Blender is free, but many of the best plugins and assets come with a price tag. And while it is easy to see their value in the amount of time they can save, you may just be strapped for cash. But that doesn't mean you can't enjoy some of the best goodies out there. We searched the Blender Market for you to find the Crème de la crème of add-ons, assets and shaders - all under $10.
Advanced Gold Shader: A glittering bargain ($9.55)
If you want to add a little nature to your scene, look no further. Oak Trees includes 3 randomized tree models based on real world tree anatomy, modeled and prepared for use in Blender's powerful particle systems for a simple process and amazing results. Advanced Cycles leaf materials have been designed to transition from summer to fall and anything in between - so whether you’re looking for a warm colorful fall environment or a luscious green one, it can be achieved with this powerful asset pack. As a bonus, each model pack includes 3 grass models and a particle system setup. At just 5 bucks, this is a must have not only for nature lovers.
HDRI Haven Teaser Pack: Natural light for your scene ($3.95)
CG Cookie tutorial author Greg Zaal is hard at work on a one-stop shop for all things HDRI, called HDRI Haven. While we wait, he has released a teaser pack to give us a taste of what is to come. And it's pretty incredible! Without adding any extra lamps or tweaking nodes, these five HDRIs will give you fully accurate and natural, real-world lighting. At a high resolution of 16384 x 8192 the HDRIs are more than suitable for use as backgrounds as well as for lighting. The best part? Before you buy, you can test a free 2048 x 1024 versions of these exact HDRIs. Even for the high-res version, the price tag has been set incredibly low while Greg collects user feedback. Get them while you can at just $3.95.
Electric Guitar: Let there be rock'n'roll! ($5)
Complete with a rigged cable, controls to adjust the tone, a pickup switch, tuning pegs and fully adjustable hue so you can control the degree of black color, this puppy is ready to shred. To make it easier to place the guitar in a scene, it comes with a stand which you can link it to. Created by blendFX studio to resemble an iconic model, the guitar is perfect for closeup shots or as a background prop. It's shaders are optimized for Cycles and work great with Branched Path Tracing. With a price tag that will appeal even to a struggling musician, this is a real crowd pleaser.
Animated Render Border: Speed up your rendering ($5.95)
Do you want to preview the render of an animated object but don’t want to waste processing time on background objects? Say hello to this neat plugin which allows you to focus the rendering on your selected object only. Created to minimize render time, the add-on looks at the bounding box of the mesh object selected and adjusts the render border accordingly. It also has a 'margin' feature to give you a safe area around your tracked objects. Use it a few times and you will have more than made up for its cost in the time you save - it won't take long, considering this add-on costs less than a ticket to the movies!
TwoLeg Character Rig: Learn how to Animate ($5)
Character Animation takes a lot of time and for a beginner, it’s not easy to know where to start. Enter TwoLeg, a fun character with all the energy but without the challenges of arms, hands or facial animation. It has just enough to come to life: two legs! And he can put them to good use with a walk that is tired, determined or happy, doing a cute little double-jump. When you try it out, you might join in with a skippity-hop of your own. TwoLeg is your perfect buddy to learn and practice the 12 principles of animation. As simple as it appears, there is a lot hiding in the rig; squash & stretch for the upper body, a 3-bone knee, AntiRotation hip system, 4 skin textures (including a green alien look) and much more. With a price tag of a few songs on iTunes and a share of the proceeds going to the Blender Development fund, TwoLeg is as affordable as it is loveable.
Scratched Surface Shader Pack: For perfect wear & tear ($9)
Are you creating a post-apocalyptic scene or a construction site? Has your hero's armor seen many battles? With this pack, you will never have to create scratches from, well, scratch. Plug in the base material and add a shader of your choosing: scratched painted metal, scratched glass or a basic shader which works on any material. The pack comes with five different scratch maps including linear and circular scratches, so you can achieve exactly the look you need. As a bonus, you get two preinstalled materials for scratched painted metal and scratch glass. A part of the proceeds go directly to the Blender Development fund so you can feel extra warm & fuzzy about your purchase!
Picturesque Sunset: Before the night sets in ($9)
This is the only HDRI environment you will ever need to capture the last moments of the day. Professionally shot by Fabricated Media and preset for image-based lighting out of the box, this is a high-quality environment with an incredibly easy use: append the provided world to a scene and select it to get photorealistic lighting - no add-ons necessary. With a clear node structure, you can tweak and adjust any parameters you need to get a picture perfect result. Not convinced yet? Grab a free HDRI to give it a test drive first. If you love it, the full version still costs less than two frapuccinos. And you get your own private sunset.
Fluid Shader: For all things liquid ($6.95)
We started with Jim Morren and we end our list with him, too. This shader is perfect for any type of fluid, from natural substances like water, oil or blood to beverages like beer, coke or molten chocolate (our personal favorite)! If it's liquid, Jim's shader has you covered. Perfect for creating convincing simulations, the Fluid Shader gives you full control over colors, thickness and roughness as well as the refraction index to customize how light behaves in your liquid. With a ready-to-render file included and incredibly realistic results, the hardest part of using this shader is deciding whether your next model will be a glass of cold milk or a cup of tea.
Which item on the list is your favorite? Did we miss any great deals? Tell us in the comments or subscribe to Blender Market newsletter so we can let you know about other great products in the future.