Learning 3D through various Blender versions

When the Blender you're using is different from the Blender in the video...

One of the best parts of being a Blender user is how quickly the application gets updated! One of the worst parts of being a Blender instructor is how quickly the application gets updated.

At CG Cookie we're very aware of this problem. If a course is more than a couple months old, chances are there's a tool name or setting that's been changed in Blender since. Such changes technically make the course "outdated" with wrong information. We get comments all the time from confused users asking why the video has a different tool or setting than the Blender they downloaded yesterday.

We hear you and we completely understand how frustrating this isBlender's learning curve is steep enough as it is. The added difficulty of inconsistent software versions shouldn't be your concern.


What can we do about it?

The answer came to me in a dream, written on a scroll of seaweed, delivered by the Princess of Hyrule herself...Ok, not really. But a simple solution dawned on me recently:

Always use the same version of Blender that you see in the video.

All previous [official] versions of blender can be found here and each of our courses note which version of Blender the course was recorded with. Using the same Blender version ensures that UI buttons, settings, features, and addon compatibility are consistent. That way you can smoothly follow the videos and not be distracted by inconsistencies.

The important thing to learn from us is the WHY, not the HOW

The Why is the concept and principles of digitally sculpting forms. The How is "press the Dynamic Topology button and set the Detail size to blah blah blah". Not that the How isn't important, but we've always pushed that its not nearly as important as the Why. The Why is what translates from 3D package to 3D package and makes an artist adaptable.

Take Piero, For Example...

I've received several comments on my Piero shot film course about software inconsistencies - and they're entirely valid. The course was recorded with Blender 2.66 and a lot has changed since then. Though we should clarify that a lot has changed with software specifics, not much has changed in terms of workflow. Therefore, the How has grown a little blurry over the years but the Why of Piero is still relevant. Honestly, if I re-recorded that entire [massive] course again, 99% of it would be exactly the same. Only a few tool names and settings would be different.

All that to say: If you want to get the most out of our Blender Education library, use the same version of Blender that you see in the video.

But if I am using older software, isn't this putting me behind the curve?

Trust us, we're doctors.

Understand that this recommendation is not a symptom of us relaxing our commitment to deliver the most relevant Blender/3D Education possible. That commitment will never relax. We're constantly creating new content with the latest version of Blender, holding tight to the cutting edge. If we keep a course in the CG Cookie Library it's because we stand beside its relevance regardless of the Blender version used.

The recommendation we offer in this post is simply a solution to the confusion that I read about frequently in comments and emails. We want our users to maximize the value of their membership. Think of it in terms of context: Respecting the context of a Blender 2.68 course will enable you to get the most out of it.

Happy Learning!


Images from the Disney/Pixar short, "Night & Day"


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  • Grady Pruitt (gradyp)

    One of the things I love about CG Cookie is not just learning the how but the why. So much so that even in a recent project, I was watching a tutorial from the archives and still found it relevant and useful to what I was trying to do. There's a lot of great content in the archives that the only reason they are there is because they are tutorials from much older versions and some tools and workflows have changed, but that doesn't make the content less valuable.

    And, like you said, it's often not that a tool isn't available but that it may have changed options or locations since the video was recorded. Often, just a little playing around or searching can help find the feature you're trying to use, even if you're looking at an older tutorial.

    Great recommendations, Kent!

  • bmf2

    Good tip on following older tutorials. I might suggest that you put a link to the Blender version or the page where they can get the correct version with each tutorial--only because new customers may not read this tip.

    I'll also point out that once you become familiar with Blender, the buttons pressed in the older tutorials become less important. I often watch older tutorials without following along just to refresh my memory on certain techniques used.

    This is an easy fix for CG Cookie, but with other software such as Substance Painter, Substance Designer, 3D-Coat, Krita, etc. there are no older versions to revert to and it drives me crazy trying to follow the older tutorials because for software like SP 2 the UI is so different than SP1 or even the early versions of SP 2. It's a fairly significant problem for new users of a software. At least CG Cookie clearly states what version of Blender is being used. But that's not the case for most tutorials on the Internet.

    BTW, I vote for CG Cookie to add Substance Painter and Substance Designer to your tutorials. Blender Cycle nodes are great, but for texturing they are time consuming to create complex materials and without Texture Atlas creating texture sets can be confusing.

    Also 3D Coat has a nice Blender addon that links the Blender object to 3D Coat and vice versa. Switching between them for texturing is easy. 3D Coat also has a very nice retopo capability that can save many hours of re-topologizing in many cases, but not all.

    These 3D programs have a steep learning curve, but once you get the idea, they save artists a ton of time. Besides, these programs target PBR and game engines and Blender 2.79 will have the Principled PBR Shader allowing for a very smooth interface between Substance Painter and 3D Coat. Create the PBR texture sets in SP or 3D Coat and plug in 4-5 PBR textures into the Blender PBR shader. This also allows for smaller file sizes.

    You guys do great work and Blender wouldn't be a popular as it is without CG Cookie. Thanks.

  • Mark Smith (me1958424)

    this type of coverage and such is what sets Cookie apart from the rest...
    Good job guys, keep it up!!

  • Omar Domenech (dostovel)

    I started in Blender 2.63 and I feel it is 98% the same in the overall Blender vibe. Of course Blender has improved so much but I mean it in a James Bond kinda sense, were the actor changes over the years but it is still the womanizer, gadget guru, car loving James Bond.

  • crew
    Kent Trammell (theluthier)

    Thank you, Grady!

  • crew
    Kent Trammell (theluthier)

    Thanks for that :)

  • crew
    Kent Trammell (theluthier)

    Haha good analogy. You get it, Omar!

  • Paul Guevara (thefryingpan)

    Great article Kent! Everyone joining the Blender community here at CG Cookie really should read this post. I agree on your proposed solution. CG Cookie already gives us the users the feedback to know what version is being used, so it just takes a little commitment on our end and willingness to setup and use the previous versions, which the Blender foundation makes easy to do through their release history.

    If there's one thing that really, really struck me about your post, and what everyone should understand (specially 3D and Blender newbies) is what you said: THE IMPORTANT THING TO LEARN FROM US IS THE WHY, NOT THE HOW.

    I could not agree more. This is such an excellent point! It's not what tool you use, it's understanding how that tool works and the principles behind how it works.

    I will be teaching a beginners 3D course at the University where I work at this fall; naturally I will be using Blender. THE WHY, NOT THE HOW is something I will be stressing repeatedly and will try to convey with every classes I teach.

    Thanks Kent, keep up the great work!

  • David Frazier (pointoflife14)

    Great article Kent. Absolutely adore the last thumbnail! That short is still one of my faves I believe I have come to the same reconciliation between versions. Ah...peace at last. Why? Because we understand the WHY (the theory of) it. You can memorize 3-squared is 9 all day long, but if you know "why" that is the result, you OWN it! This is huge for teaching music (especially) to young kids. The skill of utilizing clever mnemonics is the KEY TO ALL TEACHING. Perhaps this will be my first long-form Blog.

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