Blender is cross-platform so you can learn the basics right now with the QuickStart and plenty of other tutorials on the official site and all over the net. Blender’s not the only 3D content creation software available for free though.
Just to name a few, there’s:
- Google SketchUp that’s great to create buildings and objects,
- Wings 3D, a cross-platform, open-source 3D modeler,
- MakeHuman, another cross-platform, open-source tool to model human characters,
- Sculptris, free Windows-only 3D modeling and sculpting software,
- MeshLab, cross-platform and open-source tool to process 3D scans,
- trueSpace, a free Windows-only 3D content creation tool.
There are a few more alternatives which you can see here but Blender seems to be very popular so most of the following open-source-generated masterpieces are made with this powerful suite.
The Blender Foundation’s Sintel is a 12-minute short film released online on September 30th, 2010 that was independently produced (initially funded through donations) with only open-source software over 10 months in Amsterdam. The software used includes:
- Inkscape, an open-source vector graphics editor comparable to Adobe Illustrator,
- GIMP, the open-source Photoshop alternative that you can start learning now with video and text tutorials,
- Blender, which was discussed in the fascinating post, What Is CGI Animation [Technology Explained] and has been used to create even video games,
- MyPaint, a painting program, and Krita, a sketching and painting application that’s part of KOffice. Both are cross-platform.
Big Buck Bunny is an award-winning animated short film released online by the Blender Foundation in 2008.
According to the official site, Elephants Dream is the world’s first open movie released by the Blender Foundation in 2006 after 8 months of work. You can’t seem to order the DVD anymore, but you can watch and download it online.
Besides these, there’s also PlumÃferos or Free Birds, an 80-minute Argentinean feature film that premiered in February 2010 and is entirely made with open-source software (Blender and Linux OS). Here’s the trailer with subtitles.
In the short, the boy holds a sign saying “Ojek Payung” which translates to “Rain taxi” or “Rent an umbrella”. The phrase seems to refer to kids in rainy season that lend their umbrellas to office people who need to quickly go to a restaurant or somewhere nearby around lunch time but don’t carry an umbrella with them.
All the software used have been featured in MakeUseOf’s earlier list of Free Applications For The Graphic Designer On A Budget.
Transformation from Andre Baran via Blender Nation: Now here’s a clip that demonstrates that you don’t have to use Blender to create 3D cartoons only. You can composite commercial-quality sequences to illustrate a concept.
Just so you know, Blender’s not the only animation software available. Here’s Prologue (released in 2004) which consists of a short made by Voria Studios, the studio that came to release the Synfig 2D animation software under GNU license. Synfig is today a vector-based open-source animation package that facilitates the process of tweening, which is basically drawing animation frame by frame.
Prologue tells the story of two boys trying to run away from soldiers in a sewer. According to the site, “in an attempt to protect his friend, one of the children tries to draw one of the soldiers away. However, plans don’t always work out as one would hope.”
My Friend Rabbit Making Pizza is a short (click to watch as embedding is disabled) made with Pencil, an open-source traditional animation software that lets you trace previously-drawn raster and vector images for your next frames (with its onion skin feature).
As you can see from the sources, the Blender Nation blog is rich with links to amazing Blender-made productions so be sure to check it out for more! If you have favorite open-source-generated clips, you can paste the link in the comments for everyone to enjoy!
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