Blender 2.63a Released – #SL Review

Blender has a new version out. This is a significant release. It will change how we work. For Second Life® users it is an important release. It is going to change how people build clothes and rigged mesh for Second Life, at least the possibility of change is there. How quickly people will learn to use the features is an unknown.

Two weeks ago 2.63 was released and 2.63a has just popped up.

Blender 2.63a is Out

Blender Modeling

Blender CG Cookie says this, “This is the long-awaited modeling system overhaul that has been in development for many years. Bmesh brings a much less destructive, streamlined modeling workflow that will let you model faster than ever before in Blender.

They list the main feature changes as;

  • Full NGon support for faces with more than four vertices
  • Bevel tool for creating rounded corners
  • Inset tool for easy detailing
  • Bridge tool for connecting two edge loops
  • Dissolve for removing geometry without altering the surface
  • Knife topology tool for easily cutting in new geometry
  • Vertex Connect tool for connecting vertices with edges without needing to remove the faces first
  • Ambient occlusion support and render layer pass
  • Shadow pass for render layers
  • Integrator clamp option for noise and firefly reduction\
  • Modifiers: Strength slider for the Lattice modifier, coded by our very own Patrick Boelens!
  • Sculpting: mesh hiding support, allowing you to hide/unhide parts of your mesh while sculpting
  • Sculpting: Clay strips brush for easy surface sketching
  • Compositing: detach operator to disconnect a node from all others while maintaining original links. Use with ALT + D
  • Compositing: improved File Output node with multiple input/output support
  • Interface: various improvements, including icons for Vertex/Face normals display and a menu for delete in the toolbar
  • 150+ bug fixes in 2.63 and another 100+ in 2.63a.

What Does It Mean for SL Users?

The first 7 items will have impact for SL users. The first item is deceptively simple but likely will have the greatest impact on us: NGONS also known as BMesh or BSurfaces.

Overview of Updates

CG Cookie has a quick overview. The video below this overview is the important one for those of us build for Second Life. Check this overall view video which is 3:20 minutes long to get a quick feel for the changes in this version. You can skip it and get to the more detailed information in the video after it.

Blender 2.63 Quick Overview

The next video is 22:30 minutes and has the most meet for Second Life Users. It gets into the ngons and the changes I think will have the most effect on how we model. The first 3 minutes or so touch on the new tools all of which I think will change our modeling habits. After that Jonathan Williamson gets into the details of each feature touched on in the first 3 minutes. I think this one is a must see.

The Best Features - Must Watch

Jonathan is expecting these changes to improve modeling productivity. I agree.


In the sequence of things the Cycles video should go here. But, I don’t see it as being ready for use by those of us targeting Second Life for the final model. You’ll find it a little farther down the page.

Various Features and Improvements

This video is 12:10 minutes long. One of the improvements is in sculpting, as in Michael not sculpties. I think sculpting and the new BMesh tools will be great for SL clothes.

Delete and show normal’s work differently and have new controls.

Collection of New Features


The Blender Development Team is doing an awesome job. Congratulations.

If can please donate to the Blender Development Fund.


Back to Cycles… This third video in the series is part of the overview of 2.63. I skipped it as I don’t seeing it being ready for those of building for Second Life. The video is 11:10 minutes long. It does not give a good explanation of what Cycles is.

Cycles is the new rendering system that is being built into Blender. It uses the new features in video cards to greatly improve render speed and allows us to do more real time design rather then make setting changes and render iterations.

The iteration of Cycles has lots of nice stuff. But, I don’t see anyway to use it to create UVMap textures. May be I’m just missing it.

Cycles New Features - Still Not Ready for SL?

Unfortunately, for those of us targeting Second Life with the final model, Cycles is not as useful as basic Blender Render. Materials are NOT interchangeable between the two render systems, at least not the last time I tried. Nor are there bake features in Cycles, at least not as far as I know.

Install Note

I recommend using the Archive install. I wrote about how to do that type of install and the reasons for it in: Blender 2.57b Released. It can make your life with Blender much easier.

Also, to use all the new BMesh stuff turn on those features in File -> User Preferences… -> Addons (tab).

Addons to Enable


This release of Blender is going to change how I work with Blender. I think it will make my life much easier. I am excited to get back to making some clothes. There is so much new stuff to learn and try. I’ll write some tutorials once I am sure I have things figured out. Don’t hold your breath waiting. I have lots of things to play with, so it may be awhile.

2 thoughts on “Blender 2.63a Released – #SL Review

  1. Don’t get too excited about NGons. SL supports only triangles. In the end, you’ll have to triangulate your model any way. Blender’s triangulation being unable to read our minds, this can lead to a bit or a lot of work depending on how the triangles are generated. It doesn’t matter for flat/solid surfaces but it’s very important for curved/smooth surfaces where you may see unwanted edges appear because of auto-generated elongated triangles.
    It’s a nice feature for Blender but the support of NGons in SL has even less chances to occur than the return of the last names, IMHO.

    • You are right. But, watch the videos. This will greatly decrease the work we have to do and the polys we have to deal with. While Blender cannot and the SL importer certainly will not anticipate what we want with triangles, the is a big step up in Blender. When we convert ngons to triangles in Blender it will respect edge rings/loops. Because of that as we build for SL it is going to be much much easier.

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