Want an easier Blender? Try Bforartists.

Software

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.

 

How to hide Creative Cloud from Windows Explorer

Software

One of the annoyances with Adobe’s Creative Cloud offering is that it adds an entry to Explorer’s sidebar, normally above OneDrive and other cloud space suppliers, and there’s no way to remove it using any option supplied by the software…

There is a way to hide it though, but it requires messing with the Windows registry… you’ll need to navigate to key:

HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\Classes\CLSID\{0E270DAA-1BE6-48F2-AC49-F4F1D1A9AAC4}

and change the value:

System.IsPinnedToNameSpaceTree

from 1, to 0. You should immediately see the change, even without logging out, by closing and reopening all Windows Explorer windows.

If you don’t know how to safely use the Regedit application I’d STRONGLY suggest that you don’t touch it. Making the wrong change will damage your Windows installation to the point it may need to be reinstalled from scratch!

But if you know how to use, and it’s reasonably simple to learn, this is a sure way to get rid of that annoyance. Be advised that it will reappear on it’s own from time to time, and you’ll have to edit that registry value again. In my experience this tweak lasts about 2 months, I get the feeling that every time the Creative Cloud application is updated it resets the registry value, but I can’t be sure.

Hope this helps all Windows based designers out there! 🙂

Trello’s new update revamps notifications and more

News, Software

A couple of weeks ago Trello announced a big revamp to their notification system, along with a new and centralized home page where you not only view the said notifications but also manage all cards that require your attention. That includes card you’re following, mentioned on, and with due dates coming up.

This is particularly useful if you have multiple boards to handle different aspects of your life, and of course different clients. This is update is live for all desktop users, I’ve been using it and it’s great. I don’t think it’s available in mobile apps just yet though.

Fun fact mentioned in their blog post, 2 hundred million cards have been created on Trello so far, if these were stick notes they’d require a wall 160.934 kilometres long!

Affinity Designer won Application Creator of the Year award 

Affinity, Software

Update: It’s official! Affinity Designer won!

https://developer.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/projects/events/build/2018/awards

I mentioned a while back that Microsoft had nominated Affinity Designer, along 3 other applications, for Application Creator of the Year. The poll for voting opened mid April and has ended yesterday.

Final confirmation of the winner will come during next week at the BUILD conference, but from what I’ve gathered Affinity won by a wide margin! It’s really great to see a design and illustration tool getting this kind of recognition.

I’ll update this post when confirmation arrives.

Sketchbook Pro is now FREE forever!

Software

In a somewhat (or maybe not?) unexpected turn of events, Autodesk announced that starting today Sketchbook Pro is completely free, this includes the premium features, not just the stuff that has been free for a long time.

In their FAQ Autodesk says development will continue, but that some features may be limited to Sketchbook Pro for Enterprise, which is not available for regular people. Right now this is limited to cross functionality with other Autodesk software like Maya.

Let’s hope this software continues to thrive and have active development, it’s a really great drawing application, probably the very best when it comes to UWP apps, and has a very significant user base (although being chipped away by Procreate).

While I don’t want to end in a pessimist note, I do remember when Sketchbook Designer, a similar software to this but with added vector functionality, went Enterprise only and eventually got discontinued…