Design Software – Simple/Wizard Driven

As I’ve mentioned before on this Blog, SerifSoftware entices you in an unusual way to buy, or upgrade, to their latest software offerings. They will give you, free of charge, an older version of any of their software packages. An interesting twist on the usual “try it for free for 30 days” we are all pretty familiar with.

Having used and tested, Serif’s free editions for 10+ years now, and I find that even their older software is more than up to the tasks I set.

Sure, the applications may be older than the current versions, but in terms of functionality and features, generally you are not missing much. Most software today, tends to be overblown and bloated with features that many users have little or no need of. So, in these older free versions there are not as many tools as one might find with more recent products, but those that are there tend to be the ones that are most used by typical users.

Despite the slightly dated appearance of Serif’s 3DPlus 2, this is not an ‘old’ program that’s been revived just for give-away. 3DPlus 2 is a very functional and easy-to-use tool, capable of producing great 3D graphics, logos, headlines and 3D animations.

Serif keeps things simple by offering template-based wizards for still and animated graphics, combined with preset controls and 3D content. The gallery of ready-made objects, from basic shapes to clothes, household appliances, sports equipment and more, is designed to save you time. As well, 3D Quickshapes gives you an easy shortcut to stars, arrows, speech bubbles and other basic shapes.

It won’t take you long to become familiar with keying in text, extruding it to create a 3D object, adding texture and lighting, dropping in a background image, adding other 3D objects from the library and changing the camera position to get a better view from above, below or behind.

There’s something pretty neat about being able to build a solid 3D object, move it around and view it from every angle. Serif 3DPlus 2 lets you do just that, without anything getting in the way of the fun.

Quick Facts:

Easy-to-Use Interface

With its simple interface and intuitive tools, 3DPlus makes creating any 3D design a breeze. The new Wizard interface and convenient tabbed Studio Bar mean it’s easier than ever to get exactly the 3D effects you need.

Automated Wizards

Get the precise result you need with 3DPlus 2’s collection of over 300 automatic Wizards. From designer logos and Web buttons to animated greetings, 3DPlus has a Wizard for every occasion.

Bevels and Extrusions

Add a new dimension to your text and designs. Choose from a range of customizable bevels, apply to your objects and watch as 3DPlus creates professional quality effects.

Web Impact

3DPlus is the perfect tool for creating 3D logos, banners, Web graphics and animations. With 3DPlus you can add a 3D look that will really make your site stand out.

Automatic Animation

With 3DPlus, 3D animated graphics are easy Object and lighting effects can be applied with a single click and easy-to-use yet powerful 3D animation tools and instant special effects allow you to create animations in seconds. Export your work as an animated GIF to your Web site or presentation.

Camera Control

View your scene from any angle with six preset camera positions and freeform orbiting.

Lighting Effects

With full control over the lighting of your scene and a gallery of preset schemes, 3DPlus allows you to add drama or subtlety to your scene with a single click. You can create and save your favorite lighting schemes for future use.

Models/Materials Gallery

Personalize your work. Choose from over 600 3D Models and over 500 backgrounds, textures and fills, all easily accessible from 3DPlus’s easy-to-use gallery.

Text and Effects

Add text and apply textures, bevels and shadows to create effects. Whether you need a new logo for your company, product or club, or a new graphic for your Web site, 3DPlus makes it easy to get the look you want.

3D Objects and Materials

Creating 3D Objects is easy with 3DPlus. The materials, patterns and textures in the 3DPlus Library provide all the power and flexibility you need to create 3D elements, 3D worlds, scenes, and animations.

3D QuickShapes

Can’t draw? 3D QuickShapes work like intelligent clipart, no need to draw at all, just select and customize.

System Requirements: Windows 95/ 98/ 2000/ XP

Download at: SerifSoftware

5 Comments

Filed under 3D Tools, DeskTop Publishing, Drawing Software, Free Full Versions, Freeware, Graphic Software, Multimedia Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Windows Tips and Tools

Free – Advanced 3D Modeling and Animation Software – TrueSpace 3-D

Mountain View, California based Caligari is best known for its TrueSpace 3-D modeling software, which has been on the market for more than 20 years. The software lets animators, game designers, and other graphics professionals create three-dimensional renderings and special effects for a range of applications. The most recent version, TrueSpace 7.5, is available for $595.

Last week, (2/07/08) the chief executive of Caligari stated in a Blog post that the company has been acquired by Microsoft. Apparently Caligari’s imaging technology will be used to enhance Microsoft’s Virtual Earth project.

Just as Serif Software has made it a practice to release, free of charge, older editions of its applications, Caligari has made available a free version of one of its applications, trueSpace3 which also retailed at $595 on its release.

TrueSpace3 matched the “high end” 3D software of its time feature by feature and at the same time blazed the trail with the next generation true 3D interface which takes full advantage of 3D acceleration.

This is the full working version; nothing removed, and no time limits, although registration for an unlock code and a PDF manual is required. The code can be obtained at the following URL: caligari.com

Features include: Powerful point editing, smoothing, sweeping, and deformation tools; metaballs and plastiform tools to create organic shapes; multiple spot, local, and infinite lights; full physics simulation engine; bones, skinning, and inverse kinematics for character animation as well as a full physics simulation engine and inverse kinematics for jointed articulation .

A large number of file import and export formats add to the flexibility and compatibility with other programs. Output formats include rendered stills, animation, or VRML. A very active community provides support and interaction. Large selections of 3rd party plug-ins provide extra capabilities.

Feature set from the developer’s site:

Modeling

· Collision Detection
trueSpace3 uses accurate real time collision detection to position objects easily and precisely, even in perspective space. Use the Magnetic tool to combine objects just by colliding and sliding along surfaces. Or simply roll an object along any surface without losing contact. That’s total control.

· Live Skin
Organic modeling is taken to an all time high. Real time metaballs allow you to see the skin of an organic animal deform in real time as you move any metaball particle around. With Live Skin you get realistic natural objects faster than ever before.

· PlastiForm
Until now, particles have been for animation only. PlastiForm gives you a ‘hot’ engraving tool to generate new surface particles. This tool pushes surfaces and forces them to expand and deform, conforming to the tool’s shape. This is modeling taken to the next level.

Animation

Animation is more interactive then ever before with seamlessly integrated Key-Framing, Collision Detection, Dynamics, Inverse Kinematics, and Metaballs. Animation to the limits of your imagination. And beyond.

· Physics
Give objects properties of real materials like wood or rubber with weight, elasticity, torque and velocity. Apply gravity, wind and other forces. Then just click ‘Play’ to see objects fall with gravity, slow down from atmospheric density and collide with each other. You can animate a leaf dancing in the wind simply by dropping it.

· Inverse Kinematics
Manipulate a figure simply by shaking its hand. Or animate walking by key-framing the figure’s footsteps. Inverse Kinematics is integrated with Dynamics—including degrees of stiffness for each joint. Animate complex behavior with global actions, so you don’t have to manually manipulate each individual object. Create and edit joints with direct manipulation – without opening one dialog box!

Rendering

· 3D Paint
Paint textures or bumps directly on objects in 3D. You won’t have to spend hundreds on a separate 3D paint package, and you won’t have the hassle of switching between two separate programs – it’s all in the same workspace with trueSpace3!

· Direct 3D Support
Manipulate solid objects including lights and textures using software or hardware acceleration. All in real time. The direct manipulation design of trueSpace3 accelerates all aspects of your work.

trueSpace3 works like you work

· Constant Frame Rate
Constant Frame Rate maintains smooth motion in editing or navigation, regardless of the scene’s complexity. Your interaction with your work never gets interrupted.

· 3D Plug-Ins
trueSpace3 can grow according to your needs. trueSpace3 uses 32bit Adobe compatible plug-ins and includes free 3D eXtensions like Particle Fountain, Primitives Plus, and TrueView. And new trueSpace3 plug-ins are on their way for even more specialized effects.

· 3D Guides
Tool Guides explain each trueSpace3 tool just by clicking. You’ll get a full 3D simulation tutorial. Task oriented tutorials teach you how to build a building, spaceship or realistic animal. So you’ll be productive. Right now.

· Universal Authoring
Output to any medium, including Paper, Film, Video, AVI, HTML, or VRML without the need for translation filters. You won’t need to use external applications. You get an abundance of tools and the ability to publish in multiple media, all in the same workspace.

· 3D Sound
Attach audio to any 3D object with true positional 3D sound, attenuation and Doppler effect. trueSpace3 creates more realistic environments with navigation by sound, making your world a more sensory experience.

The Web

trueSpace3 seamlessly integrates Web functionality. You avoid programming, using friendly modeling and animation tools to create complex 3D Graphics, VRML objects and fully animated worlds.

· Integrated VRML 1.0 Browser with Publishing
Navigate to any VRML site, 1.0 edit, and save the changes with one button push using the Publish feature. All without leaving trueSpace3.

· In-lining, LOD and Polygon Reduction
Download only visible portions of VRML sites, and display objects with detail based on the distance from the viewer. Create several levels of detail for any object with the touch o f a button. So even large worlds will navigate smoothly.

Download at: caligari.com

4 Comments

Filed under 3D Tools, DeskTop Publishing, Drawing Software, Free Full Versions, Freeware, Graphic Software, Multimedia Tools, Productivity Software, Software, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools

Blender – Free Open Source Tools for 3D Creation

blender5.jpgBlender is a very robust free 3D software animation program. It has been designed for modeling, UV unwrapping, texturing, rigging, skinning, animating, rendering, particle and other simulating, non-linear editing, compositing, and creating interactive 3D applications.

The program is made up of a feature set that is characteristic of high-end modeling software such as Cinema 4D, 3ds Max and Maya. These features include advanced simulation tools such as rigid body, fluid, and soft body dynamics, modifier based modeling tools, powerful character animation tools, Python for embedded scripting and a node based material and compositing system.

In a review of this type it is impossible to adequately describe all of the advance features that make up this incredible software package. Only selected features have been highlighted for this review. There are many more features other than those noted below.

 

 

 

 

Supported Platforms:

· Windows 98, ME, 2000, XP, Vista

· Mac OS X (PPC and Intel)

· Linux (i386)

· Linux (PPC)

· FreeBSD 5.4 (i386)

· SGI Irix 6.5

· Sun Solaris 2.8 (sparc)

blender4.jpgInterface Features:

· Revolutionary non-overlapping and non-blocking UI delivers unsurpassed workflow

· Flexible and fully configurable window layout with as many screen setups as you prefer

· Undo support on all levels

· Anti-aliased fonts with international translation support

· Windows for animation curves/keys, outliner, schematic scene diagram, generic node editing system, non-linear video sequence editing, character animation action editor, non-linear animation mixer, image/UV editing, file/image selection and file management

· Built-in text editor for annotations and editing Python scripts

· Graphical user interface for Python scripts

· Custom themes

· Consistent interface across all platforms

 

 

 

Rigging:

· Fast skeleton creation mode

· Interactive 3D paint for vertex weighting

· Fast envelope based skinning

· Mirror editing (bone creation and weight painting)

Animation:

· Armature (skeleton) deformation with forward/inverse kinematics

· Auto IK allows posing FK chains easily

· Non-linear animation editor for mixing individual actions created in Action editor

· Automated walk cycles along paths

· Animated constraint system

· Vertex key framing for morphing, with controlling sliders

· Edit and create new blend shapes from existing targets

· Character animation pose editor

3D/Game Creation:

· Graphical logic editor for defining interactive behavior without programming

· Collision detection and dynamics simulation now support Bullet Physics Library. Bullet is an open source collision detection and rigid body dynamics library developed for Play Station 3

· Shape types: Convex polyhedron, box, sphere, cone, cylinder, capsule, compound, and static triangle mesh with auto deactivation mode

· Discrete collision detection for Rigid Body simulation

· Support for in-game activation of dynamic constraints

· Full support for vehicle dynamics, including spring reactions, stiffness, damping, tyre friction etc

· Python scripting API for sophisticated control and AI, fully defined advanced game logic

· Support all OpenGLTM lighting modes, including transparencies, Animated and reflection-mapped textures

Modeling:

· A range of 3D object types including polygon meshes, NURBS surfaces, Bezier and B-spline curves, metaballs, vector fonts (TrueType, PostScript, Open Type)

· Very fast Catmull-Clark subdivision surfaces with optimal iso-lines display and sharpness editing

· Full multiresolution sculpting capabilities with 2D bitmap/3D procedural brushes (Paint, Smooth, Pinch, Inflate, Grab) supporting symmetry

· Modifier stack deformers such as Lattice, Curve, Armature or Displace

Rendering:

· Very fast inbuilt ray tracer

· Over sampling, motion blur, post-production effects, fields, non-square pixels

· Tile-based and fully threaded

· Render layers and passes

· Render baking to UV maps (full render, ambient occlusion, normal, textures)

· Render engine tightly integrated with the node compositor

· Halo, lens flares and fog effects

· Vector motion-blur post-process effect (using node compositor)

· Realistic defocus (DOF) post-process effect (using node compositor)

· Edge rendering for toon shading

· Interactive preview rendering panel in any 3d view

Shading:

· Diffuse shaders such as Lambert, Minnaert, Toon, Oren-Nayar, Lambert

· Specular shaders such as WardIso, Toon, Blinn, Phong, CookTorr

· Node editor for creating and mixing complex materials

· Material previews rendered by main render engine

· Fast, realistic subsurface scattering

Physics and Particles:

· Particle system can be attached to any mesh object. Control methods include weight painting, textures, curve guides, wind and vortex effects. Particles can be deflected by moving geometry

· Hair strands can be created by a static particle system, supporting all particle control methods

· Fluid simulator with fully animated inflow, outflow, obstacle and fluid objects. Gravity and viscosity settings can also be animated. Supports vector blur and is integrated with the particle system

If you’re into 3D creation, then this solid program will more than meet your needs.

The Blender Web Site is an astonishingly complete site which includes the following: Features & Gallery, Download, Tutorials & Help, Community, Development, and e-Shop.

 

1 Comment

Filed under 3D Tools, Freeware, Graphic Software, Open Source, Software, Web Development, Windows Tips and Tools