today blender addons are essential for any blender artists if they want to take full advantage of what blender can offer, though most of the addons available are paid addons, there are also great and comparable free alternatives you can use, unfortunately most of you do not know about them, so this is going to be a blender free addons vs blender paid addons, so if you are on a low budget or no budget, try scrapping through this list to see if there is a free alternative to your favorite paid addon.
1 Fspy vs Perspective Plotter
Fspy is a free standalone application for matching the camera angle and settings of any camera used to shoot any reference image you have and align it with your digital camera, it is used alot by architectures to reconstruct interiors or exteriors of buildings in 3d applications like blender , it used to be a blender addon and now its a standalone open source application with its own interface and to use it in blender now you have to install the fspy importer addon that will import the results from the standalone application into blender, i believe its these added steps that inspired the creator of perspective plotter to make an alternative to fspy that is a single step blender installation so you can do everything that fspy does and more all inside blender, perspective plotter has been around for a while and over 5000 of you have installed it.
lighting can be one of the hardest things to get right in blender, but since the introduction of Hdri lighting in blender, lighting has gotten easier and more accurate, but the problem with hdris is that the light is baked in the hdri image, so to change the lighting you either have to rotate the hdri or get a different hdri, making it the least flexible way of lighting, but thanks to free and paid addons like leomoon light studio and hdri maker, you can get the quality of hdri’s and flexibility back with these two addons.
the main difference being leomoon light studio is geared more to product visualization since it creates more forcused lighting and reflections, on the other hands hdri maker is not just for lighting your scenes but you can make the hdri part of your scene using the robust tools shiped with the addon.
3 Auto rig pro Vs Blenrig
this is the battle of the giants, Auto rig pro as a paid addon has been on the front page of the blendermaket since its launch as a testament to its popularity while blenrig is a free rigging addons used by professionals and has been a favourite for artists at blender studios using it in many blender open movies for rigging and animating characters.
both these addons have unique features and have been artists favorite for along time.
One of the first addons i ever got, botaniq is a paid addon for creating landscapes with trees, grass and all sorts of vegetations, its also one the most updated addons on the market, its developers are always adding more content and functionality nearly every after a few month, unfortunately i could not find a free blender addons or libraries like this as trees are harder to make, but what i found was a free standalone application for plant, grass and vegetation generation called tree it. its not a blender addon so you will have to work outside blender to create your trees but it generates very high quality trees and vegetations that you can easily export to blender and other applications.
this is for the men and women of culture, bone dynamics and wiggle bones are what you need to makes things look dynamic, there are things that are harder to animate with hands, but can also get hard if animated with hands, wiggle bones and bone dynamics add secondry animation to your characters rig, like tails, hair animation and can also help with cloth animation if you dont want to do cloth simulations, they also support object collisions and more.
6 Free Cell Fracture vs Paid Rbd Lab
cell fracture used to be a hidden gem in blender, when you needed to destroy objects it was the dominant recommendation of blender forums and reddit posts, but it has seen little to no improvements since 2.8 so alot of vfx artists have move on to paid addons like rbd lab, that brings more modern features like activators, partial fracturing,fracture detail, motion detecting and more, basically a whole pipeline that was restricted to applications like houdini is now in blender thanks to the rbd lab addon.
the advantage cell fracture has over rbd lab is that it comes shipped with blender and can still do simple fracturing effects if you add some physics simulation to it, but if you want to make serious vfx you will have to invest into something like rbdlab.
6 Geo Cables vs cablerator
if you are making any thing that is post historic, or after industrialization, you are going to need a decent way to make cables, its hard to imagine any modern eviroment without any wires or cables hanging somewhere, of course you can do it like a cave man and model them yourself, which is great if you are still learning but quite time consuming to do and harder to make it look right. the alternative is using cable generators like geo cables or cablerator. these two are all great addons that do the same thing, though geo cable is free to download, cablerator seems to have abit more options for the type of cables you can generate with it, so if you are going for that extra detail look into it.
there are not alot of free options for rigging cars except finding models that are already rigged, but when it comes to rigging something custom the usable the free option i could find was rig a car, it provides a robust rig for most car animations so if you are doing something basic or are willing to put in extra time in the animation part rig a car is a great free option, on the other hand RBC is a car rigging addon that is basically plug and play, its also physics based so you do not have to worry about car tires going through walls as it supports collissions and basically a physics simulation in its self. it also comes with a library of ready to animate cars you can use and advance drivers for setting the speed of the car and auto steering of the car.
plant generators are hard to find even paid ones what is popular though is plant libraries like this free plant library, its a collection of trees, plants and vegetations plus some extra things like dead trees, leaves and rocks, this free library is enough for most hobby users but for more professional users the paid addon geo scatter is much better, its also made by the same developers of the free plant library, so you can use the plant library as a test to see how you like there content. furthermore the plant library can also work with geoscatter as geoscatter is not just a library but a scattering addon for making realistic eco systems or environments.
9 JULIO sillet Material pack vs extreme pbr nexus.
there are an infinite number of materials in the world so you will never create all the materials you need in blender and why bother if there people already doing that for you, one such person is Julio sillet who dedicates alot of time creating pbr materials for his followers on gum road, most of these are free and easy to use inside blender. the only problem is since he releases these material parks on a weekly or monthly basis as a set of 5 to 10 parks, importing them is going to require some work. an alternative but paid option is using an addon like extreeem pbr materials that comes with over 1800 pbr materials, and an addon to manage the importing, mixing and adding effects to the materials.
10 human generator vs make human
this list would not be complete without an easy way to create characters, we all get into blender to tell stories and those stories need characters, there no free addons for creating characters in blender directly but what i found was the next best thing and that is make human, a standalone application capable of making characters of any type or race, textured, fully rigged and fully customizable, you can export to exchange formats that are supported by blender like fbx or obj but if you want a complete solution inside blender human generator is what i would recommend, it does everything that make human does and the quality of characters produced with human generators is better, it also comes with animations you can add to your characters and support proxies to optimize viewport perfomance and more.