Wednesday, December 14th, 2011 Posted by Jim Thacker

Blender Foundation releases Blender 2.61

Blender 2.61’s new Cycles renderer in action, in a demo created with an earlier build of the engine.

The Blender Foundation has released Blender 2.61, adding a whole new renderer to the open source 3D app.

Although still under development, Blender 2.61’s new Cycles render engine – an interactive GPU-accelerated raytracer – opens up new possibilities for the quality of work that can be rendered natively in the software.

Cycles was developed by Blender legend Brecht van Lommel, who has also worked on Octane Render.

Brecht van Lommel talks about the design and future development of Cycles at this year’s Blender Conference.

Other new features include motion tracking tools for reconstructing camera animation from live footage, an ocean surface modifier and Dynamic Paint: a new modifier and physics system that can “turn objects into paint canvases and brushes, creating vertex colors, image sequences or displacement”.

There are also the usual range of tweaks and bugfixes: over 180 in total, apparently.

First of the new bi-monthly releases
Blender 2.61 incorporates work done as part of this year’s Google Summer Of Code, in which student developers are funded to work on open source projects – something that seems to have had a notable effect on the recent pace of development.

As we reported in October, the Blender team are aiming for a regular two-month schedule with the 2.6x releases – a considerable increase in frequency over previous development cycles.

Today’s announcement means the team has hit its first milestone with a week to spare.

Read a full list of new features in Blender 2.61

Download Blender 2.61