4. Januar 2023 Tobias Hohenauer

I love Blender.

Yes, I do. Blender is fantastic. It was and still is an „iPhone moment“ for me.

I purchased my first iPhone 4 in the fall of 2010 to be better able to navigate the streets of Tokyo during my Postdoc days. Before that, I was using a paper map and a compass. That may sound silly now, but back then I frequently got lost in the enormous subway stations of Shinjuku, Tokyo, and Ueno. Being underground, knowing the general direction of where my goal was using a compass helped a lot to navigate these mazes.

The iPhone and the installed Google Maps changed all that and the degree of freedom I gained from my very first smart device was so incredible that I happily compare this exciting moment to any new tech experiences of similar magnitude using the term „iPhone moment“, which I had heard first from my dear brother Florian 🙂

To be honest, there weren’t that many comparable situations, but if I should name one, then it would be my discovering Blender. Well, discovering it for the second time, I guess.

The first time around, Blender was at version 2.5 or 2.6 and the experience then was so off-putting that I deleted it again shortly after. Come on, who in their right mind would select an object by clicking the right mouse button?

Then came Blender 2.8 and all of a sudden it all made sense.

In 2018 and 2019, during my early days of running life[science]graphics, back then still called Tobias Hohenauer – Life [Science] Grafik :), I had no idea of how to use 3D graphics in my workflow. I simply did not know how to approach this vast and incredible field of opportunity. Nevertheless, I had to learn no matter what, as prospective clients kept asking for 3D content and I was even losing assignments due to not being able to address these needs.

First, I turned to the „industry standards“. But after seeing the price tags on their products, often subscription based, I turned away quickly. There was just no way that I could afford to pay this kind of money as a beginner and I still feel that these solutions, which shall not be named here, seem a bit overpriced (I do know that there are student discounts and free learning versions for most of them, but the followup costs did really scare me).

What I was looking for was reasonably priced software that could be used to produce static 3D content for the biotech and life sciences fields. A software with okay documentation that I would be able to learn in a reasonable amount of time.

Enter Blender 2.8 with its significantly improved user interface and controls that just clicked immediately. Just within a few weeks of fiddling around with the software and looking at YouTube tutorials, I was able to produce what would later become the logo shape for life[science]graphics: the T4 bacteriophage.

Blender is a fantastic software, but where it truly shines is the ease of learning through videos produced by the community. There is a video for just about any Blender-related topic I could think of on YouTube. And if there are not, there are sites like Blender StackExchange or Blenderartists where fantastic people will steer you in the right direction to accomplish your project if you just ask them nicely.

After getting the basics down, I tried my hands at animation. Needless to say that Blender is fully equipped for animating 3D (and 2D) content and, again, the vast amount of tutorials available make it really easy to get satisfying results quickly.

Life long learning.

To further progress my 3D game during or in between assignments, I have started to do 1-day challenges: I seek out a topic or 3D technique that looks interesting in the morning and try to learn and apply it as much as possible during one day. In the evening, I try to recapitulate what I have learned in this one day and how it may help me for my work in the future.

The balloons below are the result of such a 1-day challenge: I started with a flat 2D antibody shape in the morning and wound up with an animated foil balloon antibody that would divide and multiply a bunch of times to give rise to the short video to the right.

More examples how Blender helped me to create 3D visuals can be found here in the 3D gallery.

But enough of the technical praise for now (I could go on and on for hours). There is one thing that makes Blender really, really special, unique even in the 3D world: it is free.

Yes, free. Let that sit for a moment.

Free.

Blender is free and with it being free, it is empowering people to learn about, produce, use, and commercialize 3D content without being forced to shell out tons of money upfront.
It helped me to add 3D content to my portfolio and ultimately got me my first paid assignment for creating 3D content in 2021.

Thank you Blender and Blender Foundation, it is now time for me to start giving back. It is not much at the moment but I hope to increase my contributions gradually to silver and gold badges whenever it becomes possible for me financially.

Have a great 2023!

Tobias

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Dr. Tobias Hohenauer
Guardinistr. 163
81375 Munich
Germany

hello@lifescience-graphics.com

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