A new Blender version is out! The penultimate release of the year has dropped, and as usual, it is jam packed with the traditional Blender greatness we've come to expect from the Blender Institute and the contributors at large. Blender 3.6 LTS is finally here, standing tall at the tail end of the 3.X series, showcasing its innovation and maturity. It's bigger, better, and more impressive than ever.
Blender 3.6 LTS marks the end of the venerable 3.X series, which has revitalized Blender with its incredible development pace and bombastic new features. Also, as the final release the series, it sets the stage for the massive 4.0 release to come at the end of the year, all while being an LTS version maintained for two more years.
Here is a look at the key features (and then some) that stood out to us in this newest release, but it's highly recommended to check out the release notes and the release overview for a full picture of all the awesome new features available now at our fingertips!
1. Geometry Nodes: Simulations!
The undoubted star of this release is Geometry Nodes, with the addition of a new feature setting up the stage for the next step in the evolution of the module, and Blender in general: Simulations!
Better Simu-late than never
A cornerstone of the "Everything Nodes" projects, simulations were one of the most anticipated features Geometry Nodes opened the door for, and they have now finally landed. Simulations exists as "zones" within the Geometry Nodes editor, and some basic baking abilities have been implemented. As you can imagine, the Blender Community has already run wild with the feature, with dozens of incredible examples popping every day all over the internret. Here is a quick overview and a demo file to get you started:
Not content with adding the biggest feature in Blender in a couple of years or so, the Geometry Nodes team also added an "Index of Nearest" node which is a fundamental for a lot of simulation applications, as well as making several massive performance increases.
2. Viewport Compositor Updates
First introduced in Blender 3.5, the game-changing Viewport Compositor continues it's steady road to parity with the traditional compositor thanks to the diligent efforts of it's main developer, Omar Emara. Here are the nodes ported for the 3.6 release:
- Convert Color Space
- Plane Track Deform
- Stabilize 2D
- Corner Pin
- ID Mask
- Map UV
- Fog Glow Glare
- Z Combine
The viewport compositor is based on the realtime compositor which will fully replace the CPU compositor by Blender 4.0.
3. UV Updates
You read that right, the Blender Gods do listen to your prayers! After making their procedural debut in Geometry Nodes, UV Editing in Blender got another slew of updates courtesy of developer Chris Blackbourn, notably a new concave packing algorithm, for much tighter and cleaner UV layouts!
New packing algorithm in Blender 3.6 daily build by the amazing developer Chris Blackbourn! Really great addition to Blenders UV tools.
— Daniel Bystedt ? (@3DBystedt) March 25, 2023
This comes on top of massive performance increases and several other features, such as a new merge overlapping operator:
New blender uv improvement to Blender by Chris Blackbourn. Overlapping uv islands can now stick together during packing.
— Daniel Bystedt ? (@3DBystedt) April 16, 2023
But wait: there’s more...
On top of adding exciting new features, this release also has hundreds of massive speed and quality of life improvements strewn all over Blender. Here's a small sample of them:
Custom Script Directories
Another long-standing paper-cut fixed: Blender can now point towards multiple script directories
Blender's animation tools received tons of love this release, in the form of a more than a dozen fixes and quality of life improvement all over the module's toolset, as well as some extra new features such as a new Gaussian Smooth Operator:
Cycles Speed Boost
After a few releases with massive new features, Cycles spends the last release of the 3.X series cementing these upgrades with massive performance boosts, meaning much faster renders and faster switches from viewport to rendered view:
- Up to 60x Faster copying mesh attributes.
- 10x Faster loading curve objects.
- 9x Faster loading point clouds.
- 4-6x Faster loading large meshes.
"Essentials" asset library
After launching the official "Blender Asset Library" concept last release with the essential hair grooming nodes, Blender 3.6 marks the launch of human base mesh bundle, featuring high quality assets packed with features, contributed by the Blender Studio and community.
AND MUCH MORE:
Check out the official 3.6 overview over on the Blender.org website, Pablo Vazquez always goes above and beyond with the design to show what the latest Blender has to offer. Now, time to download Blender 3.6 and put all of these new features to the test. Happy Blending!