Thoughts about blender 2.8 from a 3dsmax user and a blender teacher in architectural school!

Hello,
I am a 3D artist on 3dsmax but I have the chance to teach Blender 2.8 in an architecture school.
After having tested blender 2.8 for a long time, I have some remarks that seem important to me, especially to improve architectural modeling.

Compared to 3dsmax, I find that blender lacks a lot of modifiers. Indeed as a 3d artist dedicated to architecture I usually use the same functions but non-destructively in order to change things in the fastest way. For those who know 3dsmax, you have a list of huge modifiers and it’s extremely convenient to refine your work. That’s what I use all the time:

  1. _modifier “edit poly” (very useful when you want to decompose modeling so you can easily go back)
  2. _idem with edit “edit spline”
  3. _modify “sweep” (to quickly create extrusion profiles (with already some built-in classic profiles) with all the functions of rotation, mirror and offset). Essential tool that must be extremely stable and accurate. This is one of the strong points of 3dsmax for the architecture because it is extremely powerful (much more than the bevel in the curves of blender which is very poor in parameterization)
  4. _modifier “slice” (bisect in blender). Very useful in architecture because when it is in modifier it is animable very easily and allows to create real cutting plans (not like camera clipping). I do not really understand why bisect is not a modifier because everything becomes more complicated and destructive definitively (I know that we can use the operations booleen masi is for me a mistake for modeling because it generates artifacts and crashes)
  5. _modifier “bend”, very practical, simple and powerful modifier in 3dsmax that allows you to non-destructively bend polygons!
  6. _modifier “chamfer” or “bevel” in blender. Very useful in modifying because it again allows to design in a parametric and nondestructive way!
  7. _modifier “UVWmap”. Extremely practical tool for projecting textures (we can choose a planar mapping, a mapping box, a mapping face, a cylindrical mapping or spherical mapping) and we can return to these projections at any time by changing for example the size of the one this (much faster than editing the unwrap and the uvmapping editor every time!)

This is basically the modifiers that seem essential to me for an architectural modeling workflow efficient and intelligent because non-destructive!

Moreover, it comes to my mind a major disadvantage in the way of modeling in blender is the fact of correlating the size of a mesh on its scale which forces us to be obliged to use the function all the time. CTRL-A for reset rotation and scale (otherwise big problem with the measures and modifiers) and it is really not natural and simple to understand for beginners!
For example in 3dsmax if you create a cube of 2X2X2 meters and you modify its dimensions so that it is 4X4X4 meters (in the basic parameters, not in “edit poly”), its scale will remain at 1,1,1 while in blender, with this transformation the scale will become 2,2,2! it’s very annoying because it distorts all the modifiers’ actions if we do not always think about doing CTRL-A (scale …)

Here I am sorry for this long message but I consider that blender still lacks some functions (especially modifiers) to override the 3dsmax workflow for architectural modeling.
Apart from all this, Blender is an extraordinary software that thanks to this new version will upset the 3D market. Blender is starting to become a real alternative to the 3D heavyweights that are MAYA, 3DS MAX and C4D!

Thank you for your attention but I am also the reporter of the remarks of my students in architecture school who find that they still lack certain functions and still find the interface and the workflow quite complex!

Damien LAurens

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Since several years, now, one target of Blender development is to get rid of modifiers stack for a more flexible and powerful modifier nodetree.
So, workflow will evolve from a traditional workflow similar to 3DSmax to a workflow that looks more like Houdini.
There was an introduction of custom nodes python API. That allowed support of several addons like Sverchok or Animation Nodes addon.
Several branches of development were created to satisfy the “Everything Nodes” project.
Currently, active new branch dedicated to that target is functions branch.

Goal for 2.8 series is to replace current particles, constraints and regular modifiers by nodes.
To facilitate this transition, several modifier proposals have been frozen.

So, your global feeling is legitimate. But the target of developers is above that what you expect.
In upcoming release of 2.8x series, you will see improvements in that domain.

But yes, for 2.80, you will have to accept that same things are less comfortable.
So, what are workarounds used by architects using Blender ?

  1. & 2.
  • By default, many blender modifiers effects are sensible to vertex groups. Their effect can be restricted to a vertex group.
  • Blender meshes data is quite stable. There is no vertex added from nowhere when objects are joined or separated. Blender’s workflow is a destructive one. But it is quite easy to duplicate an interesting part of mesh, separate it and preserve safely this data as another object when you have doubts about evolution of modeling process.
  • Animation nodes add-ons are usable for procedural mesh generation. A version compatible with 2.80 will be available.

If you enable Extra-Objects add-on of Add Curve section, you have at disposal more Curve objects usable as profiles for beveled curves.
You should not focus only on Bevel subpanel of Geometry panel. The whole panel is useful for that. General settings of Shape panel (Twist Method, Fill mode), too. And don’t forget that you have also ability to add modifiers to a beveled curve.

I agree. I often asked for a bisect modifier in 2.80.
The final goal to reach is to support any operator available in edit mode as a node.
Basically, blender users are used to Boolean modifier to replace that.
In 2.79, library used for that was Carve library. To get rid of this external library that is no more maintained, Blender developers started to develop their own code to support Boolean operations.
But currently, when you experiment crashes and artifacts, correct attitude is to report them on bugtracker.
2.80 is not supposed to be worst than 2.79. At least, crashes are not supposed to end up in 2.80.
From what I experimented with 2.8, when Boolean modifier is not giving a good result, in most of cases, we can obtain it by choosing to use the other operand to handle the modifier.

Simple Deform modifier has a Bend method.
OK. Blender does not have gizmos for modifiers like 3DSmax.
That is more complicated to use an empty. But at least, you can bend geometry non-destructively with a modifier.

Blender have a Bevel modifier. It is one of those who had the most attention recently. It was improved for 2.80.
https://wiki.blender.org/wiki/Reference/Release_Notes/2.80/Modeling#Bevel_Tool_and_Modifier_improvements

Since ever, Blender uses a Texture Space to define Generated coordinates.
So, Texture Space can be modified in 3DView as a gizmo of UVWmap modifier through 2 operators (Object menu > Transform submenu > Move Texture Space, Scale Texture Space) .
To be more precise, there is a Texture Space panel under Mesh Tab.
Choosing between a Flat, Box, Sphere or Tube projection is a setting available into Image texture node.

Blender is a real alternative for people ready to organize themselves to bypass the fear of destructive workflow. But the way, it is presenting its tools is not always ideal.
It will take, again, several years of 2.8 development for its limited team of core developers and large community of volunteers to polish everything.
But actually, Blender is usable and used by artists and architects for architecture.
When something is obviously missing in a default Blender release ; most of times, it means that is handled by an add-on.
Or people are doing a part of their work in another CAD software like FreeCAD.

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thank you very much for your very clear explanations.
I now understand much better the stakes and the vision of the developers of Blender. Indeed as part of a nodal workflow I understand better the desire to eliminate the modifiers.
in any case thank you for tips on uv mapping and curves. I will try quickly.
Regarding the problem of scale related to the dimensions of a mesh in object mode, would it not be simpler than the CTRL-A automatically applies (because I find the consequences very painful when I forget about the make ) ?

Thank you very much for your lights!
DL

During most part of its history, Blender did not have units. There was only an arbitrary unit.
And user had to use marks like 3DCursor in 3D View.
The Grid is also really useful to have an idea of dimensions.
I took the habit to enter Edit mode, each time, I need to scale an object.
In Edit Mode, under Overlays popover, there is an overlay to display Edge Length.
2.8 have a new Multi-Editing feature that can help to scale several meshes at same time under edit mode.

I rarely scale in object mode. When I am forced to do it, I always apply with Ctrl A.
The only exception is when I animate the object. But that is rare, too. Because I often parent objects to bones for need of an animation.
But I agree Scale or Scale cage should have an option to modify dimensions without modifying scale of object.

In fact, modifiers (2.4x) were integrated before unit system (2.5x).
I recently suggested to maintain a coherent behavior between modifiers and unit system in a discussion about bevel modifier.
That is logical that a modifier expressing a value as a factor stays relative to object scale.
But if effect of modifier is based on a value expressed as a dimension using a metric or imperial unit ; this effect should not be relative to object scale.
And it looks like William Reynish agreed.

That is something developers are aware. I don’t know if it will be fixed for 2.80.
Next week, there will be a reunion of developers in Blender Institute at Amsterdam to discuss and triage tasks in order to define a final shape for 2.80 release.

So, maybe, it will be in for 2.80. Maybe it will happen in 2.81, etc…
Maybe it will wait 2.9x. That is an uncertain question.
2.8 is still a beta. The whole series will continue to modify Blender in Depth.

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You may want to check Sverchok, a Blender addon specifically developed for enhancing architectural workflow

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There is also Archipack PRO ( € 49 + vat)

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Thank you all for your enlightening answers.
As I wrote above, in addition to my job as an architectural illustrator, I am also a professor of 3D in architecture school in France where I teach Blender (because I refuse to train customers for autodesk as part of a national high school and to make students aware that there are still high quality alternatives to the behemoths of the industries that dominate the market!). This speech is not always well received but over time students become aware of the issues and the need to have this alternative to the only financial policies of major software companies.

Also thank you for your comments on the addons that can help in architecture, I have to test Sverchok but it looks like a “gas plant”! not really easy to tackle for beginners in 3D.
When archipack, I find the approach interresting but I feel to find myself block in a catalog of windows and doors that I find difficult to customize (a bit like BIM software that is in fact a catalog 3D official manufacturers and as long as we stay in a standard architecture works well but quickly shows their limit as we seek to think outside the box!

zeauro, compared to point 3 that I notice put forward in relation to curves and sweep, despite your advice I can not easily reach the result I get at once with the sweep edit of 3dsmax that allows me to steer, to shift, to force the same thickness of a profile (customized or not). I only meet this problem on the curves in 3 dimensions. I join you 2 screenshots so that you can understand my problem and to know if there is a simple solution!

still sorry for this long tirade!
thank you in advance

DL

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You may want to have a look at this addon: Polysweeper

I’ve been using 3ds Max for a good decade and switched to Blender last year. Max’ modifier stack might (still) be more powerful and it takes some time to learn the Blender way of doing things, but once I got my head around it I was actually able to do most things faster and better than in Max. Also, and this is just as important, working with Blender is so much more fun. Addons are very affordable if not free and take care of most things that are missing.

I totaly agree… Indeed the “open source way”, (having nothing aganist closed source) , Is not only technological progess but also “human progress”… That said, not having a corporate besides the creation of our designing tool, we need to “design” them ourselves togheter as community… The work made by blender developer behind 2.8 release Is incredibile, to get some interesting design/architectural workflow I’m waiting mostly for the everythings node system… I hope It will be released within this year.
Anyway I work in scenography/design area and I’m interested into scripting some blender tool in this direction, if you are interested let me know, Any idea or hints is welcome!
I wonder if it would be possible to get open cascade inside Blender… I think there was some experiment about…

If this is true, then you are failing your students. Sending people out into the world without any industry standards training is a betrayal of the trust that students put in teachers to provide them with real world knowledge. Allowing biases to taint curriculum is the hallmark of a poor teacher.

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Please go and tell this to all the teachers who refuse to teach blender because they have been bribed. Btw. Blender IS an industry standard too - at least where I live.

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I think that the last couple of comments posted here are both very rude, and unnecessarily harsh. “Let’s keep it very civil here, please.” Apologies are in order, I think.

Anyhow – part of education is, indeed, “how to use the tools that one might encounter in the trade,” but my experience has always been that people are already very good at picking-up new tools once they clearly understand the concepts of what to do with them. One of the best ways to achieve that is to show them several different tools. Blender is so powerful now – and it still costs nothing – that it is an extremely logical tool to include when teaching ArchViz and other topics of that sort.

Someone who wanted to go to school “to learn how to make Hollywood movies” would obviously have to spend a lot of time learning – specifically – Maya®. But I think they should learn with Blender first. They should be shown more than one way that the same problems are today being approached and solved. (Furthermore, we should be mindful that a great many professional production houses have opened in which Blender is their standard.)

Instead of “open source,” and especially instead of "free and open source," I like to use the term: cooperatively developed software. Because that’s what people – and companies – are really doing here: they are cooperating, to produce for themselves something bigger and better than any of them could produce on their own, and looking to other sources of revenue to pay developers to do their part of the work. They’re able to justify it because by settled law(!) none of them can put up fences and ticket-booths.

Given that computer software is hideously expensive(!) to produce, this business-model has worked remarkably well when nothing else really did. It’s here to stay, and it needs to be part of our education process also.

I would probably convert curve to mesh to fix four problematic corners.
There is a strong probability that this element will be snapped to other piece of geometry.
You can try to use shrinkwrap modifiers to try to preserve a non-destructive workflow.

I did not say that point could be as easy as in 3dsmax.
Just that Blender has enough tools to obtain wanted result.

There was a google summer of code in 2016 to improve curves. Unfortunately, it did not end up in 2.8.

I need to say.
I am ex-3dsmax user.
For many things you are right. But. Going ahead in customization for convenience, for my architectural purposes i have to make my own approach. Sverchok covers most of my needs. And also NURBS absence covered with vector interpolation nodes cluster.
I can make non-destructive things (if i need them) with splines and using sverchok modify to mesh and also texturize.
My modelling speed in blender at first steps boost much.
Hope you’ll enjoy blender as I do.

Mostly that thoughts appears in front f migration from windows to linux also. As i see from my experience, it solvable.

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My university didnt teach any specific program at all. The computer pools had all kinds of programs installed but there was no requirement to use a specific app. Instead the university did what good unis do ( imo ) and taught students how to learn things and gave them possibilities and opportunities to do so.

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I do not want to go into this sterile controversy for lack of real knowledge of the subject from this person (m9105826). Nevertheless know that obviously students learn the official software (rhino, archicad, revit, autocad …) but on the other hand I remain certain that it is absolutely necessary to show them that a real alternative exists (which is largely sufficient for a small business: Blender, scribus, krita, inkscape are perfectly usable in an effective professional setting). In my school, studies are long (3,5 or 7 years) so students come out quite competent!

Do you have any threads discussing this? This sounds incredible, im very curious when they estimate this to be implemented.

Yes, this also sounds weird to me. All though I think I have heard some developers with that personal opinion (but then again, maybe I have misunderstood things).

But the ‘Drag n Drop Modifier Stack’ proposal is the most upvoted request on rightclickselect. I think this gives a indication on how popular the modifier stack is in the Blender userbase.

So it is more about how to combine a modifier stack with a modifier nodetree in some future version of Blender. 3dsmax - the first 3d program with a modifier stack - have something called ‘Max Creation Graph’ to supplement their modifier stack. Max also have a material editor setup were you can choose between a node based workflow and a more compact material editor (a variation of this could be relevant for Blender 101 - to give an example).

Note: I have never used ‘Max Creation Graph’ in 3dsmax myself. And I know it is not - strictly speaking - a node based modifier system. Just included this example to show implementations were node-based are combined with other workflows.

I think this is first mention of a “everything nodes” project

The way taken by their thoughts was quite logical.
Cycles pops up with a use of nodes to create shader.
At same moment, people were complaining about particles systems interface, asking for something more like Ice from Softimage.
So, first target was Particle Nodes but quickly, idea diverged to modifiers nodes.
So, custom nodes API was created to allow creation of addons like Sverchok and animation nodes.
And now, animation nodes developer is involved in “everything nodes” project.

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