Blender 2.80 released!

Blender 2.80 is out today after almost a year and a half in devel­op­ment. Time to cel­e­brate! This is one of the largest and most impor­tant releas­es of Blender. As big as 2.5 back in the day. 

So, what’s the big deal?

Don’t be fooled by the ver­sion num­ber. 2.80 isn’t just 0.01 bet­ter than 2.79, it’s 100x times bet­ter! Blender 2.80 comes with a full bag of UI changes, a whole new ren­der­er, col­lec­tions, a bet­ter depen­den­cy graph and more.
Here are my per­son­al highlights


This is the #1 new fea­ture for me. The old Blender inter­nal ren­der­er is gone and we have a new ras­ter­iz­er engine. Eevee is a new real­time engine with full PBR support.

After years of wait­ing for the view­port to “clean up” or shift-z’ing, Eevee is a breath of fresh air. Realtime updates with lit­tle to no per­for­mance penal­ty. Eevee will be a boom for motion graph­ics, NPR and all kinds of visu­al­iza­tion. It also made cool vol­u­met­ric ani­ma­tions pos­si­ble with­out wait­ing a galac­tic year to render.

I wrote a quick intro­duc­tion to Eevee a while ago.

The new UI

Blender has got­ten a lot of bad rep for it’s user inter­face over the years (some of it deserved). But
that changes with 2.8. The UI is now far more stan­dard and accessible. 

  • The 3D view­port has a tool­bar and set­tings bar along the top
  • Left click to select is now a ful­ly sup­port­ed work­flow and we have con­text menus everywhere.
  • The edi­tor menu is now split in cat­e­gories and you can jump straight to an edi­tor mode
  • Workspaces have replaced the old lay­outs with tabs and many new features
  • The Image edi­tor now sup­ports nam­ing ren­der slots
  • The prop­er­ties edi­tor uses ver­ti­cal tabs and takes less space
  • The prop­er­ties edi­tor also sup­ports sub-pan­els and reflow­ing the UI now
  • We have a shiny new dark default UI
  • We can now switch mate­ri­als right from the nodes– Shaders editor
  • The 3D view now sup­ports giz­mos for tools and navigation
  • There’s a new shad­ing mode called “Look Dev” made specif­i­cal­ly for lighting/material work
  • You can now enter edit mode with mul­ti­ple objects
  • And a lot more


No more 20-lay­ers lim­i­ta­tion! Collections are a new way to orga­nize scenes in Blender. They replace both Groups and lay­ers. You can now have an unlim­it­ed num­ber of col­lec­tions, name them and access them from the out­lin­er. They can also have col­lec­tions inside, used for instanc­ing and more. Easily one of the biggest work­flow improve­ments of this ver­sion. Collections also tie in with the new View Layers to con­trol their visibility.

Colored Wireframes

This is a small thing, but it’s one of those you thought would nev­er hap­pen in Blender. And it makes life much eas­i­er when trou­bleshoot­ing com­plex models.

Grease Pencil 2.0

The new grease pen­cil is huge. Making anno­ta­tions and cre­at­ing draw­ings are now sep­a­rate things. The draw­ing side gained tons of new fea­tures. With the new grease pen­cil Blender now has very func­tion­al 2D ani­ma­tion fea­ture set.

  • There’s a Grease Pencil object type. When you add them you can draw by going into Draw mode
  • You can now have dif­fer­ent lay­ers with opac­i­ty and blend modes (like GIMP or Photoshop)
  • Lines and col­or can be ani­mat­ed inde­pen­dent­ly now
  • You can also use guides to draw par­al­lel lines, cir­cles or snap them on a grid
  • Each lay­er can also show the pre­vi­ous and next frames (Onion Skinning)
  • Strokes can have mate­ri­als now. Including tex­tures both for the line and fill.
  • You can add mod­i­fiers to strokes now
  • You can also add effects, like blur­ring, pix­e­lat­ing, col­or­ing, shad­ows and more.

Python API improvements

Note that with all the changes in the UI and fea­tures, the API is no longer com­pat­i­ble with pre­vi­ous releases.

This is actu­al­ly great news, because the devel­op­ers could take a sec­ond look at it and do some clean­ing up. You can expect mas­sive changes for any code relat­ed to groups, lay­ers and ren­der lay­ers. Many aspects of mesh edit­ing have been changed for the new depen­den­cy graph too. There’s a new timer sys­tem that can run func­tions at time inter­vals. There’s also a new han­dler that gets trig­gered when prop­er­ties in the scene tree are updat­ed: depsgraph_update_post(). These two replace a lot of (mis-)uses of modal oper­a­tors and the scene_update_pre/post() han­dlers (which were removed).

Many names and minor things have changed too. For instance Bmesh now uses string enu­mer­a­tors instead of inte­gers. Also, the Python ver­sion is now 3.7, so we can final­ly use F-strings!

Another cool thing is the new con­firm quit dia­log on Linux. Yes, I’m toot­ing my horn but I’m hap­py to final­ly see this in a sta­ble release (and the design was improved along the way too).

You can check the full list in Blender’s announce­ment.

The Quest

Many of the ideas and fea­tures of this ver­sion had been float­ing around for a few years. Some projects even start­ed in their own branch­es years before. Eevee came from the exper­i­men­tal PBR Viewport branch start­ed back in 2016.

Development of 2.8 real­ly kicked off with the Code Quest in February 2018. The Code Quest was a crowd fund­ed cod­ing sprint. The fund­ing last­ed from February until March and the tar­get was US$200,000 + stretch goals. The com­mu­ni­ty pro­vid­ing rough­ly 20% of that (US$40,000). The rest was pro­vid­ed by the Blender Fund, the Blender Institute (via Blender Cloud earn­ings) and oth­er Sponsors. 

The com­mu­ni­ty side of the fund­ing was raised by sell­ing lim­it­ed edi­tion USB Drives. To go along with the launch­ing theme they were designed as lit­tle rock­ets and 3D print­ed. The orig­i­nal plan was to sell 1,000 rock­ets by March.

But there were no brakes in the hype train for 2.8 and the com­mu­ni­ty smashed through the tar­get and stretch goals. The tar­get was achieved in only 4 days, expand­ing the quest to 2,500 rockets. 

The new tar­get was also reached, 3 weeks lat­er. By the end of the cam­paign the com­mu­ni­ty raised almost US$100,000 all by itself. The cod­ing work offi­cial­ly kicked off in April last­ing until July. This is when most of the big­ger changes hap­pened. One of the ear­ly big changes came ear­ly when the good old Blender Internal was put to rest.

2.8 was slat­ed to go into Beta by August, with the final release com­ing in October 2018. But things rarely go that smooth when it comes to soft­ware. The Beta did­n’t hap­pen until late November and the final release took anoth­er 8 months. 

It’s been a wild jour­ney. I’ll always remem­ber the hype when watch­ing Pablo’s Code Quest vlogs or that strange feel­ing when look­ing at a ful­ly ren­dered real­time view­port. Or the rush to fix my addons when the API was still chang­ing con­stant­ly in the beta!

Spring comes

During the devel­op­ment the art team worked on a new open movie using 2.80. You have to give kudos to the Spring team for pro­duc­ing this short on pre-alpha soft­ware. This gave devel­op­ers real user feed­back while being deep in the design and devel­op­ment process. 

You can watch Spring right here:

Spring is the 12th Open Movie and as usu­al you can access all the source files through the Blender Cloud. The team also pro­duced sev­er­al tuto­ri­als and videos while work­ing on it. Check out this Material Breakdown (it’s free).

Onwards and upwards

There’s been an avalanche of great news in Blender recently:

  • Epic Games has joined the Blender Fund with a US$ 1.2 mil­lion grant.
  • Ubisoft Animation has switched to Blender and joined the Blender Fund
  • The every­thing-nodes project is mov­ing along smoothly
  • A new sculpt branch with new fea­tures like a Voxel remesh­er, bet­ter falloff and more.
  • Work on sup­port­ing the Universal Scene Description for­mat is also com­ing together

If you haven’t done so already, go ahead and check out the Blender release of the decade.

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