Is blender a good choice for creating illustrations/demonstrations?

Hello everybody,

this is my first post and first i would like to thanks the blender team and the community for having such an amazing tool available for free. Nice work.

Now to my problem

I want to create educational content to youtube and my blog. That includes technical topics i would like to had myself when i started with but where so hard to understand. So instead of writing text which tends to be more boring the longer it is, i would really love to illustrate the most things with animated illustrations … but not in the way that looks like a cheap 90s animation we all know from our beginning of the beginning in blender … realistic would be good but in the end the effort is not reasonable for a one man show who will do the most things by himself.

What cames to me in mind intstead are these well known low poly illustrations that are explaining things in an really entertaining way … for example:

a low poly character laying with head on his desk, a questionmark appears over his head … he has an idea … something appears here and there … the desk fly’s out of the screen, a plant appears and scales bigger … the camera zooms to the plant and shows something that gets explained more detailed … then zoom out, the plant disappears, animated like a exploding balloon etc …

The advantages with low poly in general i hope to have are

  • low render times due to low poly scenes
  • easier (or at least acceptable) general production times
  • realistic renders doesnt matter
  • since my topics are in the same branch over and over again, i could reuse the most of my models and scenes for future videos

I am not completely new to blender and basically i like blender and love to play around with it. But after my tough developing learning curve the last two weeks i really ask me if blender is the right choice doing this educational stuff including also some basic physics or is it not really made for this?

An frustrating example: I spend hours to figure out while one object does not has any effect colliding with the other one … pushed hundreds of buttons, without any success … Also I had the imagination that some easy looking effects might be not that hard to implement … done once its easy to reuse … but yeah … even simple scaling and appearing animations doesn’t seem really simple in blender … at least for me

what i mean: you lose the focus on what you want to do after you struggle around doing details five hours …

and the next question i am asking for would be “how to organize all these tons of animations, that may repeat for many many objects and projects over and over … how to manage different scenes from one an the same setup?”

Sure … might be not a big deal for a pro … but is there maybe anything out there, that does the thing in a more efficient way or should i stick to blender anyway? Are there any good resources for this?

I don’t fear the effort learning blender but i don’t want to waste time at things, that does in the end not fit to what i wanted to achieve originally.

Can somebody that has/had similar goals give any advices to me?

Thanks a lot!

I think that’s the problem. You can try other packages, thankfully even paid ones have trial period these days, but chances are that you just didn’t get used to the way of how 3D are done yet, and switching to another package will lead to exactly the same result.

On the matter of the thread: yes, you can do it in Blender, and it’s getting especially handy with Eevee and Workbench engine, so you literally control the balance between realism and rendertimes.

To answer the question right away: Yes, that’s what Blender is made for! I learned in 3dsmax and was so surprised by the speed and stability of Blender when I switched. That I, like many others, could not believe that Blender costs nothing. But that was a long time ago. Now the tickets for Blender are much better. But there are three points to consider. 1. even though the user interface has become very user-friendly, the power of blender is the shortcut. If you don’t like it, you might be better off with others. 2. blender without addons is like rendering without light. It is unbelievable how often I have wondered about something that is 100 times faster than before. You should definitely fight your way through the addon jungle. 3. since 2.80+ there is an increasing habit of installing alpha and beta versions in the latest version. This leads to unstable software, constant feature changes, incompatibility with add-ons etc. Fortunately with 2.83 Long Therm support is introduced. If you take this to heart, you’ll be glad you didn’t waste your time with other 3D software. I always have to smile when I hear 3dsmax crash. I use 2.81a with 180 installed addons and it never crashed.

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This is a bit like saying this:

I noticed that today I can buy a digital camera for 500 dollars that gives me the same resolution as some of the studio films I see. But after playing with it for months, I just cant seem to get something to look as good as War Horse.

Ok, that is an extreme example.

But my experience is that, to anything even very simple, you have to be well versed in the tool. And it takes years of dedication to do this. Does not have to be in Blender. Could have been another tool.

There are a lot of approaches to do what you want. And a lot of tools, such as after effects or some other 2D animation tools.

Regardless you will have to first be willing to be an artist, at least to some degree, and take the time to master the tool with some lower expectations at first. And take your time to learn it.

You know the phrase, “don’t try this at home”. It is actually true.

I don’t meant this to be discouraging as much as realistic. And being a realist will get you a lot farther than going in unprepared.

Thanks for giving me courage. I’ll definitely stick to blender in future. I found als the animation nodes addon very useful at the moment since it really helps a lot creating cool animations.

Nice comparison and thanks for that feedback. But that was not the thing i tried to point out.
What i wanted to say: If you just know the hammer as a tool, everything looks like a nail.
Of course, you could do everything with a hammer … installing a shelf … chop wood … break up an egg … but usually you would use a tool which was made for exactly that job.
And really, i don’t want to be the guy that uses Q-Tips cleaning the window and somebodys telling me 3 years later “Why you don’t use a wipe?”

Especially if you are an expert in using a hammer it often looks like there isn’t any more efficient tool

But anyway … since nobody is telling me, that blender isn’t the right choice for doing that stuff, i’ll stick to that.

Thanks a lot!

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That is not exactly a fair comparison. Because blender is not really one tool but a collection of tools, usable for a large quantity of jobs.
Inside Blender, you can create a 3D model by using Curve objects or Mesh objects, in Edit mode or in Sculpt mode, on in object mode with modifiers.

So asking yourself if you are using the most efficient tool inside Blender is an inevitable segment of learning curve.
But when you know what tools inside Blender are at your disposal, you can directly pick the most efficient one for desired work and be very productive.

You started with the idea to use Low Poly models.
But you will probably end-up using textured planes, matte-paintings and Grease Pencil objects, too.

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Yeah I get you.

I was responding to was your frustration of trying to get even basic things to work.

The unfortunate and sad truth of the matter is that you won’t know what is the best tool for you until you are first expert at it. And that takes years. And as an artist all around, decades. (including time since you were maybe 5-7 years old).

If you had years of experience with another software doing the same thing, then you could consider getting up and running with blender in weeks or months.

I am not saying Blender is the best tool for what you want to do or that it isn’t. It certainly could do all of those things. But it also means being far more expert at it first.

There are also other tools that might do what you need better. Or a combination of other tools with Blender such as After Effects or some kind of 2D animation software.

And as zeauro mentions Blender is full of tools. And each one of those main areas that you will encounter, would be lets just say Modeling, Shading, Animation, Rendering, Dynamics.

That is only 5 main overall things. But each one contains tons of tips tricks techniques and skills to learn that could take years for each one.

But lets be conservative and say months for each one. You are looking at over a year, just to get your feet in the shallow end of the pond without even swimming yet.

You are a long way off from the ease of just having a good focused time creating your animations and illustrations. And even when you do get that good. It still takes a lot of work and time. And usually more time than you imagined. And it is never easy.

So you should be thinking of this venture as its own artistic career goal, is what I am saying.