Hi all, I feel just a bit out of place here coming from Lightwave for over ten years, but had a few questions. I have not yet downloaded Blender, but I have been very curious over the past few months. Time has been the big issue for me. I have some downtime right now, so I thought I’d give it a try. I was wondering if Blender has a feature similar to LW’s VPR? It gives you a fast full screen draft render that’s very close to a final. I am running on a 12 core Mac Pro under Lion, and was wondering how stable blender is? Are the Modeling tools as robots as Lightwave? I know I could just download, and give it whirl, but my time between projects is so limited, I want to make sure it will suit my needs. Hope to become a regular member here soon. Thanks for your time. One more thing, I was wondering what the best place to start learning would be? Tutorials that sort of thing.
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Being a long time LightWave user myself, I would say that the closest thing to VPR is Cycles render engine, although it’s not quite what you are used to with VPR and in many cases VPR works much quicker in giving feedback. I have also found that VPR is much quicker than Modo’s preview, so NewTek got that right. Not saying that Cycles is bad, since I use it like VPR quite often. Keep in mind that you will be limited in using Cycles in CPU mode if you have an ATi/AMD card, but you do have a powerful rig, so shouldn’t be much of a problem.
I don’t need to tell you that LightWave has strong modelling tools, even if many of the approaches the tools take are becoming antiquated, but Blender allows you to create meshes really quickly and once you get used to the workflow, it can allow you to create meshes much quicker than in LightWave. That being said, LightWave still has more robust tools for modelling, the only package that I can think of that does this better after using a few alternatives, is Modo.
Polygon handling in Blender isn’t as good as in LightWave surprisingly, but I do like a unified workspace, so I’m not constantly going back and forth between Layout and Modeler to get things done. Blender internal rendering engine is nowhere close to LightWave’s, but you can achieve good results and Cycles is pretty good as well, but in some cases prepare to wait longer for a good finished result. The alternatives are LuxRender and Yafaray, with the latter being a bucket renderer, and Lux being like Maxwell.
There will be a learning curve, but it should not be too steep,and there are a great many tools in Blender that you will not find in LightWave. Look here for help, and blender.org, blendercookie.com, blenderguru.com, and many others for learning resources. I think you will find Blender a good addition to your pipeline as long as you keep in mind that Blender is constantly being developed and some tools can be “left hanging” from time to time, and/or not be fully implemented.