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Sneak peek: Blender 2.8

Monday, October 9th, 2017 | Posted by Jim Thacker

 
An image created in Blender 2.8 by Goodbye Kansas Studios’ Daniel Bystedt. Watch a real-time demo

 
Originally posted on 6 September 2017. Scroll down for updates.

The Blender Foundation has created a new dedicated web page for Blender 2.8, the next major release of the open-source 3D modelling, animation and compositing software.

As well as collecting information about the key features of Blender 2.8, including new real-time render engine Eevee, the web page includes links to download early preview builds for the release.

Overhauling Blender’s core architecture to improve workflow
First announced in 2015, and originally proposed for release the following year, Blender 2.8 is described as ‘The Workflow Project’, addressing the need for major structural changes in Blender’s core architecture.

At the heart of these is the overhaul of the dependency graph, which powers modifiers and constraints.

You can read a technical explanation of the changes here, but the upshot is that animation rigs should evaluate much faster, improving the performance of complex production scenes.

The update also introduces new internal asset management features, discussed here. (The changes to the pose library mentioned in the article are in Blender 2.79, currently available as a Release Candidate.)

Other workflow changes include the option to create custom workspaces for different tasks – for example, modelling and animation – and improved handling of layers, removing the old limit of 20 layers per scene.

 

Fake subsurface scattering in Eevee, Blender 2.8’s real-time renderer. Get Emiliano Colantoni’s scene file

 
Updates to the viewport and real-time rendering
However, probably the most visible – and the most eagerly anticipated – change in Blender 2.8 is the updated, OpenGL 3.3-based viewport, and Eevee, its new real-time render engine.

We discussed Eevee when it was first announced, so check our original story for details of the features.

If you want to what Eevee is capable of, BlenderNation has started a regular ‘Eevee Porn‘ section, rounding up the best user demos, including the fake subsurface scattering setup above.

New features for the Grease Pencil 2D animation system
The release also further rounds out Blender’s Grease Pencil toolset into a complete 2D animation system, turning Grease Pencil assets from simple strokes to Blender objects in their own right.

Again, we wrote about the changes when they were announced, so check out our original story for details.

 

 
Updated 9 October 2017: The Blender Foundation has just posted a detailed design document for Blender 2.8 on the Blender developers blog.

As well as discussing the implications of changes to the core architecture in more detail, the document clarifies how the UI will change in Blender 2.8, and which changes will be left until Blender 3.0.

You can see a rough mockup of the 2.8 interface layout above.

There is also a separate post discussing Blender 2.8’s new View Layers and Collections system: another under-the-hood change with some important implications for workflow, which the post explains clearly.

Availability and system requirements
Test builds of Blender 2.80 are now available for download for 32- and 64-bit Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

They’re described as unstable and are definitely not for use in production – the Blender 2.8 preview page comes with the warning that they can harm your data – but should give you a feel for the new features.

The release date for the stable build is still not fixed, but it’s currently expected some time in 2018.

 
Read more about the new features in Blender 2.8 on The Blender Foundation’s preview page
(Includes download links for user-created test scenes)

Download preview builds of Blender 2.8

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