Last week I poked around Blender a bit and ended up frustrating myself no end. My 3D app experience is limited, but I’ve tried enough in the past (VRML, Maya, Cinema 4D) that I had a lot of preconceptions about how things “should” work. The Getting Started tutorials on the Blender wiki just were not giving me what I thought I needed, and I found myself shaking my fist at the screen at the apparent stupidity of things like hiding the object properties panel under the “N” key shortcut.

Yesterday, I gave up on that approach, telling myself to stop trying to make Blender be some other app. Instead, I started in on the free wiki version of the Essential Blender book, taking notes along the way as I worked through various tutorial steps. Voila! Things are starting to make sense!

I am beginning to see the appeal of the approach the developers have taken with the UI – sacrificing some initial ease of use in favor of supporting faster production once you’ve got the keyboard shortcuts down. Plus, it turns out that my brain can map what I’m reading back against what I have learned previously, as long as I make those connections after I let myself absorb the “Blender way of doing things.”

There’s still a long way to go before we have sets and ships and rayguns to play with, but at least now I have confidence that we can get there.