With the feature list for the next stable version of Blender now locked, we investigate the new tools you can expect when Blender 2.81 ships in November. In the last of a week-long series of stories in which we preview the main features, we look at the latest workflow improvements.
The Workbench preview renderer now supports multi-layer matcaps, making it possible to display more complex materials while modeling or animating: just one of the workflow improvements in Blender 2.81.
6. Smaller features and workflow improvements
Not all of the new features in Blender 2.81 are part of big toolsets, so to finish this series of previews, we've picked out five smaller changes that should improve the way that you work from day to day.
- Multi-layered matcaps
The matcaps used by the Workbench renderer can now be OpenEXR files with separate diffuse and specular layers, making it possible to display more complex materials while modeling.
- Eyedropper tool
Grease Pencil, Blender's 2D animation toolset, gets a new Eyedropper tool, making it possible to select a material by picking a colour in the viewport, or even to create a completely new material.
- New file browser
As part of the ongoing work to make Blender's interface more familiar to artists coming to it from other 3D software, the file browser now opens in a floating window with a more standard layout.
- Batch renaming
To help keep large projects organized, it is now possible to batch rename items, adding prefixes or suffixes or changing case. Support for expressions makes it easier to find and replace characters.
- Better Alembic export
Blender 2.81 now exports mesh normals properly to the Alembic format, widely used to transfer geometry between software in VFX pipelines. It also now imports face-varying normals.
So when can I use all of these new tools?
Blender 2.81 is scheduled for release on 14 November 2019. If you want to try the new features before then, you can download the latest experimental builds for Windows 7+, macOS 10.12+ or Linux.