Blender 2.63′s new features in action, in an overview video recorded by CG Cookie.
The Blender Foundation has released another significant update to Blender, adding support for n-gons, a third major update to the Cycles renderer, and improvements to sculpting workflow.
Blender 2.63′s new BMesh system supports n-sided polygons as well as triangles and quads, adding a new Dissolve tool to remove vertices, edges and faces without creating holes, and a new Inset tool to inset faces.
The Knife tool now takes advantage of n-gons to generate clearer cuts, and tools such as Subdivide and Loop Cut should also now generate cleaner topology.
Cycles, sculpting and minor updates
The GPU-accelerated Cycles renderer added in Blender 2.61 gets another significant update, adding support for ambient occlusion, render layer mask layers and floating-point-precision textures, among other things.
In addition, sculpting workflow has been overhauled with the option for users to hide parts of the model they are working on, and a revamped Clay Strips brush – both illustrated in the CG Cookie video above.
The video also shows many of the smaller additions in the update, including a Movie Clip option for the Sequencer, a compositing node to output multiple files or multilayer EXR files, and new tools for linking and detaching nodes.
The timing of the update also means that the Blender Foundation is continuing to stick to its self-imposed bi-monthly release schedule for updates in the 2.6x series: an impressive pace of development.