Me learn from Blender, that’s un-possible (joke from The Simpsons)
I’ve been working with 3d for a happy while… If none of you had the pleasure of using other software (especially in the late 90’s through about 2003 or so) you’ve missed some pretty hard knocks learning.
I was primarily trained on Max 4. The experience for me, using a 1.23 GHz celeron with 512MB RAM and a 16MB Graphics Card, was pretty gruelling. Why do I mention it? Using 3ds Max back then was hard and characterized by frequent crashes. To compound things, 3d was still relatively a mystical art. There was little documentation, I had a dial-up connection, video hosting was pretty rare, and programs like Fraps and the other capture software hadn’t fully evolved. I was studying at a school, but the teacher was almost as much of a student as us… with little in the way of answers for questions about normals, UVs, hardware issues, etc.
If that wasn’t bad enough, when he did teach, he would trickle the info in such a non-productive way that we would spend an entire 5 hour period just doing some impractical lab along with him for the sake of explaining what the bend modifier was.
Hold the phone… this is supposed to be what I learned about Blender right? So what does all of this have to do with that? For starters… back then and still today, the programs on the market still insist on doing things like my instructor… cryptic and pointless. Case in point. In 3dsMax, there are no separate modes… you’re either in the equivelant of object mode, or you’re in the equivelant of edit mode. EVERYTHING can be done with little division. While the command panel offers organization… the use of any of it’s features automatically takes you to one mode or the other.
If you hit the render button and something doesn’t work out, you’ll have a hard time figuring out why… and if you change the lights or the rendering engine… entire features are suddenly shut off.
Blender seems to have a good integration of the user experience and the final product. Furthermore, the transparency of the mechanics of the program give you an understanding of how everything works so that mistakes like those in Max don’t manifest in Blender.
As a fact, I know this is universal to other applications (Bryce, Maya, Lightwave, etc, etc). What’s more… you actually have control over every aspect of your project! This means that you can access the datablock and manipulate your scene that way or if you want to do video compositing you can do it from the main interface rather than burying yourself under several windows. If you want to edit materials… etc.
The way you manipulate your project lends an even deeper understanding of how 3d actually works under the hood. I’ve learned about Poles and Hardness maps, and SSS in ways that any other program would have made far harder than is necessary.
This thread is a Thank You to Blender. It (and this community) has taught me a great deal about the craft that other applications that I still use could never dream of.