it’s nearly impossible to escape the daily onslaught of videos showcasing the latest and greatest 10 brand-new add-ons for Blender on youtube. And yes, I’m guilty of making those videos too! It’s no secret that the Blender community is flooded with an abundance of add-ons, and at times, it might seem like you can’t do anything without them. but that could not be further from the truth. So, stick around, because in this video, we’re going to explore the real power of Blender beyond add-ons!”
lets look at 10 blender built-in tools you need to know.
blender comes with over 20 built in modifiers and they can be used to make about anything you can think of, these can also be used in combination to make them even more powerful, for example, if you combine the a multiresolution modifier, a cloth modifier, a decimate and wireframe, you get a cloth like fishing net. this is what most addons do, they combine a few modifiers or builtin tools to make something different but under the hood they are just doing things you can do your self.
blender comes with several ways to make duplicates of any objects, this could be just simple duplicates scattered with the hair system or copies attached on other objects, forexample.
by simply parenting one object to another, you can turn the parent into a a Frankenstein of its child objects using the instancing tool, this will turn each vertex of the parent into a copy of the child object, if the parent is animated, the new copy will also be animated. you can change the scale of the copies by scaling the original copy, and you can align the rotation of each copy to the nearest vertex or face of the parent.
there is so much you can do with the particle system, that this video would go on for years if i had to list everything, but to show this system’s underrated power, lets morph particles from one shape to another, this can be setup using a simple particle system where the source has a physics type of keyed, and in the relations,
you add first the source object which is the holder of the same particle system, then the target object, which should also have its own particle system, preferably with physics turned to none or boids with a very low air speed to keep the particles moving but not far way from the object.
when the particles are played they will move from the original object to the final object, and each particle will take position of any particle on the target object, if the target particles are moving the original particles will track them down until they catch up, taking up there position, the speed at which they catch up will be the life time of the particles you set for the original instancer object.
4 Boids for birds
boids physics in the particle system can be used for making flocks of birds and and crowds like in this tutorial, but lets setup a quick flock of birds.
get an animated bird flying, import it to blender, and make 4 variations of the birds, offsetting the animation a bit for each copy so that there animation is not in sync.
add these birds in a collection named birds.
Add a cube, and give it a particle system, set the physics type to boids, max air speed to 100, and min air speed to .8, air personal space set to 1
for the boids brain, add goal, separate and flock, for the goal, you can set a moving object as a target so the birds can follow it.
in the render set render as to collection, scale the birds down using scale value and random scale, then set the collection to the birds collection we made , use pick random and you are set, now you have a flock of birds chasing an object, add a sky background and enjoy the birds flying.
5 Motion tracking
if you want to do motion tracking outside blender, your options are limited to expensive subscriptions like pfTracker or free software like voodoo tracker which has not been updated for 5years. but why would you go outside blender for motion tracking when blender has a fully built motion and object tracking system built in. if you have never used it before, you should probably watch a tutorial to get you started.
while addons like flip fluids, cell fluids and fluid painter are amazing products for generating fluids in blender, they are simply alternative ways to fluid simulation in blender, blender comes with a fully capable fluid system that can be used for anything you can think of fluid related, i would only recommend the use of addons if you want something fast or working on a client project where you have some extra cash for more quality and convenience.
7 rigid body system and cell fracture
the cell fracture tool can be used to break objects into small chunks and the rigid body system will apply physics to those chunks, using this can open up a wide range of vfx shots you can make all inside blender without ever touching a single addon.
8 cloth system
cloth simulation in blender is one of the most underrated areas of blender, it can be used for so much, not just waving flags, you can use it to dress up characters, make pillows, beddings, curtains and more, if you learn how to stitch patterns using sewing, everything else becomes very easy.
for example a pillow is just two subdivided faces, with the edge boundaries connected together with sewing and pressure turned on as well.
while a curtain is just a subdivided plane with the top vertices pinned and animated using a hook object to shrink, when you add a cloth modifier you can get curtains.
then there is the smoke and fire simulation system, while this may not be as powerful as embergen, the builtin smoke simulator is powerful enough for most things. its quick and easy to use, and if you want something quick you can use the search bar, to set it up easily by searching quick effects or quick smoke.
this will setup the smoke, and materials which can sometimes be tricky to setup.
10 dynamic painting
the dynamic painting system is one of the most underrated system, it can be used to make simple water ripple simulations, make mad, foot steps, tire markings and more. you can also use it to make masks for contact between objects or wet maps too.
its also easy to setup all you need is a paint object and a canvas mountain.
bonus Geometry nodes.
and for everything else there is geometry nodes, the learning curve here is much steeper than all the other tools but when you learn it, the sky is the limit.