Blender is a free and open-source graphics program with a large community of users. It can be used to create and animate 3D scenes interactively. It is a complex and sophisticated program, with advanced modeling and rendering tools, that can be used to produce professional graphics and animation.
Blender can be downloaded from blender.org. The site includes a great deal of information about what it can do (blender.org/features) and how to use it (blender.org/support).
I have included some work with Blender as part of my computer graphics courses since 2001, as a supplement to the graphics programming that is the main topic of the course. While we use only a very small part of Blender’s capabilities, I believe that it is useful for students to have some experience with interactive 3D modeling. It helps them develop their ability to visualize in three dimensions, and it lets them see the role that fundamental concepts such as transformations, lighting and material, and textures play in real applications. Most people are intimidated, at first, by Blender’s complex interface, but it’s actually not difficult to learn how to use it for basic tasks. Many of my students have enjoyed using it and have learned enough about it to use it in a final project.
The material in this appendix was adapted from handouts about Blender that I have written in the past for my computer graphics courses. It should be valid for Blender version numbers of the form 2.6x and 2.7x, although there might be some small differences in the user interface. Screenshots of the Blender window are from version 2.75.