Are You a True Supporter or just skimming the cream?

Hi there!

There are a lot of cool Open Source projects out there these days that usually produce some sort of free (as in beer) software, being it a small tool, a plugin for another application or a complete application by it self. Some of it is of poor quality, but this is definitely not the rule.

Most people don’t really think longer than that they get this piece of software for free, and how great it is to not have to pay for things.

What I’m trying to convey with this post is that there are usually an immense amount of work behind all of these projects and usually the developers and designers don’t earn much, if anything for doing this work.

Would you do that?
Would you spend maybe 50 – 90 % of your spare time working for free? Even if you believed in what you where doing it’s quite a commitment.

My point is that it is actually possible to donate a tiny sum of money once in a while or each month automated via PayPal if you can afford, at least for those software projects you’re using day in, day out without paying a cent in licence or maintenance for doing.

A an example:

I use and enjoy Blender. It has become a rather huge project with a lot of good developers working on the project, and it has even got a couple of full-time, paid developers to work on it. And if you haven’t discovered the cool Gooseberry Project, take a visit to their homepage and look around a little.

The Blender Foundation and the Gooseberry Project is cooperating on many levels these days, there is even a special Gooseberry edition of Blender that you can download from the Blender Build-bots.  There is a lot happening to the former Blender Shop where you could buy tutorials and books from individual companies as well as from more or less community acclaimed Guru figures from the “Blender world”, in addition to accessories like T-Shirts and other apparel.

Now there is a really interesting project going on called the “Blender Cloud”, that merges many of the sources of information and especially components from the Open Movie projects like Sintel, Tears of Steel and much more. They have a subscription based service that is in its infancy yet, but fully worth the price of around $9 / month already, as you can view and download many of the earlier products sold on the Blender Shop and maybe the most valuable, you get direct access to all assets used when making movies like Sintel. Complete with finished models, scenes, scripts, concept art and absolutely everything that was stored while producing these projects.

Now this is a SUPERB way to learn how a real world project like this gets done.

So, show some real commitment to the Blender Foundation, by subscribing to the Blender Cloud ever expanding service of useful resources.
(The only drawback is that you have to pay for the first three months in one go the first time you open an account. After 3 months without paying anything it’s the usual 9 something dollars per month.)

blender_cloud

The MadMan is back.

 

More Madness

 

When I read my last post I must say I really must have had a boost of optimism and god-like energy over me back then, eh?

Books to be written, 3D art to be made, Allegorithmic products to review, Python programming, Blenders Game Engine, Modo stuff.. Phew!

Well. I have actually done something. I won’t present anything here today, but some things stayed and some things did not.

I’m still into writing the book series, that’s one. (But it will be a bit postponed)

What I’m still into is off course Blender! It has gotten a LOT of updates the last seven months.
I’m still willing to create a tutorial series on the BGE (Blender Game Engine) which we all know is programmed with Python. Actually A LOT of Blender is programmed with Python now. It’s just the low level bits and pieces left in hard core C / C++ (?asm?).

I was planning on starting on this in a couple of weeks and off course post it on this blog, if it is any interest for it.

As some of you know, I’m a software developer, mainly using C# and C++, but I’ve also been using some Python through the years.

Lately I’ve been keen on learning to program GAMES. What kind of games? No idea. Just games. Fun programs that can include gaming elements, like “gamification” or something.

So I’ve downloaded the latest Unreal 4 Engine, but that was totally overkill for me. I need to know the basics first.

Even Unity seems a bit cryptic to me sometimes. But that’s mostly because of the horrific implementation of C# / .Net they’ve chosen. Goes against all good usage patterns.

So now I’m going to test out Blenders Game Engine, to see if I can make any sense of that.

Along the way will be some tutorials and some Python code for those interested.

 

Also I’ll look into some rendering with Cycles, Thea Render and LuxRender…

 

Until next time…

Blender Logo

 

 

 

 

 

Modo Logo

What do you know, now I’m back on the Modo Track…

To cite myself in my last post:

“Then we have Modo. Once my favorite polygonal modeler, back in the version 3 days. Now the whole company has been snatched by The Foundry, and all clues given leads in the direction of massive feature and price increases. So, no more Modo for me I guess.”

Then, out of curiosity, I visited the new Modo Site to check out how things where looking and what do I see?

Modo upgrades at a 40% rebate…
So, after bragging about Modo 701’s ability to run smooth on Linux in an earlier post I decided to get my CC and order the upgrade from my commercial 401 license to the latest 701 SP3. Hey, it was like $220 or something… Can’t let that slip by when I’ve always wanted to learn the ins and outs of Modo. I’ve been using it since the second version, so I figured, what a heck, it’s Christmas!

Besides, I needed a stable modeler to run on Linux besides Blender.

I mean, Blender is an awesome project, but that’s the thing. It’s a “Project” in a constant state of flux more than it is a stable “Product”, one version does things different from the next, not just in terms of the details but in the core implementation. So I find myself using about double the time on modeling something in Blender compared to using Modo, and as we all know time is our most precious asset in life.

So this winter I’ll get up to speed on the new Bullet physics implementation, the sculpting tools, the Python and the C++ API’s and the rest of this polished package.

I’ve also purchased the “Substance Designer”  version 4, which has very smooth integration with the Modo shading system, and it’s a joy to use.
I urge you to try it out, either as a trial or as a non-commercial learning tool for $99.

My goal in the world of 3D is to gather set of tools that makes a “good enough” pipeline, suitable for artists on a semi to low budget, that does things clean and efficiently and produces output that’s “on par” with expensive packages like Autodesk’s suites and tools like NukeX. Modo will definitely be a large part of this pipeline, but so will Blender and the Substance Designer from Allegorithmic.

Blender has some good compositing tools, Modo is the king of UV’s and texturing and is starting to get quite good on things like rigging and animation as well.

I believe that it should be perfectly possible to get a complete 3D pipeline of good tools for around $1000. If 3D is what you wish to do for work or as an advanced hobby, that’s not a bad price to pay. But you’ll need to be constantly monitoring the extreme offers from the tool producers via newsletters, RSS and forums.

I’m so sick of reading about a semi-professional artist with an image posted in magazines like 3D World and when they list the products used you see things like: 3DS Max, V-Ray, Nuke, Mari, Photoshop and ZBrush.
Should I seriously believe that this artist has legal licenses for software with an estimated value of $15.000 – 20.000? Seriously doubt it.
And if so, it’s NOT WORTH IT! Go figure, man!

Learn how to draw, learn Blender, Gimp and a semi-expensive package like Modo or Lightwave and you’ll be able to create just as nice results.

It’s in the hands and the mind of the artist, not in the tools. Only a poor craftsman blames his tools.

Until next time, have a wonderful Christmas you all and remember: Never stop learning!

40% off on Modo 701!

40% off on Modo 701!

 

 

 

 

 

The MadMan.

 

 

 

The Future Of Decent 3D Software for Enthusiasts and Professionals alike

Blender Image
Create what you want for free!

Ok. We all know and love Blender. But let’s face it, it has its quirks that needs some ironing out before it can totally     replace a package like Autodesk XSI or Autodesk Maya for many professional artists, or at least they think it does.

Don’t get me wrong here, it is definitely the tool of choice if you want an open source solution that can do “almost      anything”.

This is not to say that Blender has missing features, on the contrary, it has features that Maya tries to include, but has shipped with pretty serious bugs since around version 2009.
Now they have snatched a perfectly good plugin called NEX and “integrated” a.k.a. “slammed” it on top of their existing buggy tools, creating somewhat of a monster. Again. Those guys really never seem to learn the basics of Software Lifecycle Management. I’ve tried using it, but it’s so buggy that it ruins my models from time to time.

The 2014 Edition is already in SP3 and still bugs aren’t sorted. This is a frustration for many small studios that depends on stable software and don’t have the resources to create their own in-house work-around using the SDK. But what do they do? Soon they’ll release a new 2015 version with even more features and new bugs on top of that.

Then we have Modo. Once my favorite polygonal modeler, back in the version 3 days. Now the whole company has been snatched by The Foundry, and all clues given leads in the direction of massive feature and price increases. So, no more Modo for me I guess. I have my stable commercial license for Modo 401 that never stops to be valid, but hey, things evolve right? Who knows if it will be compatible with the next operating system I’m forced to update to because of other applications demands?

It still amazes me to see a company like Newtek still being alive and actually even kicking these days with the new Chronosculpt and Nevronmotion applications that lets you sculpt in time based layers and record motion data via a cheap $99 Kinect Sensor! Way to go!
How much this will be used remains to be seen, but they are on a creative roll and they NEVER give up. That is the true spirit of life. In addition they’ve released a free update to existing v. 11 (maybe also v. 10?) customers in form of Lightwave 11.6.
This edition is the most groundbreaking release since version 9.6 in my eyes. It actually is a NEW LIGHTWAVE.
A lot of new cool modeling tools and a great deal of new features on the rigging and animation side with the introduction of the Genoma system and off course an updated integration of the Bullet Physics engine, so sorely needed.
To bad I only have an educational license for version 9.6. But they do have a good offer these days, letting me upgrade to 11.6 for around $350 or something.
But, it’s Christmas and I have other posts on my budget screaming for coverage…

When it comes to a simple, fast and stable polygonal modeler we have the option of using Silo. It’s a $159 application and is an extremely competent modeler application.
But it hasn’t been actively developed for over two years.
So the reason for starting this article was really to investigate the possibility to crowd-fund a purchase of the Silo source code from Nevercenter and turn it into an actively maintained Open Source project. Personally, I have an hour or two now and then for coding some C++, Python or whatever they’ve used to create the product.

The question is: How many others are in on a project like this?

I’ve posted a poll over at CG SOCIETY (CGTalk) and for those that would be so kind, I urge you to give your vote to one of the options presented there.

I’ve been lousy at posting new stuff to my blog lately and probably have lost a lot of readers, but hopefully some remain truthful to the old madman.

Here is the link to the post on CGC:

Poll for Open Sourcing Silo 

For those that does not have a CGC account, get one! Kidding.

I’ll present the poll in this post as well, though it won’t be linked with the results on CGC, so the best is if you take the time to register over there. They even have a $19 / Year deal for a premium subscription right now (normally $79) with a lot of goodies.

All the best,

The MadMan

Making the move, “from commercial 3d software to blender” part 4 (Tools)

Hello there!
First I’d like to say thank you to those giving me feedback on this blog series, through comments, forums, Twitter and the Blender IRC channel! It’s been very positive and that makes writing these posts a lot easier. The main reason I’m doing this is to get more users out there to understand that Blender can be a viable alternative to their current commercial software, and at the same time I tend to learn things much better myself when I try to teach / demonstrate the workings of something. Well, on to the real content…

This time around I’m going to cover the general tools and workflow in Blender compared to software like Maya and Modo.
As you all know I’ve just started using Blender a couple of weeks ago myself, so I’ve had to do some serious experimentation and reading to get comfortable enough with the different tools to present it to the public! But now I finally feel that I’m ready to embark on a real project in Blender, even though it will take more time than usual, because I’m not fluent with the hotkeys and tools just yet.

What I’ll do in this post today, is to present some tools and their hotkeys that I’ve found myself using a lot and describe their usage and sometimes compare them to similar tools in Maya and Modo.

Many new users complain that Blender is so hard to learn because of all the hotkeys involved. For those that’s just starting out in the world of 3D this is totally understandable, but for users coming from a different software it should not be a problem learning the most important hotkeys needed for let’s say modeling. It all boils down to laziness if this is an argument for not learning Blender! Besides in the recent versions, Blender has gotten more comfortable in sense of the user interface, and most things CAN be done using menus and buttons. The way I feel about it is that no matter what software I use I’ll want to learn the hotkeys. It speeds up things considerably, and it’s no different learning the Blender hotkeys than learning the Maya or Modo hotkeys, it’s the same thing.

When deciding to cover Blenders toolset I had to make some decisions on how to organize the material of this post so it makes sense and follows a pattern of some kind. It is a lot to cover, and I landed on a different approach than what I planned in the first place. Instead of creating one gigantic post, I’ll spread it over multiple posts, each containing bite-sized chunks of information. I think that makes more sense, as I’m new to the program myself, and I want to feel that I know what I’m talking about.

Blender has so many uses and tools for doing everything from the “usual” modeling / texturing / rendering to advanced animation, physics simulations, video editing / compositing, game creation, basic sculpting, and the list probably goes on. Covering all of this would be a serious undertaking and I’m not gonna do that! I’ve not even started to scratch the surface of all this functionality myself, so I’ll limit this introduction to the modeling tools for the time being, touching a little bit of texturing and rendering a long the way.

Let’s start with the basics of the modeling tools, looking at how they compare to the similar tools in Maya.
When I first started to use the tools in Blender I thought “What? Is this it? These tools are crap!”, but after reading up on them in the Blender Manual and experimenting a bit, I started to see that they are at least as powerful as the tools in Maya, if not more so. Even after the short time I’ve been exposed to Blender I feel that I’m gonna like these tools better than the tools in both Maya and Modo! Seriously! You just have to understand how they work! Off course I can’t just say that and not give any examples to prove my case, so I’ll give some examples along the way pointing out what I like and why I think they sometimes are superior. Understand me right, I’m not saying that everything is better in Blender, but some tools have options that I miss in other software.

And what is the idea behind this 3D Cursor thing!?  Well, it can work as an insertion point, a pivot for transformation and as a snapping target.
It’s nice to be able to specify the object’s position before creation!
This can be a little annoying when you’re not used to it, but a nice feature all together.

For each section, I’m gonna start with a list of the tools and their hotkeys that I’ve found myself using a lot while modeling (well some of them only sporadically), and then go on to describing them in practice with some pictures and screencasts.

I’LL USE CAPITAL LETTERS IN ALL SHORTCUTS FOR READABILITY, WHEN SHIFT IS NEEDED IT WILL BE INCLUDED IN THE HOTKEY!

S = Scale
Alt + S = Scale along Normals (called “Shrink/Fatten” in the menu)
R = Rotate
G = Grab/Move

If you want to reset the Move / Rotation / Scale values to zero, which basically does the same as the “Center Selected All” in Modo or the F12 hotkey in Lightwave (The Clear Grab):

Alt + S = Clear Scale
Alt + G = Clear Grab (Object to Center)
Alt + R = Clear Rotations

This must be done in “Object Mode”.

First we have the basic move, rotate and scale tools. In other applications there wouldn’t be much to say about these tools as they are self-explanatory but in Blender they have some nifty options worth explaining. These tools have some options that are common for them all:

Hold Ctrl while transforming to use step values, and shift to use partial (more exact) values.
You can constrain the movement,rotation and scale commands by pressing X, Y or Z, or
lock it to a plane by hitting Shift + X, Y or Z to ex. move only in X, Y space, hit Shift + Z
You can have Blender constrain to the dominant axis under your mouse using the MMB while transforming the object, but this is not always intuitive imho.
Finally, you can use numeric input with the transform tools! Very nice.
ex. to move the selected object or components 5 units in x, press:
G (grab) + X (constrain) + 5 (units) then LMB or Enter to confirm.
This works with both positive and negative numbers off course.
Another way to apply numeric transformation is by using the properties region (N to show/hide)

In Maya you have off course the basic operations of move, scale and rotate, but no way of using the keyboard to enter numeric values directly into the tool, you have to use the input boxes. Also, it is not as easy to constrain transformations to a given axis. You have to use the manipulator and select the axis you want to deactivate with your mouse, then you have to activate it after. All over, I’d say that the differences in these tools are small in practice, but more controllable using Blender. Less mouse clicks are always a good thing 😉 The ability in Blender to constrain, then numerically enter the transformation in units with the keyboard is really helpful and not as easy to do in Maya. Also, the “Continuous Grab” option in Blender, that makes the cursor continue to affect the values when you move out of the viewport, by jumping it through and through is really a lifesaver. But that probably made no sense what so ever to people not using Blender, so I’ll demonstrate it with a little screencast:

Now isn’t that something! 😉

Blender sports some really cool proportional editing tools, that operates kinda like the falloff in Modo and the Soft Select in Maya, but includes options that extends the functionality of some of these tools, like the ability to randomly transform components, making it easy to create landscapes and mountains, rocks and other things that has random form qualities. The way you can use these are as follows:

O (letter o) = Enable proportional falloff
Shift + O = Toggle different falloff modes
Mouse wheel = Adjust radius of influence
Alt + O = Toggle Connected option

Here is a small video, showing how the Proportional Edit Tool works:

To do any kind of serious modeling you need to be able to control the pivot point of your object, and to control how to make the tools operate from the correct “action center”. Modo is exceptional when it comes to doing these things, Maya is not as good and I’d place Blender in between, above Maya when it comes to ease of use and functionality. To control the Pivot you can:

, = Change Pivot to Bounding Box (default)
Alt + , = Change Pivot to 3D Cursor (Added this myself, couldn’t find it anywhere!)
Ctrl + , = Change Pivot to Median Point
Alt + . = Change Pivot to Active Element
Ctrl + . = Change Pivot to Individual Origins
Shift + Ctrl + Alt + C = Set Center of object

To control the axis of operations you use the Alt + Space hotkey to select between:

Global, Local, Normal, Gimbal or View

Before I leave the basic transformation tools I’d like to say something about the “feel” of these tools.
The manipulators are not blocking the selection ability! This is VERY nice compared to Maya, where the manipulator always gets in the way of selecting mesh components.
When it comes to selecting components, the automatic selection of faces when selecting the verts that makes up the faces without the need to convert selection to faces as you do in Maya is also very nice.

Where to go next? I guess you could go in all sorts of directions, but I’ll use a list of hotkeys that I’ve found myself using pretty often, explaining some of the tools where the functionality differs from how other applications mentioned operates.

If you’re just starting out in Blender, I urge you to fire it up, and try to use these hotkeys to get a feel for how they work!

Ctrl + LMB = Extend / Create point (Can be used as a simple extrude!)
This is a universal command that adds a new point, edge or face to meshes and creates a new
point on curves / F-Curves, beziers and the likes.

F = Fill/Make Edge/Face (Can fill three or four vertices with a face, join two vertices with
an edge)

Alt + Q = Toggle Transform Tool (custom)*
Alt + m = Merge
Shift + V = Slide Vertex
Ctrl + R = Create Edge Loop (PgUp/PgDown or scroll to change number of cuts)
E = Extrude (Alt + E to get option for individual)
Ctrl + N = Unify Normals (NB! In edit mode)
Alt + S = Shrink/Fatten (Scale along Normals)
Shift + Alt + F = Make Sphere (turn the selection into a circular form)
Alt + Space = Choose Transform Axis Orientation (Action Center)
K = Knife (Z to cut through non-visible, Press Ctrl to cut through the middle of an edge)
Shift-K = cuts only the selection and cuts through all faces (not just front faces)
Duplicate / Copy = Shift + D
P = Separate (Extract selection to separate mesh)
Y = Split (Cut the selection from mesh / disconnect)
Shift + Ctrl + Alt + C = Center Geometry to Origin
Ctrl + E = Slide Edge (Edge tools/options)
J = Vertex Connect
Ctrl + F = Face Functions / Face Tools
Ctrl + V = Vertex Tools
I = Extrude Inner / Inset face
Ctrl + B = bevel
Ctrl + E = Bridge edges (Edge tools/options)
X = Delete (Menu with different options) Also: Dissolve

Tool for subdividing and many other things are found under the W hotkey “Specials” menu.
Also you can find special tools relating to edges with the Ctrl + E hotkey, Faces with Ctrl + F, and vertices with Ctrl + V.

Well, that’s it for this post! Hope you enjoyed it and hopefully you picked up something useful while reading it…

I have to mention one more thing about the Blender community:

The community is awesome!

I missed the ability to toggle between the actual manipulator handles (Move/Rotate/Scale) with a hotkey.

So, I posted it to the developer forum, and an hour or so later, I had a Python script that did just that! Now that is not something you’ll get when contacting Autodesk! (And I doubt that the Maya forums would give me this kind of service either…)

Truly amazing…

Well…

As I said earlier, I’ll continue to post my experiences with moving to Blender over the next few posts to this blog, so please subscribe if you find this interesting! You can also follow my Twitter at: @furiousape that gets pinged every time I post to this page.

Until next time:

Happy Blending! 😉

About part 4 of “from commercial 3d software to blender”

When deciding to cover Blender’s toolset I had to make some decisions as to how to organize the material so it makes sense and follows a pattern of some kind. It is a lot to cover, so I guess it will be a long post! Hopefully the readers that’s really interested in switching to Blender will appreciate it though…

Blender has so many uses and tools for doing everything from the “usual” modeling / texturing / rendering to advanced animation, physics simulations, video editing / compositing, game creation, basic sculpting, and the list probably goes on. Covering all of this would be a serious undertaking and I’m not gonna do that! I’ve not even started to scratch the surface of all this functionality myself, so I’ll limit the first introduction to the modeling tools for the time being, touching a little bit of texturing and rendering a long the way.

I’ve made a draft for this post and I’ll keep working on it! Just so you don’t think it’s abandoned if it should take a couple of days…

Until Next Time:

Happy Blending! 🙂

making the move, “from commercial 3d software to blender” part 3

Today I’ll go over my impressions of the User Interface (UI) of Blender.

The User Interface is what gives you the first impression of any software, and Blender has an interface that looks pretty sleek and modern. It uses a Cross platform OpenGL GUI library that looks the same on all supported platforms, which is a good thing!

The interface has three “rules”, saying that it should be:

  • Non Overlapping: The UI permits you to view all relevant options and tools at a glance without pushing or dragging windows around.
  • Non Blocking: Tools and interface options do not block the user from any other parts of Blender. Blender doesn’t pop up requesters that require the user to fill in data before things execute.
  • Non Modal: User input should remain as consistent and predictable as possible without changing commonly used methods (mouse, keyboard) on the fly.

So what does this mean in practice?

Well, Blender is and looks a bit different than anything else out there and therefore takes some getting used to, as with anything else in Blender.
But personally I’ve come to like it very much, because it allows for unhindered configurability. If you like to work in a full 3d view, without any distractions (this is the way I prefer to model), you can just hit Ctrl + UpArrow to toggle a full window/regular view (you need to have your mouse cursor over the window/pane to maximize).
This is a very nice feature when working with the Node Editor, to give you space to see your whole node system, or any other panel you like to isolate.

Like in Modo, the windows can be split into as many smaller windows as you like, each containing different content, or duplicating an existing one if that is what you want. I love this ability to create new window presets, and they can also be saved and restored in later sessions.

Some pictures are in place to demonstrate this:

Blender Interface 1

You can click and drag any divider to split the windows horizontally or vertically
Blender Interface 2

This way you can construct your own working presets, like this one I’ve made for texturing:

Blender Interface 3

So, as you can see, the interface is very customizable.

I don’t know what else to say about the window arrangement, but it is very easy to get exactly what you want for any given job.

No 3D application would be complete without a Quad View, and Blender supports this as well. Just hit Ctrl+Alt+Q (for quad, i guess).

Blender Interface 4

You can switch the 3D view to show wireframe, textured, shaded, as bounding boxes and with Cycles renderer enabled, you can also view the object As Rendered! Very nice indeed.

After working in Blender for a couple of days, the viewport/window shortcuts I find myself using most for navigation (in random order) is:

Ctrl + Alt + 0 (zero) = Align Active Camera to view
This way it is easy to set up a general view for render in the 3D viewport.

Shift + C = Center Cursor and view all
To get an overview of my scene

. = Zoom to selected
Would not survive without this

Ctrl + UpArrow = Maximize window under cursor
Very nice feature to get into the details

Numpad / = Isolate selected in view (local/global view)
Very practical for getting an undisturbed focus to a single object in the viewport

z = toggle solid/wireframe view

Home = Zoom to All
Get a view over your whole scene

1 – 10 = Select layer (shift to add more than one)

1-9 (num pad) = jump to different views (top,right,back etc) 5 to toggle persp/ortho

And off course the regular Rotate, Zoom and Pan is self explanatory.

Last time I covered the Selection tools briefly, and next up, I’ll cover some of the basic tools that I find myself using all the time and how I think they work compared to how other software implements similar solutions.

This has been a brief overview of the Viewport and navigational features of Blender.

I really like the way it is implemented, and I don’t miss anything from Maya or Modo when it comes to windows and navigation, though it does take some time to adjust to it! Within a few days it starts to feel more and more natural anyway…

Until Next Time:

Happy Blending 😉

making the move, “from commercial 3d software to blender” part 2

Starting out:

When I first tried to get to know the interface and how to navigate around, I had a hard time getting comfortable with Blender’s navigation and selection scheme. I know, you could select “Maya” in the user input preferences, but that will cause other keyboard hotkeys to change as well, and I want to learn to use the default hotkeys to better be able to follow tutorials and guide others with using Blender. What you can do (and what should have been done by the Blender developers) is to set up a Maya “Navigation Only” preset, so only the viewport navigation would be affected, without altering the hotkeys for the transformation tools. That has been an option in Modo since version 401, and something I’ve used since then.

But it is pretty easy to set this up yourself in the user preferences if you want, but I find that if I use “Emulate 3 button Mouse” in the preferences, I can use both my MacBook, with and without a mouse connected, my stationary workstation with my Wacom Intous to navigate with ease using:

Alt + LMB to Rotate
Alt + Ctrl + LMB to Zoom
Alt + Shift + LMB to Pan/Move

This is kinda like in Lightwave and Modo and works fine when you get used to it.

Then it is the selection of objects and sub-components (verts,edges,faces),
which in Blender is done with the RIGHT mouse button! Yes, you heard me right,
the right mouse button it is. There is an option in the preferences to change
this to Left mouse button, but that will cancel the “Emulate 3 button mouse”
that I use, so I had to get used to selecting with my right mouse button. But
believe it or not, it wasn’t as hard as I would have thought, and within a
couple of days, I didn’t feel that it was too alien to do so.

Starting out I didn’t find the selection tools in Blender very comfortable or
powerful, but after learning how to actually use them, I actually prefer them
over any other application out there! Well, maybe Modo still has a minor
advantage in terms of selections, but Blender’s versions is more than just ok.
It really is good enough for my purposes anyway. It goes something like this:

RMB will select objects or components, shift to add / remove
Ctrl + LMB + Drag to get a Lasso selection (+shift to deselect)
C + LMB will give you a “Circle” / Paint selection (MMB to deselect / wheel to set radius)
B + LMB will give you a “Box” selection (MMB to deselect)
Alt + RMB on an edge will select a loop
Ctrl + Alt + RMB will select a ring
Shift + G will select “similar” where you can choose from ex. perimeter, material etc
Ctrl + L = Select connected (L to select connected under cursor)
Shift + L = Deselect connected under cursor
Ctrl and +/- on the Numpad will expand or contract your selection

So as you can see, Blender has its ass covered when it comes to selections!
There may be more to it, but this is what I have found until now.

That’s it for the introduction, briefly covering the 3d viewport navigation and
selection tools. Next up, I’ll go more in depth with navigating the UI and
window presets, which is a very powerful feature of Blender with unlimited
possibilities.

What I can say up to now, is that Blender takes some time getting used to, with
these new ways of doing things, and I still feel like a snail trying to run
when I try to do a project in Blender, but I like it more and more for each day
I use it! I’ve started to model a character with it now, and I’ll texture and
render it with Cycles, using the node-based shader system. I’ll keep posting my
learning experiences to this blog, so be sure to subscribe for updates if you
find this interesting!