Should I be using Blender?

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  08 August 2013
Should I be using Blender?


I’m considering using Blender for a new project. I’ve been programming for over 34 years, but this is totally new to me (The CG, 3D…). My goal is to create an end application (Not Blender), which will allow the user to pose 3D skeletal people (or “stick figures”) frame by frame, and provide an end position in 3D space for each frame. Then allow the user to play back an animation of the “person” moving through 3D space. Basically, I want to create a simple 3D animation editor with playback. I assume I would have to use the game engine. This is a simplified description…

My question: Is Blender the engine I should be looking at? If not, do you have any suggestions?

Thank you in advance.
  08 August 2013
That's a tough one. If you want to use a game engine I would recommend checking out Unity. You should be able to easily access the skeletal animation system they have in place, and you might get inverse kinematics for free. I've done very little dabbling in Unity, but from what I've seen of its scripting language(s) it's quite robust.
  08 August 2013
Thanks glenmoyes,

I will check out Unity. The more I research Blender, the more I want to learn it. I don’t necessarily want to use the game engine; I just thought that using it might make my life easier. Am I barking up the wrong tree? I would need the IK, sound support, maybe some physics, and the ability to manipulate a number of simple “people” models through my own external code…

Last edited by Bula : 08 August 2013 at 04:18 PM. Reason: Clarification
  08 August 2013
I'm pretty sure Blender will make your life easier, but because you want to create a stand-alone application, I don't think you'll want to use Blender's internal game engine. I would create the models and rigs in Blender, import that into Unity (Unity has very good support Blender models and rig importing, but I understand bones have to be named a certain way for it to work perfectly), and then have all the UI, animation playback, and posing done in Unity. It's really easy to instantiate prefabs (e.g. a collection of models, rigs, and scripts that would define an in-game character) in Unity.

Unity has a good animation system and I'm pretty certain it gives you direct access to the bones for posing, so you should be able to get a lot of the functionality you wan. You'll probably be getting less of the functionality you want for free out of Unity as opposed to Blender, which already has UI code for animation built in, but again, you want to create a stand-alone app, so...yeah.

If Blender's use of Python is what's appealing to you, Unity does use Boo script and apparently scripts written in Boo do work on iOS now. (Boo is the least used scripting language in Unity by far. Official documentation for Boo is good, but most community examples will be in C# or JavaScript.) If I was going to make this app with Unity, I wouldn't be doing any Python scripting in Blender at all. All of that will be done in Unity.

That's pretty much the extent of my knowledge on that. The best places to ask for information about Blender would be You'll also want to visit the forums at the Unity website to ask Unity specific questions there. You will find a LOT of Blender users in the Unity forums, so that place will likely give you the best information).

Knowing what I know about Unity, the only two tricky parts I see in coding this whole thing is making it so you can, with the mouse, pose an "in-game" character, rotating the limbs in relation to the camera. And the math for that (if you have to do it yourself without some function in Unity doing it for you) should be really easy to find. The other part is setting keyframes and being able to scrub forwards and backwards in the timeline. But again, I'm pretty sure the animation system can do that for free.

Best of luck!
  08 August 2013

Thanks again for the quick and detailed response. You have given me a lot to consider, I have my work cut out for me…
  08 August 2013
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