The Good Got Better

...and what was not good, got fixed!
The much anticipated update of the Blender 2.80 milestone is here! With over a thousand fixes and several important updates that were planned for the 2.8 series. Most notable are the sculpting tools overhaul, support for NVIDIA RTX ray tracing in Cycles, Intel Open Image denoising, a better outliner, a new file browser and much more.
Sculpting Rethought

A complete overhaul of the sculpting workflow.

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New Cursor & Brush Settings

Auto Masking

Assigns a factor to each vertex before starting the stroke. Topology automasking affects only vertices connected to the active vertex.

World Spacing

Keep an even distance between stroke points in 3D space. Great for sculpting near the edges.

Grab Active Vertex

Snaps the maximum strength of the grab brush to the highlighted active vertex, making it easier to manipulate low poly models or meshes with subdivision surfaces.

Normal Radius

Control how sensitive the sculpt normal direction is to the underlying surface.

The cursor now is aligned to the surface normal, displays symmetry and a preview curve fall-off.

Displays the edges of the mesh inside the brush radius. This helps to visualize the real geometry the user is manipulating from sculpt mode when there are active modifiers.


Mask Filter

Modifies the whole paint mask. In includes multiple operations like smooth, grow or contrast accessible from a pie menu.

Dirty Mask Generator

Similar to Dirty Vertex Colors, but it generates a paint mask. It can be used to mask cavities in the sculpt.

Mask Expand

Creates a mask from the active vertex to the vertex under the cursor based on topology or mesh curvature.

Mask Extract

Extracts the paint mask to a new mesh object. It can extract the paint mask creating a boundary loop in the geometry, making it ready for adding a subdivision surface modifier.

New Tools

Pose Brush

Pose a model simulating an armature-like deformation. The pivot point for rotation is calculated automatically based on the radius of the brush and the topology of the model.

Elastic Deform Brush

Based on Pixar's paper Regularized Kelvinlets:
Sculpting Brushes based on Fundamental Solutions of Elasticity
, this tool lets you grab, biscale grab, triscale grab, scale and twist operations while preserving volume.

Translate, Rotate, Scale

Use the familiar transform tools now also during sculpt. Transforming around a pivot point and taking into account symmetry.

Draw Sharp Brush

Similar to the draw brush, but it deforms the mesh from the original coordinates. When used with the sharper curve presets it has a much more pleasant crease/cut behavior than any of the other brushes. It is useful for creating cloth wrinkles, stylized hair or hard surface edges.

Mesh Filter Tool

Applies a deformation to all vertices in the mesh at the same time. It includes multiple deformation modes and the option to lock the deformation axis.


Blender 2.81 now ships with two new ways to remesh your models, a fast one based on volumes and another one preserving quads.

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OpenVDB Voxel

Quickly create a new quad mesh based on the volume of the mesh. It is particularly useful for sculpting, to generate a good topology when blocking shapes, as an alternative to dynamic topology without the performance cost of continuous updates.


Creates a quad mesh with few poles and edge loops following the curvature of the surface. This method is relatively slow but generates higher quality for final topology.

Intel® Open Image Denoise
A new Denoise node was added in the compositor, to denoise renders using OpenImageDenoise.

Compared to the existing denoiser, it works better with more complex materials like glass, and suffers less from splotchy artifacts. It also gives better results with very low numbers of samples, which can be used for quick previews.

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4 Samples Without Denoise 4 Samples Without Denoise
4 Samples With Denoise 4 Samples With Denoise

Not everything is EEVEE these days! Cycles got new and improved nodes, a new denoiser, adaptive subdivision stitching, custom HDRI picking from the viewport, NVIDIA RTX support and optimizations all over the board.

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Preview Passes in the Viewport

Pick which pass to see while in Rendered shading mode.

Massive improvements on Shader nodes for Cycles & EEVEE.

Volume Info

For convenient access to Color, Density, Flame, and Temperature attributes of smoke domains.

Vertex Color

For convenient access to Vertex Colors and their alpha channel.

Map Range

Linearly remap a value from one range to another.

White Noise

Produces a random number based on input values.


Clamps a value between a maximum and a minimum values.

Math & Vector Math

New operations and dynamically show number of inputs depending on the operation.


Location, rotation and scale are now node inputs that can be linked to other nodes.

Voronoi, Musgrave, Noise

Support for 1D, 2D, and 4D textures. Plus more feature types.

Reduced shadow terminator artifacts for bump mapping with diffuse BSDFs.
Blender 2.80 Blender 2.80
Blender 2.81 Blender 2.81
Cycles now has experimental support for rendering with hardware-accelerated raytracing on NVIDIA RTX graphics cards. It’s On.

The OptiX backend was contributed by NVIDIA.


After making its debut in Blender 2.80, the real-time render engine got major optimizations and new features in this release.

  • Soft Shadows have been completely rewritten to be easier to setup, look and match Cycles better.
  • Volumetrics are now faster to compute on modern GPUs.
  • Bump mapping gives more accurate results closer to Cycles.
  • Support for instanced lights and shadow casters.
  • Contact shadows now follow the light shape.
  • Sun lights now have their clip distances automatically computed.
  • Holdout is now supported with both opaque and semi transparent surfaces.
  • Transparency handling has been reworked and now supports the same BSDF combinations as Cycles.
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Grease Pencil

New brushes, improved stroke quality, new tools and performance improvements.

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New Brushes & Presets
New Brushes & Presets
Self Overlap
Self Overlap

A new option in materials to disable the stencil effect on strokes.

Isometric Guides
Isometric Guides

New isometric grid option for lines specified by angle.

New File Browser
  • Opens as floating window with more standard layout.
  • Popovers for view and filter options.
  • Reworked display of date and file size text.
  • Options now display on the sidebar, opened or closed depending on the task.
  • Vertical list view with interactive column header.
  • Deleting files will now move them to the system trash.
  • New and updated icons.
  • Some settings of the dialog are saved in the preferences, so reopening it will have them remembered.
  • Preferences option allows using the File Browser in full-screen layout.
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The outliner got a long-overdue pass on usability.

  • Selection is now synced with the viewport
  • Range selection with Shift+Click, extend selection with Ctrl+Click, and range select without deselecting with Ctrl+Shift+Click.
  • Drag & Drop for parenting multiple objects.
  • Navigate with Up and Down keys, expand/collapse with Left/Right, hold shift to apply recursively
  • Box select with click and drag.
  • Expand arrow click and drag to expand or collapse multiple items.
  • Object selection with eyedropper now works in the outliner.
  • Filter option to show hidden objects.
  • F2 to rename active outliner element.
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Transform & Snapping

Transform origins, new snapping, mirroring and auto merge options.

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Transform Origin

It's now possible to move object origins directly. This is an alternative method of adjusting the origin, previously only possible placing the cursor and setting an objects origins to the cursor.


Two new snap options have been added:

  • Edge Center, to snap to the middle of an edge.
  • Edge Perpendicular, to snap to the nearest point on an edge.
Transform Parent

You can now transform parents without affecting their children.

Mirror Any Axis, Anywhere.

For mesh editing and vertex/weight paint modes, mirroring now supports X, Y, Z and multiple axes simultaneously.

Poly Build Improvements

Blender 2.81 brings the poly build tool to a whole new level for retopology tasks.

Library Overrides

Library Overrides is the new system designed to replace and supersede Proxies.

Most types of linked data-blocks can be overridden, and the properties of those overrides can then be edited.When the library data change, unmodified properties of the override one will be updated accordingly.

Compared to proxies, library overrides support:

  • Multiple independent overrides of the same linked data (i.e. link a character once, instance it multiple times!).
  • Adding new modifiers and constraints, anywhere in the stack.
  • Recursively chaining overrides (i.e. link and override overrides from another library file, etc.).

The viewport and workbench also got improvements in this release.

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Local Collections

Each viewport can now have its own set of visible collections.

Specular Control on Matcaps

Workbench matcaps can now be OpenEXR images with separate diffuse and specular layers.

Mesh Analysis

Mesh analysis overlay now supports meshes with modifiers, instead of only the original mesh.

Image Objects

Image objects can now be set to display only in side views for a better workflow when used as reference.

HDRI Strength Control

HDRI studio light strength can now be controlled in the shading popover.

Rendered Shading

Improvements were made to rendered preview so it supports turning off all scene lights and custom world HDRI, for look development (now also for Cycles!)

Batch Rename

Where you could previously rename the active item with F2, you can now also batch rename all selected items with Ctrl F2.

  • Find & replace with regular expressions
  • Set prefix or suffix
  • Strip characters
  • Change capitalization
  • Filter by data type
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