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Blender vs. iClone: Which One Should You Choose

The creative field has expanded with digitization, resulting in numerous artists and enthusiasts experimenting with the idea of creating their projects using 3D technology. Choosing the right software can become problematic considering so many influential factors and features. So, would Blender or iClone benefit you most?

Blender allows the creation of custom models, assets, and animations aided by automated operations, powerful rendering cycles, and add-ons. iClone offers numerous automated operations for increased workflow and usability and is efficient in creating detailed scenes and animations.

Although both Blender and iClone produce astonishing results, they would be advantageous for users with varying purposes and skill sets. The suitability of either of these software options will rely on anticipated outcomes of the project and artists' objectives using the software. Join us as we compare Blender and iClone to help you determine which would be the best fit for your upcoming creations.

What are the differences between Blender and iClone? 

Understanding the functions of Blender and iClone will be crucial when considering which would be more constructive for your purposes. Although both software options are efficient and offer users similar advantages to different degrees, they should be compared assessing suitability per project and based on users' skill levels. 

Asset Creation

Blender is considered one of the best software options concerning asset creation and is an excellent software choice for custom projects or out-of-the-box models. The software features aspects including meshes, curves, volume, instancing, and many more, plus various tools and operations that support the creation process from the ground up. Artists can use sculpting, transforming, and editing to achieve the intended aesthetic. 

There are available add-ons and various sources that offer ready-made assets which can be further customized and used. Artists typically favor the modeling process with Blender, particularly when creating characters and distinctive models. Obtainable materials and textures are abundant, supporting artists in their mission to capture specific visions, express creativity, and pursue countless aesthetic styles. 

iClone offers plenty of opportunities when creating entire outdoor scenes through drag-and-drop construction elements such as sky, plant life, water, and terrain. The software allows artists to manipulate natural elements simply and realistically, such as using the interactive Sky Tool to move clouds. It also includes a library of ready-to-use assets, including interior items such as floors, furniture, stairs, sofas, chairs, tables, shelves, and much more. 

iClone allows users to import or create and customize assets concerning textures and materials through PBR dynamics and multi-texture channels, resulting in realistic aesthetics. Characters can be adapted through body morphing and customization concerning hair, clothing, and much more.

Rendering Capabilities

Blender has become famous for its powerful rendering cycles since it works on the Cycles path tracing engine, enabling full path tracing, and Eevee, the near real time render engine used for final renders and viewport. Cycles is a ray-trace-based production render engine, providing unidirectional path tracing and multi-core rendering with SIMD acceleration. 

Using this software option allows users to witness texture and lighting in real-time, and there are various customizations for the rendering process depending on users’ PC setups. Blender features sophisticated aspects such as global illumination and FreeStyle, a non-photorealistic edge-based and line-based rendering engine and lately, Grease Pencil, a framework for creating 2D animation.

iClone is notably advantageous concerning the rendering capacity, and the software is quite effective at 3D rendering artists’ creations swiftly and proficiently. The software allows users to direct the entire scene with cinematic timeline editing, a multi-camera system, cameras, and lights. This control helps capture the aesthetic of models and props and the ambiance required for each rendered scene. The software uses global illumination for swift and quality production, 

Rigging and Animations

Blender’s rigging and animation features allow artists to animate their models simply and effectively, with ample room for customization, whether complex or straightforward. The potential for animating models extends from simple keyframing to complex animations such as natural walk cycles. This is due to various tools for rigging and animation, including the character pose editor, IK forward/inverse kinematics, and non-linear animation (NLA) for unhindered and independent movements. 

iClone is incredibly popular for animation since rigging is automatic, animation operations are exceptionally user-friendly, and the animation process is notably faster and simpler than many other software options. It utilizes sophisticated tools for editing curves and can simulate full-body rigging and animation through natural rigid body dynamics due to PhysX. 

These capacities are complemented by factors such as organic morphs, collision, constraints, and the behavior of various materials such as soft cloth. iClone also allows artists to hone in on minor details that bring characters to life, such as facial animation and lip-sync. Also, iClone offers a library of ready-to-use animations allowing users to witness their character's movement within seconds. 

Time and Workflow

Blender still requires time and effort since it demands that many aspects are established from scratch, despite assistance from various tools and add-ons. Users will face a challenging yet inspiring educational journey when using Blender. But, when used competently, the software’s use can lead to a stunning aesthetic paired with sensitive movements thanks to physics essentials in the form of data and calculations. 

iClone features numerous tools and operations that help users create high-quality assets and animations with speed and efficiency, and processes are aided by influential features, including IBL and PBR. The software offers numerous pipelines to 3D tools and game engines, allowing users to import and export rigged 3D characters, camera scenes, props, assets, and motions. Numerous plug-ins are also available thanks to partnerships with powerful and industry-leading technologies.  

Skill Requirements

Blender takes quite a lot of time, effort, and learning to use proficiently. The fact that it is open-source and adapted frequently means that users will need to continue the learning journey with the software’s workings over time. However, this can be incredibly worthwhile in the long run since many skills developed in Blender support the use of other tools and applications further down the line. Blender targets a vast audience making it versatile and beneficial for varying industries and services, but the practice is essential with this software. 

Although iClone offers numerous features for artists, users have noted that the software is surprisingly straightforward to use effectively. The supply of supporting material is incredibly beneficial to users, making the learning journey enjoyable and prosperous. iClone offers access to on-demand content, including motions, accessories, props, and 'ready-to-animate' characters. These have been created by branded content partners and featured artists, classified as community assets for iClone users.

What is Blender best for? 

Blender is famous for versatility as it’s used for so many purposes within an extensive range of industries, enhanced by numerous automated operations, add-ons, and tools that assist users by cutting down on monotonous or laborious tasks throughout the workflow process. The software supports all aesthetic styles, whether realistic, cartoon-like, or somewhere in between.

Although Blender is mainly used for design, game development, and animations, artists can use the software to create 3D art, assets, and projects for an expansive range of uses ranging from marketing to education. The flexibility of Blender leaves immeasurable room for growth and creativity and allows artists to capture the specific vision that they have in mind when starting their project. Blender is relatively straightforward to learn and use compared to many other software options. 

What is iClone best for? 

While iClone can be used for various purposes, this software option is commonly used for design, music, marketing, IT and services, and entertainment purposes. This is quite an extensive range of fields, which is inclusive of numerous particular project goals. iClone is also used for game development, content development, and the production of short films. The software offers countless real-time visuals that assist the workflow process, including IBL, PBR, and global illumination. 

Other Considerations for Blender and iClone

Cost and Licenses: Blender is free to use, irrespective of the intended use for artists and whether or not the artists will be profiting by using the software. iClone does offer a free trial for users, but the complete package will need to be purchased.  

Software Compatibility: Blender is compatible with Windows, Linux, and Mac. Blender can be used on various PC setups using GPU power, or CPU power without certain functions. iClone has particular system requirements and is not available for Mac.

Should you choose Blender or iClone?

Blender offers users immeasurable possibilities for their work and is excellent when creating something unique, high-quality, and detailed from scratch. This flexibility allows users to form their projects directly according to their vision, irrespective of the visual style they are going for or the project's purposes. The endless opportunity for creations and animations is complimented by plenty of features for improved functionality and workflow, making it a suitable option irrespective of skill capacity. 

iClone would be an excellent option for usability, quality support over time, and fantastic automated systems. Many processes are done automatically, and users have access to a library filled with ready-to-use assets, characters, and even ready-to-use animations. Using iCloud affords complete control over your creations and would be an excellent option for artists pursuing animation in particular.

Blender and iClone offer similar promises regarding functionality and purposes, with both software options being reputable and popular within the community. Using either software option will likely result in varying aesthetics and quality of work, usability, and learning journeys. Whether Blender or iClone would be a better choice will be based on your project's goals in addition to your budget and skill level.

Sources 

Author

Erik Selin
3D artist, writer, and owner of artisticrender.com

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