That's it! The new version of Blender has been officially released, and you can get it HERE.
What's new in 2.78?
Lots of stuff! Let's go through some of the most relevant ones :D
Grease Pencil 2.0
This one is a breakthrough for being able to create 2D animation inside a 3D world in Blender. I've already talked more about GO2.0 in this and this posts. It's basically a HUGE improvement over the old Grease Pencil, which was just an annotation tool :)
Are you not familiar with B-Bones? Basically, you have one bone, you weight one bone, you move one bone... but internally you can divide it into chunks that interpolate to form a curve; very useful for complex (and organic) shapes! Well, Bendy Bones are also a huge improvement over the good old B-Bones. I also talked more about them here. See a Tutorial by Jay Anam about Bendy Bones here.
3D Viewport improvements
Well... it may not be really important for a lot of people, but I've been waiting for this update for a LONG while. Many things have been improved in this regard, and there are big changes coming to the viewport for the version 2.8 (Realtime PBR, anyone??), but my most superfavorite thing is: being able to see the effect of normal maps in realtime. But wasn't that possible in the past? Well, yes... but only while working on Blender Render; it wasn't compatible with Cycles :D
Adaptive Subdivision and Microdisplacement (Experimental)
Ok, as mentioned in the title, this one is "experimental", and you'll need to enable the Experimental features of Cycles rendering in order to use them, but oh, boy, this is cool! Adaptive Subdivisions let Blender subdivide your model depending on the distance from the camera based on the pixels of the resulting render - yes, that's it: no more subdividing parts of the model that will be hidden or far away! Microdisplacement is like displacement... but working in combination with Adaptive Subdivisions, providing results with a striking level of details!
It has some limitations because as mentioned above, this is a first implementation and it's still tagged as experimental, but it's a big step in the good direction :)
There are a lot more little changes, so I made a summary of some of them:
- Some new options in modeling and selection tools. For example, pressing S and P to control Segments and Profile while beveling, or select a corner face, and Shift+Ctrl+RMB on the opposite corner to select a grid of faces
- Draw Bezier Curves! (Create a Curve, enter in Edit Mode, and press Ctrl+LMB and drag)
- Hair rendering is now substantially faster
- Fluids now support motion blur
- Datablock Remapping options (you can do it from the outliner; useful if you work with linked libraries)
- Decimate improvements, plus now it's also a modeling tool in Edit Mode
- Alembic support (mesh cache format)
- Eyedropper to quickly click and select Drivers from the UI (this is awesome!)
- Blender ID: enable the addon, log in, and synchronize your preferences between different machines
- New addons added: BoolTool, Carver, tinyCAD...
- And many more!
Download and enjoy! (And subscribe to my newsletter to get updates and tutorials ;P)