UPDATE Modelling Addons: Fluent, MeshMachine, HardOps/BocCutter or simply Blender 3D?

Hallo everybody,
after a year in Blender I’m still getting confused about using addons or simply Blender for modelling.

I have a BIG PROBLEM and I think it is very common to all those who model in Blender. I’ll explain:

1- I don’t understand the real differences between the three most popular types of addons (essentially Fluent, MeshMashine and the HardOps / BoxCutter couple).
In short, what are the REAL differences since all the “youtubers / endorsers” say more or less the same things …?
The big problem is you can’t learn a lot of addons (which also change continuously) and at the same time try to keep up with a thousand other Blender updates …, so I would like to make a final choice, learn only one addon and continue with that. For example, I like to do a Hard Surface modeling with a CORRECT TOPOLOGY, possibly with a correct Edge Flow, without Mainfold, Ngons, etc. some decent UV maps to then work on them in external software such as Substance painter.

Alongside this need, however, I notice that more and more modellers complain that they have wasted a lot of time for nothing to model objects in an impeccable way that could actually be modelled in much less detail because there are many areas in which the LOD (Level of Detail) is low, the meshes do not move and therefore not all this care is needed in the modelling, and you can instead use Booleans and various inserts without taking care of the topology and UV maps since the shading would not suffer precisely a low level of LOD .
This confuses the question a lot, and therefore I ask which in your opinion are the best modeling addons for a correct workflow (no Ngons, no Mainfold, great Topology and UV map …) …,
and which ones for low Lod speed modeling, where we don’t care about creating Ngons, horrendous topologies and unmanageable UV maps.

To these doubts about what kind of addons to use is added the fact that Blender in this year, from version 2.8x to 2.9x has added a lot of tools and improvements in modelling, and therefore it is no longer possible to understand whether to continue using addons (after understanding which are the best for your workflow …!), or if it is no longer convenient to rely on addons because Blender has now integrated everything (or almost) what was missing in its tools.

In short, it would be really nice if someone who does modelling professionally and intensively could give us their opinion on the state of things right now.
I’m going crazy with it …

Thanks in advantage for replays!

Blender is a good destructive modeler without unofficial addons.
You can create any shape without unofficial addons.

Interest of addons is to increase your productivity by simplifying default UI, creating macros reducing repetitive tasks, improving your UX.
Many people want a non-destructive workflow and an asset management, that are currently missing in Blender.
So, addons, that you are mentioning, are kitbashing solutions, making use of boolean operations in object mode.
They are, perfectly, responding to the need to manage libraries of small parts reusable on complex meshes. And because they are based on boolean operations : they are creating Ngons when modifiers are applied.
Those addons will probably evolve with improvements of asset manager and geometry nodes.
Geometry Nodes are also implying use of boolean operations and creation of Ngons.

But Ngons are supposed to be well handled. Existence of Ngons should not mess-up UVmaps in Blender. In most of other software, that should not be a problem either.
Blender is supporting Ngons since 2.63. And at that time, Blender was seen like one of the last software to do it.

So, nobody is building addons with the idea to avoid Ngons.

Basically, if you want to avoid Ngons : avoid recent tools that are creating Ngons.
If you use knife tool, connect tool, rip and extend, dissolve tools ; you may create Ngons.
If you make an intensive use of LoopCut tool, you will end-up easierly with a mesh with a correct edge flow.
But anyways, you will have to merge stuff and be careful, at that moment, to avoid stars generating bad edge flows.
What is important, is to take habits to solve the problem immediately by dividing Ngons into quads, by inserting needed quad.

To sum-up :

  • in 2021, creating Ngons should not be a problem for any software. It may be a problem for use of model, user want to make. But it is not a software problem, it is a user problem.
  • solving Ngon existence is currently just a question of experience. As far as I know, there is no automated way to remove Ngons to create clean low poly topology. So, best solution is still to practice edit mode.
  • There is not ONE correct workflow. You can often model lots of things for different uses, in many ways. The correct way to respond to a need differs for each need.

So, don’t use addons if you don’t understand their purpose. Don’t learn the whole galaxy of blender community addons tools. Start by focusing on learning the basics of modeling.
And when you understand the pain that addons are calming : use them to improve your productivity.
That is not because you are using professional tools that you are becoming a good pro.
That is because you know the needs that your tools should fulfill.


Okay zeauro,
I believe however that you have not answered exactly the questions asked even if I really appreciated your comment.
I try to explain: from what you say it seems to me that Blender, despite the continuous developments, still has many missing tools.
From this consideration we understand the usefulness of the aforementioned addons. But at this point my question would be to figure out WHICH addons to prefer. Because I repeat, it is not at all easy to learn all the addons and their continuous updates.
So, in short, leaving out Ngons (which in fact can always be correct) which would be the most complete among the addons indicated? What is really worth learning well (instead of wasting a lot of time learning them all and eventually superficially …)?
I would say that in the end this was my main question …

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Honestly man, if you don’t want to rely on 3rd party plugins just learn Blender. ALL of these plugins add ZERO NEW TOOLS OR FUNCTIONALITY, I cannot overstate this enough. They all just use the existing modifiers and tools already inside of blender. Think of them as fancy hotkeys or macros. Like the original poster said, they simply just give you a better way to manage the assets and ux without getting too messy. But its probably better you learn how to do this manually anyways.

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Hi mze,
Where did I write that I don’t want to use plugins and addons?
I asked instead: since these addons help modeling a lot and have tools that Blender doesn’t have at the moment, I would like to understand what are the differences between them and which ones are recommended to do what …
If for example Meshmachine is the most complete plugin, why should you also learn Hard Ops and Boxcutter, or Fluent?
If, on the other hand, these add-ons, which are the most common, do very different things, then the question changes a lot, and you will be forced to learn them all. But is this the case?

By the way: I already use blender for modelling, and I don’t have big problems, but I’m very curious to understand if I can speed up my workflow which is the thing that these add-ons promise.

Maybe this helps:

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Fair enough. However, you also wrote that you need correct topology which none of these plugins will produce. They are for quick and dirty kit bashing or situations/models where you can afford the tradeoff in modeling speed they provide. Sub-dividing the results of these plugins will produce the same results as manually using booleans *shrug

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Hi Duca,

I hear your pain. There’s so much choice now! I think it’s great but I can see that this can also be confusing. To me it’s a matter of whether you can afford these tools and whether you are willing to spend the time to research and try these tools yourself. The time you spend upfront will end up saving you time in the long run, only if the tool in question works for you. Everyone does things in their own way and some tools will support this better than others. For example, I’ve tried Fluent but just couldn’t get things to work as well for me (for some reason that I can’t quite pin down) so I tend to lean on the built in tools along with HardOps, KitsOps, MeshMashine and others. (Other users rave about Fluent). I’m nowhere near being a pro but I have amassed quite a few addons over the years and enjoy playing with these addons. The best ones I keep around and carry along with me. To me I like having another tool in my tool-belt at my disposal. KitOps for example is so handy for adding details quickly to almost anything from furniture, equipment/devices, spaceships or perhaps even an android concept you want to create.

So, in a nutshell this probably doesn’t help except to say you need to try the ones you think will benefit your way of doing things (or you believe could help improve your workflow). Check the videos, user reviews and related tutorials which generally give you a good idea of how the addon works. Also, have you seen https://blender-addons.org/, peetie buys and reviews a lot of addons. I believe supporting the Blender community is a good thing and it might help you in the long run. The way I see it I don’t blow money on coffee or cigarettes so I’ll buy an addon I think will help or be fun to play with. Not to mention all the great open source ones too. Don’t overlook those. There are tools out there that would be time consuming or almost impossible to do out of the box. Stuff like Sverchok, Tissue, Animation Nodes, Scatter, Leafig, etc… come to mind.

Cheers and happy blending!

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Okay guys, now is everything clearer.
Anyway, reading the mentioned thread about the differences between the most common addons, the MeshMachine creator write:

MESHmachine is mesh modeling, hardops and boxcutter are not.

What does it mean (trying to understand the differences between them…)?

meshmachine is pretty much meant for edit mode where hardops and boxcutter are in object mode (mostly, there are exceptions)