Blender 2.80 is finally available to download

For anyone wanting to create stunning 3D content without having to pay through the nose for the privilege, Blender long been the perfect option. It's free and open-source, but that doesn't mean you have to put up with sub-standard quality; it's also one of the best 3D modelling software packages available.

And as of now it's substantially better. Blender has been talking for a while about the release of version 2.80, a serious update with lots of new features as well as a less eccentric front end, and now it's available for you to try out.

Blender 2.80

Blender 2.80's interface is a lot less daunting than in previous versions (Image credit: Blender)

It's fair to say that a lot of 3D artists have been put off Blender over the years thanks to a somewhat eccentric user experience, but with version 2.80 it's finally making life easier for anyone who wants to switch to it without having to spend a lot of time banging their head against a desk because of its non-standard ways of doing things.

Blender 2.80 features a completely revamped user interface that's designed to make it far easier to find and use the features you need, with left-click selection by default, a right-click context menu and a Quick Favourites menu for accessing your most-used commands. 

It's also introduced an industry compatible keymap so that if you're switching over from another 3D app, you should find that all the keyboard shortcuts you've learned over the years do exactly what you expect, rather than something completely random and unexpected.

Blender 2.80

New keymaps as well as templates and workspaces make it much easier to create in Blender 2.80 (Image credit: Blender)

The new version gives you a choice between multiple application templates depending on the nature of your project, as well as workspaces providing different screen layouts to accommodate various tasks. Both templates and workspaces can be customised, enabling you to create a desktop environment that works best for you.

There's also a completely rewritten 3D viewport complete with a new toolbar and new Workbench render engine. This has been designed to take full advantage of modern graphics cards and provide you top-quality work-in-progress previews of how your work's coming together.

And while we're talking about rendering, Blender 2.80 has a brand new physically-based real-time renderer, Eevee. It works both as a renderer for final frames and also as the engine for Blender's realtime viewport, and its features include volumetrics, subsurface scattering, soft and contact shadows, depth of field and camera motion blur.

There's plenty more to talk about in Blender 2.80, including Grease Pencil, a full 2D drawing and animation system that enables you to create concept art, storyboards and animations within Blender. But as the whole thing's available now for free, your best bet's probably to download it now and try it for yourself. There are versions available for Mac, Windows and Linux; you can find them all here.

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Jim McCauley

Jim McCauley is a writer, performer and cat-wrangler who started writing professionally way back in 1995 on PC Format magazine, and has been covering technology-related subjects ever since, whether it's hardware, software or videogames. A chance call in 2005 led to Jim taking charge of Computer Arts' website and developing an interest in the world of graphic design, and eventually led to a move over to the freshly-launched Creative Bloq in 2012. Jim now works as a freelance writer for sites including Creative Bloq, T3 and PetsRadar, specialising in design, technology, wellness and cats, while doing the occasional pantomime and street performance in Bath and designing posters for a local drama group on the side.