AssetSketcher preview of plugin
Artwork from Asset Sketcher

Best Blender Addons & Plugins For 3D Artists In 2018

Resources3D Written by Josh Petty Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means if you buy something we get a small commission at no extra cost to you(learn more)

A large part of Blender’s success comes from the community that developed it.

The open source nature of Blender encourages enthusiasts and professionals alike to contribute their time and expertise in the name of making a better Blender.

This is widely visible in the massive variety of plugins you can find for Blender on the web. These plugins extend the program and improve its capabilities.

And it seems like new plugins pop up every day.

In this post you’ll find a list of the best plugins for Blender for all purposes. Use these scripts to enhance your workflow and radically improve your Blender creations.

BLAM

BLAM Blender addon

BLAM is a powerful plugin for calibrating Blender’s 3D camera.

Using a photograph, BLAM can interpret the orientation and focal length of the camera that was used to take the photo. From there it’s easy to calibrate Blender’s camera to match.

This technique has a variety of uses including projection mapping, special effects in film and animation, and creating simulations in a real-world environment.

BLAM is simple to set up too.

The plugin asks the user provide vanishing lines based on a reference photo. BLAM can then automatically reconstruct the geometry. This makes it easy to reproduce real-world architecture such as a room or a staircase within blender using only a photo.

Get This Add-on

 

Amaranth

Amaranth Blender plugin

One of the best things about Blender is the sheer range of customization.

Those who devote time to Blender will benefit from studying and experimenting with the many options and systems settings that can be used to add or remove functionality.

Amaranth is a plugin created with this aspect of Blender in mind.

Designed to speed up workflows for dedicated users, Amaranth adds a plethora of tools that enhance Blender’s workflow and simplify certain actions within the software.

Amaranth introduces shortcuts and extensions for several of Blender’s key features. There’s too many to list them all but you can find a list on the main plugin webpage.

Most are geared towards saving time by making Blender easier to use.

One of the best shortcuts provided by Amaranth is the “Camera to Render Border” option that prevents Blender from rendering options that aren’t even in the final shot, saving precious rendering time.

Get This Add-on

 

Ragdoll Tools

Ragdoll Tools Blender

Ragdoll tools is an easy-to-use plugin for generating hitboxes from bones.

These non-destructive tools allow you to easily edit your armature and rigid body settings to achieve realistic ragdoll physics.

Also included are tools for copying your ragdoll simulations into animation keyframes for easy export and playback.

This plugin is great for Blender artists looking to add ragdoll physics to their characters or simulations.

The ragdoll tools are simple to setup and well documented advanced users can take advantage of the custom options too.

Get This Add-on

 

Gaffer

Gaffer lighting addon blender

Gaffer is a must-have addon for anyone serious about getting great lighting in their scenes.

Not only does this tool help you organize multiple lights but it also provides the necessary light settings in convenient panels for easier access.

What this means for artists is simply better lighting for half the work.

Working in complex scenes with several lights can be clunky with Blender’s default setup.

Gaffer provides all the important lighting settings so you can focus on getting better lighting without the distraction of digging for the right settings and hunting for buttons.

Once installed, Gaffer lets you fine tune individual lights without interference from the other lights in your scene.

There’s also an HDRI handler that organizes your HDRI’s and allows you cycle through them without the hassle of the node editor.

Artists who are serious about achieving beautiful lighting in Blender are going to love this plugin.

Get This Add-on

 

RetopoFlow

Retopoflow blender plugin

Blender comes with a powerful set of sculpting tools for shaping finely detailed 3D models.

To animate these high-resolution objects an artist must create another simpler model using a process called retopology.

By default Blender lacks in the retopology department.

This is where RetopoFlow comes to the rescue. It brings together a set of tools that were specifically designed to help artist retopologize their work.

Using an intuitive process, RetopoFlow lets you draw new contours over the surface of an object giving complete control over the geometry. A new clean mesh is generated on the fly that automatically follows the surface of the old model.

RetopoFlow will also ensure quad-based geometry which means your model will be perfect for animation.

Get This Add-on

 

Image Background Transform

Background Transform plugin

Many Blender artists rely on reference images to guide their work.

Character model sheets often contain a front, side, and rear view of the character design. Vehicles and architecture blueprints are often even more detailed.

Blender provides rudimentary tools for moving and scaling your reference images. And the Image Background Transform plugin provides greater control over your reference images.

With the Image Background Transform installed you can scale all your reference images at once, or have then snap to integer values for quick and easy alignment which saves you time during setup.

Get This Add-on

 

Magic UV

Magic UV plugin

Magic UV is a must have for artists who want greater control over their UV workflow.

It includes a wide range of tools for manipulating your UV’s which Blender lacks.

Working with UV’s can be frustrating, and that problem is compounded by Blender’s minimal default tools. Magic UV solves these problems.

Magic UV is so popular that it was added to Blender 2.7 by default. You can turn it on in the User Preferences menu by searching for it in the addons tab.

Get This Add-on

 

TexTools

TexTools plugin

Getting a proper UV Layout is essential to achieving beautiful textured models.

Unfortunately Blender doesn’t come with much more than the basics in this department.

TexTools provides professional UV and texture tools for Blender.

There are multiple tools in this set for aligning your UV layouts and for smoothing your topology.

There’s also 18+ baking modes to choose from, making it easier to get the perfect textures for your projects.

Get This Add-on

 

BookGen

BookGen plugin sample

BookGen is a great example of the wide variety of plugins made by the Blender community.

Once installed, this free script will generate books on command, allowing you to fill 3D shells and cupboards with all the books you could desire.

With options for customizing the dimensions of books, BookGen can generate books of different shapes and sizes so that your scene will have some variety and interest.

This may seem oddly specific and unnecessary until you’re faced with a scene requiring some background details.

BookGen would be a useful plugin for interior decorators or artists who work primarily with interior spaces and architecture. Use BookGen to add some details and life to any indoor scene.

Get This Add-on

 

Sculpt Tools

Sculpt Tools plugin

Sculpt Tools was designed to help the sculpting process feel more intuitive and creative.

If you’re looking to make Blender feel and behave more like other sculpting programs, this is the addon for you.

What Sculpt Tools does is combine complex boolean and modifier actions to make Blender easier and faster to work with.

For instance, with Sculpt Tools artists can use the grease pencil tool to quickly shape an object.

This saves time and streamlines the sculpting workflow in Blender which can otherwise be tedious.

Get This Add-on

 

FPS Setup

FPS Setup plugin

Some of you may not be aware, but Blender has its own built-in Game Engine for creating interactive software.

While it’s not widely used in the game industry the Blender Game Engine provides everything you need for building your own games.

The FPS Setup addon makes it easier to start building your own games in Blender by providing a simple First-Person Shooter style controller.

Using this addon you can create an FPS object in your world that will give you first person controls, jumping, and collision.

This is a great way to get started in game development with Blender. Now you can easily drop an FPS controller into your world and explore your very own creations.

Get This Add-on

 

Asset Management

Asset Management plugin

The asset Management addon is a handy tool that will save you time in mostly any project.

It introduces a new panel that lets you create a custom library of the materials, scenes, HDRI’s, other assets you create.

These can be shared across your Blender projects too.

Included with the Asset Management plugin is a Thumbnail Generation tool that makes it easy to create custom thumbnails for all your individual assets. Organizing complex scenes and sharing assets has never been easier.

You can also use this plugin to create libraries of your HDRI maps. Experimenting with your scenes and keeping track of your assets is important for obtaining consistent results with Blender, and this plugin is a big step forward in that department.

Get This Add-on

 

FLIP Fluids

FlipFluids Plugin

You can generate simulations of complex surfaces like cloth or liquid with ease using Blender.

These simulation tools are quite capable, although sometimes getting the results you want can be tricky.

With FLIP Fluids it’s much easier to create high quality cinematic fluid effects within Blender.

The FLIP Fluids simulator was created to improve many aspects of Blender’s internal simulation tools. You’ll get controls for speed, performance, and customizability for anything you generate with this addon.

For example, FLIP provides an exciting whitewater simulator that creates millions of spray and bubble particles. Use this to add greater realism and detail to any scenes featuring oceans or lakes, or even a bubble bath.

Get This Add-on

 

BPainter

BPainter sample

BPainter is a godsend when it comes to painting textures.

While Blender comes with a quality set of painting tools, getting a good setup for painting can be difficult as the UI is particularly annoying in this regard.

BPainter was developed to help you establish a smooth workflow for painting in Blender.

It adds a layering system that you’ll recognize from 2D painting programs. It also cleans up the UI and brings its own set of brushes and textures.

As icing on the cake, BPainter also provides some common blend modes for your texture layers. Advanced users will recognize filters like Overlay, Multiply, and Subtract.

There’s also an improved color picker that gives you control over which layer you’re sampling from.

BPainter is a big improvement over the default Blender painting setup. The $39.99 price tag might seem expensive, but professional artists will find the price well worth it for what they save in time and frustration.

Get This Add-on

 

Material Pipeline

Blender Material Pipeline

The Material Pipeline plugin was designed to simplify the creation of materials in Blender.

Once installed, you can say goodbye to node-based material setups which can be complex and unwieldy.

Material Pipeline also comes with over 100 different PBR materials that provides so much right out of the box. You can also create your own unique PBR-based materials using the included node group.

Taking inspiration from Disney’s Principled Shader, the node group will let you simulate nearly any material imaginable.

ONELVXE, the studio that created this Material Pipeline addon, also provides material packs of your choice for those who might be looking for a specific set.

Get This Add-on

 

MESHmachine

Meshmachine plugin

MESHmachine is a modeling addon aimed at improving the default behavior of Blender’s modeling tools.

Mainly it adds more flexibility when dealing with rounded surfaces such as bevels.

MESHmachine was created to allow a modeling workflow that was previously not possible in Blender. Use it to gain a range of options when dealing with tricky curved surfaces.

This addon is a big improvement over Blender’s standard set of beveling tools so it’s well worth the price if you’d use it frequently.

Get This Add-on

 

Asset Sketcher

AssetSketcher add-on

If you’re a level designer or anyone else who needs to create complex scenes with many assets, you’re going to want Asset Sketcher.

Placing objects in your scene is a lot of work. Creating such complex scenes can be extremely tedious too.

While Blender provides a few tools to make this task easier, it has nothing like Asset Sketcher.

Using this plugin you can easily draw assets directly into your scene.

There are so many options for customizing and randomizing how those objects are placed so you get a lot of control in the process.

Assets can be automatically oriented to a ground plane or snapped into a grid. You can even use simple physics calculations to have objects arrange themselves.

Need to add some details to a dungeon scene? Drop some crates using Asset Sketcher and watch them fall right into place.

Get This Add-on

 

Author: Josh Petty

Josh is an artist and game developer who specializes in sci-fi, fantasy, and abstract art. His work employs vibrant colors and combines elements of glitch art, outrun, retro-gamming, neo-geo, and conceptual art. He trained as an oil painter before picking up 3D modeling, animation, and programming. He now runs Brain Jar, a small game development studio that focuses on experimental, narrative-driven content. You can learn more on the website or on Twitter @brainjargames.