Non-profit organisation The Blender Foundation has released Blender 2.72, an update to its cross-platform, open-source 3D graphics tool. The new build finally debuts a long-anticipated “Pie menus” feature.
Also improved are the Cycles Render tools, animation editor UI improvements, a new “Face split by edges” modelling tool and new Sun Beams compositing effect.
Version 2.72, also available in 64-bit and portable form on Windows, opens with the debut of a long-awaited new UI feature: support for “Pie menus”. These spread menu items radially around the mouse. The new feature is accompanied by redesigned tooltips, while the BI render preview now behaves in a similar fashion to the Cycle’s.
Two new modelling tools have been added: “Face split by edges”, which allows users to split faces by loose wire edges, and Editmesh Intersect, which makes it possible to quickly cut up geometry in Edit mode.
In addition, a number of new sculpting and painting tools have also been implemented in Blender 2.72, including Sharpen, Fill, Mask, Brush Opacity Control and Mask Pressure support, accompanied by 16 new blend modes.
A new Compositing effect is Sun Beams, which is designed to simulate the effect of bright light being scattered in a medium.
Game developers also gain a number of minor new tools, including Property Sensor evaluation types, Mouse actuator, X-Ray and BGE debug API. Users are warned a number of compatibility issues have been introduced with these changes.
The Cycle Render tools gain a number of new and improved features. First, Basic Volume Rendering is now officially available on GPU, with experimental support also added for Subsurface Scattering and Correlated Multi Jitter sampling.
The tools also gain improved volume rendering, shading and enjoy a performance tweak. A Quick Smoke node setup has been added along with other improvements to nodes, baking and the OSL, which has been updated.
Other new features and changes have been implemented to the Freestyle line rendering engine, 3D View tools, FBX plug-ins and more – a full set of feature highlights are available at the Blender.org website. The update is also rounded off by the usual vast number of fully documented bug fixes.
Blender 2.72 is available now as a free, open-source download for Windows, Mac and Linux. Also available for Windows users are Blender 2.72 (64-bit) and Blender Portable 2.71a – the latter is likely to be updated to version 2.72 in the next few days.