The Blender Foundation just released the first stable release in about 2 years. 2.57 is a complete re-design from the ground up, and addresses many of the issues that have kept mainstream CG artists away. There's a whole new interface (the largest complaint in the past was how confusing and non-friendly the interface was), and nearly every feature has been greatly improved. There's also additional features like volumetric rendering, approximate indirect lighting, and many others. There are still a few things missing from this version (like BMesh), but Ton Roosendaal stated that they're going to try to release new versions every couple of months for the rest of the year. Good times!
The link to the latest version is here.
- Rebranding Blender (talesfromthecellar.com)
- Sintel, 4k edition (and why it's useful) (creativecommons.org)
- 2 new Blender Foundation Training DVDs (dreamsgate.wordpress.com)
- Blender 3D: Noob to Pro, free ebook (en.wikibooks.org)