If you’re into creating 3D models for either an animated venture or a video game series, you could be unsure how to start. With so many great 3D modeling software products available, it can be difficult to decide. Which is better in the comparison: Blender vs Unreal Engine?
Unreal Engine is a 3D computer graphics engine used for creating video games and features modeling as well as rigging, skinning, camera blocking, and animation with the use of a full suite of creative tools.
Blender is capable of the same creative uses, but is free, and has been described by a majority of users as less sophisticated, visually, than Unreal Engine.
There are plenty of pros and cons related to each of these 3D modeling software products. In this article, we’ll cover a brief overview of what each has to offer so that you can make the most well-informed decision when embarking on your modeling or animation adventure!
What is Blender?
Blender was created by and for the late NeoGeo Dutch animation studio, and released to the public in 1998 as SGI freeware. The development of Blender was discontinued for a while in 2002 but was revived by a non-profit foundation hoping to continue its use as an open-source project.
One of the most interesting (and frankly, endearing) traits of Blender is that it is almost entirely community-developed. Fans and users of Blender have been historically responsible for keeping the program up and running, inclusive, and efficient.
Since 2019, Blender has remained primarily a tool for creating 3D models and animating them, as well as rendering whatever you create for external use. It’s most recent version was released on December 7th, in 2022, with a 3.5 version expected to release in March of 2023.
Pros of Using Blender
Now that we’ve discussed exactly how Blender got it’s start and what it is used for in the present, we can narrow down all of the advantages to using Blender in your 3D animations or modeling pursuits. Check out the list of pros of using Blender below:
- Free – Possibly the most wonderful thing about Blender is that it is totally free for anyone’s use. This means that if you do decide to run Blender on your PC or computer, you won’t be wasting any funds if for some reason the program does not meet your needs.
- Diverse Availability – It is terrible to get excited about a new software only to find that it isn’t available for the type of computer or port you’re using. Luckily, Blender is available for Microsoft Windows, Linux, and macOS. This makes it adaptive to some of the world’s leading computers.
- Full 3D Creative Pipeline – Blender is known for it’s great modeling tools, but that is not all it can do. With Blender, you can not only create models, but rig them, animate them, and even participate in motion tracking and compositing. Remember, all of this is totally free, too!
- Resourceful Community – Because Blender is so widely used, and such a popular tool for beginners, you can usually find free answers to frequently asked questions about how to use it or problem-solve online. You can even find a plethora of tutorials on just about any Blender-related topic, totally free to learn!
- Rewrite the Code – If you know how to use Python to write code, fantastic news: Blender’s open-source characteristics mean that you can download the source code and create your very own version of Blender, suited exactly to your creative needs.
Cons of Using Blender
As fantastic as Blender sounds, there are a few cons to using it. Let’s go over these below:
- Community Bugs – The very fact that Blender has a unique open-source format means that it can gain software bugs or odd issues. When this happens, there is no guarantee that a corporation will come in and solve the problem in the next version. It is usually up to you, yourself, or a knowledgeable online community member, to fix bugs.
- Lower Than Professional Standards – The industry of animating and creating in 3D software does not typically use Blender. If you’re working on something privately, Blender is useful because it is free: however, if you’re training to work in the industry, there is a very low chance that that company will be using Blender.
- Not Compatible With Old Devices – Though Blender can be used on the above-mentioned popular computers and PCs, it does not run correctly on any computers older than 10 years. If you attempt to download Blender onto this type of machinery, you’ll find yourself with a frustrating and laggy experience.
What is Unreal Engine?
Unreal Engine was developed by Epic Games as a 3D game engine utilizing computer graphics. It debuted after being used to create a first-person shooter video game called “Unreal.” It has had 5 different versions released since that time.
Unreal Engine has been a much more mainstream, publicly acknowledged software when compared to Blender over the years. In fact, some video games that have been developed using the graphics of Unreal Engine include Nintendo’s “Yoshi’s Crafted World” and Epic’s own “Fortnite” and “Gears of War.”
Another very interesting use that Unreal Engine has found over the years is in moviemaking and television. For example, Unreal Engine’s rendering is advanced enough to work in real-time, meaning shots can be composed while virtual sets within the program are being created on the spot.
Unreal Engine has even been used to create virtual realities for pharmaceutical drug tests and researchers. It has received awards from the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences and Game Developer Magazine, too.
Pros of Using Unreal Engine
Let’s take a look at everything that can contribute to a decision to choose Unreal Engine as your 3D software suite!
- Photorealistic Graphics – This is probably the trait Unreal Engine is best known for. You can create scenery and 3D assets that look so real, players or audiences of your animated creation will wonder if it really is computer-generated.
- Powerful Flexibility – Unreal Engine can handle even the most sophisticated of projects. Though it is best known for shooter games, it is also responsible for creating open-world games, action-adventure games, narrative adventures, and storytelling. Simply put, the software can run all of these complex scenarios.
- Easy to Learn – Professionals may use unreal to create complex games, but as of its fourth iteration, it was designed to be easy for those with limited tech knowledge to use. This is thanks to its Blueprint visual scripting system.
Cons of Using Unreal Engine
Though even professionals adore Unreal Engine, there are certainly some things you should be aware of as disadvantages before downloading.
- Poor Choice For Small Projects – To put it very simply, Unreal Engine is such a powerhouse that creating mobile app games or small projects can actually cause it to run slower. In addition, the creative suite’s many options may wind up slowing the production of a small project down unnecessarily.
- Success Will Cost You – Epic games no longer charge it’s users for Unreal Engine. However, they do use a royalties system. If a match is created using Unreal Engine and earns more than three thousand dollars over a calendar quarter, Epic will charge the creators 5% of those earnings as a royalty fee.
- Too Much Data Causes Lag – Though it has been used for huge, diverse products, there is still such a thing as too much data for Unreal Engine to run smoothly. In-depth open-world games of the quality of Nintendo’s “Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild” would not be able to be created on Unreal Engine.
Unreal Engine vs Blender Comparison Table
Below is a table that can help summarize these two softwares as compared to one another:
|Free of cost to download.||Free of cost to download, but charges a royalty fee for successful products.|
|Capable of modeling, rigging, motion tracking, simulating, and compositing, but the latest versions do not include a full game simulation suite.||Capable of modeling, rigging, motion tracking, simulating, and compositing, and includes a full game simulation suite.|
|Uses 4 GB of RAM.||Uses 4.7 GB of RAM in addition to requiring Windows 8.1 SDK for 3 more GB of RAM to run C++ Coding rather than using Blueprints.|
|Requires 500 MB of available space to download.||Requires 115 GB to download.|
|Not used in the professional industry as a standard, but great for beginners to learn the 3D creative pipeline.||Used in the professional industry as a standard, for not only gaming but film and television production and research development.|
In conclusion, the pros and cons of Unreal Engine vs Blender as 3D creative software vary. While both are useful to learn the 3D creative process and create your own games and animation, Blender has the benefit of being totally free to use, while Unreal Engine requires successful creators to pay Epic Games a royalty fee.
In addition, Unreal Engine does generally take up more space on any given computer than Blender. With that said, its photorealistic imagery is probably why the professionals in the industry use Unreal Engine rather than Blender.
Now that we’ve covered the advantages and disadvantages of each, it is safe to say that Blender is a great starting place for anyone hoping to create in 3D; it is also a fantastic choice for professionals who know how to code and can get the most out of the open-source program.
However, Unreal Engine has been celebrated by the professional industry since its release and has even been used to create games made by titans like Nintendo. It has hyper-realistic imagery and is definitely the better option for anyone seriously considering creating a valuable video game.