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Is Blender Actually Hard to Learn?

21

Bugzilla2001 shares his view of issues with the Blender interface. Two points that I really think make sense are adding an 'explainer' introduction to first-time users, and making sample content more easily accessible. What do you think?

About Author

Bart Veldhuizen

I have a LONG history with Blender - I wrote some of the earliest Blender tutorials, worked for Not a Number and helped run the crowdfunding campaign that open sourced Blender (the first one on the internet!). I founded BlenderNation in 2006 and have been editing it every single day since then ;-) I also run the Blender Artists forum and I'm Head of Community at Sketchfab.

21 Comments

  1. Blender is no harder to learn than any other 3D program. I've got LightWave, ZBrush, Maya, 3DS Max, Modo and SketchUp experience. Each has a weird interface and seemingly bizarre keyboard shortcuts. Blender is no different. Could it be made easier? Of course. But the same can be said of every other program. The most important thing a program can do is give users the ability to customize the interface and hotkeys so that it better suits them. Blender does this exquisitely.

    • Casey Williams on

      It's always "learn the shortcuts"... Blender is the only program I've ever wanted to be proficient in that expects me to learn shortcuts right off the bat. Key commands in other programs are there for the features you use most, and in most programs you can learn a few as you go and be are good. I can model in other programs without needing to learn "shortcuts", I can set up materials and manage my key-frames and navigate in other programs without ever touching the keyboard. The "G" in GUI stands for "graphical", but using blender feels more to me like having to use the shell when you are used to icons and windows.

    • George Bakker on

      The point isn't whether Blender is hardER to learn than other software, but is it HARD to learn. And the answer is yes. Your argument is like when someone decides to jump off a cliff because everyone else is doing it.

      • Casey Williams on

        My argument is like what again?
        My point is well understood by the software industry at large. Icons usually have some representation of their function and need only be used a few times before the user associates them with their function. Key-commands are much more likely to be arbitrary, often being assigned to functions as functions are added. They only become convenient through repeated use due to muscle memory.

  2. I've found that if you make an environment easy to learn, it makes advanced workflows hard to use and vice versa. I think if people want easy 3D, they should use Sketchup. Leave Blender alone. If one wants to learn Blender, just swallow that pill and put in the pain of learning shortcuts and doing drills. Make simple stuff. Lots of it. Don't start on difficult things until you get some muscle memory.

  3. Coming from Cinema 4D and Modo, and teaching Cinema 4D for 4 years, I found Blender fairly ease. Everything depends on your approach. I can approach Blender on a didatic way even for self learning.
    Don't find hard at all. But maybe a simple screen with tutorials and some explanation may help begginers.

  4. Simply switching to Left-Click selecting would really, in one move, fix many (most?) problems for new users. I really can't believe that the latest builds of 2.8 STILL use Right-Click selection. Simply crazy. So much time wasted working on other parts of the software, when the one thing that could make it SO much better - and is not changed.
    If anyone made a game with right-mouse to fire your weapon, it would rightfully be mocked, and would fail miserably. And yet this massive error in UI design still remains in the latest builds. Who is making these decisions?

  5. Christiane Lang on

    i start with blender ago some weeks, it is hard, special for all this people, what have nothing to do with any 3D programms before. But i think a lillte bit more very good tutorials for beginner will helping all this people. For me is maybe a little bit harder, because i am 62 years old and never i have learned english. Blender is a very, very good 3D perogramm for my i like it so much and the best tutorials vor beginners are this tuturials from Mr. tutor4U, he speaks correctly and not so fast, so that i can understand him and the best tutorials in german language are from Agentzasbrothers, but many other tutorials help also. i hope i have still much energy to continue with this programm. Thanks for all that people what give us this fantastic 3DProgramm and so much posibility to do with it.

    • Roberto Locatelli on

      Hi! I have 63 years old and also I'm a non native English-spoken. I own a Publishing company and use Blender to create book images and book covers. Blender used to have a terrible user interface (UI). The current UI is most better although it still has a lot of problems.

  6. Where could a person go to find sources for a "Beginner's Layout" and "Sample Content" examples you mentioned in your video? If not, would this be a good time to start a forum of such content.

  7. I am new to blender but not new to 3d. I think blender is not more dificult to learn than any other 3d app.
    3D is very complex for noobs in any package. And for 3D Artist changing to blender or expandig their toolset with Blender, will create a hard time in the beginning. But It is just hard because i am so used to do 3D in C4D. that simple thing wich i dont have to think about in cinema take a lot of time to find or to understand in Blender. This is a normal process and it has nothing to do with the software but with my routines. It takes me always a little while to get into Rhino or Zbrush wich i am used to. But as they are so different to cinema it needs a little warm up.
    The routine comes over time. If a beginner cant bring up the patience to learn blender then he is probably not a 3d Guy. Learning the tools is in every hobby or profession something that takes time and 3D is deffinitely not an exception at all. If it was easy, anyone could do it. But its not easy and that makes it so special.

  8. I agree with your points that Blender should show some pointers at startup and that some advanced features should stay hidden initially. However, I disagree that Blender should use modal windows, the entire interface is designed to be used modeless.

    I also believe that no 3D program worth it's salt can be made easy to use, as there are too many aspects involved in making a 3D image or movie.

    Also, there are tons of video tutorials available for Blender, more than any other 3D program.

  9. As i mentioned befor i am new to blender and what attract me here is the incredible amount of talented people who make addons. Addons that you would wich you had them in other apps.
    Now i have downloaded free addons and bought a lot of them and they are verry cool. But now i have the problem that my left menue is totaly overloaded with addons. What would be cool is the ability to create a my own UI setup where i can say now i am modelling and just the modelling tools and addons that i can define are visible. later i change the UI and only the UV and tex tools are visible and so on. So blender can be always the specialised tool for what ever task you want to do. In cinema there is a kind of possibility to do this.
    Is this something that can be done in blender allready? If yes do you know a tutorial explaining How to.

    • You can do this to some extent already. There are UI Screen Layouts that configure the layout for particular tasks, such as modeling, UV mapping, tracking, compositing, etc. These don't turn off the Addon tabs in tihe 3D Toolbar, however. So if you've got a ton of those, you still have to scroll through them.

      If you're into customizing your interface and streamlining your workflow, you should look into PIE Menu Editor. It's a paid addon, but one that's totally worth it. It gives you the ability to take control over the interface and make Blender work like you want it to. There are plenty of videos showing off its use. Check them out on YouTube.

  10. I spent years learning blender and love it. That being said it is HARD to learn. The work flow project is ESSENTIAL for blender large scale adoption. I will say that I can do things faster in blender than any other software and I've used most all of them. Blender is a grand piano with millions of keys, it's like a language with a large vocabulary, you can make really short sentences that are concise and do exactly what you want, but they are impossible to remember/learn. I made a procedure for how to texture paint (I don't do it very often) and EVERY TIME I go to do it again I forget one checkbox or setup step and nothing paints.... ARrrgh! I have also written entire python scripts that do something, I post the script and then someone informs me a single shortcut ctrl-shift-alt-C while standing on your left foot does the same thing.... arrrgh!! I think blender should have a checkbox that says nothing works unless you check this box and then randomly unchecks the box for you... wait I think it already has that.

  11. Thank you for providing insights about the difficulties of learning Blender. It’s taking weeks, but I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to use it to make what I need soon.

    I knew that 3D work in any application or tool is difficult because there are so many components, properties, and attributes to understand and coordinate. This difficulty is exacerbated because Blender does just about anything you'd want to do in computer graphics so there’s even more to deal with.

    But Blender has one peculiar user interface aspect that causes me the most trouble. As other users have mentioned, for most actions, it’s clumsy at best and often not possible to only use the cursor to select and activate controls to trigger actions. Here’s why…

    Many of the shortcuts trigger actions immediately. This means that if you used the cursor to select and activate a control, the cursor’s position will likely be in the wrong place for the action. Also, once an action is triggered, it is often the case that moving the cursor affects the behavior of the action, sometimes in unexpected ways.

    So, one must learn to use exactly the right shortcuts in exactly the right order. I’m hoping that, as with other applications, once I’ve learned the right shortcut sequences, I can be productive.

  12. This program needs an interactive instructor that teaches you how to use the software. They do it in games where they teach you how to use equipment and how to do things. It also serves to build up the confidence of the user as they're guided by an instructor rather than a YouTube video.

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