Tech

Blender 2.91: shape and animate better

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The Blender Foundation has released version 2.91 of the open source 3D suite of the same name. The release brings improvements under the hood and in details. Blender 2.91 is now available for Windows, macOS and Linux Download ready.

For a better overview, collections can now be displayed in different colors in the outliner. The outliner collects elements used in the project. Data types such as modifiers and shaders can be displayed and selected there. A refined context menu in the outliner shows modifier operations. Orphaned data such as meshes without associated objects can now be dragged into the viewport to create a new object instance. Modifiers, constraints and grease pencil effects can be organized in the Outliner using drag & drop.

The “Properties Editor” has been given a search function that automatically collapses properties and panels and hides them so that only the search results are visible. Tabs that do not contain the search term are grayed out. The search now works across all screens with a certain tolerance for typing errors.

Boolean operations can be used to cut or combine objects with one another. With the data structures of points, edges and surfaces used in computer graphics, this is a complex and error-prone task, especially when the meshes themselves overlap. The “Exact” option in the Boolean Modifier can handle overlapping and coplanar geometry. With the new “Self” option, the problem of self-overlapping geometry should be a thing of the past.

In the Boolean Modifier you can now use collections or entire groups of objects at once. With the Self option, the Boolean Modifier can be used to repair meshes with self-overlapping when the collection is empty.

The Subdivision Surface Modifier has been expanded to include additional options for better compatibility with other programs; these can also be found in the multiresolution modifier. With the Ocean Modifier, you can now define a resolution for the viewport and one for rendering. At a lower resolution, the display remains fluid while working on the project.

The Ocean Modifier allows different resolutions for the viewport (middle) and the final rendering (below).

With the Grease Pencil, black and white images can now be traced as Grease Pencil Strokes. If the images are in color or as grayscale, they should first be converted into images with only black and white. With the Grease Pencil, lines can be defined as a holdout. Lines behind it are displayed transparently or hidden. You can work with the Grease Pencil in 3D in a similar way to working with masks in 2D animation programs.

The ends of curves can now always be closed, regardless of how the shell or profile is constructed. Similar to the Bevel Modifier, the profile can be defined using another curve. This makes it possible to create fine, ornamental structures with little effort.

The ornaments consist of simple curves, the envelope or profile of which is defined by another curve.

In sculpting, you work on an object in a similar way to clay. In Blender there have been tools for a long time that combine this concept with a substance simulation. This can be used to pluck wrinkles in a pillow, for example. In Blender 2.91, the tools for cloth sculpting have been expanded a few times. So you can now interact with objects that are defined as an obstacle in your physics settings. For example, you can drop a blanket on a sofa, adjust it, and add creases. You can also set the plasticity of objects and have control over the areas in which the simulation runs.

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