Create 3D models, animations, and more using Blender, Maya, VariCAD, and other tools.
Use Blender to create and animate 3D and 2D environments.
Blender an open-source 3D creation suite. It supports the entire 3D pipeline, including modeling, rigging, animation, simulation, rendering, compositing and motion tracking. Other uses include video editing, game creation, and 2D cell animation. Blender is a superb choice individuals and small studios because of its unified pipeline and responsive development process. Examples from many Blender-based projects are available in the showcase found on their website. See the CAD section, below, for recommendations on how to best import models into Blender.
When you want to run the latest version with GPU Optix acceleration, the best solution is to download the bundle directly from Blender. If you want the best support, consider a LTS release. Notice, this is a different version than curated apps, which installs 3.0.1. According to some, you might need to add your user to the video group to use GPU acceleration by typing this into a terminal:
sudo adduser <username> video. Then sign-out and back in and run Blender again.
OptiX is usually by far the best rendering solution. It usually runs the Cycles engine about 40% faster than the second best choice, CUDA. The download from Blender supports OptiX, whereas the Blender found in the repository AND those found in this PPA do not. At the time of writing, the Focus team uses 3.4.1, and the OptiX renderer reduces frame renders to 1/33 compared to CPU! For comparison, a frame that takes 105 seconds with an i9-9900K CPU takes 16 s with CUDA and 9 s with OptiX.
Maya is a professional commercial package similar to Blender. It has some very advanced features, but it can be expensive. If you are new to 3D animation, we recommend starting with Blender and considering Maya later. A good place to start is the introduction videos shown here and the official documentation.
Sometimes you will already have a 3D CAD model available for rendering. Other times, you may find it more convenient, precise, or faster to create or edit a model in a CAD package instead of in Blender or Maya. If this is the case, you can import a CAD model into Blender or Maya when you need it. File formats used for transfer between 3D packages include
IGES. We prefer to use the
obj format to import into Blender;
STL also works well, but can introduce faceting errors. We recommend using Open Cascade CAD Assistant to convert between file formats, like from
VariCAD is also available for Linux and is a professional solid modelling and 3D package. It is commercial software but is available for a trial period (30 days as of this writing). Very capable 3D modeling packages are now also becoming available online. A great example is the very high-end (read: extremely expensive!) Siemens NX. We definitely encourage you to shop around.
This is a partial revision history. See the
git repository for all entries.
2023-11-18 e770b1c6 Add search and help bar
2023-06-06 f627e550 Include m2g5 specs
2023-02-23 7fb17d71 Update Blender advice
2023-02-22 26d26bed Update Blender content
2022-03-25 a22730ae Update Blender
2022-02-23 26d26bed Add detail for Blender usage
2021-11-18 b23d1269 Initial Publication
We try hard to provide a useful solution validated by professionals. However, we cannot anticipate every situation, and therefore cannot guarantee this procedure will work for your needs. Always backup your data and test the solution to determine the correct procedure for you.
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