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Appendix B

Blender: A 3D Modeling Program

Blender is a free and open-source graphics program with a large community of users. It can be used to create and animate 3D scenes interactively. It is a very complex and sophisticated program, with advanced modeling and rendering tools, that can be used to produce professional graphics and animation. This appendix looks at just a small subset of its features.

Blender can be downloaded from blender.org. The site includes a great deal of information about what it can do (blender.org/features) and how to use it (blender.org/support).

I have included some work with Blender as part of my computer graphics courses since 2001, as a supplement to the graphics programming that is the main topic of the course. While we use only a small part of Blender's capabilities, I believe that it is useful for students to have some experience with interactive 3D modeling. It helps them develop their ability to visualize in three dimensions, and it lets them see the role that fundamental concepts such as transformations, lighting and material, and textures play in real applications. Most people are intimidated, at first, by Blender's complex interface, but it's actually not difficult to learn how to use it for some basic tasks that are relevant to this textbook. Many of my students have enjoyed using it and have gone on to learn enough about it to use it in a final project.

Blender went through some significant changes between versions 2.79 and 2.8. This appendix is based on Blender 2.93, which is the current version as of July, 2021. However, most of the appendix should apply to any version between 2.8 and 2.93.

Contents of Appendix B:

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