We're rapidly approaching the end of the year and developments in the world of 3D art don't show signs of slowing down any time soon. With plenty of tools and updates hitting the scene, let's dive in with the top 5 tools for September.
01. Blender 2.78
Free software should always be a good thing and the open source nature of Blender fits in with many users ideals but to be a success the software needs to develop and stay with the times. Luckily Blender has always managed to stay with it and 2.78 which is in early test build looks set to continue the trend.
The cycles renderer has had some tweaks and although limited, there is support for VR, as well as better integration of certain shaders. Animators will like the improved bones system and grease pencil toolset. More importantly for people wanting to use Blender but in a wider pipeline, there is now support for Alembic file format. All in all, it’s looking like a strong release.
If you have ever wanted to dip your toes into the waters of 3D sculpting, now may be a good time to get started, with Pixologic announcing a new version of the industry standard ZBrush, which will have a reduced toolset and price.
Full details are as yet unknown but it looks like most of the functionality will be there, with the exception of a few more advanced options, which should actually make things easier for newcomers. On top of that Wacom have announced that ZBrush Core will be bundled with it’s new tablet, the Intuos 3D.
Cinema 4D appears to be quite the popular kid on the block right now, with many plugins and deeply integrated solutions coming from all angles. Nvidia have released the latest version of their physically based renderer, Iray, for Cinema 4D, making the rendering options about as comprehensive as they can be.
Iray offers all you would expect from a physically-based system, from the materials to the camera model. Most impressive is that this is a near realtime experience, so long as you have a suitable GPU, as Iray utilises GPU power, rather than the traditional CPU approach.
04. LWCAD 5.2
Vicotr Velicko’s popular Lightwave plugin has had it’s latest update. Now running at Version 5.2 the feature list grows ever larger, with additions of some innovative polygon edge to nurbs tools and a fuller selection of nurbs modeling tools.
LWCAD has been around for some time and many artists feel that should have a home in everybody’s pipeline. We couldn’t agree more and this latest upgrade makes for an even more capable modeling solution. For all projects, not just CAD work.
05. Maxwell 4
Big news for users of NextLimit’s Maxwell Render. Version 4 finally brings GPU rendering into play, something sorely needed, as Maxwell was notoriously slow. As beautiful as the results are, the speed element put many users off but that is no longer an issue.
On top of that major update there is a standalone multi-light system, for adapting the lighting in your scene, after the render has finished and also a new material gallery and some additional platform plugins and support.