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I use Unreal+Blender just fine. What do you mean?



That's the whole point. If you're a carmaker, you want gasoline to be a cheap, widely available commodity. Gasoline complements cars.

3D modelling software has had a long history of expensive, esoteric, difficult-to-use applications. Epic, hoping to make money from large numbers of Unreal Engine licenses, would like to see that situation change. Ideally (for them), 3D modelling software would be free and easy to use for everyone, thereby lowering the barrier to entry for those who might make 3D games using UE.

By donating to Blender, Epic hopes to achieve two things:

1. Blender becomes better and easier to use, allowing more developers to enter the market and buy UE licenses.

2. Increased competition puts downward price pressure on commercial 3D packages such as Maya, thus making it more affordable for small-to-medium sized game studios, potentially freeing up budget for more UE licenses.


My question is about OP's assertment:

> Unreal Engine, like Unity, right now has to be used with Autodesk products like 3DS Max or Maya

I am asking why they think this is the case. Not the circular reasoning of "most professionals use it" but I am interested in what they feel the Blender is missing.


There’s huge costs to using a non-standard choice like Blender over 3dsMax or Maya. They both have loads of proprietary tools (and are constantly adding one more every couple of cycles or so). 3D DCCs are not equivalent to each other. Financing Blender is indeed a good move for Epic if they believe (and there’s good reason to) it might make Game production toolsets more available.


I was under the impression that Blender was fairly common in the modeling industry. Not a de-facto standard like Microsoft Office or Creative Suite, but one frequently used option among many.

Not true?


Not at all. Blender is an important piece of software because it is open and free, which helps lower investment 3D uses like research, but its interface and usability is about as bad as it gets. It takes heat for its interface yet still not enough in my opinion.

You have to experience trying to actually get something accomplished to truly understand how incredibly unintuitive everything from names to button placements to object movement to component selection etc truly is. I've used a lot of different 3D programs in a lot of different domains and nothing comes close to blender. It almost seems to go out of its way to make the most basic excersize a puzzle for the user.

The money for commercial programs is completely necessary in a professional context, since time is money and people have expectations.


Have you tried using the Blender 2.8 release candidate UI though? As someone with approximately zero artistic skills and minimal 3D background, I was also turned off by Blender's inscrutable UI patterns 10 years ago.

But with the 2.8 RC news on HN last week I recently tried it again and I have to say that now it seems like the UI is pretty decent. Left click select, a move tool that works like every other move tool in paint, a clear hierarchy view with obvious nestable layers - it seems like many of the weird things I remember (like "drag the divider between the viewport and the menu bar down to see a secret option pane") are gone or redesigned now.

Check out https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jBqYTgaFDxU for some example usage or https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lPVpg4_POww for a preview of the UI/UX changes.


I have not used that particular new version. I hope blender is getting more refined and finally picking all the low hanging fruit. That being said, I have seen this cycle many times over the last 15 years. People say blender is working on its interface, I try it again and my mind is blown by the decisions all over again.


I have high hopes for 2.8 hopefully I’ll get along to testing it soon.


UX. I just gave up trying to convert my architect wife to Blender after nearly a month of effort.. "its just too hard!"


Yes. Years back as a kid, I taught myself a pirated copy of 3DS Max pretty well, but Blender seemed just almost impossible to use.


Blender supports FBX exports so you can bring models from there to unreal, but Maya is the much more popular program with artists for modelling and rigging, there's a whole lot going on with these programs so I doubt its any one thing, if it were close i'm sure a lot of people would be happy to not pay for Maya considering how expensive it is.


> Maya is the much more popular program with artists for modelling and rigging

This is the circular reasoning I'm trying to avoid.

I'm not looking for any one thing either, I'm looking for any shortcomings OP can think of. I've used Blender+Unreal for a number of years and Blender itself for over fifteen years so I could rattle off issues I've dealt with in integrating Blender into the pipeline, but many have been dealt with so I'm curious about OP's particular pain points.


Not the OP, but I've used Blender and UE (though Unity more), and I would say the main problem with Blender is how undiscoverable the core actions in the interface are. I'm sure for you, as a 15 year user, the shortcuts are all perfectly ingrained, and you can crank out work very efficiently. However, if you don't already know all those shortcuts, it's very difficult to learn them, or even to learn what functionality is available.

Some examples: If you already know that `Tab` switches between object mode and edit mode, then it's quick and easy. If you don't, then you have to click the drop down mode selection menu, which is one of the dozens of widgets on screen with highly variable levels of usefulness (seriously, what the hell is 'Grease Pencil'?). And if you hover for a tooltip, it doesn't even tell you that tab is the shortcut!

Or when in the UV workspace, there's literally nothing in the interface window except the vertices/edges. How do I select all vertices? How do I select multiple via box? How do I do numeric input? None of this is obvious.

The defaults are also terrible - eg click to set 3D cursor, instead of select.

Overall, Blender seems to suffer from a classic case of open-source programmer driven development. If you already know how to use it, it's very powerful and customizable - the python scripting is great! But because no one really cares about making it into a product, the UI/UX suffers.

I haven't used Maya/3DSMax, but I have used Fusion 360 (another Autodesk 3D modelling package, but focused on CAD/CAM) extensively, and it is much, much more user friendly. There are easily navigable menus which surface key functionality and respond contextually to the workload - ie if you're modeling, creating components and performing extrusions/rotations is front and center. If you're sketching, applying constraints (and the various types available) is all right there.

Of course, none of this means you CAN'T use Blender with UE, you totally can. And if you're a Blender expert, then none of this probably bothers you, because you don't care about discoverability of functionality since you already know it all. But if you're fresh out of Digipen or whatever, and you have to learn a single software package, then the refined products from Autodesk are going to win.

edit: In fairness, I hear that 2.80 is going to fix a lot of this, and I'm looking forward to trying it.


2.80 is definitely a pretty big UI improvement, and the new EEVEE renderer makes it much easier to work with materials and preview how they'll actually look in game since it is functionally similar to modern game engines.


> Overall, Blender seems to suffer from a classic case of open-source programmer driven development. If you already know how to use it, it's very powerful and customizable - the python scripting is great! But because no one really cares about making it into a product, the UI/UX suffers.

Somewhat amusing comment seeing as though Blender was a product before it was open sourced, and from all I've heard the UI/UX has improved since it became open source.


Probably did but it’s still known in the industry for being very very non-standard.


The quick menu is accessible with Spacebar and provides a way to discover and call any available command. Shortcuts are not necessary for discoverability.

However, shortcuts are well-configured and when using pie menus, you only need to know a handful of them to get started.

> If you don't, then you have to click the drop down mode selection menu, which is one of the dozens of widgets on screen

Tab is one of the first (and only) shortcuts you need to know to get started. The same options can still be accessed from the quick menu however. I wouldn't call this a discoverability issue.

> what the hell is 'Grease Pencil'?

Ask the documentation.

> when in the UV workspace, there's literally nothing in the interface window except the vertices/edges. How do I select all vertices? How do I select multiple via box? How do I do numeric input?

With the same exact gestures used to select vertices in edit mode. Blender's UI is highly consistent these days. Numeric input is as easy as calling an action and then typing in the number before confirming with Enter.

> The defaults are also terrible - eg click to set 3D cursor, instead of select.

I wouldn't call this terrible, just different-- and besides, Blender Foundation has just recently made the cursor defaults reflect the common defaults found in other 3D modeling packages.

> Overall, Blender seems to suffer from a classic case of open-source programmer driven development.

Have you used Blender in the last 7 or so years? These seem like antiquated criticisms. The Blender UX is vastly different and much more focused these days.

Every modeling suite has a learning curve. I'm interested in what Blender is sorely lacking. Blender's discoverability is actually very good and Blender itself might be my favorite example of how to design functional application UX. This wasn't true a decade ago but it's true now.


> What is the grease pencil?

The grease pencil is Blender's 2D drawing system. Initially, it's purpose was to allow artists to sketch scenes out onscreen, in much the same way that CGI artists a few decades ago used literal grease pencils [1] to draw on their glass computer monitors.

Nowadays, the grease pencil is a full 2D art system, allowing for hand-drawn 2D art to coexist with 3D assets or tracked with camera footage. The Blender Foundation made a short film called "Hero" [2] to show it off.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grease_pencil

[2] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pKmSdY56VtY

> How do I select all (UV) verticies?

On the bottom edge of the UV editor window is a menu bar. From the left, the menus are editor type (shown as an icon), "View", "Select", "Image", and "UVs". Farther to the right in that bar is the widget that lets you set whether you are selecting verticies, edges, faces, or islands. In the "select" menu is "(De)select All", and a label indicating that the keyboard shortcut is "A". (This shortcut is universal to all of Blender's editors (except the text editor, where it is Ctrl+A).

If you have anything at all selected, then "(De)select All" will deselect everything. If you have nothing selected, it will select everything.

> How do I select multiple via box?

In Blender, this is called "border select". In the same "select" menu I described above, it's the bottom option (the one nearest your cursor when you open the menu). It also has a universal shortcut, indicated in the menu: "B".

> How do I do numeric input?

There are two ways I can interpret this. One is "given a number box, how to I change the value"? There are three ways that you can change the content of number boxes in Blender.

1. Click on the arrows on the left or right sides to decrement or increment the value.

2. Click in the middle, type a value or math expression, and then either click outside the box or type "enter".

3. Click and drag the box, from the middle, to the left or right.

The other way I can interpret the question is "how can I specify the coordinates of a UV vertex"?

Once you have one or more verticies selected in the UV editor, you should see some properties and editing widgets in a tall rectangular area on the right edge of the UV editor window. If you don't see it, you can reveal it by either clicking on the "+" button near the top of that edge, by going to the "view" menu and selecting "properties", or by hitting the "N" key while your cursor is over the UV editor.

In the top of the UV properties shelf I just described is a section called "UV Vertex". (It's called that even when you are in edge, face, or island selecting mode.) It has two numeric boxes in it labeled "X" and "Y". These have the coordinates of the most recently selected vertex. Changing the contents of those boxes moves the selected vertex to those coordinates, and moves all other selected verticies by the same amount from their previous locations.


Great post.

An essential Blender video to watch is Captain Disillusion's presentation at Blender Conf: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1qSTcxt2t74


Interesting. Any idea if the grease pencil can be used to construct 3D objects, like in Catia Natural Sketch?

eg: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S2jopay_3Zo


Hah, I appreciate you taking the time to answer all those, but they were mostly hypothetical questions I already knew the answers to but had difficulty discovering without doing a bunch of searching. Except the grease pencil thing.


If you believe Blender is sufficiently able to do what the others can in a fashion as intuitive as those, then the answer to your question is "marketing", as the money would allow Blender to show this to a wider audience. In that respect, Maya being more popular isn't circular reasoning, it's an expression of the exact thing the money can help change, through one method or another.


I think he tried to imply that most pros use 3DS Max or Maya instead of Blender for a reason.


So what is the argument exactly?


Reduce the price of the prevailing high-cost options by increasing the capabilities of other options. Cause them to compete to drive prices down, thereby reducing your supplier costs.


As an Unreal+Blender user, I would be absolutely interested in anything that can take a step off my toolchain.


What kind of steps slow you down?


You're probably not representative


I used to work with Unity and Blender professionally. Not sure what this guy is talking about.


Read binthere's comment for some details.




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