Friday, March 21st, 2014 Posted by Jim Thacker

Blender 2.70 ships

An early developer demo of the new volumetric rendering capability in Blender’s Cycles engine. The new functionality has been incorporated into Blender 2.70, which has just been officially released.

The Blender Foundation has released Blender 2.70, the first of the next major cycle of releases of the open-source 3D package, following two recent Release Candidate builds.

The update adds support for volumetrics in the GPU-accelerated Cycles render engine, a new Laplacian Deform modifier for posing meshes, and the first of the long-awaited changes to the user interface.

Volumetrics and other rendering improvements
The single biggest new feature is arguably volumetrics. The system, which is described as a work in progress, adds three shading nodes for rendering volumes, controlling absorption, scatter and emission.

CPU rendering performance has been improved on hair and on noise textures; and Open Shading Language has been upgraded to version 1.4, for an estimated 10-30% performance improvement.

Modelling, motion tracking and game engine updates
In the modelling toolset, the new Laplacian Deform modifier works a bit like ZBrush’s Transpose tool, enabling users to deform a mesh while retaining geometric surface details: useful for reposing characters, for exmaple.

There is also a new Wireframe modifier for creating wireframe displays of meshes; and improvements to the N-gon tessellation system and the Bevel and Knife tools.

The motion tracker introduced in Blender 2.62 has been updated further, adding the option to weight markers to alleviate problems with marker occlusion.

And the game engine, which hasn’t seen much change in recent releases, now gets support for PSD files and a new discrete level of detail system with viewport preview.

Better performance on complex scenes
Under the hood, Blender 2.70 includes what the Foundation describes as “one of the most substantial improvements in Blender at this point”: the ongoing reimplentation of the Threaded Dependency Graph.

Object modifiers and constraints can now be computed with multiple threads, taking advantage of modern multi-core processors to improve performance in scenes with many objects, or objects with many modifiers.

First of the new UI updates
Blender 2.70 also features the first of the much-debated updates to the software’s user interface.

The most obvious change is vertical tabs in many of the toolbars, but there are a number of other UI changes, including updates to that way menus can be collapsed and list items renamed.

Blender 2.70 is available now for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.

Read a full list of new features in Blender 2.70

Watch videos of the new features (Includes some not mentioned on the link above)

Download Blender 2.70