NPO The Blender Foundation has released Blender 2.71, an update to its cross-platform, open-source 3D graphics tool. Version 2.71, also available in 64-bit and portable form on Windows, includes new features and continues to build on the recently revamped user interface.
Areas that enjoy significant changes include the Cycles renderer, Animation, Modelling, Sculpting/Painting, Game Engine and Freestyle NPR Rendering tool.
Cycles gains support for rendering volume textures, fire and smoke, deformation motion blur, baking textures from cycles materials, additional texture interpolation modes and a new dedicated UV layer node.
The Animation tools adds new interpolation types containing “easing equation” presets, while auto-snapping becomes independent from the display type and locking time to other windows is once again possible. It also adds lasso selection support and the ability to set preview range based on selected strips.
A new per-face normals feature within Modelling allows blender to correctly display and export sharp edges, while the selection tools also offer more options.
Fans of sculpting and painting will discover a new HSL colour wheel for selecting colour alongside performance tweaks for the dyntopo and matcap display modes. The Game Engine adds multi-threaded animations, shadows-only materials and action layers alongside a UI for deactivating logic bricks.
Freestyle has been upgrade with support for textured strokes, while users also gain the ability to sort lines to more easily control the order of line drawing.
The user interface, which was overhauled for version 2.70, continues to evolve with resizeable preview widgets, draggable popup menus and new icons for texture painting.
Users also gain more control for curve bevelling, explicit shadow cast control for blender’s internal materials, improved handles for mask editors and a new distortion model when motion tracking. A new FBX Exporter has also been added and a vast array of documented bug fixes have also been implemented.
Blender 2.71 (32-bit) is available now as a free, open-source download for Windows, Mac and Linux. Also available is Blender 2.71 (64-bit), while Blender Portable 2.70a is likely to be updated to version 2.71 in the next few days.