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|Blender, the open source software for 3D modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, interactive creation and playback.
2.76b (November 04, 2015)
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Animation (3D & 2D animation)
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This is an exciting time, with the new-vamped Blender 2.5 currently under strong development. The alpha version is already very solid (try the latest build from graphicall.org - the "official" 2.5 alpha 2 on the Blender site, hmm, maybe not so stable). It's the perfect opportunity to get your feet wet with this marvellous and fun app, in readiness for the looming production-ready version 2.6. Start with basic 3D modeling, then to animating those models, then you can learn the video sequence editor (built-in NLE!) and even the built-in game engine! It's a powerful and actively-developed work of software art, I can only urge you to jump onboard and bring your dreams alive! I gave it a 10 for ease of use, not because it's easy (there is a considerable learning curve), but because once you've got your foot in the door, you begin to realise just how brilliantly-designed and fun this thing is! Congrats to the Blender Foundation (send 'em donations!). I've linked some guides (applicable to 2.5) that I can recommend for noobs to ease them gently into Blender. Happy blending!
I have tried all of the various "Personal Learning" versions of the major 3D packages, and I have to say that Blender can stand up to all of them any day. And it does it without being hobbled by resolution limitations or watermarks on your images.
The only thing that I don't like about it is that it does not seem to have a readily-apparent way to get the conventional 4-view setup that other packages have. Other than that, I really have no complaints. I use it primarily in Linux, and it's very fast. I can run it with ease, while Houdini Apprentice crashes my Linux system and wheezes hard in Vista.
I'll keep using Blender there until Lightwave shows up in Linux, and probably even beyond that. Even if they charged $100 for it, it's still a bargain. Fortunately, they don't.
Just started using this wonderful software. Looks very promising. Open source just doesnt get better than this.. !!!
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