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Review: WeightLifter

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Sam Vila reviews WeightLifter, an addon to help you work more easily with vertex groups and vertex color layers. Sam is the first member of the new BlenderNation Review Team to publish his review. Please give him a warm welcome! :)

Introduction

My main interest in this addon is the ability to provide additional functionality to areas that, without this addon, tend to cause Blender to struggle. This addon not only helps to improve performance but also provides solutions for creative tasks and can help to improve the detail in our renders.

Description

Weightlifter helps simplifying the creation of vertex groups or vertex color layers. Vertex groups are a versatile way to store information used in various parts of Blender to control such things as particle distribution, hair length and modifier actions. Likewise vertex colors layers can be put to good use when creating shaders or materials.

Features

This addons can be used in many different ways: we can use it to exclude geometry outside the camera view, to create random patterns, to simulate slope surfaces, heights, creases or even to isolate geometry so we can later apply different effects or materials based on that selection. It also provides tools to paint weights based on the positions of the 3D cursor or the behavior of our lights in the scene.

All of these functionalities are based on vertex groups and vertex colors generated by this addon, which we can use to manipulate our elements in many ways.

WeightLifter2 1024px

Learning Curve

Standard installation is the same as many other Addons, this way we don’t have any problems starting to use the addon immediately. Once we put our hands on this product we can realize very soon how many interesting options this addon has. The Weightlifter menu provides easy and clear options to the user; you can have the results expected without even having to read the manual.

The manual is also a positive point for this addon, simple but informative enough to show the functionality, tips and also resolves most problems.

NOTE: The only problem I had with this addon during the first few minutes of use was the lack of an informative error message, (or a similar visual element), to make the user aware of the need to apply the Modifiers in order to get the addon to work correctly. There's a brief mention in the manual about “applying modifiers for a particular problem with particles” but in my opinion this should be made clear to the user. Aside from this minor thing the rest of the experience with this addon was very user-friendly and easy to use.

User flexibility

One of the most interesting things about this addon: it not only provides one or two solutions but many: we can combine the vertex groups generated by this addon in many areas of Blender in different ways. We can use it to optimize our scene to avoid adding elements outside our camera view or we can use this addon to generate details in some elements. Really, it’s very powerful.

Quality of results

I’m very happy with the results so far, I will be using this addon for different tasks that I will surely face in future productions; its versatility is truly like a Swiss Army knife.

The only small downside on this add-on is the lack of being able transfer the weight groups into vertex colors, usually with the vertex groups we can use the modifier to fine tune some of the settings but we cannot do the same thing with the vertex colors. I had to use an external add-on to being able to transfer the vertex groups into vertex colors so I could use this information in Cycles. Ideally it would be nice to have a simple function to transfer data between vertex groups and vertex colors.

WeightLifter3 1024px

Product specifications

  • Author: varkenvarken
  • Product page: Blender Market
  • Price: $14.95
  • Created: August 5, 2014
  • Last Updated: December 10, 2014
  • Software Version: Blender 2.7x

Score

8.2 Highly recommended

Definitely a 'must have' addon if you are concerned about providing extra details to your scene or if you're looking for a way to optimize some of your renders. The price is very reasonable for what this product offers. This addon is highly recommended.

  • User Flexibility 9
  • Realism 8.5
  • Speed of Use 7
  • User Ratings (18 Votes) 6.3

About Author

Sam Vila

Sam Vila is an author of a Blender book about visual effects techniques and co-founder of the Los Angeles Blender Group. His experience is mostly in the area of visual arts (film and video) including 5 full feature films and several short films usually as a visual effects artist. He holds a degree in Film Direction at London Film Academy plus other courses such as Film Editor, Camera Operator, Steadicam Operator and Post-production.

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