as a cg hobbyist i have been monitoring situation on software market for many years. i tested pretty much everything that have ever hit the market and was available for a test run. many programs, free or commercial, couldn’t hold a candle to 3dsmax – a complete, comprehensive piece of software. and blender as one of the tested programs was pretty much interesting detail than anything more to me. but that changed when i decided to testrun blender yet another time. it was version 2.5 that changed my opinion about this software.
it has grown a ton, yet still is in very dynamic development, with couple branches focused on different aspects of cg. it would be very hard to list all available features. just imagine a program that can render your scene in pretty much any rendering engine – if not directly from the interface, then through scripted plugins that can export it to proper format. these exporters are in active development as well and if you’re a vray, maxwell, octane… you name it… fan, you will find a way to render your blender scene in it. if thats not enough, you can get more free and capable engines like yafaray or luxrender. and that’s just for starters. you also get wide file format support. node style compositing with different render passes. integrated internal workflow allows avoiding photoshop stage in most cases. yes, you can composite your render passes in the very same way you would in ps…
but there’s more – tools for animation, rigging, skinning. simple video editing and correction, even motion tracking (in early development). standard oldschool object modeling is intuitive (after a decade of gmax and 3dsmax modeling work i can say it’s easier and faster, even if lacks some tools), but also you can sculpt hi-poly objects (even if zbrush or even young contender on the market – sculptris are still better in this area you can find impressive pieces sculpted in blender or at least you can add detail and bake normal maps for low poly objects). painting textures directly on the model or physics, fluid, smoke or cloth simluations are in production-ready stage.
but i’m not going to list all the features, it would take too long. the reason im writing all this is pretty much to create a kind of a diary for my own use and an opportunity to smuggle and write down couple links. like graphicall.org where you can find builds with various plugins, from different development branches that contain different tools and are meant for different purposes. and platforms.
a build with all those features i mentioned (and many more) is about… 20-40 megs in size. well… it really is hard to imagine something like blender really works this way. but it does.