Everything New in Blender 4.1

Feb 15th 2024

Blender 4.1 is set to launch on March 19th. You can download a early version of it from

This new version of Blender maintains the consistent trend of enhancing both performance and user experience, adding several workflow enhancements crucial for modelers and animators. 

I've had the chance to explore some of these updates and I'm excited to share my insights on Blender 4.1 with you.

User Interface

In the Outliner, double-clicking an object or collection icon will now select all of its children (a hugely requested feature!), and Apply Modifier, Show Hierarchy, and Expand or Collapse All are now in the right-click context menu.

Operator dialogs now have a cancel button, and all menus now have improved corner rounding and drop shadows.

A chevron is now consistently used everywhere for expanding and collapsing instead of it sometimes being a carat like in the outliner. They’re also now centered with the text.


Really wide lists now collapse to a single scrollable column if there’s not enough space on the screen to fit all the items.

Input placeholders now show a hint of what type of input is expected.


New icons were added for splitting, joining, and swapping windows.

The interface font can now be shown in any weight.


The File Browser list view is now more responsive as columns are collapsed automatically, and tooltips now show important file information like Blender version, image dimensions, frame rate, and more.

Color pickers now have thick handles to adjust instead of tiny dots.


Text object fonts now use fallback fonts, meaning that non-English characters and emojis are supported out of the box. The word “Text” that’s the default on new text objects now matches the translation.


The color eyedropper can now pick colors outside of Blender on Mac, which was previously only available on Windows.

The Open Recent menu now shows the Blender version and thumbnail of your recent projects and has a new option to clear the list.


Color management can now be applied to camera background images without opening up the image editor, which is helpful for displaying camera footage in the viewport.

When in camera view, there’s a new gizmo button to lock the camera to the view, which is brilliant. If you enter Walk mode, the R and F keys are now a relative up and down.


You can now rotate images by 90 degrees in the Image Editor.

The scopes in the Image Editor and Video Sequence Editor now look really clean and are easier to read.



One of the biggest changes in Blender 4.1 is the removal of Auto Smooth as a mesh property. This greatly simplifies the workflow, is way more performant in a lot of cases, opens the door to better procedural control of split normals, and makes Blender more compatible with other apps. The way it works now is that whether an edge is smooth or sharp is now based on the mesh attributes. That means you can set or clear sharp edges directly without having to mess with any other settings.


The destructive way to get the old Auto Smooth behavior is to use the Set Sharpness by Angle operator in Edit mode or the Shade Smooth by Angle operator in Object mode. The non-destructive way is to use the new Set Sharp by Angle modifier that’s actually a built-in geometry nodes asset, which is the exciting customizable direction modifiers are heading in.

The destructive method of actually marking edges is going to be more performant since the normals won’t have to be recalculated so often, but you can also go to the Simplify panel and turn off custom normals in the viewport for smoother animation playback.

Besides that, shape keys can now be locked to prevent accidental changes.

Changes were also made to the mesh theme so that edges are now more visible and text overlays in the viewport now have more contrast.


The new curves system, which is currently used for geometry nodes and hair, now has the Draw Curve tool as well as the Extrude, Duplicate, and Tilt operators. 

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Animation and Rigging

Big changes have been made to inserting keyframes in Blender 4.1. Hitting “i” in the viewport no longer brings up the keying set menu. Instead, it adds a keyframe for the active keying set. If there is no active keying set, it’ll fallback to the new Default Key Channels in the Animation preferences.


If you want to insert a keyframe other than what’s in the keying set, you can use the new hotkey “K”. To change the active keying set, use Shift K. If the keymap preference Pie Menu on Drag is enabled, holding down I and dragging gives a pie menu of the common channels to keyframe.


The Only Insert Needed preference can now be enabled separately for auto-keying.

Motion paths can now be created relative to the active camera, so animators can more easily work in screen space.

Bone collections are now hierarchical and can be rearranged and nested with drag-and-drop. The hierarchy is also displayed in the outliner.


When baking actions, you can now bake custom properties and specify which channels to include. You can also bake individual channels in the Graph Editor.

Bone selection in Weight Paint mode is now a proper selection mode like vertex and face selection if you enter Weight Paint mode with a bound armature selected, and there’s a dedicated selection tool if you don’t want to use the Ctrl click hotkey.


Driver property variables now have a fallback value they can use if the property can’t be found, and failed drivers have a red underline in the channel list.

In the Graph Editor, a new Scale From Neighbor operator can help you match a pose on either side of a set of keyframes.

You can now right click on any animated object property and choose View in Graph Editor to zoom to that property’s curve. Just be sure you have the object selected, or else the operator won't be able to find it. 


Lastly, the Dope Sheet performance is now significantly better when you have hundreds of thousands or even millions of keyframes to help you animate in Blender.

Nodes and Physics

There are five new nodes in Blender 4.1 that I’m particularly excited about:

  • Bake caches geometry, which can drastically speed up complex meshes. This data is stored with the modifier and not the node, so you can safely bake separate meshes that share the same node tree. 
  • Split to Instances separates realized geometry into multiple instances, which is especially great for working with text and motion graphics.
  • Menu Switch lets you build custom dropdown menus that you can then use in group nodes. 
  • Index Switch works like Menu Switch but with an integer input instead of a dropdown.
  • Active Camera returns the scene’s active camera object.


Node tools can now work in Object Mode.

Baking geometry node simulations no longer drops the previous material assignments, volumes can now be baked, and baked frames with duplicate data are now much more efficient.

The rotation socket introduced in Blender 4.0 is now used on the Distribute Points on Faces, Instance on Points, Rotate Instances, Transform Geometry, Object Info, and Instance Rotation nodes. There’s also a new Rotate Rotation node which is really straightforward and replaces the Rotate Euler node.


The panels in the Geometry Nodes modifier have been reorganized and are now group under Manage so that they take up less space.

The Ungroup operator can now work on multiple node groups at the same time.

Node sockets are a bit smarter and now have larger hitboxes so you don’t accidentally box select or resize the node.

The high-viscosity fluid solver has been moved to the diffusion panel and has been renamed so that it doesn’t get confused with the viscosity setting.

Shading and Texturing

The Musgrave texture node has been deprecated and all its functionality has been added to the Noise texture node, since they were the same underlying algorithm all along just with slightly different options. 


When painting, the Auto-Masking Limit and Falloff are now brush specific settings.


OpenImageDenoise, which is higher quality but traditionally slower than OptiX, is now GPU accelerated on Intel and AMD GPUs. Support for NVIDIA and Apple GPUs is still being worked on.

Bump map smoothing can now be turned off so that stylized materials with bump can have a sharp shadow terminator.


Rendering on the CPU using Linux has been sped up by about 5%.


Eevee Next was going to make its first appearance in Blender 4.1 (well, originally even earlier), but due to some remaining challenges taking longer than expected, it’s now slated for Blender 4.2. While I’m eager to use those hugely improved shadows and that screen space global illumination, I’m happy to wait until it’s production ready.


A huge milestone for compositing in Blender has been reached. All nodes are now supported by the viewport compositor! 

The Keying Screen node in the compositor, which I recently learned can be used to vary the key color across a green screen for more accurate keying, has been improved to smoothly transition between the sampled colors.


You can now pick Cryptomatte colors across windows.

The Kuwahara node now allows for variable sizes and the Pixelate node now has an explicit pixel size property.

The Map UV node can now use Nearest Neighbor filtering.

The Flip and Crop nodes now behave as expected if transformed before the operation, and transforms in the viewport compositor are now immediately realized so that filters work as expected.

The Z Combine and Dilate nodes now have better anti-aliasing. 

The Sun Beams node produces much smoother results, as does the Inpaint node when filling holes.


The Double Edge Mask node, which creates a gradient between two masks, is now anywhere from 50 to 650 times faster when using complex masks.

The Split Viewer node is now just a generic Split node.

Lastly, the compositor now only runs when the result is viewed in the viewport or as a backdrop.

Video Editing

Navigating the VSE timeline is now 3-4x faster when using lots of strips. The Glow, Wipe, Gamma Cross, Gaussian Blur, and Solid Color effects are 1.5-20x faster, audio waveform calculation is now 8-15x faster and is on by default, and image transformation, color management, audio resampling, and reading and writing FFmpeg data were all significantly sped up as well.

Pixel filtering when scaling or rotating has been much improved and the default filter is now Auto, which chooses the best filter based on the scaling factor. 


Import and Export

The PLY I/O for Blender now supports custom vertex attributes. The STL exporter has been rewritten in C++ and is now 3-10x faster than the previous one. Alembic better supports point velocities and camera resolutions. OBJ now exports objects without custom normals 20-40% faster.

USD exports now have a scene root by default, lights are now exported with proper limits, subdivision surfaces that are last in the modifier stack can have their subdivision settings saved in the file rather than applying the modifier, armatures and shapekeys are now exported as skeletons and blend shapes, and USD can now import instances as collection instances.

That's all for this release!

There's a lot to love in Blender 4.1, and the improvements just keep on coming. Some changes like the new keyframing hotkey and the removal of Auto Smooth might take time to get used to, but I'm happy to adapt if it means good things for Blender down the road.

Check back to CG Cookie as we get closer to release! 


Jonathan Lampel
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