The Blender Christmas Shopping List
Christmas is just a few sleeps away, and ‘tis the season for some premium Blender assets. Give the gift that keeps on giving.
Last month, I finally took the dive into learning Blender. Since then, you could say I’ve become a little obsessed with the software.
One of the more significant elements of Blender is that the software itself is free. That’s right, the friendly folks at the Blender Foundation have provided us with an extremely powerful 2D/3D animation suite totally for free.
Given that you’re not paying subscription costs each month (cough . . . Adobe, Maxon . . . cough), you might have some spare cash to spend on a few Blender-related goodies.
Whether this is a Christmas gift for yourself, or perhaps you intend on making a last-minute purchase for a family member or friend who wants to dip their toes into Blender, here are a few places where you can spend some Christmas cash on Blender-related products.
Stocking Stuffers – Wearable Blender Gear
Remember when socks were the lamest gift ever to exist? Thanks to Blender, those days are officially over. Now you can be the coolest kid at the party with these UV unwrapping grid socks from the Blender store.
Use them to help seal the deal at a job interview or to simply keep your feet warm during those cold, lonely hours of modeling.
The cool thing about buying these socks, or anything else from the Blender store, is that every purchase helps support Blender projects, including open movies, software development, and organizing the Blender Foundation duties.
Stuff your stockings with other goodies like Blender stickers and magnets. Maybe you can even swap out that stocking for a super sweet Blender tote bag.
And, if you’re still cold, pick up a Blender beanie or layer up with a second T-shirt. It’s more than likely you’ve missed the cutoff shipping date to receive something directly from Blender, but hey, you now know where you can spend that $50 your uncle gave you.
With that, let’s look at some things you can still acquire before the 25th.
Hardware – Logitech Keyboard $149
I only recently started using Blender, and my first few weeks in the program were spent learning the many hotkeys. Since I work on a laptop, I quickly realized that I lack some of the most important keys to help navigate the interface, namely a numerical pad.
While I’ve been avid After Effects user for as long as I can remember, there are still times where I find myself scratching my head, trying to remember the shortcut.
That’s why I picked up those extra keys from the nice folks at LogicKeyboard. The Astra 2 Blender keyboard is a plug-and-play backlit keyboard designed explicitly for Blender, with color-coded shortcut keys with graphical commands. The backlight is dimmable with five selectable levels, and there’s a built-in USB 3.0 port.
- Designed for Blender 3D
- Compatible with Windows
- Backlit keys
- Dimmable light with five selectable levels
- Built-in USB 3.0 port*
- Scissor-switch keys
- Color-coded labelled shortcut keys with graphical commands
- Dimensions – 17 5/8” x 6” x 11/4” (446mm x 150mm x 30mm)
- Net weight – 2.1 lbs (950 grams)
- Number of keys – 104 (ANSI version), 105 (ISO version)
- Manufactured for 10.000.000 keystrokes per key
- 1.8 meter cable with separate keyboard and hub connections (to avoid interference with USB extenders)
You can also pick up the PC Nero Slimline Keyboard from Logic for the exact same price.
They host all the same features, however, the Slimline keyboard has 6mm less width and also a 7mm loss in height. It makes it a more compact variant if you’re working in a small space or travel with the keyboard.
Models – $ Varies
Who says your Christmas present has to be tangible? While Blender is a cool tool to design your 3D elements from scratch, there are a plethora of places where you can pick up models.
Their vast selection includes cars, characters, animals, vehicles, architecture, anatomy, landscapes, and much more. And, they have a filter that specifically allows you to search through Blender compatible, or Blender only, models.
Perfect for game developers, news agencies, architects, visual effects studios, advertisers, and creative professionals, and many of these models are available for free.
Over the years, we’ve created numerous tutorials on the wide-variety of After Effects plugins you can acquire from plugin developers outside of Adobe. (As a side note, our friend Charles recently released a video exploring ten underrated After Effects plugins.) There’s also a similar marketplace for Blender tools.
Blender Market is an independent, Blender-focused marketplace. While you can find models, materials, shaders, textures, and even premium tutorials on the site, the real attraction is the add-ons. Powerful tools like Auto Rig Pro, Botaniq, and Hard Ops are only the tip of the iceberg.
As noted in the screenshot, there’s not necessarily a set price for each tool, but with $100 you can pick up a bunch of useful add-ons.
Many of the creators donate a portion of their revenue to the Blender foundation, so purchasing one of these helps support the development of the program. Check for the heart next to the name of the product.
Over the next year, as I dig deeper into Blender, you can expect detailed tutorials about using these tools.
If you’re looking to up your Blender game, check out Blender Studio. The Studio is a team of artists and developers who spend their time working on incredibly cool projects—then sharing their experiences.
For a monthly fee, you can share this experience via workshops, project files, add-ons, and premium tutorials. Access to all training, assets, and films is available for just $11.25/month.
Once again, in the spirit of Christmas, joining Blender Studio contributes to Blender development. Win-win, right?
If you’ve watched the donut tutorial series, then you’re well aware of Poliigon. Poliigon provides photoreal, ultra-high-quality textures for archviz, product rendering, game design, VFX, and animation.
With 4,000+ assets, this high-quality library includes textures from a wide-variety of categories, as well as models, brushes, and HDRIs.
Poliigon works on a credit-based system, opposed to purchasing a singular texture. The plans are:
- $162 billed annually – 100 credits/month
- $252 billed annually – 300 credits/month
- $1764 billed annually – 900 credits/month
As to how many credits you would need? You can find the list below:
- Textures – 4 credits
- Models – 20 credits
- Brushes – 8 credits
- HDRs – 10 credits
- Generators – 100 credits
In the video covering my first thirty days of Blender, I noted that there are several invaluable YouTube channels that quite simply got me to places that I wouldn’t have been able to reach without them. However, while we move forward in a digital world, there are elements to a book that simply can’t be replicated.
For example, say you need to learn how to apply a specific modifier. Upon searching YouTube, you’re going to have to sit through a five-minute tutorial to get to the good part, and sometimes websites are so inundated with ads and pop-ups, it’s hard to find what you’re searching for. Of course, this isn’t the case for every site or every video, but it’s a common occurrence.
With a book, I simply run to the index, and straight to the page for a concise rundown on what I need to do. And, if there’s one book I’d recommend, it’s Blender 3D by Example by Oscar Baecher and Xury Greer.
The book is primed to get you running through a series of practical projects that will help you learn core concepts of 3D design like modeling, sculpting, materials, textures, lighting, and rigging using the latest features of Blender (2.83).
- Learn the basics of 3D design and navigate your way around the Blender interface
- Understand how 3D components work and how to create 3D content for your games
- Familiarize yourself with 3D modeling, texturing, lighting, rendering, and sculpting with Blender
You can pick up this book for around $35.
Blender Development Fund
Blender survives because of direct community support. If you’re genuinely in the spirit of giving, consider making a donation to the Blender Development Fund. Any donations will help with core development.
This allows a team of software engineers to focus on developing all of those cool features you love so much. The Blender Development Fund helps to ensure the future of Blender.
Need some more tips, tricks, and advice? Check these out:
Cover image via Lauritta.