As we have seen from the “Blender by the numbers” statistics of 2020/2021, Blender is growing rapidly whether it be the number of users or the rate at which new tools & features are added. Today I am going to discuss with you why I personally think this is the case. And why I think that it will continue to grow and become better compared to the other software.
So in other words: how does the future of Blender 3D look like? and what makes us think that it’s the brightest of all?
The simple quick answer must be the ethics and the culture of the organization that gave birth to such an awesome 3D software. The founder of the organization himself actually has a great vision on the future of Blender 3D as one of the pillar 3D software and the market. Despite being driven by greatness, the main motive of the project was to provide the necessary tools for every passionate artists all around the world with no barriers to entry.
Of course, you might jump to the conclusion of “yea… it’s free you know”, but there’s actually more to it. And that’s exactly what we’ll unfold throughout this article.
Which aspects highlight the future of Blender 3D?
The first thing that popped in our minds when looking at Blender 3D software here at InspirationTuts was the industries that the 3D package invaded. The power of the software is highlighted especially by looking at how various the use cases and purposes of it are. We actually covered many of them on previous posts, and you’ll be impressed even with a few examples:
- Game design and development, and the gaming industry in general is one of the hottest use cases of Blender 3D. Many modern and even AAA game studios rely on Blender 3D in their production pipeline, either for modeling purposes, the game engine itself or other phases of the process.
- 3D printing and prototyping. Combined with a 3D printer, Blender 3D software proved itself to be extremely useful.
- Architectural visualization and all its sub fields. Blender is especially useful in these cases, and we can illustrate this in many ways. For example, ArchViz and 3D VR and AR technologies are combined to make it easier for the clients to really review prototypes in a more immersive manner.
- 2D drawing and animation. Although it seems super counter-intuitive, you’ll be surprised to see what Blender’s grease pencil is capable of. It’s even getting better every day, especially if you compare to software like
- Concept art and all its subfields. Not only the 3D package has a myriad of tools that would optimize the workflow, but the dev community also contributed with many addons that extended the potential of the software even further.
But that’s not all actually; Blender’s potential doesn’t stop here. Let’s look at 4 more reasons that will highlight the bright future of the 3D software even more.
1. It’s not driven by profit/focused on innovation
As opposed to the other 3D software that are owned and developed by big companies and corporations. Blender development is independent and can go in the direction that better serves artists, designer, architects small Studios or anyone else who want to use it, whether they are hobbyists or professionals, or even companies by the way. This is the case because they are supporting its development through the Development Fund.
The problem with 3D software that are owned by big companies is that there are other demands to be met other than the most beneficial thing and the most optimal outcome for artists and designers, which is most importantly making a profit. This is the case especially if the company is publicly traded, let’s say to simplify stuff.
They have shareholders, they have CEOs & managers and they have a lot of employees to pay. They have taxes, utility bills, and tons of other expenses.
On top of that, their investors expect them to grow constantly after paying these expenses which means they are under pressure. The problem is that that this pressure is sometimes manifested when it comes to development. Meaning since the software is doing what it is supposed to do, one thing to maximize profits is to cut down expenses when it comes to development.
As a result, they hire fewer Developers or pay them less. I am not saying that Autodesk for example is doing this, but we can assume it is because compared to Blender development is slow. Another strategy is to increase the prices of products constantly which I am sure about because we have seen a sudden increase in Max & Maya and other Autodesk products recently.
Sometimes worse things happen like ignoring development and make users feel like they are making progress when the intent is actually to make the profit in the first place. Not serve the users who use the software.
Before writing this article, I came across a YouTube video talking about how corporations and big companies make money. One of their strategies is to pay developers as little as possible. And cut on research and development, to make profits and to satisfy the shareholders, and realize their quarterly goals. The ones that they are required to meet.
As opposed to that, Blender is driven by a true and genuine desire for development to meet the needs of artists, designers, and small Studios who are making great video games, working on VFX projects, and working on projects to make a living. In addition, of course to millions of hobbyists and people who don’t have a lot of experience. This is why I think it’s a huge indicator on the bright future of Blender 3D on the horizons.
2. It has a constantly growing development budget
Also, as opposed to the development of other software such as Max Maya, Cinema 4D and so on, Blender development is funded independently by creators whether it be artists or studios.
The interesting thing is that the future of Blender 3D is backed up by the Development Fund that is growing rapidly, and more and more people and companies are joining the Development Fund which is fantastic. I think it doubled compared to last year. It is now in the range of a hundred and sixty-three thousand dollars per month, which is enough to employ more than 20 or 25 developers working full-time.
The other thing is there is real pressure to improve and get the features and tools implemented that especially when it comes to corporations and companies or Studios that contribute to the Blender development fund.
The takeaway is that there are intrinsic and external incentives behind its development. But when it comes to the artists and the studios that are using software such as Max and Maya, there is an incentive from Autodesk to develop and keep the companies and studios using their software, but it is not as strong compared to Blender.
3. It has a larger base of independent devs
Another very important thing that plays a huge role in the future of Blender 3D is the “open source” label, that’s why It attracts a lot of developers. The best part is, everyone, no matter who you are is able to develop their tools and add-ons. These tools can be implemented with no question asked within Blender 3D software. And you can use it and share it with the community with no restrictions.
On the other hand, when we, for example look at 3Ds Max Maya and Cinema 4D developers, especially developers working with Autodesk. There are tons of regulations, conditions, and requirements to meet, and other stuff that make the development kind of harder, and not as rewarding financially, of course.
That’s why we see a lot of developers who work with Autodesk software are now also developing add-ons for blender, which is a great thing, more power to them and to Blender and other software, of course.
Also, the fact that other Major 3D software are paid, and they are subscription-based. Meaning you have to keep paying every month and every year like seventeen hundred dollars per year for 3ds Max or Maya.
This means that paying for add-ons, plugins, scripts and other third-party stuff is kind of a burden especially if you have a lot of bills to pay and you’re not doing as much or you’re not seeing as much success as a 3D artist, designer, or architect. This makes the job of developers a bit harder I would say.
But on the flip side since Blender is free. You can actually buy the add-ons, use them and see a lot of progress in your work, in your career, in your studio, or whatever you are doing without feeling the same burden, not even close.
Examples on great addons
It’s not gonna be weighing heavily on you because, to be honest, the most popular and needed addons are around like 20 to 60 dollars range. This is not a lot of money, compared to the work, they can do and the time they can save. Not forgetting to mention the efforts that the developers have been putting in for months and years to make it as smooth as possible. Overall, this attracts a lot of artists to Blender because the tools are better.
Third-party add-ons are extremely advanced and they can help you get a lot of things done cheaply instead of paying thousands of dollars every year to Autodesk.
The point here is the developers of Blender 3D software are very talented. With their contribution to the third-party section of Blender, they are doing a huge service to the community, and they are making the software move faster.
Even though the add-ons are not part of the blender. They are kind of part of it indirectly, but sometimes some good and brilliant add-ons get integrated with the software and you can use them for free.
We’ve covered dozens of these addons in several previous posts, and we divided them into categories to help you find what you need quickly. We are continuously updating the list, and the most prominent ones include:
- Hard Surface modeling addons to make the most incredible models with intricate details and outstanding accuracy.
- PBR addons and material packs to bake and texture your models like a pro.
- Plants, grass and botanic asset packs that help you populate your scenes quickly and efficiently.
- Management and productivity addons that will make your workflow quicker and smoother. So, you would never miss a deadline or spend hours on cumbersome tasks instead of focusing on the creative process.
- Retopology addons for the best meshes workflow and the most efficient retopology process.
- Rendering addons that will make your renders high-quality pixel perfect, and with the most optimal speed.
- UV unwrapping and UV mapping addons to help you create UV maps quickly and easily in a short period of time.
- Texturing and shading addons to add more depth and realism to your models and scenes.
- Terrain and space scenes addons are a must-have, despite being seemingly niche and too targeted. It can save you hours of work and help you achieve results that are very difficult to deliver otherwise.
- ArchViz addons to help you make the most out of your architectural visualization work.
- Rigging addons to make the process of building puppets, rigs and skeletons tremendously fast and more efficient. These can be especially helpful for character animation.
- Simulation and VFX addons to help you add the most incredible visual effects to your 3D animations with Blender.
- Animation addons to make the animation process with Blender 3D software reach the next level.
- Modeling addons to help you optimize the modeling process and create your models more efficiently.
4. Autodesk knows that Blender is dangerous
Another funny thing is that Autodesk is kind of admitting that Blender is kind of a threat to their software. Mainly 3Ds Max and Maya because since the boom of Blender started in 2019, Autodesk has been putting in kind of more effort into development, even though many consider it to be late, but it is way better than doing nothing.
But still, the rate at which blender is being developed is far greater and the tools and features are way more appealing to creators, small studios, and even companies that are supporting the Development Fund.
It may take five years or even a decade until we start seeing Blender being used as a major or main software in the VFX, gaming or animation studios.
It’s not a matter of whether or not is going to. It’s just a matter of timing. And I think that this is happening already, and it is becoming better and better and greater and greater every year. Since companies and studios are adopting it and they are allowing their artists to use it as a choice if they want to.
But make no mistake. If a big studio adopts Blender not because it is free. But, because it is a good competitor and has very good 3D tools to get the job done.
Since the budget that they spend on software is not that important when it compared to other expenses in running bug studios and companies, of course.