Blender user experience testing.

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Old 02 February 2014   #1
Blender user experience testing.

So I don't use blender, I've played with it probably like a total of 30 minutes over the span of the past decade. But I really respect blender, and I really wish I could fall into blender and use only it.

But here is why I have stayed out of it. Now I don't know if this is true, I've just been assuming, so I post here to ask. I have feared that it basically has no serious user experience refinement put into it.

What I mean by that is, I was first and foremost a Maya user. I really loved maya. But I made the very thought out choice to leave Maya after a while because it became apparent they did not do enough user experience testing. What I basically mean like that, is things did not work as you immediately expected them to work. In maya way to often something would be put in, and you'd expect that it was one thing, but it just wouldn't work right. You'd have to read a bunch of documentation then trial and error your way through it only to find out what you initially expected of the functionality, what seemed obvious was just not right at all.

How victim to this is blender? Like how much referencing back to the manual do you have to do because it doesn't make immediate sense? How many things aren't as you expect?

Cause I've moved onto C4D and Modo, and I've stayed with those things because to me at least it seems. I would rather pay the $1000 a year to a company to put their functionalities through user experience testing to make it so that I don't have to dig as deep into technical understanding. Does blender share that same quality at all? And I'm not looking for just 'easy', I am just looking for things work straight forward as you expect them, they aren't all quirky with a bunch of peculiar specific conditionals on if it will work as expected or not.
Old 02 February 2014   #2
Hi, it is very hard to answer your question because often Blender use the Blender way to do something and you cant find out without google or forums.
For example, I try 3dsmax and cant even rotate an object.
I have to switch to "Rotate Mode" whatever this means.
In Blender you rotate with R + X + 45 to rotate an object 45° in X direction.
You can even R + X + 180/4 to get the same result.
This is not self explaining and the learning curve is steep.
Download testbuild and do some tutorials to find out if you like the Blender way.

If you have questions it is may better to use a more frequented forum like:

Cheers, mib.
Opensuse 13.2/64 i5-3570K 16 GB
GTX 560Ti 448 GTX 760 4 GB 346.29 Blender 2.7 Octane 2.2
Old 03 March 2014   #3
Just my 2 cents.

I use both Blender & Maya for work/personal project. I've felt your pain with Maya and trying to sort out all the attributes, let alone finding one on a node that is no longer selected. It can be really tricky. Blender has a learning curve too, it simply has a different workflow. Same as moving from one package to another. But it is also familiar enough to the others that you should be able to get up to speed fairly quickly. There was a GUI discussion not to long ago about addressing some of the workflow issues, continuity, etc that can be an issue for some users. While I don't expect massive changes the Blender foundation tasked a group of users/dev to start focusing more on the issues you are worried about. Expect small changes that add up over time and not some huge shift. Keep in mind that prior to a stable release the betas are available for release. So the more the community uses it and provides feedback the more polished each release will be.

My overall impression of Blender is that while it does have its quirks that may leave you scratching your head(I still do and probably always will). It also has a strong tool set that for me compliments other 3D packages I use. It's also a good backup plan, a free, opensource tool to use in case Maya reaches EOL or whatever you choice commercial DCC package is/// *Lets all raise a glass to Softimage *... Or money is running low.

Head over to blendercookie & watch their intro videos. I use plenty of commercial tools but one of my favorites has always been Blender. Can't really go wrong with a tool that cost nothing but offer so much. Just my opinion anyways.
Old 03 March 2014   #4
First of all I have to admit that blender is the only modeling software I used seriously. Thus I may not be the perfect person to comment on this. I remember that when I first downloaded Blender I closed the program soon after opening it for the first time as it appeared to be completely confusing (that was Blender 2.36). But I was used to programs that somehow worked when I approached them with the trial and error method. An this was (and probably still is) not the case for Blender. However returning after some time I learned it by surfing forums and watching tutorials. Blender is of course in constant development and new functions are added for every release. But it is still the same: If one wants to use them the first thing to do is read or watch how they work. I do not believe that there is anybody who taught himself most of the things he uses in Blender on a trial and error basis. But as I stated above this is my view as I was only messing around with Rhino, C4D and a small render engine by a German company before seriously getting into 3D using Blender. So things might be different for somebody who already has a lot of experience with other 3D software. However this only helps for a short amount of time and then you probably are again at a point where you do have to look things up in order to use certain functions. That being said I would like to add that I think this is the case for any advanced software. There are always a lot of ways to approach a task and even though one might have found a way it might be helpful from time to time to check how others are doing it. Just because there might be much easier ways.
I also have to second what pixelque mentioned: Always downloading and using the betas and reporting things that do not work or do not make sense may help to improve the user friendliness of Blender.
Old 03 March 2014   #5
the best initial logic u.i. workflow to how you think it should work and how it probably best in 3dsmax so for for me. Blender could do well if it took on some of that logic .
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Old 03 March 2014   #6

I really wish I could fall into blender and use only it.

You can....just do it.

I've tried many 3D apps.....bought some and discarded a few that were
too difficult to learn (e.g. LightWave...all text, trueSpace...200+ icons) for me. All great apps
that do wonderful things in the hands of someone who devotes the time to learn.

I use Blender about 90% of the time now, though I also have & use C4D, VUE, ZBrush, &
Carrara, Bryce, Hexagon, GeoControl....I like each one, and they all do something better than the others. (also tried XSI, Maya, Houdini, Modo, SoftImage)

it became apparent they did not do enough user experience testing. What I basically mean like that, is things did not work as you immediately expected them to work.

I don't know any app that is free of this...some are more intuitive...each one has a strong
loyal following.

The question is do you need it for work, or just for fun/creative outlet?

Blender is fun to use....the learning curve is really not that bad, at least now since they re-did the gui in 2.5.

It even runs off a flash drive...I have several Blenders (in folders on my desktop) set up for different render engines.

It's fast rendering, especially for Cycles GPU renders.

And there are tons of free tutorials.

I once swore I'd never do Blender, but once I spent a month with the new gui, I used it more and more, especially for fluid & softbody sims.

I would love to use Maya, but it's just to pricey for me now. C4D is also too expensive to keep up with the upgrades.

But I'm very happy where I am, and Blender does a great job all around.

I recommend it even if you already have a "main app". But I would hang on to
Maya, C4D, and your other programs.

Here's my YouTube channel if you want to see some of what I've done with Blender and other apps. I don't claim to be a good at any of them.

And I set up to help others get & learn Blender.

Good luck
Old 03 March 2014   #7
I think the answer to your question would be about Blender's workflow paradigm/philosophy rather than user experience refinement.
Simply put, IMHO, the user is demanded to know exactly what and how to do something.

For example, one thing that differs from other packages is that you're usually supposed to work with hotkeys. You won't have nice illustrative colorful icons for each tool (there's a tool panel, but the icons are text only for now -- there's a big UI debate going on).

Kind of painful at the beginning, but then you should be able to work really really fast.

For example, to do a simple transform operation, you won't click to activate a tool, click on the axis, drag, then click again to deactivate the tool. You would simply type, say R for rotate, Z for the z axis, drag (or type value manually) and left click to confirm. Do not have to click to activate/deactivate tools is a huge time saver. I'm probably not the best person to compare 3d software, since I've only used 3dsMax before, but well.

Extrude, add edge loops, select loops/rings, unwrap, insert keyframes, parent, group, even add objects... you would use the hotkey rather than go and search and read panels.

Also, blender is famous for it's hidden features: some not only don't have graphical icons, but are not present in any panel AT ALL! To use the "spherize" tool, for example, you'd type spacebar (for the find menu), type something like 'sphere', and then click on the option 'To Sphere'.

Or just memorize the hotkey the menu has just told you: Shift+Alt+S.

Again, because of all the recent discussions about the UI, all this is likely to change in the near future.

Not sure if it's related to your question, but here's an interesting post about bugs and user experience.
And here a talk with Jonathan Williamson, a guy involved with the UI changes project.

Old 05 May 2014   #8
My last "3D-intensive" job was years ago doing Maya work at an animation studio. For personal work, I had used earlier versions of Blender, but had migrated to XSI for several reasons. One of those reasons was that after years of Max, Maya, softimage, etc., I could never quite get completely comfortable with Blender because of my own bias coming from other packages.

Side note, I still love Softimage, but it is now a "dead" platform since Autodesk killed it, and killed the sub $500 XSI Foundation early on.

Anyway, back to Blender: my daughter is into games and wants to learn how to create content for them. So I fired up Blender to show her a few things. I am embarrassed to say, in all the years of using Max, Maya and XSI, then not doing a lot of 3D at all, I felt like a useless noob, and the non-standard Hotkeys and navigation were mostly purged from my brain, long forgotten.

But that was an older version of Blender.

I downloaded a 2.5x version and something in the UI layout started to click with me. Then more recently I download 2.70 and the new tabs were MORE than welcome. Then I remapped navigation, selection, and manipulation to Maya "standard" and now I don't have to think anymore about the basics. I didn't go "full Maya" with the UI because I still want to work the occasional tutorial.

So now I'm starting to love Blender not just for its power, but for its usability, which for me is a personal thing.

Long term Blender users might chastise me for not sticking with the Blender way, but now I feel empowered because things like basic modeling, animation, etc. just flow for me with the new UI and a few tweaks. Side note, I've been using Blender since the late 90s. That's how long I used it and the UI (especially mouse and keystrokes) still never "stuck" with me for some reason.

Bottom line is, with the more recent (post 2.49) UI changes and almost every aspect of the mouse and keystrokes being customizable, there's really no excuse anymore, even for me. I have always supported Blender (and was a donor long ago to "free" the software) and have always loved not only the ideas behind blender, but it's amazing capabilities. But I always secretly wanted a better (for me) UI.

I'm now modeling assets like crazy in Blender, and am now able to show my daughter a thing or two as well. We are now working together on a little game project, and having a blast doing it because I (we) can use Blender in a much more intuitive way.
"Search this Forum: and Advanced Search are your best friends." - me
Old 05 May 2014   #9
My opinion is that Blender is a little confusing if you start it. After a while, if you get familiar with, it is a wonderful programm.
But I also think that Blender is weak if it has to interact with other programms. The way vertices and edges are treated is different to other programs like Maya. You always must find some tricks to export meshes so that they look the same in other programms.
Blender is making a lot for the users. You can look at how much work they put in this programm which still is free of costs.
Meanwhile you have a big comunity for Blender and you can find the most information in the net.
The rest is up to you.
Old 05 May 2014   #10
I gave blender a short spin and personally I was able to get a grasp of Maya faster then Blender, maybe I didn't give blender enough personal time. The UI is awkward although it did add OpenSubDiv faster that can't be said for Modo, that is surprising considering one program wants $1500 (US) and the other is Free.

I don't know personal how dynamics and rigging work in Blender, I've been biased and leaning towards Maya. The only one catch with Maya is the price $4,500 + Subscription Fees that is not the case with Blender, although that is partially the catch with Modo, since most updates do cost around $500 a few hundred shy of Maya yearly fees.

Modo and Blender fall into the category of Lightwave IMO there not the leader but they never sink but never swim. Someone mentioned Maya going EOL, I doubt that after EOL Softimage there going to pour more time and effort into Maya, you'll see more of Softimage features in Maya in coming versions. Operator stacks, etc will arrive to Maya !

"3D Programs are Expensive, no my Car Insurance is worse"
Old 05 May 2014   #11
Overall my experience with Blender has been a positive one, altho that said at times there've occurred some head desking bottlenecks in terms of workflow but in due course managed to grind a solution eventually... :P

Since 2006 the package has been my primary 3D app, I've evaluated possible alternatives previously mentioned, however couldn't quite manage to wean myself off its unique hotkeyed/shortcut command mapped menu access.

From early exposure the app kind've clicked for me and now with 2.70's alpha release the welcomed addition of the Max/Maya keysets, in my honest opinion places Blender on par with their parent proprietary toolsets - just throwing that little tidbit out there...heh.

I guess its also probably due to the fact that I lean heavily on Max plus some Maya tutes to optimise my game asset art pipe, after translation into Blender's framework that is...

Anyways for:

$0 > high frequency version upgrades > opensource development paradigm > constant plug/addon additions > huge active userbase > dynamic tech support...& so on = awesome one-stop-shop CG bundled solution...

Cheers ;)
“I like criticism, but it must be my way.” - Mark Twain
Old 06 June 2014   #12
For users coming from Maya there is a concerted effort by an Indian group to add a Maya like user experience/workflow to ease the transition for Maya trained artists here:, here's the blenderartist addon thread

There's also an addon being shared on, to make Blender behave more like 3DSMax here:

Enjoy and welcome to the wonderful, open world, of Blender!
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