Paying Free for 3-D software

Around 2009 I stumbled upon Blender when I did a google search for “free 3-D program.” To my surprise a free option did exist. I was weary at first of there being a catch but there wasn’t.  I came across an online community that raved about Blender so I took the plunge.

I downloaded the program and I was overwhelmed initially by the clutter of buttons. As someone who never dealt with the many sections and tabs in one window I was discouraged that I would ever learn to use Blender.

Baffling Blender intro page

I struggled with navigating and moving objects that I eventually just began shutting the program altogether. I was ready to call this a “nerdy prank” of a program and delete it from my laptop but the fact that this  program was free kept my interest on learning how to use it.

To give a brief summary of this Blender software (and please excuse how inaccurate I will be), it was started by group of people who felt that such software should be available to the entire public without charge. By doing so, Blender fosters other great minds to look into the code and contribute themselves in building up the software. By not limiting access to the building blocks of the software more people can work on improving it.

What a novel idea this “open-software” approach. Obviously, no one can own the rights to it (I believe, don’t quote me on this) but everyone can use it freely however they chose. There is quite a substantial community out there of Blender folk and I highly commend them for being so open with this great product.

Blender has a very useful manual with pictures to guide new learners on all the intricacies that this powerful tool has to offer. Their website also contains useful video tutorials that many others in the Blender community have contributed to. I brushed up on these as well as looked through Youtube tutorials to gain a better comprehension of how Blender operates.

I spent weeks going through many video tutorials to learn how to navigate the many tabs and controls. I procrastinated the majority of this period so it may actually take less time for any other newcomer to comprehend the navigation set up.

I followed and clicked along the video tutorials to get the hang of Blender. I am not, by no means, the most proficient Blender user but I managed to be very comfortable using it. Blender is actually very easy to understand. At first it may seem to be a lot going on screen, however, you will soon realize that most of the options in the screen are optional and you can clear away most of this fluff.

The convenience of Blender is that you can customize the screen to your liking. It’s like having a work desk with an infinite number of drawers at arms length. You can have a drawer remain open to quickly access your “pens” and another drawer open to access your “paper clips.” Or you may choose to have all drawers shut and have them open on a need-to-use basis.

And that’s how I came to understand the outlook of Blender and became comfortable with all the initial clutter. I customized the mouse and keyboard buttons to fit my clicking preference as well as closed a lot of the unnecessary tabs. This increased my overall comfort with Blender and got me on my way to making my characters come true. See for yourself.

My customized Blender screen

For those interested, the Blender website is www.blender.org.

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