8 Weeks with Blender: Add-ons
This is the seventh chapter of a series of posts about my experience working with the open-source application, Blender. I'll spend at least 30 minutes every day over a period of 8-10 weeks working directly with Blender and I'll post my discoveries, links and ideas at least once a week. Obviously, I'm not going to cover everything that Blender can do, but I'll follow my own interests and share what I've learned with you.
Open-Source and Closed-Source Development
Developing in Open-Source allows you to create not only alterations to everything in the application, but even another entire version of the software is possible. In Blender's case, there is bforartists, which is a fork of the original Blender that focuses on "a better graphical UI and a better usability". Another fork of Blender is Mechanical Blender which focuses on CAD utils development.
Blender itself contains dozens of plug-ins developed by the community that are part of the default installation. A quick look at the Blender 2.79 preferences under "add-ons" and you'll see what I mean. You can easily turn on or off any add-on under the Preferences drop down menu and in the add-ons tab. The Blender Wiki has a complete list of Blender add-ons in the current offical Blender release.
The Blender 2.79 Preferences panel
blazraidr has a good tutorial called, "Quickest Way to Install Blender Add-ons" on his YouTube channel. Focuses on installing add-ons that are not part of the official Blender release.
Archimesh by Antonio Vazquez
Dynamat by Pratik Solanki
Animation Nodes by Jacques Lucke. An absolutely fabulous add-on that institutes a new animation system in Blender. Currently in version 2.0. Be sure to check Jacques patreon page if you decide to use this excellent add-on.
Mira Tools by Paul Geraskin. A set of 8 modeling and retopology tools that include CurveStretch and DrawExtrude. A fantastic addtion to Blender modeling and probably the most useful add-on listed here.
Asset Management 2.0 by Ptiwazou. This one's subjective in that it helps my workflow a lot to know where all of my assets are for a project. I have literally thousands of assets on several different drives. This asset lets me access and organize them quickly.
Sculpt Tools by Piotr Adamowicz. A small group of operators that make some boolean and modifier-based actions and faster. Makes sculpting so much easier and fun!
Note that while all of the add-ons listed above are free, some developers charge for their work. Most of the prices are fairly low and in general the add-ons are very well done. Blender Market is the place to go for these add-ons. My favorite there is the LowPoly Factory by Lubos.
Download the current Blender release (2.79) here: