Thoughts on Modeling Tools & UI/Interaction - Looking for feedback and programmers.

Hey guys,

Non-Blenderhead here, I’ve been following its development with a keen eye from afar for a long time now (as evidenced by my copy of ‘The Official Blender 2.0 Guide’ on my shelf).
Most of my time is spent working on videogames and other applications of realtime 3d (here’s my temp portfolio: http://www.flickr.com/photos/michaelknubben), and I’m more and more annoyed at the development process of the big developers behind the programs I use.

Currently I use a combination of Voidworld and 3DS Max, but I’m looking to replace at the very least the latter. I’ve noticed there are a few other ex-Wings and Silo users on this forum too, always good to see :slight_smile:

I’ve been checking out Blender with every new release and compiling my thoughts into a document. As time went on and I caught wind of Bmesh (so long ago!), I decided I should keep fleshing out my document and work on making it clear enough for others to understand, in hopes of influencing the development of the modeling tools in particular. Over time this evolved into thinking long and hard about UI and interaction issues as well ;After all, what’s a tool without a comfortable handle?
I made sure to study Blender very closely so I don’t make requests or suggestions that are already implemented, or worse: go against Blender’s very nature. (amusingly, I’ve found myself telling friends who use Blender about features they didn’t know)

Here’s the link:
https://docs.google.com/document/d/1aFxDruEX0zZnWHH5YjEFwJe4g1XqR4YByt_8_HRonTI/edit?pli=1
It even has pictures! Some of them move! It’s a veritable wonder of multi-media, a must-see.
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/17715/bl_bevel_add.gifhttps://dl.dropbox.com/u/17715/bl_highlight_multi.gifhttps://dl.dropbox.com/u/17715/bl_mousebuttons.gif
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/17715/BL_bridge.png
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/17715/BL_connect.png
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/17715/BL_Fill.png
https://dl.dropbox.com/u/17715/BL_inset_outset.png

As you can tell from the comments in the file, I’ve already sent it around to a few Blenderhead friends, including your very own Metalliandy, and I very much welcome any additional feedback.

Finally, if any interested developers want to talk about this further, feel free to pm me your IM/email and we’ll take it from there. I’m in the same city as the Blender foundation, so if there’s any way to share my ideas there, that would be wonderful!

Ah, I saw this over at Polycount a week or two ago. :slight_smile: Pretty good list.

Great to see this big document describing our thoughts on blender. Will take a look at these.

ot: where can we donate for / support blender directly? Could some more donations speed up the development of blender and new features? Planning on recommend many friends and people blender for multiple purposes (3d, 2d, movie, graphics design …)

Also did in the past animations in blender and exported it to a movie or images which where then exported to a flash ad =)

so avoided the usage of flash 11 (or 10?) where 3d is only supported - bringing 3d to browsers without a new flash version which supports 3d or their graphics card doesnt support ord doesnt have enough power …

your works on flickr are great =)

Unfortunately b-mesh is still not a replacement for wings3d. I do wish it was but it has too many problems still, for instance making holes in the mesh when all I wanted to do was create a face or remove an edge. It takes twice as much time to model because I have to go over blender’s mess. I’m not complaining much though it’s still a huge improvement and if you don’t model the way I do I’m sure it is much better.

Also, great document!

Bmesh a replacement for wings3d? Isnt blender the replacement for wings3d?
Also there are some other ways to achieve this in blender.

Thanks for looking at this, guys!

Xrg: do you go by the same nickname there? It’s been wonderful to see that I’m not the only one who’s looking at Blender. While many of them --understandably-- initially just want to emulate their previous workflow, you can tell they’re also interested in Blender’s unique points.
X3D: what is possible in other ways? Your posts are really hard to read.
Thedaemon: early days yet, I think. There are still bugs, but the real opportunity here is for a big influx in new, modern tools. Which is also why I took such great care to research the way things currently work in Blender. You can’t change something unless you know it, unless you foolishly just want to suggest ‘make it like this other program’.

You’ve compiled an excellent list. You must have given this a lot of thought, and I agree with most of your suggestions (although some things appear already implemented, like using the active element as pivot, unless I misunderstood). Since this is a user forum, perhaps send this to the bf-committers mailing list? Also, the BF is now very busy with project Mango, so they’re unlikely to do anything with this for at least a few months. It might be a good idea to hold your horses and wait until things quiet down after production is complete.

I meant that bmesh is in a very early stage and that you can achieve everything also with the standard blender tools.

All I can say to that is ‘There are people who copy the Mona Lisa in MS Paint’. They can continue to do so, but I’ll continue to look for the tools and options that make doing this faster and more pleasant.

Madminstrel: That’s a good idea, actually! I’ll see about posting it there. I already sent it to a few developers, but I do understand they’re busy.
Anything you come across that you think is already implemented, could you quote it here and explain how it’s implemented? I thought I caught every superfluous request, but perhaps some slipped through.

Dissolve is great. It’s one of the things I missed enormously in pre-Bmesh Blender builds, as changing topology was always a very destructive process!
I do find that the delete menu is terribly crowded, and not all options are immediately clear to a beginner.

Awesome work, Pea!
I would love to see the vast majority of this stuff in Blender. Fingers crossed that now that BMesh is in, Blender will start making some headway in the mesh tools area :slight_smile:

It professionalism be awesome to see these things in blender! I can see your used to other programs, cause quite a few of these ideas are the “professional” norm. i really hope that someone important takes a look at this stuff!

I do want to clarify that, while I’ve used a lot of other programs, I don’t just want to turn Blender into those other programs. The standard thing is moving things with manipulators, whereas I find Blender’s way much more powerful (It’s roughly how I’ve got Voidworld set up. I could share my setup if anyone here uses Voidworld?). It’s certainly faster.

What I do want is to enable greater customisation of how Blender works, allowing people with diverse workflows to tweak it to their liking.

Ah we should keep in mind “good artists copy, great artists steal”.

I really don’t understand where that sentiment comes that everything should be unique or how other programs do certain things, that it is a bad way.

I understand why you put that disclaimer, but in all honesty people should grow up in that regards. If program X does something right (or wrong - we can also learn from mistakes) then there is nothing wrong with keeping that in mind when improving our own tools.

Mighty Pea, I did not understand your document.
It is blending thoughts on Blender’s strength and ideas about tools improvements.

So, it is not clear to me what are your proposals.
There are items in your proposal that are already in blender since years and easy to find in Mesh menu. (mirror, push/pull, shrink/fatten,etc…)
There are some items that are in add-ons like Space, Curve, Bridge in Crouch’s looptools.
There are some items added in recent release and will be improved in GSOC like Inset. There is a GSOC about Fill.
Some items have names different to equivalent in blender “Quadrify” for “Tris to Quads”.
“Calculate Symmetry” looks like “Topology Mirror”

Do you really think that all enumerated things in your document don’t exist in blender ?
If it is not the case, can you clean your document to only show what you would like to add to blender ?
It would be easier for us to tell you if it exists with an other name, in an add-on, in a GSOC.
There are good ideas.
Pattern Selection seems to be more powerfull than Vertex Group creation because it can be used for edges or faces.
I think that when freestyle would be merged, it could be interesting to have Edge Groups in blender.

Blender should not become a ‘poor man’s 3dsmax’ or similar

I agree with that, a lot of people think it is.

I agree. Blender should strive to be a lot better than 3ds Max. :wink:

Good luck getting Ton to buy into pre-selection highlighting, like Wings & Silo.
IIRC, he’s opposed for some reason.
PSH is one of the things that keeps Wings my “go to” for base mesh modeling.
I would like to start and finish in Blender, but when superior modeling tools exist elsewhere, elsewhere is where I’ll be.

While Blender’s ability to “string” hotkeys for basic PRS ops makes for a terrifically fast workflow, it’s lack of many of the tools shown above, as well as limited selection tools, and some other viewport manipulation wonkiness keep me shaking my head and running for Wings when modeling. (When I set the option to “rotate around selected”… I expect it to be the centroid of the entire selection… not the centroid of the last selected (“active”) element! … PIA for large selections &/or selections far removed in space from one another).

Also at issue is the geometry that is left selected AFTER an op… Wings is awesome is this aspect. Blender???.. inconsistency is the only consistency.

I don’t want to come of as overly negative, I have high hopes for Blender modelling since the addition of BMesh. Blender is still my “go to” for many modeling tasks… primarily those that are best achieved with curves or involve text.

I was starting to wonder if you were ever going to post this. Fingers crossed that you get some developer attention. Campbell, though currently occupied with Mango, actually wanted the bmesh users to write the tools proposal in a wiki,http://wiki.blender.org/index.php/Dev:2.6/Source/Modeling/BMesh/Suggestions, Proposal for tools at the time where flooding in and this was a way of keeping track. Him or Howardt are the people who’s attention you want to catch though the are currently pretty occupied Campbell with Mango, Howardt with supervising the modeling GSOC.

But I think an edited version of your proposal could be helpful to both of them.

…Zeauro has a point you could edit the document and just leave the stuff that Blender doesn’t have in.

Glad you made a new thread for this, it didn’t get nearly enough exposure being stuck in the middle of the UI GSoC thread.