Blender, Maya, Cinema 4D, 3DS Max—these are nothing but world-building machines. They transform gray pixels into vibrant, colorful worlds with materials, textures, and living objects. From rivers to lakes, forests to space, if you can imagine it, these applications can bring it to life. Of course, there’s a caveat: you need to know how to use them. Some are more difficult than others, and often it depends on what you’re creating.
Each application has its strengths when it comes to world building, and the possibilities are endless. So, it’s always likely that whatever you’re working on, you will find limitations in the application you’re using—a weakness, you might call it.
So, what do you do when you find that the 3D program you’re using isn’t the best for what you’re trying to achieve? Do you switch to another? That takes too much work. Instead, you turn to the community. Each software has a large community dedicated to solving that program’s weaknesses through the use of third-party installations, extensions, plugins, or add-ons.
Today, let’s look at some exciting new third-party installations for Blender that will help you with world building.
a weakness of most 3d programs is rendering volumetric objects like smoke and fire takes too much time, leverage the power of sprite , these are png images of smoke, dust and fire that have been put together to look like fire, dust or smoke, the great thing about these is that they work in realtime and render in realtime, so you can make adjustments on the fly without weighting hours to preview what you are working on. this sprite particle pack comes with over 17 vfx presets that you can use in your scene to create, fire, smoke, mazzle flushes, rivers, water falls, rain, dust particles, directable explosions and more.
you want to build worlds, you have to build them block by block, this could take some time, but its understood you are a busy person, so artists like jean-yan have created a pack of more than 50 buildings to get you started, the buildings a well made, textured and ready to be apart of your world.
forests are not just a collection of trees, its an eco system, trees are just half of the equation, there is undergrowth, dead leaves, branches, birds and more, if you need a system that can put this all together, this forest generator is just what you need., it adds all the details you need while giving you all the customization necessary to make your vision come true.
features like delete zones will let you curve out empty areas to place buildings, walk paths and more. a forest this dense can be hard to render if its not well optimized thats why this installation comes with optimizations’ and adjustable tree settings with subdivision levels for exactly what you want.
if such detail is overkill for the type of world you envision to build, then Alpha trees might be the installation you need. thousands upon thousands of trees can be rendered on your screen without your computer ever noticing thanks to a simple trick of using alpha textures, this may not get you the close up detail you get with the forest generator installation, but alpha trees are not meant for close up shots either. if you want establishing shorts, then this is exactly what alpha trees was made for.
as an artist your greatest enemy is time, if you dont have enough of it, your visions will never come to life, we cant create more time but we can use less of it using installations like this spaceship generator, it turns simple cube extrusions into alien spaceships rich in detail and structure. it’s tools like these that makes it possible for single individuals like you and me to produce detailed stories and animations in a reasonable time.
still on the topic of saving time, nothing saves you more time like installing a material library into blender, this one is by polygoniq and its rich with pbr materials, this material installation comes with customizable parameters, so you that if you never want anything to look the same, you can make that possible.
the installation is extended to include procedural functions that reduce texture tiling, add imperfections and drag and drop options to make it super easy to use.
and for scifi directors, holograms are a nice touch to add to movie, its has always been a simple for advanced technology in hollywood. this cyber holograms installation comes with different kinds of holograms, there ones fit for product presentation, to show off the makeup of any products and ones for projecting images in a 3d.
if your movie is set in a cyberpunk future, or a warzone, or soviet error, or just a mix of everything, you will need buildings that much your settings, and the citybuilder 3d blender extension is an installation that comes with a number of these types of buildings, the extension comes with procedural tools that help you place the city automatically so you can make your world as big as you want.
while the citybuilder extension has a dystopia or postapocalypse feel to it, if you need a vibrat active city pre apocalypse, then cyberscape is your go to extension. this installation comes not only with buildings, but with procedural roads and car traffic, with mega cooperation’s, the installation is procedural in nature so you can make the city as big as you want.
if you already have your own buildings or trees or anything you want to procedurally distribute then geoscatter is the extension you want to install into blender. it comes with its own plant and vegetation library but its power comes with its scattering tools, its optimized to handle thousands of scatter agents, id maps and most importantly your scattered agents can still be moved around after scattering, a useful feature that most extensions dont have.
even with all these installations, you will still need to create your own custom models, for the hero characters, or main buildings this should be a fun process because adding you own touch is fun, what is not fun is uv unwrapping, no one notices it unless its not done or done incorrectly, but it takes too much time to do.
so its necessary, its hard work and it takes alot of time, does that mean to be hamble and just do the slow process of uv unwrapping, no we are not cave men, uv mapping can be a relaxing zen moment, if you install zen uv.
finally, making custom models is fun but its also hard work, you can turn basic shapes into complex objects using extensions like surface detail, its lite and easy to use.