Learning Blender - Add Ons

Tutorial / 02 June 2020

Add Ons 

Add ons are where the real power of Blender comes in. Similar to scripts or plugins in other software, in Blender an add on is a zip file that contains new tools. They are commonly accessed through menus, pie selections and shortcuts. A community of people contribute to a wide range of different tools for Blender and in most cases these make the program more expansive and powerful. As they are just a zip file they are always a simple one click install.  

Below is a list of add ons that I use regularly. I have dropped a quick description for each one below and a link. Worth checking on different stores as the prices vary and often there are sales on certain add ons. This information is valid at the time of posting and work with the latest version of Blender.

Also worth noting that I actually didn't touch add ons until I was comfortable with the base tools. I think it's worth doing that so you are comfortable with the Blenders toolset first.Currently I find that a lot of add ons I pick up to solve gaps in where Blender is missing certain features, a lot of this comes from experience and personal preferences in modelling. However, as time goes on I require less add ons to solve these problems and my list of commonly used plugins gets shorter. This is what is great about Blender. It is ever growing and evolving and if a feature is missing the community requests it and it often finds it's way into the software. 

Modelling add ons 

HardOps and Boxcutter - Paid

Probably the biggest game changer for me. Hard ops is bunch of tools activated by pressing Q. It is a workflow change to make using Blender easier. Boxcutter is a boolean tool where you can draw cutters in the view port and on the models to perform quick boolean operations. It's so extensive it has it's own documentation and YouTube channel where Masterxeon1001 details the workflow. 

EdgeFlow - Free 

Edge flow was a small plugin I found that allows you to do a 'flow connect' operation. This was something I missed from 3DS Max and allows you to connect while taking into account the smoothing of an object. Perfect for increasing the amount of divisions on cylinders and ensuring it stays smooth. 

MaxVis_Tools - Free

This tool has a bunch of useful shortcuts and features. The main reason I got it was for 'super smart create' which is a script I was used to using in Max. It binds lots of useful actions to one key; such as connect, bridge and weld verts. I missed that functionality in Blender and MaxVis was a good way to get it back. 

MeshMachine - Paid

Mesh machine is an amazing tool that can be used to perform a variety of operations. I mainly found it useful for things like unbevelling edges. It comes with a library of plugs which can be snapped to the surface of your model and meshed perfectly together while fixing smoothing. Decal Machine is also another plugin made by the same team. I didn't use it much because I often want to model the geometry into the surface for baking. 

QBlocker - Free

In 3DS Max there is a setting called 'autogrid' this allows you to draw primitives out from the surface normal of an object. This was a small plugin that adds primitives to the shift + A menu and allows you to draw shapes on the surface normal of other objects. I believe in the new version of Blender there is a new primitive that solves this issue.Perhaps in the future this add on might becomes less useful, but for now it solves the problem until Blender releases a new version. 

Asset Management - Paid

A handy little tool that allows you to build up an asset library which you can organise. What I really liked about this tool was you can create an asset and it will create a nice render of it when you add it to your library. For quickly building a kitbash library of pistons, canisters and high poly bits it's perfect. It also comes with a free set of bolts. 

Pivot Transform - Paid

This is another essential tool for working in Blender. The pivot transform tool means I can easily align the pivot to faces, snap it to the bottom of objects. Easily transform it wherever it needs to go. A really useful little pie menu for easily snapping the pivot where you need it. Now I am used to using it I wouldn't be without it. 

Blender for Unreal - Free/Donate 

This add on is a great add on for exporting collections or static meshes. Setting up collision and exporting animations for use in Unreal. It has a great checker to make sure your meshes work and don't have any issues 

UV Add ons 

Texel density checker - Free 

Simple texel density checker. Found it useful for setting texel density on assets that I wanted to export into Unreal. You can also do this in tex tools and other uv plug ins as well. 

Textools - Free 

Tex tools is a classic. Used in 3DS Max for a long time and it has a bunch of useful UV shortcuts. In Max I mainly used the texel density options, different uv grids and flatten uvs by smoothing groups options. 

UVToolkit - Free

UV toolkit is another great add on with a bunch of handy shortcuts for doing common uv operations. You can use it to align uv shells and also enable uv sync, which means you can work in the 3d view on your object and in the uvs at the same time. This does work in Blender as default but this makes it more streamline. 

UVpackmaster - Paid

Another paid plugin but worth the money if you don't want to do any UV packing. It runs the algorithm until it finds the best solution with smallest percentage of wasted space. Very much like Ipackthat but built directly into Blender.

Included in Blender

These are add ons that ship with Blender but are not enabled by default. You can just hop into the preferences add on menu to enable these without downloading anything. 


Loop, bool, mesh, edge, curve tools are all add ons that you can enable to give you extended functionality within their respective sections. Just search 'Tools' under the add on menu. Though it's worth saying I don't use these all that much and a lot of plugins such as Hard ops/Maxvis have their own shortcuts for these functions. 

Extra Objects

There are a few different add ons which opens up extra objects in the shift + A menu. Just search 'extra objects' in the preferences under add ons. This gives you more primitives to work from in Blender. Assets such as gears and pipe joints, or extra curves. This makes the menu more cluttered but I personally prefer to have more primitives to work with. 


Another standard tool that should probably just be on in Blender by default. It turns the f key into a handy tool for filling polygons and doing handy functions. 

Modifier tools 

Again similar to the F2 function I think this should just be enabled by default. It allows more control over the modifier stack. You can expand and collapse all the modifiers and apply them all at once. Just super handy for keeping on top of all your modifiers.

Copy Attributes 

Copy attributes allows you a more expansive copy menu. It allows you copy different things between 2 or more objects. This can be options such as the objects location, scale or rotation. You can even copy modifiers using this as well. 

Edit Linked Objects 

Recently I discovered that linking and appending files in Blender allows you to reference Blender files into existing files. You can do this with all aspects of the files too like collections and materials. If you enable this add on it means you can edit the linked file and in one click jump into the linked file to edit it. Then you can click the same button to go back to the original file and everything auto saves as you go.

All images are copyright to the original authors.

Learning Blender - Tutorial Resources

Tutorial / 02 June 2020

Some of you may know that recently I have invested some time into learning the wonders of Blender. I wanted to write a couple of informative blog posts about tutorials that helped me in my journey to learning the software. It is useful to know that before this I was predominantly a 3DS Max user and had used a little bit of Maya as well. 

A shout out to Ivan Nestorov for his help as I bothered him lots with my questions and he was a great help. 

Free resources 

Artstation Learning 

I confess that I only watched part of this as I was already fairly comfortable with Blender when it was released. It is a good place to start as a complete newbie to the software. 

Blender Guru 

Andrew Price aka Blender Guru has lots of great Blender tutorials on his YouTube channel and is generally just an interesting person to learn from. I found a lot of his tutorials were great to just chill out and watch when you had some spare time. Especially for topics I might not normally look at such as rendering. He has good beginner series for 2.8 as well. 

He also has a bunch of great general 3d tutorials not related to Blender such as lighting, composition and colour. 


Heavypoly YouTube has a bunch of beginner YouTube videos which you can watch for free and he has some paid content so he features in both sections. The Braun desk fan prop was one of the first Blender videos I found. Heavypoly has a great style to his tutorials, they are entertaining and the humor is compelling to watch. I bought a bunch of the his paid tutorials as well as I enjoyed his style. 

Transitioning from other modelling packages

Along the way I found a couple of videos to make the process of learning Blender from the perspective of another modelling package.

I found this video by flipped normals to be helpful and informative. Flipped normals has an impressive collection of videos with a lot of great topics. This video is a good place to start if you already know how to model in other 3d packages. 

Switching to Blender - Flipped Normals 

Another video I watched focused on transitioning from 3DS Max to Blender specifically. Although a lot of videos will tell you to keep the default Blender control scheme I actually changed my controls such as move and rotate to match 3DS Max. It eased the transition and helped to make me feel comfortable in Blender right away.

My advice would be to try and keep as many native Blender controls as you can. This makes watching tutorials a little easier while you learn the controls and shortcuts and you can always customize it to your needs once you are comfortable. The only time I changed controls was when I felt I was really battling against my natural modelling instincts. 

Blender 101 - Learning Blender as a 3ds Max User 

Paid Resources

Aidy Burrows and Gleb Alexandrov (Creative Shrimp)

These guys have YouTube channels with some excellent free content but they are mainly known for their hard surface modelling tutorial in Blender. I found this was a great intro to a lot of the tools and techniques for hard surface modelling. The commentary is great for learning Blender but also just generally good practice 3d modelling techniques. With some great cheesy jokes! They also did a free 2.8 update on their you tube channel. 


As mentioned in the free section Heavypoly has a great YouTube channel of free tutorials. He also has a Gumroad with paid tutorials, I found the crab bot and cargo spaceship were pretty in depth useful videos to pick up more skills in Blender. Plus the end result is pretty cool and that interested me enough to make me want to watch the videos. 

Number one takeaway 

Pick an asset and try and do the whole pipeline.

  • High poly
  • Low poly
  • Uvs
  • Texturing 
  • Get it into an engine

Having learnt different 3d software in the past, I have found this was the best way to learn. I did a small CCTV screen as my first proper asset. This way I would run into problems. As I already know how to model, I would have an approach or technique in mind from 3DS Max. However I wasn't sure how to approach it in Blender. For example - how do I do target weld?

It would force me to jump on to google and learn how to do that technique. I would struggle and sometimes I would have to look up solutions more than once. However eventually it started to stick. This way of learning and struggling meant the information is committed to memory. 

All images are copyright to the original authors.