Just as Scribus moves text documents to another level of creativity, there is a specialized graphics tools that goes beyond what GIMP or Inkscape can achieve. The open source 3D painting and animation tool called Blender is a program that in the hands of motivated students can be amazingly powerful.

Lesson Plan sample

The artistic and user-friendly Blender site offers the latest downloads of its 3D creation software suite as well as extensive tutorials and a link to active forums for support. There is also an amazing gallery and all the development information.

Blender is a powerful 3D animation program that allows you to do 3D modeling; add lights, textures, transparencies; and tehn animate your 3D world. You can create models from scratch, or you can type text and extrude it. It’s handy if you want to create a 3D logo or even if you want to do a 3D movie.

Computer animation has gone mainstream in recent times, with animated films capturing the eyes and ears of millions of viewers worldwide. Feature length projects use a variety of tools, and are the result of amazing team efforts. As this software is free open source, it becomes something obtainable in your collection for those students who have both the creative talent and patience to build wonderful short animated films.

When the program is started, it opens with a screen showing a cube, one light source, and a camera. The point of view can be changed but Blender starts with a top down view of the environment. The cube can be modified or replaced with any 3D objects you want to construct. Properties can be changed by adding or creating textures and colors to any surface, changing the lighting color, position, brightness, number of lamps, etc., and moving the camera. At any time during the design process, the screen can be rendered to show what the final scene looks like.

The Blender website has links to completed images and short films that demonstrate the incredible talents of many users. This free open source software is an amazingly powerful program for those who want to develop their skills as creators of 3D images and animated films.

Access to Blender by creative teachers can have students creating movies illustrating Newton’s laws of motion and many other ideas across the curriculum. The only inhibiting factors are the creativity of teachers and students in applying the free open source animation tool, Blender, to academic topics.