Blender Educational uses & forum

I was wondering who is using blender to teach 3D in higher education?
Does the blender UI facilitate or impede the introduction of basic concepts?
If you use blender, do you get resistance from administration/other faculty/support/staff/students? If so, what are their arguments & what are your replies?

I know there is a lot covered in these questions. Perhaps an EDUCATIONAL/TUTORIAL forum is called for. We could posts syllabus, individual lesson plans, assignments, and items related to grants in CG area & faculty development, in addition to more tradiational tutorials.

I’m no educator, but if people were posting lesson plans, I’d love to see them.

As for a Tute forum, absolutely… people may go there and find what they’re looking for before going to Q&A. Perhaps also a good place for people to discuss what areas need more tutes, or tute authors to discuss changes/updates, and get feedback.


Perhaps an EDUCATIONAL/TUTORIAL forum is called for.

Sounds good to me!!! Speaking for myself, I’ll read as many tutorials as anyone cares to write. Especially if it’s to do with Game Blender!!

Cheers, jrt.

I will be teaching a beginning 3D animation class at the local Community College in Moline, IL. USA. Here is the link to the course outline draft.

I will be using blender primarily as well as wings3d. All of my course plans will be online somewhere… Most of my class work will be online for my stydents as well as plenty of links to other tutorials on the web. I will hopefully be able to get across the “ideas” of 3D animation as well as a lot of functional practice with blender. It should be a fun class to teach. It just got approved for this coming spring. I have yet to hear the final scheduled time but check it out and let me know if you think I missed anything or whatever… comments in general are also welcome.

As for resistance to using blender… none really as it is free… the only issue I had was the art department is all Mac and not upgraded to osX yet. So I am going to be using a windows pc lab in the library for my class. No great 3D acceleration but I’m not expecting them to be masters killing the system with extremely detailed objects or scenes. But you never know… some students may take right off.

In addition to blender and wings3d I will be demoing Lightwave and 3Dstudio max as well as a small intro to others like Softimage, Hash, Mirai, Maya, Electric Image, and whatever else I can think off…


Wow, you cover alot of stuff (read your syllabus). But, I’m wondering, is Blender inherently better for teaching? The thing I get when I talk about using blender is: “Noone is using it in the real world. Use Maya PLE (or other) so they can get a job”.

The thing I like about your approach is that you can use Blender as the base app, then use demo software for a kind of survey/comparison.

I agree that learning some of the major apps (maya, max, lw, xsi) would be better when looking for a job… but then another issue is encountered… the price of the licensing for the software in a small college setting. The main reason my idea to start an animation class got OK’d was because it didn’t present any extra cost to the Art department other than the cost of my time to teach it.

This effort almost died when NaN went under… but thanks to the Ton and those that donated to the FBF it will go forward.

I’m thinking of trying to slowly build a learning path for blender while organizing this class. It would help the community and myself. I would be glad to take comments on organizing the learning path to improve the speed with which one can learn blender. My idea is that it would also teach the basic concepts and ideals of 3D that could be applied to any program. Just an idea right now… but as I have to prepare materials for this class… it looks like a good opportunity to easily add value to the blender community.

A quick afterthought I had also… although Blender may not be an industry app… it is an app that can do the job… doesn’t matter if it is a standard or not. Still hard to convince others of that… but its true.

This is a good idea, and I might be able to contribute. Where I teach now they are pretty focused on MAYA, though the fact that Blender is open source( :smiley: ) might actually be of interest to the computer science side. I’ll know better during fall quarter.

Please keep me in mind if you pursue this…

That’s one reason why Blender ought to be perfect for educational use. Not only the cost to the school, but the cost to students. I know as a computer science student I never ever used the computer lab… I have a better PC at home, and all the necessary software. I would hope a university would consider students who prefer to work with their own computers… with Blender they can use it for free, and it’s available for so many platforms, while the others are prohibitively expensive… even if the student’s parents are well-off it’d be tough to convince them to pay +$1k for a software package.

Also, since students could easily get Blender on their own, they could continue to develop their skills after the class is over, so for those interested in the subject, a class using Blender would be a better value than a class using <expensive-software-here>. In the future, if there are more advanced classes on 3D, using Blender would be an even greater benefit. Since the students can continue practicing with Blender, you would not need to spend as much of the class reviewing the previous classes, which may be necessary if students are unable to use the software between the first class, and the second.

Don’t forget to mention to your students that the Blender Foundation is accepting donations, and elYsiun is an ecellent resource for further learning. :slight_smile:

Not to be paranoid, but how does your college feel about publishing your materials? Any chance they can be GPL’d?

nod Perhaps they can have a class about 3d programming, with the Blender source as an example… it may even provide more code contributors for the Foundation.

Good luck on your classes, both of you.


Learning a major app maybe currently better for getting a job. But in a few years… The use of 3D in business is growing, when a company sees what it can do for a presenation they get impressed. While initially shelling out for expensive app is difficult to justify. Not forgetting you have to keep upgrading to make the latest plugins work.

The 3D market is expanding into new business areas, and Blender could be set to exploit this, over the major apps.


yes, please

True… but which one? Also, I think if you really wanted to use it as a point on your resume, you’d need to buy a copy and use it on your own. Taking one class wouldn’t really cut it, only introduce you to the app allowing you to continue learing after the class is over.

I imagine someone who has been using Blender for a couple years in their spare time would find a related job easier than someone who took a single class on Maya. Also, once someone has taken the class, there’s nothing but money stopping them from picking up a major app, and learning it. Either way, I imagine an employer would place more weight on the quality of your work, rather than the tool you use, especially at entry level.


Sometimes its not the employers you need to worry about, but school administrators who want to be able to tout a big-name software package for prestige and recruiting purposes…and if they are willing to spend the money, why not?

I was recently offered a position at a local community college (but didn’t take it 'cuz $$ was ridiculous…& I was willing to take a 5-figure cut in pay!). They didn’t have much in the way of software but that didn’t concern me. I would use freeware for hands on experience & use demos for “comparison/contrast” type presentations, ala; “this is how you rotate in Maya, in Lightwave, in Gmax, in Cinema4D, etc.”, reinforcing the notion of rotation as a basic and general transform (I suspect this may be the approach plunneberg was going to take, am I correct?).

I agree with both of you…

IMProvisar… Someone with experience actually creating and using 3d materials in a commercial project/setting would definitely have an edge over someone taking a single class on Maya or <appropriat app name here>

and Keven3d… That is the method I’m hoping to use… Comparing the basics and showing that though the apps are different… the ideas that one uses are the same. “I want to extrude this…” or “I want to scale this…” I probably wont go to far from the basics in the other apps… as I still don’t know some of them that well… 3DSMax, Lightwave and Blender are what I know well… As for working at the college… I’m glad it is not my main income. It is only a side thing on a couple nights a week for me… a little extra money and some teaching experience that I am glad to have.

Anyways, in the next week or two I’m going to take another look at my course path and spend several hours refining and reorganizing. Then I’ll start writing… the hard part… doing it. And again… any comments or suggestions as you see it grow would be greatly appreciated… I’ll try and post here on as often as I can in regards to the progress.

I’m interested in your thoughts regarding similarities between 3DS Max, Lightwave and Blender. I know max very well but Blender & LW very little.
I’ve heard some say Blender UI is like LW, though frankly I don’t see it.

One criteria I use to consider what 3d app to introduce in class is what kind of personal access students can get to it. Obviously Blender beats all other apps in this regard. Lightwave comes in 2nd (with Cinema 4D close behind) with liberal educational pricing & scheme for conversion to pro version. Theres also carrara & truespace, though I truely don’t know if these are that much better than Blender to warrent the costs. I’m not impressed with Maya or 3DS max student programs (not counting Maya PLE, which is kind of a different thing).

I can see that if Blender had a strong educational push behind it, it could become a strong choice for educational institutions as its profile grows as an open source initiative…which IS going to happen. Imagine that when Blender 3 comes out there is a “3D curriculum/Blender in the classroom” PDf with full cross platform apps & samples available for download, or hardcopies & CDs for purchase.

Sorry, I started this message one way & ended it another way.

I’d agree that blender is more similar to LW than Max… there is a different thought process when working with Max and Modifiers and the Stack… I’m actually going to be ordering an EDU copy of Max5 soon. I have a full LW license and have been trying to educate myself as to use it fully and fluidly. Still not there yet. I have noticed that certain similarities have arose in my dealing with learning the IK and character setup in LW and the same in Blender. Blender IK is very similar to that in LW… though LW’s implementation is more robust with more features they are very similar. There are others similarities but they escape me right now.

As for my students… the cost associated with each was at first an issue… but with the advent of the Maya PLE and Lightwaves expanded Demo version and other similar offerings from SoftImage and Max… the issue of the students access to something outside of class was somewhat addressed. Still my push was to use blender because the issue of cost would be completely eliminated. As for the different education/student programs available… I am comfortable with most of them now… the only one that still remains not so friendly is the Alias|Wavefront program of having a subscription… not very friendly to the student. In a corporate/business setting its ok… but for the student its not. Softimage has just changed its yearly subscription license program to a permanent license.

I agree… If more people start to learn and use blender it will, in time, become a standard app in many application settings. This cant happen till there is an organized way to learn it. There are books out and learning materials out for any of the other programs out there… why not blender. I have several of the manuals and books published for blender, and while they are great resources… they do not meet all needs. I’m not implying that I’ll be able to do any better… but… Hopefully what I do contribute will help in the overall scheme.

For Blender to be more readily accepted in business, it must become as easy to use as Visio. Business need a Visio 3D.

For education, if you could include the training material right in Blender itself, self-documenting, self teaching, self updating (with a built-in library of models), then Blender would leap ahead of the other 3D environments for student & home use.


I disagree… No production 3D or FX application is that easy. Maybe if you just want to make 3D text and shapes for a powerpoint. but real 3D and FX work will always be something that will escape the typical business person. Blender does not need to be as easy as visio.