You know the drill. You want to show your clients the box design you’ve been working on, but this box has a specific size that you just can’t find on your favourite mockup supplier… you’ll need to do a… 3D model.
Your choices are:
- Pay an ungodly amount of money for a pro application like Maya, that you don’t even know how to use anyway.
- Use Photoshop’s built-in 3D that’s so slow at rendering that you will print, cut, fold, glue and photograph a real cardboard miniature before it finishes.
- Use Adobe Dimension, that’s under featured and not that much faster than Photoshop anyway. And it ties you even further to your Creative Cloud subscription…
- Or… use Blender.
Blender is kind of difficult pickle, in one hand it’s free, very fast, and clearly capable of rendering great quality stuff. It’s technologically impressive. On the other hand you can’t even begin to understand the first thing about interface. You try to use it, you span a gazillion of toolbars by mistake, breath deep and uninstall it while going back to Photoshop…
Enter Bforartists. This is a fork of Blender created with the intention of simplifying the interface and usability of Blender, while retaining all it’s capabilities. And it reached version 1.0 this month! So, how does it fare?
It is indeed easier than Blender, there’s a lot less clutter in the interface, icons to simplify the interactions, the default settings and panels have been tweaked to be more friendly. If you have to choose between this and Blender proper, the answer is clear, Bforartists it’s the superior choice for a designer, and you should go grab it here.
Does it mean you can pick it up without knowing anything about 3D or Blender and do the box rendering in a few minutes? Absolutely not.
Even with all these tweaks and changes, this is still a beast of software, with so many nuances that even achieving a simple 3D box is a big challenge for someone new to it. But if you dabbled Blender with (perhaps limited) success in the past, this fork will definitely help you.
There is a nice trick that can at least speed up part of the process though, by default a plug-in called Mini Lightlib is included. What does it do? It creates an entire photo studio environment inside Blender with a few clicks! Back drop, lots of lighting setups, and a camera ready to shoot (or render in this case).
As for a proper 3D tool targeting designers, just wanting to do a few mockups? Back in 2016 the developers started the Blender 101 Project with the aim of doing exactly that. The idea of this project is to provide selectable UI templates targeting just one very specific task, and one of them could indeed be doing mockups.
Where is that project now, 2 years later? While there are some UI changes coming, it doesn’t seem like it will come to full fruition anytime soon. Therefor Bforartists is your best bet for the time being.