Is Blender Actually Hard to Learn?

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  02 February 2018
Is Blender Actually Hard to Learn?

https://youtu.be/StTF1c2Jngs

Some of my thoughts on the subject. Let's hear what you think?
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  02 February 2018
The Blender UI is like religion. For the true believers it is holy and infallible, for the rest of us it just compleltly irrational. Such a shame, blender could have been THE 3d application. But the in the spirit of religious freedom, we have to let the blender foundation believe in whatever they want.
 
  02 February 2018
I wouldn't say it is hard to learn, just different. The vast majority of it's users are hobbyists and they seem to cope. The UI is regarded as unconventional when compared to to 'norms' and paradigms that have evolved and exists across all the major 3D apps. But then again, this can be levelled at ZBrush's interface too.

The question I asked myself was 'is there a reason to learn it'?.  I took the time to learn ZBrush because the pay-off was immensely worth it. ZBrush offered what no other app could at the time and I wanted in. But Blender offered me no incentive to grapple the UI because, apart form being free, it had nothing extra to offer me over my choice app.

However, it looks like Blender has finally pipped C4D in functionality and features - and incredible feat and one that would have got me interested in Blender again. However, I have already invested in the awesome Houdini which laughingly sits on top of them all. Houdini is like learning ZBrush again - confusing but with an incredible pay off. Houdini Indie is as good as free in my opinion.
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  02 February 2018
Yup!  It is hard.   It is made by nerds and not by creatives.   It is very technical and many things could be done a lot, lot easier with fewer clicks.  It is powerful and great to use but yup...hard to use.

A:M
Zbrush
Motionbuilder
Cinema 4d
sketchup
are pretty easy to use.
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  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by masterofacid: The Blender UI is like religion. For the true believers it is holy and infallible, for the rest of us it just compleltly irrational. Such a shame, blender could have been THE 3d application. But the in the spirit of religious freedom, we have to let the blender foundation believe in whatever they want.


Perhaps somebody is paying the Ton Rosendaal money not to change the UI. You know, so the 4K-a-license commercial 3D apps don't tank completely.

Blender has easily become the dumbest, silliest, most irrational and most difficult to understand open source project in the entire audiovisual software space.

ALL of the major features of a commercial 3D app are in place. The people developing Blender are NOT new to 3D. They very likely know how to use Maya, Max, C4D or another 3D app pretty damn well. They are also smart enough to read Computer Graphics books and papers. They are NOT people who've never encountered a better UI or work in a vacuum. GUI design also is NOT rocket science. Its very, very doable if you have used some software before.

Shitloads of people have complained about the Blender UI over the last decade. About 8 out of 10 people who download Blender probably cannot get past the weird UI at all and delete Blender again within a few minutes of using it. That's one of the worst try-to-use-then-delete failure rates in the entire open source space.

A UI redesign is also something you can [b]ask for donations for
and crowdsource simply by asking people "We want next-generation Blender to have the ultimate 3D UI. What should it look like?" You'll get thousands of suggestions when you do that.

If there were another 2 Open Source 3D softwares like Blender that did it better, all of this wouldn't be a problem. You'd say "Blender's UI is shit" and just download one of the other 2 apps.

Blender would also die very very quickly as a 3D software and as an open source project. Or scramble to improve its UI as quickly as possible.

But Blender is the only serious open source 3D software in the entire world for people who are low on cash, or have no cash at all, and want to do 3D.

That only choice in the world steadfastly refuses to redesign its UI like LibreOffice for example did.

None of what the Blender developers have had to say about this over the years has made [b]any sense whatsoever.

I have done UI design in the past. Blender's UI feels like someone sat down and deliberately did not want Blender to be very usable at all.

There are hundreds of professional UI/UX designers in the world who could create a better UI for Blender in 2 to 3 months tops.

The Blender people could approach one of these designers at any time and make Blender a really amazing 3D app.

They do not do this and also have no credible explanation whatsoever for why they do not do this.

I have looked at the Blender UI many, many times. It feels like it was designed by someone who very deliberately did not want Blender to be very usable or easy to learn at all.

As for Ton Rosendaal, I have no respect for him whatsoever. This guy keeps adding tech feature after tech feature into his software, and completely neglects how people interact with said software.

They often say that Blender users are like a cult. Maybe Blender users are a cult with a cult leader who screws them into thinking that "Blender's non-standard UI is actually very good!"

No it isn't, Ton Rosendaal, and you probably know that better than anybody else.

Last edited by skeebertus : 02 February 2018 at 12:30 AM.
 
  02 February 2018
It's not Ton. He still does the best he can. It's simply how open source works most of the times. UI - UX design is at the back seat. Important is that the feature works at all. And then it ends over the years in the mess that we see in Blender.

Quote: The Blender UI is like religion. For the true believers it is holy and infallible, for the rest of us it just compleltly irrational.

This. And it is wasted time to discuss about religion. You won't convince anybody. But there is an alternative nowadays. And Bforartists is getting better with every release

https://www.bforartists.de/
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  02 February 2018
I have found over the years, that it's slightly easier to learn if you don't have any experience with other apps like Max/Maya, etc. If you've used other apps before, the going gets rough pretty fast. Heaven help you if you try to jump from something like c4D (IMO the best UI by far right now) to Blender. We tried to adopt Blender at my last job. I know how to use it relatively well so it was my job to be the trainer (along with a few other folks). The experiment failed. lol On top of just being frustratingly slow to learn for many folks, it had some other issues that caused it to not be ready for Primetime. 

I don't necessarily think the program itself is actually "hard" per say. I just think that, as others have said, it does in 5 clicks what most programs will do in 2. Then the whole right-click thing as well as how some of the keyboard shortcuts work. It all just gets in the way. You can alter most of that to be more like a "classic" 3D program, but then you have a situation where each person's app is set up very very differently than the last. 

Quote: Shitloads of people have complained about the Blender UI over the last decade. About 8 out of 10 people who download Blender probably cannot get past the weird UI at all and delete Blender again within a few minutes of using it. That's one of the worst try-to-use-then-delete failure rates in the entire open source space.

I always mention this when people start talking about how many downloads it has. Yeah, it gets decent numbers in terms of downloads. But a download rate ≠ actual adoption rate.
 
  02 February 2018
Its fine for hobbyists as a first app (no habits formed yet). But it is hostile for professionals.
And it  has no game changing features -like Houdini and Zbrush.
Just 'me too' features that are hostile to get to. So there is little motivation to 'convert' especially if you are not the one paying for the software anyway. Aka  'free' =  'dick-all' 
to most studio professionals. For it to 'take-over' the industry-more professionals need to be motivated to use it.

And really if not fixing something that most people complain about since the beginning -the UI-Why the hell should you ever expect them to add something 'new' that you really want?!
Their development road-map is probably not industry standard which makes them a lot less reliable for production if you ask me.

IMHO only Side Effects really care any more.  They get my vote.

Last edited by circusboy : 02 February 2018 at 04:05 PM.
 
  02 February 2018
Picking up a few points.

The idea of redesigning the UI in 3 months is wishful thinking. It could take 3 months just to get through something like a material UI or render settings window. Considering ideas stages, concepts, implementation, testing, feedback, adjustments, inevitable limitations. Of course it depends if you are thinking of fixing issues or remaking it, but you'd need to quadruple that timeframe as a starting point. The only way you'd do it that fast is if there were someone who knew what they were doing, had a vision for everything and were in a position of authority to get it done and not have to fight every little change against other people. You've got to fight against all the entrenched people who don't want anything to change, against other professionals who have other ideas. Against people who don't want to touch the ancient code of some areas where its a mess.

Could you design out a 3D app in 3 months? sure. Could you actually implement it against all the pushback? Not a hope in hell.

Regarding 8/10 people not sticking it out. this doesn't surprise me in the slightest. you simply cannot compare retention rates of blender against vlc/firefox/thunderbird/handbrake etc. Ignoring the UI faults, Blender is probably the single biggest and most complex open source app a person could learn. Many who want to learn 3D will grab blender first just because its free, regardless of which 3D app they downloaded, only a small fraction of users would stick it out. 3D is bigger and scarier than many anticipate. Im surprised the rate would be as high as 20%. How many people that grab the c4d/maya demo go on to make purchases? I doubt they hit the 20% mark.
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  02 February 2018
I very much agree with Mash. While i personally don't like Blenders interface and workflow much it isn't really harder to learn than others, not if you compare it to the over all task of learning any of the big 3D DCC packages.
As for three months to redesign a complete UX of a application like Blender, i have to disagree with Mash here. It would take years, at least if you want the redesign to be better than the old design.
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  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by Srek: As for three months to redesign a complete UX of a application like Blender, i have to disagree with Mash here. It would take years, at least if you want the redesign to be better than the old design.

Correct. To give you an idea, we work at Bforartists since two and a half years ...
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  02 February 2018
Again as said numerous times, here a few tips, wich helped me:

- Don't try to make blender behave like your other 3d software..your previous experience will not payoff, until you do have aquired some basic knowledge of blender and its workflow.
- Try to concentrate on one _simple_ feature (like unwrapping, physic sim, etc) to get accustomed to the basic interface navigation (numpad keys, splitting / merging windows / g r s the shortcut menus etc) and expand from there once mastered.  Trying to start with big chunks like the modeling environment from scratch is pretty damn hard without having some basic knowledge where to find things / knowing the interface. (especially comming from another software), 
- Try to reopen blender the next day once you closed it in frustration...you might not see progress in what you do, but your muscle memory _will_ be trained through this.
 
  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by tischbein3: Again as said numerous times, here a few tips, wich helped me:

- Don't try to make blender behave like your other 3d software..your previous experience will not payoff, until you do have aquired some basic knowledge of blender and its workflow.
- Try to concentrate on one _simple_ feature (like unwrapping, physic sim, etc) to get accustomed to the basic interface navigation (numpad keys, splitting / merging windows / g r s the shortcut menus etc) and expand from there once mastered.  Trying to start with big chunks like the modeling environment from scratch is pretty damn hard without having some basic knowledge where to find things / knowing the interface. (especially comming from another software), 
- Try to reopen blender the next day once you closed it in frustration...you might not see progress in what you do, but your muscle memory _will_ be trained through this.

I think the gist of this thread is that there is no motivation to go through these 'tips' when Blender offers nothing more than what established and proven 3D apps already offers. Blenders star feature, being 'free', might be enough for a hobbyist starting out, but until the developers listen to those who are giving it real and valuable advise, it will only exist in its cult like bubble.

Bforartists have recognised this and I wish them well. I think they will keep Blender relevant.
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  02 February 2018
well for me it offers some advantages where I do prefer it to commercial
alternatives I have at hand. More on the workflow front than on the features per se.
But these are personal preferences.

I'm offering these tips since they would have helped me a lot when
I started to use it alongside other software.

And heres another one: Don't try to use it for stuff wich you are good in your other software,
use it for the stuff what you hate to do in your application of choice.
 
  02 February 2018
Originally Posted by masterofacid: The Blender UI is like religion. For the true believers it is holy and infallible, for the rest of us it just compleltly irrational. Such a shame, blender could have been THE 3d application. But the in the spirit of religious freedom, we have to let the blender foundation believe in whatever they want.

I really don't get either position. Right-click selection is weird, but trivial to turn off, and having menus in the bottom left is odd but easy to get used to. Beyond that, nothing feels that weird. I've seen a lot of people go from Maya or Max to Blender, and it's never taken someone more than a week to get back up to speed with their specialty.

ZBrush, say, is much weirder.
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