Blender 2.77 ships
Originally posted on 22 February 2016. Scroll down for details of the final release.
The Blender Foundation has released test build 2 of Blender 2.77, showcasing some of the new features in the open-source 3D tool, including support for OpenVDB and improvements to sculpting and Boolean modelling.
Long-awaited support for the OpenVDB volumetric format
Although the online documentation for Blender 2.77 is still a work in progress, it does list some of the key features of the new release, including support for the OpenVDB volumetric format.
In 2014, DreamWorks R&D manager Ken Museth told BlenderDiplom that Blender was one of the two main third-party tools the company would like to see OpenVDB support in – the other one being Maya.
You can read developer Kevin Dietrich’s notes on the OpenVDB implementation on the Blender wiki.
Improved Boolean modelling and freeform sculpting
Other new features in Blender 2.77 include improvements to the modelling and sculpting toolsets.
The former includes symmetry awareness in the Decimate modifier, and the option to use the Boolean modifier in Edit mode as well as Object mode, including the option to cut Boolean shapes into n-gons.
The latter includes improvements to the Snake Hook brush, used for pulling out long tendrils from a sculpt, which gets new rake and pinch/inflate options.
In addition Blender’s physically based Cycles renderer gets a range of improvements, including customisable motion blur position and support for rolling camera shutters; and custom baking passes.
Performance when rendering subsurface scattering and smoke/fire effects on the GPU is also improved.
Updated 21 March 2016: Blender 2.77 has now been officially released for Windows, Linux and Mac OS X.
As well as the features listed above, there are a number of changes to the UI, including a new design for progress bars that shows the estimated time remaining for a task, updated on the fly.