Guest author and Blender expert Gottfried Hofmann dishes on Blender 2.72, the latest version of the popular and increasingly powerful open source 3D modeling and animation suite, which brings an overhaul of the paint system.
The Blender Foundation has released version 2.72 of the popular open source 3D suite Blender. The release is featuring major updates to the paint system.
Painting with layers and blending modes is now possible, both in the image editor or directly onto 3D models. When the painting mode is first entered from 3D view, a material for painting is set up if no suitable material is found. The soften tools now have a selection of algorithms to chose from and sharpen and a fill tools have been added. Both the fill tool and strokes have support for gradients and strokes can work additive now, giving a stroke twice the opacity when it crosses over itself. Strokes can now also be drawn straight and as bezier curves. A pallet assists in remembering colors used during a painting session.
Blender now offers an alternative draw style for menus as pies. The entries are presented in a circle around the mouse cursor position and can be selected by either a mouse gesture or by clicking on them. This is a especially helpful for users of tablet devices for input.
God rays for the compositor
The viewer border in the compositor does not clear the canvas anymore, making the feature useful for comparison of node setup changes. The new "sun beams"-node allows the simulation of crepuscular rays or god-rays as a postprocessing step.
Freestyle for Cycles
The line drawing engine "Freestyle" now also works with Cycles. Lines can be styled with all the textures and nodes that are available in Cycles, sans the shader nodes. If lines should simply be colored, a base color can be set for line styles that are independent of render engines.
Volumes and SSS on GPU
Basic volumetrics and Subsurface Scattering (SSS) can now be rendered on the GPU, but with the following limitations: Smoke and fire rendering are only supported on CPU and SSS is only available in the experimental feature set, as it required a lot of memory. A card with a least two gigabytes of video ram is recommended.
Cycles got a lot of optimizations and uses version 1.5 of the Open Shading Language (OSL) as an alternative backend now. Caustics can now be disabled based on type (reflective or refractive) and anamorphic bokeh can be simulated via the new setting "Aperture Ratio" of the camera.
Additionally, shader developers have access to two new nodes to separate and combine the values of vectors.
The new addon "Layer Manager" gives names to render layers and allows adding several layers to a layer group. "UV Align" helps with distribution of UV islands while "Copy and Paste UVs" allows exactly what the name implies – copying and pasting of UVs from one part of a mesh to another.
The video sequence editor got "Gaussian Blur" as a new effect strip and in the movie clip editor there are presets now for the Pocket Cinema and Production 4K Cameras by Blackmagic Design. When rendering, a cache file can optionally be created which will allow returning to a render even after closing and opening Blender again.
This article only gives an overview of the larger new features. In addition, a myriad of small features and improvements has been added and hundreds of bugs have been fixed that existed in previous versions. Blender 2.72 is available for Windows, Mac and Linux in both 32 and 64 bit from http://www.blender.org/.
Check out a video from Youtube channel CGMasters on Blender 2.72's multi-layered painting update on Page Two!