If you’ve made the jump to Blender 2.8...
You may have noticed that not all of your favorite modeling addons have been ported to the new version. Since we’re all starting fresh, it’s a great time to check out some new ones! These are the top 10 Blender 2.8 modeling addons based on an extremely scientific twitter survey, a lot of forum digging, and my own personal experience.
This is one of those little things that seems like it should just be part of Blender by default! Pivot Transform is tucked neatly into the pivot point popover and when you turn it on you can move an object’s origin around without moving the object itself. You can even use snapping!
Remember a couple courses ago where I do this by going into edit mode and it took me about a minute to get the origin in the right spot? This could have made that take about 5 seconds. What’s also great is that moving the origin won’t mess up the location of any child objects, which is otherwise a massive headache. Rotations are a different story though, because dealing with those is a whole lot more complicated. It also zeros out your location data, so do tread carefully if you’ve already animated your object.
If you liked the Generative Modeling lessons with Midge Sinnaeve, you’re going to like this generative modeling addon by Curtis Holt. By-Gen allows you to quickly apply cool styles to your mesh so that you can model pretty basic things yet end up with a neat modern geometric look. It’s creating displacement textures and adding a whole bunch of modifiers for you, which is nothing that you couldn’t do already, but it saves you a lot of time if you use these kinds of styles often.
To be totally honest I didn’t go into this addon expecting a whole lot, but after trying the hard surface skin style I immediately got sucked into modeling random things and had a blast. For a whopping price tag of $1, it’s definitely worth a shot.
8. Loop Tools (included in Blender)
Back before Blender had so many great mesh tools built in, loop tools was the only way to get some important stuff done. Now it’s not as much of an essential, but operators like making any number of edges into a circle, making sloppy loops into a perfect curve, flattening things at strange angles, etc., come in handy all the time! It’s included in Blender, so take 10 seconds and turn it on if you haven’t already!
This set of tools has been around since 2015, but I never heard of it until Jerry Perkins a.k.a MasterXeon1001 the creator of HardOps, mentioned on our live stream that it’s one of his favorites but was no longer being developed. Well, it’s back with new features in 2.8! Mira Tools is a set of retopology and mesh deforming operators that can be pretty helpful. Frankly I generally end up using Mesh Machine or Retopoflow instead of Mira Tools for the retopology and bevel stuff, but the Curve Deform and Curve Stretch operators are pretty unique and super fun to use.
For the few occasions where it doesn’t quite work how I want, another addon, Bezier Mesh Shaper, fills in the gaps since it can influence a larger area with a controlled falloff. I’d highly recommend both of them!
If you’re less about the mesh modeling thing and more about making characters and creatures out of digital clay, this addon is worth checking out. Speed Sculpt helps you quickly block out characters, manage dynamic topology, Boolean using curves that you draw on the mesh, simplify areas, manage masks, and all kinds of other cool things. It helps you stay focused on sculpting without getting bogged down by all the technical stuff.
This popular 3DS Max and Maya tool has made its way over to Blender! Edge Flow uses spline interpolation to adjust edge loops to fit the surrounding geometry. You can use it to quickly clean up messy topology or better blend between two areas. It’s two operators Set Flow and Set Linear come in handy pretty often, and they’re conveniently added to the edges context menu. It’s free, simple, and adds operations that just didn’t exist in Blender before. I’ll definitely be using it a lot!
If you like to make things using booleans, BoxCutter is going to be your best friend. It makes the tedious process of creating meshes to cut out shapes much more intuitive and artist friendly by allowing you to draw them directly in the viewport. It’s buttery smooth and there are a ton of options from drawing complex shapes with bevels to insetting the mesh or even creating new boxes from scratch. You can also use all kinds of meshes as a source for slicing and dicing, so you’re definitely not limited to cutting just boxes.
The addon Fluent also has some of these features and includes a snapping grid for precision, so check that out if you want an alternative.
F2 is a great addon that’s been around for forever and is included in Blender. It makes Blender’s F hotkey a bit smarter by knowing which faces you are intending to fill and jumping right to them.
Smart Fill is a new favorite addon of mine which is like F2 on steroids. It’s pretty simple - it just adds things like grid fill and bridge edge loops to the mix when you need them. Since these actions are so common, having access to all of them by simply hitting F is a fantastic time saver.
Possibly the most well-known Blender addon to date, HardOps saves you clicks by joining common combinations of modeling tasks into simple operations. If you find yourself marking edges as sharp, adjusting modifiers, or kit bashing with Booleans pretty often, this addon will feel like it was built just for you! As the name implies, it was developed with hard surface modeling in mind, but because things like arrays, mirroring, and setting custom normals are useful for most projects, it’s great to have on all the time.
If you like the idea of HardOps but are looking for something a little different, try Speedflow for modifiers and non-destructive workflows, and Ice Tools Pro or Fluent for more Boolean and hard surface detailing goodness.
Subtitled “The Missing Essentials”, MESHmachine is a crucial time-saver for anyone doing serious modeling work.
The big feature that got me into it initially is that it takes the really destructive edit mode bevels and makes them easily editable. Besides the amazing bevel operations though, MESHmachine also fixes geometry and normals on notoriously challenging areas such as curved surfaces, awkward angles, or faces surrounding Booleans. There’s also a new feature called Plugs which lets you insert really cool mesh details without the mess that normally comes with Boolean operations.
If you do hard surface modeling or any sort of modeling for games, MESHmachine is a must-have.
Did I miss any of your favorites? Let me know in the comments!
A lot of you guys have asked about RetopoFlow for 2.8, and I can confirm that it is on the way. Jon Denning, the main developer, is neck-deep the new drawing code in 2.8 which will allow it to be faster, more responsive, more stable, and most importantly - really good looking.
Anyway, I hope you discovered some new addons that will be super helpful for going forward!
P.P.S. While addons can make you a faster modeler, they won’t make you a better modeler. There’s no way around it - at some point you need to really master the fundamentals of topology! For that head over to the Mesh Modeling Bootcamp. Or, if you’re just getting started with 2.8 and want to jump right in with some fun projects, check out our new beginner courses that can get you started right away.