Much awaited new features for Cycles renderer include deformation motion blur, fire/smoke and volume rendering and a baking API. User interface now allows for draggable popups and resizable preview widgets. Animation has new interpolation types with “easing equations” presets. Modeling now allows to “split normals” and Sculpting/Painting has new HSL color wheel and constant detail in dyntopo. Game development now allows deactivating logic bricks, multi-threaded animations, cast only materials and “unlimited” action layers. Freestyle NPR rendering has a new textured strokes feature, along with line sorting options.
Deforming meshes, such as animated characters including hair, can now be motion blurred. Initial support for rendering fire and smoke is now available. Baking is now supported for Cycles! Volume Rendering branched path tracing now renders direct lighting for volumes with less noise but longer render time per sample. Overall render time for the same noise level should be reduced in most cases. Several generic and CPU optimizations. The Branched Path integrator now samples all lights for indirect bounces, instead of picking one. Nodes and CUDA improvements.
New brush previews for the Texture Paint mode. OpenGL Render options moved inside the Info Editor -> Render menu, among the OpenGL Render / Animation operators, consistent for Blender Internal and Cycles. Dragging popups by their title area is now possible. Material, texture, etc. preview widgets are now resizable.
Added support for a number of new interpolation types, that define a number of “easing equations” which reduce the amount of manual work to achieve certain common effects. F-Curves speedups and fixes, also for Drivers, Armatures, Constraints. Transform constraint modified, so the mapping factors get valid units which, unfortunately, brings compatibility issues with older files. Several fixes and improvements to many animation editors and tools.
New “split normals” to draw smooth/sharp edges/faces in the 3DView, and both Cycles and BI renderers, replaces the old AutoSmooth/Angle settings for BI. Set edges smooth/sharp moved in the Shading panel of 3DView tools, new smooth/sharp vertices tools.
Added support for HSL (Hue, Saturation, Lightness) based color wheel, which allows easy selection of color tints and shades of a certain color and colors have similar intensity on a given lightness. Also, added support in dyntopo sculpting for constant detail, a tool to help maintain the same level of detail across the mesh.
New checkbox to deactivate sensors, controllers or actuators is added. It is useful during the game development phase to avoid delete any logic brick if you want to test something new. Skeletal mesh and shape key animations are now multi-threaded. Cast Only material option for shadows is now supported in Game Engine, and now “Unlimited” Action Layers are available.
Added support for textured strokes, one of long-awaited missing features: textures applied to Freestyle line behave much like Blender’s classic shading system, for stacking order, coordinate mapping and diffuse/alpha mapping with blending options. Style modules based on the Freestyle Python API can also make use of textures. Line styles now have a set of new options for sorting to rearrange the stacking order of lines.
New Bevel Factor Mapping allows to control the relation between bevel factors and the rendered start and end point of a beveled spline. Motion Tracking new distortion model “Division Model” defines high distortion with only 2 parameters, much better for cameras with high distortion, such as GoPro with fisheye lenses. Main change in masking module added support of asymmetric and free handles