Top 20 Blender Developers In 2020

For many of us, 2020 has proven disruptive. At the start of the year, the Blender organization was ready to run a series of workshops for core Blender contributors, a conference in LA, and many other activities. All of these were cancelled or put on hold.  

Luckily, Blender is still a virtual organization managed publicly and online. As such, we’re able to look back at a productive year full of highlights. In this list, we celebrate the developers who helped Blender development continue beyond expectation, resulting in four releases over 2020, including one Long Term Support release. 

Here we present Blender’s top 20 developers, ranked according to number of commits. Full disclosure: this metric, like all metrics, is debatable. And debate we did. But in the end, counting commits seemed the fairest way to salute the efforts being made by Blender’s far-flung team.   

Naturally, every project below represents a vast collaborative effort: while the talent here has contributed huge amounts of brainpower, they’re also working alongside a world-class lineup. That includes developers at Blender Headquarters in Amsterdam, volunteers, and those working remotely all over the globe, via a grant or a contract.     

Together, they’re helping people everywhere make amazing things with Blender.

So let’s get to it: the twenty developers logging the most commits in 2020, arranged from low to high.  

20. Dalai Felinto, Brazil, (84)

Dalai coordinates development at Blender from Amsterdam. He also blogs about all things technical at the Blender Development Blog. As anyone who’s read his blog or watched his appearances on Blender Today Live knows, Dalai is a true Blender linchpin.  

Use case for the Everything Nodes project, which Dalai has been coordinating.
Use case for the Everything Nodes project, which Dalai has been coordinating. It’s also been made possible thanks to Jacques Lucke (see below).

19. Nathan Craddock, USA, (92)

The young and very talented Nathan Craddock is still only a student, currently busy with a Computer Science degree at Brigham Young University. For Blender, he’s been making the Outliner even better, a project he’s been committed to for a number of years, including as part of Google’s Summer of Code in 2019.  

New modifiers drag and drop in the Outliner

18. Richard Antalik, Czech Republic, (108)

Richard has been busy with the Video Sequence Editor. Thanks in part to his hard work, the VSE has experienced rapid improvements–in fact, it’s hitting new heights as an alternative to paid tools. And in 2021, those refinements will just keep coming: VSE is one of Blender’s priorities.  

17. Ray Molenkamp, Canada, (151)

Ray, aka LazyDodo, has been occupied as a Platform Maintainer, and involved in Blender’s libraries. He’s been a part of Blender since 2016, and if you spend time on Blender’s chat channels, you’ll be familiar with his willingness to help solve a mind-boggling range of issues…interspersed with witty banter. 

16. Aaron Carlisle, USA, (156)

Aaron is a master of the Blender manual, clarifying Blender’s many subtleties for those aiming at true expertise. He’s been communicating Blender’s finer points for almost a year, including everything from helping users decide which version of Blender is right for them, to improving the bug reporting process. 

15. Philipp Oeser, Germany (246) 

Back in 2016, Philipp featured in a similar Blender end of year list with 83 commits. Fast forward four years, and he’s logged close to three times as many. Philipp is a bug triaging machine, providing an invaluable contribution to this vital aspect of Blender development. 

Splash 2.91 by Robin Tran
Splash for release 2.91, by Robin Tran. This was one of four releases in 2020, made possible by the hard work of Blender’s developers.

14. Jeroen Bakker, The Netherlands (249)

Amsterdam-based Senior Software Engineer Jeroen has been busy with Viewport improvements for Blender. Amongst Jeroen’s greatest hits for 2020 was a well-received patch that meant a big performance boost for the UV/Image editor. 

13. Sebastián Barschkis, Germany (263)

Sebastián is a Physics Developer working from Amsterdam. His big focus this year was Mantaflow. With Mantaflow integrated into Blender, artists can construct all the fires, explosions and liquid simulations their imaginations demand. Sebastián works tirelessly to update Blender’s Mantaflow capabilities: as recently as 2.92 (alpha), he introduced a new simulation method called APIC.  

Open VDB in action. File by JangaFX

12. Julian Eisel, Germany (294)

Julian is a software developer at the Blender Institute. There, he’s both the VR development lead and UI module owner. In part, Julian helps make everything in Blender easier to grasp, thus improving workflow. That includes a myriad of tweaks from better split support for checkboxes, to revamping node input buttons for clarity. If your eye magically knows where to look when it’s staring at Blender’s multifarious options, there’s an excellent chance Julian has been involved.     

Inspect scenes in VR, introduce in Blender 2.83. Artwork by Dedouze.

11. Germano Cavalcante, Brazil (315)

Known to some as “mano-wii,” the very productive Germano has been getting passionate about snap tools (amongst many other things). With everything from implementing the Snap Gizmo to full snapping Vert Slide, you can be sure that Germano’s had a hand creating more precision for modellers.  

10. Pablo Dobarro, Spain (350)

As Blender Twitter aficionados will know, this multi-talented artist and dev has been giving Blender’s sculpt mode a boost. With innovations like the cloth brush and the fully supported multires modifier allowing sculpting at all subdiv levels, Pablo’s on the forefront of turning Blender’s sculpting workspace and toolset into a premier division sculpting system.

Sculpt Gestures, an intuitive new way to manipulate meshes. Introduced in 2.91.

9. Antonio Vazquez, Spain (370)

It’s amazing to think how Grease Pencil has matured from a simple annotation tool to what it is today: a fully-fledged 2D Animation workspace within Blender, with 3D capabilities to boot. A short while ago, Grease Pencil even added the capacity to use lighting on Grease Pencil materials. As Grease Pencil’s lead developer and team coordinator, Antonio has had a big part in these transformations, helping to usher in a new way to make illustration and animation.  

Holdout, one of many Grease Pencil additions to Blender in 2020.

8. Sergey Sharybin, Russia (389)

Sergey is yet another Blender development superstar. Working from Amsterdam as a Principal Software Engineer, Sergey’s contributions have been wide-ranging as always. This year, he’s been involved with bringing Blender’s long-running Depsgraph up to speed, core development (i.e. Blender’s kernel, file IO, DNA/RNA system, undo) and reviewing work on the sculpting tools as well as the VSE. On top of all that, he’s been pushing Motion Tracking to new heights. 

7. Sybren A. Stüvel, Netherlands (398)

Sybren is well-known amongst those who follow Blender even a little. This year, he helped kick Animation and I/O up a notch. Within I/O, he was specifically busy with refining Alembic functionality and developing USD. If that wasn’t enough, Sybren became Linux Platform Maintainer, taking over the role from Sergey Sharybin. As a side note, Sybren also has an in-depth Scripting For Artists course available over on Blender Cloud.  

6. Hans Goudey, USA (398)

Amongst his many fascinations, Hans was involved with Property Search, the new Modifiers layout, and helping push Nodes forward. That includes work on Geometry Nodes, the first part of the epic upcoming Everything Nodes project.

Can’t remember where that setting is? Search for it in Blender 2.91!

5. Brecht Van Lommel, Belgium (517)

Brecht has gone down in the annals of Blender history thanks to his work on Cycles. This year, he pressed on with Cycles, and also worked on Volume Objects, all from Blender’s headquarters in Amsterdam. Last but absolutely not least, Brecht was appointed to be lead architect for the 2.8 project, and in that role he has reviewed and directed nearly every developer-driven project this year. Respect to Brecht.  

4. Bastien Montagne, France (637)

Bastien originally discovered Blender in a magazine. Fast-forward a few years, and he’s actually building it as a member of the Amsterdam team. In 2020, he put in a mammoth effort delivering Library Overrides and updating Blender’s undo system. With Bastien’s input, even tricky areas like materials, modifiers, and constraints can be overridden–thus reducing stress levels in Blender users everywhere. 

3. Clément Foucault, France (694)

Clément was heavily involved in refining EEVEE, including its extremely popular motion blur capabilities. EEVEE also went through a ton of other upgrades, including hair transparency, render passes for compositing, plus improvements on shadows, transparency, and the addition of Sky Texture. Clément started working on porting our viewport drawing (including EEVEE) to Vulkan. This is the future industry standard, bringing real-time ray tracing to the viewport, and–with a bit of luck–support for MacOS. 

EEVEE went through major upgrades over the last 12 months. Here, you see its new Sky Texture in action.

2. Jacques Lucke, Germany (718)

Jacques’ been working on Geometry nodes, as part of one of Blender’s biggest drives: the Everything Nodes project. As the name suggests, Everything Nodes seeks to make every aspect of Blender controllable through nodes, opening up a ton of flexibility and new creative possibilities. And Jacques is right at the heart of this. Not forgetting: he’s also been developing volume object modifiers. So all those new clouds and fire effects you’ve been working on? Those are made with the help of Jacques’ great dedication.   

UI Fuzzy Search, one of many UI tweaks introduced in 2020.

1. Campbell Barton, Australia (1522)

With a godlike number of commits, we present: Campbell Barton. Campbell has been involved with Blender since… forever. Over the years (and decades), Campbell has contributed to pretty much everything in Blender. And 2020 was no exception, with his biggest effort directed at core development (i.e. Blender’s kernel, file IO, DNA/RNA system, undo). It’s safe to say that Blender’s DNA is part Campbell Barton.

Check out all four major releases in 2020!