Do I need to know how to code in order to use Blender, also ...

Hi Folks,

My son, 14, is in first year high school and he’s taking a robotics course. The teacher introduced him to “SketchUp” and he’s loving the program. As I was doing a search for it, to download the program so he can learn to use it, I came across Blender. We sat for several minutes looking at some of the work created by it and he seems to be very interested, so…

I don’t think I currently have the system requirements to install and properly run Blender but I wanted to know if coding is a requirement to using the software since neither of us knows how to code. Also, I would appreciate a word of advice as to what system to purchase, should I get one from Dell or have one built to custom and if so, what would it need to properly run the software (now and till he’s done with school, another 3 years).

We have a Dell Inspiron 6400 running win home xp, with sp3 and a 1.99 gb ram; and I have no idea what graphics card it has.

Any help would be appreciated.

Peace,
ElementX

Blender is like a jack of all trades,most of the buttons you see you will probably never use unless you study more into those fields.

You do not need to know any coding if you want to go the 3d modeling route.

How much are you willing to spend on a PC?
You don’t really need an upgrade unless you are going to be working with very complex models and rendering (cycles renderer needs a Nvidia GPU card above the 8K series)

Edit:The learning curve of Blender is quite steep but it should be smooth sailing after he learns most of the common shortcuts.

It all depends what you plan to do. You’ll need a strong graphics card in order to render with the newest built in render engine called cycles. (though both internal and cycles can use the cpu, and some features are currently cpu only) I would recommend learning that over the usages for the other blender internal renderer because it is notably simpler to use for most graphical effects, though with some drawbacks in areas.

You don’t need to be a coder to use blender, but it always helps. At least you can pick it up as part of the process (but I stress that coding is not at all obligatory).

Blender will take all the power you throw at it. If you’re not concerned about long render times (which as a hobbyist it is likely you’re not then you only need to consider having g a strong enough cpu and ram for video editing if you go that route, as some real time feedback is needed. (though GPU support is coming). One other thing to consider is that complex model geometry can take large amounts of memory in the GPU, so you’ll need to get a fairly decent card to make it worth your while. Generally speaking, GPU rendering is faster.

For record, I have 8gb ram, i5-760, gtx 460 1.5 gb, and that is not a bad combination, though some people here can really push the boundaries of sanity with their builds!

Depending on where you live building your own will usually be cheaper. Also, it’s recommended to avoid ati for rendering

While cycles, Blender’s new and fancy rendering engine, needs a fancy graphics card, the Blender Internal renderer is quite good and does not need anything special. Of course, the more RAM you have, the larger and more complex models you can create, but Blender Artists have been running up against hardware limitations since the program’s inception, and have discovered a lot of ways to work around them, and you can generally take advantage of that knowledge by posting here and asking questions.

You will be able to model and texture and animate to your heart’s content with the system you have described, as well as take advantage of the particle system and the physics engine and cloth simulation. The learning curve is steeper than SketchUp, but I’ve seen kids as young as nine gleefully model and animate adorable animal characters of their own design.

You’ll be fine.

@Orinoco - Blender/Cycles can run without a graphics card.

@ElementX - you system is fine to run Blender but if you expect to do large fluid simulations or very detailed renders - well, you may want something more powerful.

As with any 3D software coding knowledge is helpful but it’s not a requirement.

As for the computer specs. It really depends on what he wants to do with Blender.
If he wants to render quickly using the Cycles render engine then you should get a decent Nvidia GTX card with as much VRAM as possible. If good viewport performance is a priority over rendering then you might want to get a graphics card from AMD as they seem to perform a little bit better in the OpenGL viewport.

More RAM = Better performance. You should get as much as possible but 6-8GB is a good starting point. Also, be sure to get a 64-bit operating system to be able to use more than 4GB, Linux is a really good (free) alternative to Windows if you want to save on software cost.

For the processor you should look for many cores and high clocking speed (GHz) as it will greatly improve rendering speed with whatever render engine you want to use and better multitasking performance.

If you know how to set up a custom build or know someone else who do then you can save a lot of money on that but if you don’t it’s better to not risk it and buy a premade computer.

Also set your son up with a premium account on www.cgcookie.com. They have tons of amazing Blender tutorials, including a “getting started” set. Then when your son have the basics done and have become an intermediate user he should also check out www.blenderguru.com

Hope it helped.

Moved from “General Forums > Blender and CG Discussions” to “Support > Basics & Interface”

I know I will get flack for this, specially since I´m a Blender noob myself. But if your son is serious to pursue this you would get him a better head-start by getting him an autodesk area account. He can download and learn full versions from there.

To clarify…I come from LW and Modo. Blender is excellent for my needs, but with a VERY small studio footprint. So for a newcomer seriously interested in having a good job market AD products are the way to go (unfortunately).

Barely possible a year ago, recipe for frustration now. Definitely a handicap amount of RAM.

Slightly off topic = I have seen many children your son’s age - especially avid video gamers - become enamored of 3D as a quick and easy way to produce graphic art only to lose interest when they run up against the patience, detail obsessive personality, and math skills required to successfully produce anything. If anyone tells you - maybe they have - “You don’t need math to do 3D” they are - well, perhaps not lying, but something very close.
I’m not trying to discourage you! Just offering a bit of advice from teaching experience. On the other hand your system is almost obsolete :slight_smile: so you will be spending something on a new system soon anyway whether your son maintains his interest or not, and Blender is free!

What special math skills does a 3d artist need? Expressions are usually very basic conditional formulae you can apply to mostly everything in variations, once you have a basic set of commands figured out. Nodes could benefit from serious math skills, I presume, but it´s not a prerequisite.

JMHO, of course.

Math never hurts,it does help a bit with complex models so you can get better topology flow and angle judgement.Some nodes in cycles also make use of math though not allot.

@ideasman: Thanks. I haven’t had a computer without an NVidea card for a while, so I took DCBloodHounds word for it.

@ElementX: You do not need to know how to code to use Blender. Nor do you need math skills beyond addition and subtraction. I see people saying you don’t need to code but it always helps… Helps with what, exactly? If you are going to try to make the latest greatest MMORPG you’ll need to code, but you can make a nice little race car game without a bit of coding.

What do coders do with Blender? They build enhancements and addons. Sometimes really useful addons. But you don’t need to be a coder to use the “Floor boards” addon or the “Window” addon. You just use what someone else has coded.

Is your son interested in programming? Why, yes, then knowing how to code will help a lot. But if his interest is in making cool architectural renders, or character animation, or beautiful still life renders, what he needs is an artistic eye and a lot of practice.

Seriously, for a Blender User, rather than a Blender developer, the outside training that isn’t needed but always helps is in the drawing, painting or sculpting category, not coding or math (although a beginning photography class wouldn’t hurt, if it’s offered at his High School.)

It takes many moons to bath in the river of information before one is familiar with Blender and (“just”) concepts of 3D modeling and texturing. If the cold stream gives you a headache, it doesn’t mean you have to sit on the bonfire of programming.

DCBloodHound,

Thank you for your reply, much appreciated.

Peace,
ElementX

Hey Everyone,

I don’t want to fill the post by replying to each member, though I feel it’s the correct way to say thank you; I’m still learning this new method of mass communication protocols.

So “Thank You ALL” for your posts, I truly appreciate your time and help. I hope he takes it seriously, at 14 I wasn’t thinking about my future just hanging out with my buds, girls were still a year away.

I have no false illusions about becoming a 3D animator but if he doesn’t take it seriously I might just have some fun with it; watch out.

Peace,
ElementX

Sorry about that.

While you can use a CPU,it’s not ideal and can be frustratingly slow and even a cheap GPU’s above the 8k nvidia serries will help allot in cycles.

You’re looking at render times 2-7 times faster depending on the difference between your CPU and GPU.

Sli now working with cycles makes GPU rendering even more appealing (though you probably only get a 10% to 20% decrease in render time with an extra card)

Blender noob here, but just wanted to mention about rendering cycles in CPU. My computer only has onboard intel graphics, and is a budget Gateway computer from Best Buy (Core I5, 8 gig ram, don’t recall speed). I can render in cycles, but it is painfully slow to work in cycles, so I find myself switching back and forth between BI and Cycles until final render times. Also if I am rendering in cycles it slows down the rest of the computer so I only render with nothing else running. So, yes it can render without a GPU, but if you can swing it, get something nicer.
As for math, while I am pretty good at it, I have not had to use it to make pictures or static game models, so I’m not sure where that will come into play.

::Puzzled:: You are testing your materials and lighting in Blender Internal and then switching to cycles just before rendering? Is that working pretty well?

Sorry, guess I wasn’t clear.

I build the models in BI and set up some basic lights ad get the scene close to where I want it, then I replace the lamps with emitters, switch to cycles and set up materials in cycles and test render. If I need to move the emitters around (or any other objects) I switch back to BI and move them because it runs too slow to get accurate movements, being a noob, I don’t always rename my objects so I like the orange outline in BI that I don’t get in cycles. When finalizing my materials I use solid mode while adjusting shaders and then render mode to test.

I’ve only been playing with Blender about 2 months, no prior experience of any kind, so I’m probably doing it all wrong, but that is what is working with my computer.