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+ - SPAM: J Williamson - Vehicle Modeling Series Review

Submitted by
terrywallwork
terrywallwork writes "Jonathan Williamson — Vehicle Modeling Series — Gyrocopter — Tutorial Video Review

Now that Blender has sort of stablized, there are a fair few websites whose purpose in life is to produce Blender tutorials and videos. One of the better such sites is [spam URL stripped], a very slick website with very high quality video tutorials and tips videos. Most of the content on their sites are free to view, so you get a very good idea of the overall quality of the materials they produce. Along with their free materials there is also paid content.

One such example of their paid content is the recently released "Vechicle Modeling Series — Gyrocopter" created by Jonathan Williamson. Jonathan is very experienced Blender user and 3D modeler and is well known in the Blender community, so you can expect a very high level of modeling skill to be presented within this video tutorial.

The basic premise of the video tutorials is to model a futurist vehicle called a Gyrocopter, using concept art drawn by David Revoy, who is also very well known within the Blender community for his spectacular painting and drawing abilities.

Product Specifications:

        Name: Vehicle Modeling Series — Gyrocopter
        Author: Jonathan Williamson
        Price: $48 Download $56 with DVD (16th Apr 2011)
        Type: Downloadable Video Tutorial
        Length: 15 Hours Roughly

Since I pre-ordered this series, I downloaded the videos from Blender Cookie website. I didn't have any real problems downloading the content, it downloaded reliably for me. Be warned though that if you have a slow connection it is going to take a while to download the entire contents. If you do have a slow connection and don't want to have to deal with downloadable videos you can also purchase a DVD version. The DVD has identical content to the downloadable videos.

Video Sections:

        Chapter 1 Part 1 — Introduction (Length 00:02:24)
        Chapter 1 Part 2 — Setting Up Modeling Sheets (Length 00:05:45)
        Chapter 1 Part 3 — Creating Basic Shapes (Length 00:24:30)
        Chapter 1 Part 4 — Refining The Silhouette (Length 00:19:22)
        Chapter 1 Part 5 — Separating The Pieces (Length 00:08:00)
        Chapter 2 Part 1 — Blocking The Front Section (Length 00:32:07)
        Chapter 2 Part 2 — Blocking The Mid-Section (Length 00:48:15)
        Chapter 2 Part 3 — Blocking The Wings (Length 00:42:36)
        Chapter 2 Part 4 — Blocking The Rear and Tail Sections (Length 00:55:26)
        Chapter 3 Part 1 — Detailing The Cockpit Windshield (Length 00:26:17)
        Chapter 3 Part 2 — Detailing The Nose (Length 00:51:08)
        Chapter 3 Part 3 — Detailing The Nose (Length 00:18:33)
        Chapter 3 Part 4 — Detailing The Bottom (Length 01:02:41)
        Chapter 3 Part 5 — Detailing The Bottom (Length 01:01:40)
        Chapter 4 Part 1 — Creating The Paneling (Length 00:36:41)
        Chapter 4 Part 2 — Creating The Paneling (Length 00:43:16)
        Chapter 4 Part 3 — Modeling The Engine (Length 00:52:12)
        Chapter 4 Part 4 — Modeling The Engine (Length 00:55:04)
        Chapter 4 Part 5 — Modeling The Engine (Length 00:56:09)
        Chapter 5 Part 1 — Detailing The Wing Paneling (Length 00:43:58)
        Chapter 5 Part 2 — Detailing Between The Wings (Length 00:57:45)
        Chapter 5 Part 3 — Detailing The Propellers (Length 00:34:10)
        Chapter 6 Part 1 — Modeling The Front Of The Tail (Length 00:34:45)
        Chapter 6 Part 2 — Modeling The Middle Of The Tail (Length 00:25:28)
        Chapter 6 Part 3 — Modeling The Tail Fin (Length 00:28:16)
        Chapter 7 Part 1 — Blocking The Interior (Length 00:16:37)
        Chapter 7 Part 2 — Detailing The Interior (Length 00:22:05)

After I had completed downloading the video files, I set about watching them, and with 15 hours of material to watch either make sure to have a very comfy chair or take breaks.

The first thing I noticed was that they were very well encoded (mp4 format) and produced. The videos were very clear to watch and Jonathan spoke very clearly. This really helps with video tutorials, having a good clear narrator really makes following and understanding the videos so much easier. Everything Jonathan did or was about to do is described to the user, as were the reasons he was doing a particular task in the way he was. This is what happens throughout all the videos, everything is narrated and explained, as far as modeling of the Gyrocopters mesh geometry is concerned.

The tutorials start with the basics of using Blender 2.5x by doing the rough modeling of the Gyrocopter using Blenders basic features. As the rough model of the Gyrocopters parts is completed, Jonathan then moves on to detailing the rough models parts in a higher level of detail, slowly building up the level of detail that is evident within the Gyrocopter model.

Even though Jonathan is a very skilled modeler he doesn't tend to use any hard to understand features of Blender, just the basics of vertex manipulations, curves, a few modifiers and basic materials, so even though the end result of the video tutorials is a very advanced model, the techniques used to produce it, should be easily understandable by a beginning Blender user. The intermediate Blender user should be able to learn something from Jonathans use of edge flows and overall use of good geometry techniques and how to deal with large vertex count models such as the Gyrocopter. The Gyrocopter is modeled cleanly with good edge flows and doesn't just look nice visually but is also of a high quality from a geometry point of view (in my opinion).

The videos are split into 27 parts, the longest video hovers around the 1 hour mark, so none of them are too long. This makes watching the video much easier, having them split up into manageable chucks certainly made it easier for me to keep track of what was happening and made taking breaks easier to get the ideas expressed in this tutorial clear in my head.

As well as the tutorial videos, also supplied are the blend files at different stages of the Gyrocopters production throughout the modeling process. As is the David Revoy concept artwork the Gyrocopter is modeled from. These are extremely informative and are a great way for the more experienced Blender user to get quickly up to speed on how a particular thing was modeled, if you do not want to watch all the videos. The David Revoy concept art and model sheets are just gorgeous to look at and also come in very useful if you want to follow along with the video tutorial.

Only basic material properties are covered, such as making different parts of the Gyrocopter model different colors to make them stand out better. Texturing, Lighting, and Compositing is not covered, but if what you want is an excellent tutorial on mesh modeling this is an excellent tutorial. I really do hope they follow up with a Texturing/Lighting and Compositing tutorial in the same level of detail as they did for the modeling side of things.

All in all Excellent Tutorial, well worth the money and really well produced. Well worth adding to your collection of Blender resources.

Review Score 90%"

Link to Original Source
Books

+ - Sebastian König - Blender GreenScreen Keying->

Submitted by terrywallwork
terrywallwork (1696588) writes "Sebastian König — Blender GreenScreen Keying Concepts — Tutorial Video Review

Whenever Sebastian König comes out with another Blender video tutorial, I know that I will have the next few hours of my day planned out for me. So when I found out the that Mr König had put out a Keying/GreenScreening tutorial off I went to purchase the video.

Product Specifications:

        Name: Blender GreenScreen Keying Concepts
        Author: Sebastian König
        Price: $19.95 (29 Jan 2011)
        Type: Streamable Tutorial Video
        Length: 1 Hour 48 Min Roughly

First thing to note is that this tutorial video covers how to use Blender Compositing Node system to produce Mattes/Keys from a green/blue/red screens, using various techniques. A feature which is vital if you want to extract live action footage from a scene and composite different elements together.

Chapter Sections:

        Chapter 1 — Getting Started (Video Position 00:00:00)
        Chapter 2 — The Channel Key (Video Position 00:13:40)
        Chapter 3 — Your Own Custom Key Key (Video Position 00:24:18)
        Chapter 4 — Lightwrap (Video Position 00:32:54)
        Chapter 5 — Garbage Mattes (Video Position 00:47:17)
        Chapter 6 — Channel Blur (Video Position 01:01:01)
        Chapter 7 — Rotoscoping (Video Position 01:11:42)
        Chapter 8 — Compositing (Video Position 01:26:05)

This video is the second in the series of CMIVFX tutorials covering the topics of how to use Blender to carryout various studio level production tasks using Blender's Compositing system. The previous tutorial (Blender 3D Compositing also produced by Mr König is related to this video and it would be useful to have seen that previous video because some of the topics covered are easier to understand having seen the previous video. But if you are not totally new to Blender or Blenders Node editor you should be able to follow along without any difficulty even if you haven't seen the earlier tutorial.

The production quality of the video tutorials is very high and encoded very clearly so there should be no problems viewing the streaming video from their website. I had been busy and had to be away from the web for a while so I downloaded the video and watched it from within VLC, again it was very clear and easy to watch.

Chapter 1 — Covers the initial setup of Blender and its interface, going over how to get various still and movie sequences into Blender Compositing system so as to allow you to do the various Keying processes. Throughout the tutorial various 2k and 4k files are used (studio quality). For those that do not know the theory of how GreenScreens work Mr König describes briefly the theory of how they work. After the theory a few ways that could be used to make Mattes/Keys are described and Mr König explains how they work and explains how they are not useful for the needs of this tutorial.

Chapter 2 — Having covered some of the bad ways to pull a Matte from images in Chapter 1, Chapter 2 covers better methods using Blender Channel Key Node. Covering how to pull Mattes from both still and moving images with and without the effects of motion blur upon the images. After all, it's all very well to pull a Matte from a still none motion blurred image, but when the images are moving, dealing with the problems motion blur introduces is very important and it is explain and handled very well by Sebastian. Sebastian shows both how to use the nodes to manually pull a Matte using Nodes, as well as Nodes that do it automatically. Often tutorials just mention the automatic ways to pull Mattes rather than explaining how it all works, the flexibility that is afforded in understanding exactly how things work makes you much more likely to be able to pull more difficult Mattes in future. The methods used throughout all the chapters remind me a lot of a book "Steve Wright — Digital Compositing For Film And Video" another excellent source of digital compositing information, which is much easier to follow when in video form as this tutorial is.

Chapter 3 — Covers making a custom made Matte puller using Blender Node system, useful when over methods that Blender provides do not automatically work as required. This section is fairly involved but was clear and easy to follow.

Chapter 4 — After having pulled at Matte from the previous chapter, Lightwrapping are explained and then a demonstration of how to create them are gone over. After lightwrapping is covered, a simple method of making Vignettes are demonstrated. This time however the shots that are being processing are more difficult as it has a drummer drumming which has large amount of motion Blur and simpler Matte pulling methods are not sufficient.

Chapter 5 — Covers the uses of Garbage Mattes and how to combine multiple Garbage Mattes to achieve a clean Matte pull on different parts of a short, as different parts of the short required different methods to get clean results. Excellent demonstration of how to use Blenders mask like features to achieve the result needed.

Chapter 6 — Channel Blur is a slightly advanced chapter because it covers how to take lower quality GreenScreen shots which are pixelated/lower resolution, and uses various YCbCr colorspace tricks to fake a higher resolution Matte. How the trick works is very well explained although it would have helped to have had more information on exactly how the YCbCr color system works, though enough information was given to be able to carry out the color channel blurring trick, and if your really want to know all the detailed specific of YcbCr Colorspace you can always do a google search. This is a very useful technique, makes me wish Blender had an inbuilt automatic node for doing this trick as standard. A really useful website (www.hollywoodcamerawork.us) is mentioned that hosts many different GreenScreen stills and movies. The images used in this chapter have a woman with a transparent veil dancing around, and as a result it's a much harder task to pull a clean Matte, but Sebastian demonstrates how to do it efficiently with multiple Garbage Mattes and Masks from within Blender.

Chapter 7 — Rotoscoping, follows on from the previous chapter. Because the woman is dancing, an animated Garbage Matte is created using Blender RotoBezier feature, using this method Sebastian demonstrates the usefulness of Rotoscoping and Blender RotoBezier feature.

Chapter 8 — Compositing, this final chapter composites the Keyed images that were obtained from the previous chapters, using Blenders Compositor. Using the Images as Planes addon method of positioning extracted GreenScreened footage into Blender 3D Viewport is explained. Another useful trick described is recoloring of extracted GreenScreen material.

Each chapter is very well explained and there are numerous examples of how to use the various techniques described throughout all the chapters. Sebastian paces his descriptions of that various tasks in each of the chapters very well.

This tutorial stands well on its own or with the previous Compositing tutorial that Sebastian did. It in my opinion is well worth the money and very informative and full of useful tricks and tips. It will almost certainly have something useful in it for someone looking to improve their GreenScreen/Matte pulling skills.

Review Score 86%"

Link to Original Source

+ - Lee Salvemini - Ninja Character Creation Volume 1->

Submitted by terrywallwork
terrywallwork (1696588) writes "I recently reviewed a product from www.cgmasters.net called Environment Modeling and Texturing, and I was very impressed with it. It was just before Christmas so I decided to wait before reviewing the other product they had until after Christmas. Unfortunately Christmas sailed by and it slipped my mind that I had planned to do another review. I put this down to having too many mince pies, all the sugar must have scrambled my memory. Luckily the people at cgmasters have better memories than I, or at the very least a better tolerance of sugar, because they sent me a copy of the product I was going to review: "Ninja Character Creation Volume 1". So sometimes it pays to forget.

Product Specifications:

        Name: Ninja Character Creation Volume 1 — Modeling
        Author: Lee Salvemini
        Price: $60 (23 Jan 2010)
        Type: Downloadable Tutorial Video
        Length: 9 Hours 25 Min Roughly

Like the other video tutorial cgmasters did, this Ninja Character Creation tutorial video is available in 2 forms, as a physical DVD and as downloadable content. I downloaded the files of the tutorial and although a very large download that will take a while even on highspeed connections, the download was reliable and highspeed. Your mileage may vary with large downloads such as this, so if you are not sure go with the DVD. Both the downloadable files and the DVD have identical content.

It is important to note that this is Volume 1 of a proposed 4 Volume set of video tutorials. The 1st volume covers all the processes involved in modeling a ninja character from the ground up at least as far as creating and modeling its mesh geometry. The other aspects of making a production ready character, texturing, rigging and animating will be covered in future volumes.

The video tutorials are viewable either through a web browser interface that indexes and describes the videos available or you can view the video files directly using whatever media player you want so long as it supports mp4 video file format (vlc is provided). The visual encoding quality of the videos is very high so you should not have any problems at all viewing the videos and seeing what is being done in the videos. Throughout the tutorials important keyboard shortcuts are displayed on screen so it was always possible to find out what was being pressed on the keyboard. Lee also talks almost constantly throughout the videos describing what he is doing and why, making it very easy to follow. Another helpful thing was that periodically time stamped blender file names would be displayed on screen indicating that the Blender file for that time position in the video tutorial is provided in the files, great time saver if you don't want to follow along with every step.

The videos are split among 14 Chapters, most of the chapters split into multiple parts, making it easier to take in all the information in more manageable chunks, the longest part of a video is 37 minutes, so finding the time to work your way through the all the videos should be easier.

Chapter Sections:

        Bonus Chapter 1 — Welcome to Blender 2.5 — (Runtime 14Min 55Sec)
        Bonus Chapter 2 — Mesh Editing And Edge Loops — (Runtime 21Min 43Sec)

        Chapter 1 — The Face — (Runtime 30Min 58Sec)

        Chapter 2 — Part 1 — Blocking The Mask — (Runtime 24Min 15Sec)
        Chapter 2 — Part 2 — Detailing The Mask — (Runtime 21Min 15Sec)
        Chapter 2 — Part 3 — Mask Tie — (Runtime 15Min 25Sec)
        Chapter 2 — Part 4 — Modeling Hair — (Runtime 6Min 11Sec)

        Chapter 3 — Part 1 — Modeling The Torso — (Runtime 24Min 34Sec)
        Chapter 3 — Part 2 — Detailing The Torso — (Runtime 15Min 52Sec)

        Chapter 4 — Modeling The Arms — (Runtime 19Min 4Sec)

        Chapter 5 — Modeling The Hands — (Runtime 37Min 36Sec)

        Chapter 6 — Part 1 — Modeling The Lower Body — (Runtime 24Min 31Sec)
        Chapter 6 — Part 2 — Detailing The Lower Body — (Runtime 17Min 50Sec)

        Chapter 7 — Modeling The Tabi — (Runtime 21Min 36Sec)

        Chapter 8 — Modeling The Crest — (Runtime 22Min)

        Chapter 9 — Part 1 — Upper Body Clips — (Runtime 19Min 48Sec)
        Chapter 9 — Part 2 — Shoulder Armor — (Runtime 7Min 39Sec)
        Chapter 9 — Part 3 — Modeling The Goggles — (Runtime 15Min 50Sec)
        Chapter 9 — Part 4 — Placing Goggles & Strap — (Runtime 15Min 9Sec)

        Chapter 10 — Part 1 — Belt Buckle & Pockets — (Runtime 16Min 5Sec)
        Chapter 10 — Part 2 — Modeling The Sai — (Runtime 19Min 15Sec)

        Chapter 11 — Part 1 — Modeling Of Swords — (Runtime 25Min 23Sec)
        Chapter 11 — Part 2 — Modeling The Sheath — (Runtime 22Min 52Sec)

        Chapter 12 — Posing The Character — (Runtime 21Min 56Sec)

        Chapter 13 — Cloth Simulation — (Runtime 22Min 33Sec)

        Chapter 14 — Part 1 — Platform/Materials/Lights/Camera — (Runtime 28Min 8Sec)
        Chapter 14 — Part 2 — Compositing In The Node Editor — (Runtime 23Min 56Sec)

Having watched all the videos, they are extremely well produced and very easy to follow. Obviously the main focus of the video tutorials is that of mesh modeling, but other topics are covered which aides in the usefulness of the tutorials as a whole. Specifically I found it very useful to have cloth simulation techniques covered as well as ways to pose a model without having to use armatures. Another highlight for me were the 2 Bonus chapters which covered using Blender 2.5 and using various techniques to manipulate meshs, edges and edge loops. They were small chapters but useful. The description of "Loop Derailing" was very informative and it's a new term to me so I will have to add it to my list, it is a very nice technique for faking creases and stretching of mesh geometry. Also the coverage of how to use "Diamond Quads" and Quads shaped like triangles were peppered throughout all the videos and showed just how useful they can be.

The general approach Lee takes to teaching each section is to first start with a less detailed aspect of a model and then in the second part of a tutorial add progressively more and more detail. This technique works very well and at least for me made the tutorials easy to follow.

Personally I think that these tutorials will be of use to almost anyone with an interest in getting skilled at mesh modeling. Beginning Blender users should be able to follow along, while intermediate level Blender users will see some very good examples of how to model a mesh at a professional level and learn some very advanced tricks (weight painting the solidify modifier to alter its effect on the ninja goggles for example).

It is worth remembering that this is only volume 1 of what will be a 4 volume set, if the other volumes are as detailed as this one, I think it will be something to look forward to. At $60 dollars it's not a cheap tutorial but I think it's worth the price. I don't know what the prices of volumes 2 through 4 will be but if they are up to the quality standard of this volume they should be worth it. Now we just have to wait and see how long we have to wait for the next volume in this series.

In summation, great tutorial, well worth the money, cgmasters pulls another one out of the hat, go buy it!"

Link to Original Source
Books

+ - Christopher P - Environment Modeling and Texturing->

Submitted by terrywallwork
terrywallwork (1696588) writes "Recently a new Blender 2.5 training website come into existance, www.cgmasters.net. Run by Lee Salvemini and Christopher Plush, both extremely talented, professional Blender users with lots of experience in big budget productions (Sintel, Yo-Frankie to name just a few of the ones Blender users will know about).

They currently have 2 Blender products available on their website. In this review I will be reviewing their Environment Modeling and Texturing Tutorial Video.

Product Specifications:

        Name: Environment Modeling and Texturing
        Author: Christopher Plush
        Price: $60 (18 Dec 2010)
        Type: Downloadable Tutorial Video
        Length: 14 Hours Roughly

There are two versions of this tutorial video, one comes on a physical DVD and the other is in downloadable form, both are the same price and have exactly the same content. I purchased the downloadable version, it's a very large download, so if you don't have a very fast internet connection I would recommend getting the DVD version.

Once the files are downloaded you can extract their contents and open the files in your web browser. I was using Firefox and running on a Fedora Linux system and everything worked very well for me.

With the tutorial page open you are presented with 12 video sections:

        Chapter 01 — Tool Overview
        Chapter 02 — Modeling the Base Environment
        Chapter 03 — Unwrapping the Environment
        Chapter 04 — Environment Destruction
        Chapter 05 — More Construction
        Chapter 06 — Environment Texturing and Materials
        Chapter 07 — More Texturing and Details
        Chapter 08 — Making the Props
        Chapter 09 — Lighting and World Settings
        Chapter 10 — Light Maps
        Chapter 11 — Final Details
        Chapter 12 — Post Processing Filters and FX

Each video can be played in the embedded flash player presented on the webpage, and here is the first minor problem I encountered. For some reason the flash video player plays the videos at a lower resolution than they are actually encoded at. As a result if you use the flash player that's embedded in the webpage to play the videos at fullscreen they are very unclear to view. Fortunately it is possible to play the full higher resolution versions of the videos and when you do they are very well encoded and very easy to view.

Each video is a combination of realtime video viewing and time lapse viewing of the texturing and modeling process's involved. Nothing is skipped and everything is recorded in minute detail.

Each tutorial video builds on the previous one, resulting in construction of a very detailed interior barn scene. Which includes creating and texturing all the props contained inside the barn as well as the barn structure itself. The barn is modeled so that it can be used within the Blender Game Engine, but even if you have no interest in the Blender Game Engine at all, the techniques that are demonstrated will allow a modeler to create very detailed looking models, that are very low poly and very memory efficient.

By the time you have finished watching all the videos, you will have seen very good demonstrations of modeling and texturing techniques of a professional level, and you will be able to bake every kind of normal, texture and shadow map known to man and follow along in creating all the items!

The website says that the tutorial videos are aimed at a Intermediate level Blender user, though I feel that everything is explained so well and clearly when needed that even a Blender beginner would be able to get something from these videos. If you are an Intermediate Blender user you will probably also pick up a lot of new tricks and techniques.

Another slight issue I have with the tutorials, is that there is a lot of use of Photoshop and an NVIDIA Normal Map generator. It would have been nice if Gimp and a Gimp Normal Map Generator had been used, as they are open source and obviously available to many more users, and are just as powerful. Fortunately you can pretty much do all the stuff shown in Photoshop in Gimp and the NVIDIA Normal Map generator can be replaced by the Gimp equivalent. So that is why I say it's a very small issue. If you want to use Gimp you can.

I feel their website really undersells the amount of content covered in the videos, their website really would benefit from having a more detailed table of content as to exactly what objects, props and texture are created, the chapter list really doesn't contain enough detail. Still that's the kind of surprise I like, getting more than I was expecting.

These tutorials are very detailed, of a high quality level and are well worth the price in my opinion, if you are interested in game environment creation or just want to use some of the relevant techniques for memory efficient modeling this is a must have Video tutorial.

I will certainly put www.cgmaster.net on my list of sites to keep an eye on! Can't wait to see what they come up with next."

Link to Original Source
Book Reviews

+ - Lance Flavell - Beginning Blender - Ebook Review->

Submitted by terrywallwork
terrywallwork (1696588) writes "Lance Flavell — Beginning Blender — Ebook Review

Lance Flavell and Apress have been busy writing another Blender 2.5 based book. Lance Flavell (known as Lancer in the Blender community) is a very knowledgeable Blender user. So I was very interested to find out about this book when Apress announced its availability.

So off I went and ordered the Ebook version of the book in PDF format.

This is a book aimed at Blender beginners who are using the Blender 2.5x series. It takes the approach of introducing a subject and then giving examples and exercises for the reader to try and carryout and as a result learn how some of Blenders features work.

The pictures in the Ebook version are full color and apparently the paper book version also has full color pictures, which is useful. The pictures in the PDF version, unfortunately often had compression artifacts making them look very pixelated. Luckily most of the time the quality of the pictures was just good enough to get the point across, it's a shame the pictures were slightly below par but the rest of the content of the book is a much better standard.

Chapter 1 — This chapter deals with explaining what Blender is, how it came about and what makes it special when compared with other software. Instructions on how to obtain and install Blender are gone over, not in massive detail but in enough to be usable. Especially interesting was the good description of what opensource is and why it is so important.

Chapter 2 — Covers various beginner topics on using Blender, from interacting with the user interface in various ways to manipulating the 3D Cursor and explaining how it works and what it is used for. Once the basic interface features have been described the chapter moves on to explaining Blenders different types of primitive shapes and how to use them to construct simple models. A very good explanation of how to manipulate various parts of meshes and the interface using both the keyboard shortcuts and the mouse manipulations is explained. Usefully notes on possible issues with shortcut key conflicts with various different operating system platforms are highlighted, which I think would be extremely useful for a beginning Blender user to be aware of, as this can often be a problem users encounter and it's not often obvious how to fix it or that anything is wrong when it happens. At the end of this chapter the reader is given an exercise to make a simple robot model. I found this a good way to re-enforce committing to memory the subjects described previously in the chapter. Another thing I liked was the way that keyboard shortcut keys were almost always used and described, even some of the less well known shortcuts were mentioned.

Chapter 3 — Covers the fundamental topics of modeling in Blender, covering the differences between Object Mode and Edit Mode. There is a very clear explanation of what mesh topology is and how it impacts on the overall quality of a finally produced model. Simple modifiers such as Blenders Mirror Modifier and Subsurface Modifier are demonstrated and their uses enumerated. I was surprised the Sculpting and the use of Multi-Resolution Modifier was covered at this point in the book, I was expecting it later on, none the less it was well laid out and easy to understand and guided the user to sculpt a simple cat model. Another very useful feature of Blender covered in this chapter was Blenders Retopology feature. A lot of new Blender users and even some not so new users tend to not know about the Retopology feature (or only find out what it is much later) and I found it very useful that it was covered so early on within the texts. Another example of providing information that is often left out of beginners books is the description of how to use proxy objects when linking objects from a file in Blender. How to create proxy objects is often overlooked as a feature that is advanced and therefore not normally covered, this is not a mistake this book makes.

Chapter 4 — Covers the topics of Lighting and Procedural Texturing. It also covers setting up the camera for doing renderings and its various settings that affect render sizes. A topic I found helpful was how to setup the Blender camera to track objects and lights. After camera setup is covered the various lighting techniques and types supported by Blender are described, not in massive detail but more that enough for a beginning Blender user. Although to my mind the description of how Hemi lights worked was a little inaccurate, but not in a way that is likely to affect new Blender users. The important lighting parameter Dist: was explained very well as were the Spot Light parameters and their uses. How to setup simple lighting rigs and simple explanations of lighting theory were explained but don't expect advanced coverage of the theory side of lighting rigs, but there is a enough there to start with. Good explanations of what Key, Fill and Rim lights are and how they can be combined and positioned for effective lighting of a scene within Blender is described.

Ambient Occlusion and Environment Lighting is very briefly covered. I would liked to have seen more information on how to use environment lighting features and how useful it can be, but in a book of this size, space is limited and you get enough information to get you started.

Having covered the basic lighting features the chapter moves on to describing procedural texturing. It does this by taking a Text object and converting it and applying textures to it, in the form of bump maps and color textures. Applying multiple textures to a material is described and demonstrated on the text object. It was easy to follow and showed just how powerful Blender material and texture system can be.

Chapter 5 — Covers texturing using UV Mapping techniques and the steps involved in preparing textures for modification in external applications such as The GIMP. The description of how to use the Uv Image Editor to unwrap mesh objects is clear and useful. Surprisingly Projection Painting is described, as are texture brushes and how to use them. Another highlight of this chapter was the description of the difference between Bump and Normal Mapping, very informative, as often the distinction is not clear. Also very educational was the description of how Normal maps can be made manually. For those that want to use Blenders ability to create Normal Maps automatically this is also covered. I also really appreciated the section on ways to fix common normal map problems when they are baked, lots of people may benefit from this information not just beginners.

Chapter 6 — Covers Curves, Nurbs and MetaBalls. While curve are often documented in Blender books and tutorials, Nurbs and MetaBalls are much less frequently documented. This is a shame as Nurbs and MetaBalls have features that when used in the right situations can be very useful. The description of how MetaBalls and Nurbs work was not the clearest and it took me a couple of re-reads to get to grips with the information, even so still a useful section. Another small problem with this section is that the text refers to fields and parameter names that have been changed in recent version of Blender, so the names the book gave for parameters do not match, which may be slightly confusing to new users. The coverage of 3D Curves, Bevel Objects and Taper Objects were very clear and I think will be very informative for new user, even not so new users. It's a shame this book was not released a month later as it would have been able to cover RotoBeziers addon which allows for keyframed animated curves, but as it was still a very useful chapter.

Chapter 7 — Goes over basic animation and rigging techniques as well as covering the standard terminology and methodology involved in rigging and animation. The explanation of keyframing both what it is and how to do it within Blender were clear and to the point. Time saving features such as auto-keyframing were noted and their use demonstrated. A simple animation is constructed using a monkey model. The uses for the Graph Editor and Dopesheet are documented, here though I do wish more information had been given as to the differences between what the graph editor is used for and what the Dopesheet is used for. The various bone types and weighting methods are described and each is demonstrated in various ways. Though strangely Blender Auto/Heat Weighting method did not appear to be described, I could have just missed it but if not I do find that very strange.

Chapter 8 — Carries on where things left off in Chapter 7, but this time covering more advanced rigging topics such as what FK and IK is, what Control Bones and Bone Layers are and how and why they are used and the differences between them. A demonstration of how to rig a finger and a leg are gone over as are custom bone shapes. Slightly more exotic features such as Pole Targets are used and a good description of why they are useful is also done. Various ways to create both simple and more advanced foot rig designs were gone over. Once the rigging explanations were completed the chapter moves on to the subject of animation and a basic animated walk cycle is created. The section on shapekeys is very useful as shapekey are often a feature that can be difficult to get to grips with. They are used to demonstrate how to do lip syncing on a speaking character. Overall this chapter was better than most other beginners books in showing some of Blender more useful features, very good chapter.

Chapter 9 — Covers how to use Blender in your Movie Making pipeline. Once you get to this point in your Blender education it becomes useful to use the Video Sequence Editor and Compositing Nodes. So this chapter covers the use of the Video Sequence Editor and Node Compositor to make and do the post processing tasks needed to make movies in Blender. How to use Depth Of Field is covered. The various different methods of Greenscreen usage and filtering is gone over, then it is shown how to composite live action footage and CG together and various Video Sequence Editor filters are demonstrated also.

Chapter 10 — Demonstrates how to use Blender Physics, Particle and Hair features. It's a fast moving chapter and quickly goes over each feature very quickly, but generally in enough detail to be useful as a jumping off point to further study. The features are demonstrated by making a simple exploding rocket that animates a model and particle systems. After the particle settings are described the chapter moves on to describing how hair particles work, and a simple wig is constructed using them. Lastly fluid and smoke simulations are covered, again only very briefly but with enough information to be useful.

Chapter 11 — Covers using the game engine to make simple games. Done mainly using Blender Logic Bricks to construct a couple of simple interactive games. The games that result are very good examples of what can be done with the Blender Game Engine. This is a very brief chapter but game creation is very complex and not a lot can be covered in such a short amount of space. But as a taster of what's possible with the Blender Game Engine it's useful to get you started with game creation in Blender.

Chapter 12 — This final chapter connects up various lose ends topics such as where to get further information on Blenders various features and also has an FAQ section answering and fixing the most common problems encountered by new Blender users. The FAQ section to me seemed very useful as the questions answered were definitely the ones that I encountered when I first started using Blender so I would assume they will be useful to other readers.

So on balance this is an excellent book for a Blender beginner, it even had me re-remembering things I had forgotten. This book is a combination of detailed enough to give a Blender user most of the salient information needed to use Blender effectively, and not to difficult as to make it confusing or overwhelming. Personally I think this is currently the best general purpose beginners book to basic Blender 2.5 features so far. Other lesser books would try to cut down on the number of topics covered and probably make a much smaller book but I think this book benefits from the larger amount of pages. It's not a perfect book it does have its problems, such as having badly displayed pictures in places and sometimes not being quite clear enough with explanations of certain sections of the book.

If you're a Blender beginner or an experienced Blender user that is new to 2.5 or a bit rusty, this book will be well worth the money. I really hope Mr Flavell does another Blender book, given the quality of this one."

Link to Original Source
Book Reviews

+ - Blender 2.5 - Lighting and Rendering - Review->

Submitted by terrywallwork
terrywallwork (1696588) writes "It seems to me that recently the rate at which Blender books are being produced has increased (my eyes have certainly noticed, given the amount of reading I have been doing lately). Luckily though just like chocolates and sweet things, you can never have too many books to read as far as Blender goes, this is especially true when it comes to reading about Blender 2.5.

With this in mind, Packt Publishing been busy releasing Blender books again, and this time it's one that covers the subjects of Lighting, Rendering and Texturing using the Blender 2.5 series 3D modeling application.

The first thing to note is that this book is NOT a beginners book. You will be expected to know your way around Blender's interface and know how to carry out basic tasks within Blender 2.5. While the book will explain certain steps in detail relating specifically to rendering and lighting tasks within scenes using Blender 2.5, anything else that is required you will be expected to know how to do yourself, you will be asked to carryout out a task and be expected to know how. Also for those who like to do mesh creation, Mesh Modeling is not covered, so if you want a book to teach you how to create and manipulate geometry and meshes within Blender 2.5, this is not the book for you.

Well now that you know what it doesn't cover, what can you expect of the things that it does cover?

Chapter 1, is mainly a theory chapter, covering a grab bag of different topics and explaining most common types of light rig setups and some coverage of color theory. It won't make you an expert on color theory or light rigs, though it does give enough information to be useful throughout the other parts of the book. Given that it was covering the basics I was surprised to see that it had a nice description of what Chromatic Adaption is. This section of the book (at least the ebook version), is a good example of the quality of the pictures. Full color and very clear, making carrying out tasks very easy while following along. The text is packed with pictures throughout the whole book. This is also where I found the first issue, as there is a downloadable color picture set that I was unable to download from the Packtpub.com website or the cgshark.com website. Hopefully this will be fixed by the time you read this (they normally fix issues like this very quickly).

Chapter 2, after the theory stuff of the first chapter, things move on to a more practical level and the theory described previously is put to use in using light rigs and setting up scenes and render setting. An example tricycle model is used to demonstrate various lighting and material handling features. How to use layers is covered briefly, and it shown how they can be useful for controlling light rigs and light and shadow locations. The descriptions of the various light rigs and how to use them is not exhaustive but is adequate as a jumping off point to go into more detail if you wish to. Throughout the book various external links are referenced if you wish to find out more information.

Chapter 3, moves onto more meaty subjects of Ambient Occlusion, Environment Lighting, Global Illumination and HDRI rendering. For the most part this chapter has good descriptions of most of the settings for Ambient Occlusion and Environment Light, though obviously in a book this size every feature cannot be gone over in massive detail, enough was described of the important features to make this section useful. One bad point was the example HDRI texture which was supposed to be available on the website, was when I tried not available. This meant that the section covering how to setup a HDRI render was not easy to follow. Though luckily there are many HDRI textures available on the web, so it should not be a show stopper and hopefully Packt will fix their website links. Blender 2.5's Indirect Lighting feature was briefly covered although to me it seemed more of an after thought, something thrown in because it was something specific to Blender 2.5, though it could also be because Blenders Indirect Lighting feature is not yet fully featured.

Chapter 4, covers Outdoor Lighting and the various ways to setup lighting rigs, materials and textures, to have semi-realistic outdoor lighting of a scene within Blender 2.5. I say semi-realistic because it would take a lot more book space to cover the many minute details and settings to get something that really looked photo realistic. That said, a good amount of time was taken to cover the different types of shaders and material settings Blender supports and how they can be used to good effect. After having gone over the various settings, things move on to applying what we have been told to the example scene (still the tricycle at this point in the book).

Chapter 5, describes Indoor Lighting and how to setup lighting rigs in ways to simulate light in enclosed spaces, as illuminated by incandescent light. Rather than using the Tricycle as the model to demonstrate things on, in this chapter we move onto a different model of the inside of a diner. Given the complexity of the indoor scene, more complex lighting, texturing and materials features are described and used. Layers and how to use them to control the illumination of various parts of the diner are gone over, and how to use layers to break up a scene in controllable ways is demonstrated. More light types and their settings are covered specially Area, Point and Spotlight Settings, but here it would of been very useful to have gone into greater detail as to the settings that control lights and there uses.

Chapter 6, goes over using UV Mapping and Unwrapping and using this to texture a wine bottle with a label. Also covered are various methods for aligning UV nodes and using UV test grids to determine if a texture is distorted. Once the UV Unwrap has been created the author shows how to export that UV Unwrap from Blender and open it within Gimp so as to create the label for the wine bottle. This is a very simple chapter but is clear and shows the process of texturing in external applications such as GIMP well enough.

Chapter 7, goes into detail on how to organize projects in terms of how to organize resources such as Blend files, textures and scenes in directories, so as to make them easier to manage as projects become more complex. This chapter is somewhat redundant with the small scenes presented in this book but if you do start to make larger things the information should come in useful.

One stand out feature that I was not expecting in this chapter was the coverage of how to use the Material Node Editor to add a label and apply transparency to the wine bottle once it had been unwrapped and the texture had been created. I think this is the first time I have seen the Material Node Editor even mentioned in a book let alone used. It really showed the potential power of the Material Node Editor. The Official Blender documentation on all the Node Editors is appalling but the Material Node Editor and Texture Node Editor documentation is even worse, so the fact that Mr Powell used this method to apply textures is very surprising. Packt/Mr Powell could pretty much name their price for a book that properly documents how to use the Texture Nodes and Material Nodes in Blender in detail. Also standard Compositing Node Editor usage was briefly covered to demonstrate how to add a Depth Of Field effect to the diner scene.

Chapter 8, takes the content of previous chapters on indoor and outdoor lighting and uses the information to light a scene which has both indoor and outdoor lighting characteristics, going over some of the approaches and tricks that can be used to give effective lighting to a porch type room. This is an extremely short chapter, it's only real purpose is to tie together indoor and outdoor lighting techniques.

Chapter 9, takes the previously introduced porch room and using a reference picture demonstrates how to texture the entire room. This sounds as if it would be very involved and large chapter, though unfortunately this chapter is merely a click this button, select this option type of chapter very little explanation as to the different ways it could be textured or the reasons options are selected the way they are is covered in any great detail. This is a shame as this chapter had the potential to draw together all the other chapters and be a great learning and explanation chapter, opportunity missed.

In theory this book sounds great, a Blender 2.5 specific book which covers the theory and practical side of texturing and lighting scenes within Blender. So far at least it's the only book specifically dedicated to this area of 3D. In practice though the book bites off more than it can chew. It's not a book for Blender beginners but what it does cover is not detailed enough or up to the level an intermediate/professional Blender user would require. If you have seen other books of 3D rendering and lighting they are considerably more dense and page heavy than this book. Combinations of not having enough pages and not covering the material they do have at a level high enough for professional users makes it neither one thing or the other. The things they do cover they cover clearly and with good pictures, but this book really would have been better aimed at beginners. However because it doesn't go over how to use the basics of Blender it will be hard for a true Blender beginner to follow it.

The price of the book is £16.99, and at the moment there is 50% off the book giving it a price of £8.50, which is a great price, so if you get it while this special offer is still active it's a good deal. Given the price and the fact that it is Blender 2.5 specific this is the reason it got the review score it did. Had it been more expensive it would have gotten a lower score also the coverage of the Material Node Editor Helped the score also.

In the end this a book that doesn't know who it's aiming at."

Link to Original Source
Book Reviews

+ - Packt New Blender 3D Book - Ebook Review->

Submitted by terrywallwork
terrywallwork (1696588) writes "A while back I received an email from the people at Packt publishing telling me of a new book they had just put out, and since any email the mentions the possibility of being able to read new Blender books instantly gets my attention, I clicked the link and was presented with a web page detailing a book called "Blender 3D 2.49 — Architecture, Buildings and Scenery".

This was confusing as I remember having reviewed a book with almost the same title and identical cover picture. So I went to my reviews and checked and sure enough I found a review with the same book cover and almost the same title. So I deleted the email and just put it down to an automated email snafu. Unfortunately I should not have been so quick with the delete button as it turned out to be an updated version of the previous book they put out.

Product Specifications:

* Name: Blender 3D 2.49 — Architecture, Buildings and Scenery

* Author: Allan Brito

* Price: £18.69 (Sept 21 2010 from Packt)

* Type: EBook PDF Format

* Pages: 376 (336 Roughly Useful)

So a little bit late here are my thoughts on Blender 3D 2.49 — Architecture, Buildings and Scenery:

For those that do not know architectural visualization is the technique of modeling the exterior and interior parts of a building so a potential client can see what it looks like (usually before it is constructed). In the old days before 3D, this would be done using an artists painting/drawing or someone would have constructed a model out of wood or card, now that all this kind of modeling is done on computers, this book covers the processes involved in visualization using Blender 3D 2.49.

This book is written by Allan Brito, who is a very skilled modeler and user of Blender 3D and has written multiple books on using Blender for various tasks. He has a very popular website that covers all aspects of architectural modeling (http://www.blender3darchitect.com). Mr Brito is very skilled at both the topics of Blender and Architectural Visualization.

Knowing all the above how does the updated book do in explaining the process of using Blender 3D to do Architectural Visualization? The short answer is very well given the page count.

The book starts by guiding the user through the basic but most important features of Blender, so as to allow a person that has never used Blender to get their feet. Covering the Blender interface and the basic ways of interacting with objects and meshes in Blender. To further help with this many pictures are used that for the most part are very clear and really help in getting across how to carryout particular tasks.

On a side note about the pictures: Some of you may remember that in the older version of this ebook the pictures were all in color, while in this newer updated version, most of the pictures in the ebook version are in grayscale? This was not intentional and having contacted the people at Packt, they say it's a mistake and are investigating. So they will probably fix that issue soon, then you will be able to re-download the book from Packt. So I am assuming in this review that the correction gets carried out. In any event even with the grayscaled pictures they are still useful and it is still possible to follow along using the pictures, it doesn't get in the way of using the book.

One thing that really stood out in this getting started section was the explanation of the Active Window concept, as I don't often see that described users are normally just left to figure that out, it was good Mr Brito took the time. Chapter 1 through 3 cover most of the basics of using Blender.

At Chapter 4 with the basic Blender tutorial chapters out of the way is when we start to use what we have learned to do Architectural Visualization tasks. Also scattered throughout the book are sections which cover the theories and fundamental concepts of Architectural Visualization. They help in explaining why certain things are done the way they are and how they are different from more traditional ways of doing 3D modeling.

A good amount of text is given over to using Blender to do precision modeling using the 3D grid and various snapping and 3D Cursor techniques. Which is useful for a lot of different Blender tasks not just Architectural Visualizations. Coverage of what layers are used for in Blender and how to use them was also present, a useful section on using layers for backups when doing complicated modeling changes was used in the book to show their usefulness.

Throughout the text different pieces of furniture and building elements are constructed, while introducing the user to different features of Blender at the same time. Various modifiers are explained that are deemed useful for Architectural Visualization, such as the mirror modifier and the array modifier. An informative section of the text goes over the process involved in making rounded corners for building walls using Blenders spin tool. As well as showing you have to construct items yourself, a discussion of when and how to use other peoples models is detailed, and various links to useful sources for models are provided. A nice clear explanation of edge loops and control loops was given helping new users when it comes to using the Subsurf Modifier and constructing object from scratch, even though the book is not really trying to teach you all the modeling fundamentals.

Importing models was covered and here although it gives you just enough information to import a DXF file and modify it for use within Blender, here I think more time should have been taken to describe more of the importing features and the various scripts and techniques used for cleaning and importing the varied import formats that Blender supports. Although hopefully this section of the book should give you enough information to find out the rest of it on your own, it's an important topic and needed more time as lots of things can and do go wrong when importing models from other formats that are not native to Blender.

Once the book has gone over how to create some simple objects it moves on to showing how use materials, textures and UV mapping over the next 3 chapters, giving enough information to do basic materials and texturing work for an Architectural Visualization project, even covering how to use Radiosity in later chapters. Though baking of textures is not covered in any detail. The sections on UV Unwrapping were clear and I think a new Blender user would have had no problems understanding them. UV Unwrapping is often a difficult subject to describe in a book especially describing seams, but the book does it well. There is the odd technical mistake about pinning preventing you from moving UV Unwrapped Nodes but its not a big issue, and it arguable depending on how you read it weather it's wrong at all. Thankfully there are very few problems like that in the book. Another advantage of this updated book is that a lot of the bad grammar and mistakes have been removed and for a book with over 300 pages there are not many typos.

In Chapter 10, Lighting is covered and this is a highlight (no pun) of the book. The descriptions of the different types of lights in Blender and their uses for Architectural Visualization is very detailed, going over both theory and practice on how to use them within Blender. Although its a small thing I thought the description of the Dist: parameter for lighting was one of the best I have read from a Blender book. I found out things even I didn't know about Dist. As a final test of all the things learned in the lighting section a demonstration of how to light a Solarium is used show the uses of various lighting types, which I think would be useful.

The more exotic lighting techniques are covered in chapter 11, those being Radiosity and Ambient Occlusion. Given the Blender 2.4x series doesn't have fully fledged global illumination (yet), the coverage of radiosity is welcome as there will be times where it comes in useful, even if it is being phased out slowly. More useful was the text on Ambient Occlusion and its various uses and options to bring a rendered scene to a new level of realism. The only real criticism I have of this section was that baking was not covered and being able to bake Occlusion is very useful, but other than that a good chapter.

Chapter 12 covers how to use external render Yafaray with Blender to produce globally illuminated scenes. Some of Yafaray's most important options as regards setting up Blender materials to be used in Yafaray are covered, and a good description of the different techniques that Yafaray uses to render a realistic 3D scene are described in some detail. Though obviously in a book this size an in-depth treatment of Yafaray could not be done, but enough information to get you started with Yafaray and Blender is given.

Chapter 13 introduces animation and Blenders Game Engine and shows the reader how to integrate models and scenes into Blender's animation system. The process of creating basic animatics and renderable animations is covered, as is how to take those animations and make them into a playable movie file. Blender IPO curves and NLA editor are covered briefly showing how they are used and how they can modify the timing of animations. Lastly on the animation side of things Blender Game Engine is used to make an interactive animation which allows the user to navigate around a 3D scene using the keyboard, so as to explore a building model. Although coverage of Blender Game Engine was very brief, it gave enough information to allow someone who has never used it to make a walk-through using it. Even though it was a small section it does give Blender a unique feature that other systems don't generally have.

Chapter 14, moves outside of Blender and covers how to use the Gimp application to carry out certain post production tasks such as color balancing and correcting hypothetical errors which could be introduced in to render. While Post Processing in Gimp is very useful and often needed, I do think that attention should have been put on Blender's Node editor as at least for color correcting Blender's Node editor is the more Blender centric way to do things. Still the coverage of GIMP was clear, someone who has little experience with Gimp will have no problem following along.

Chapter 15 is the final chapter and is a new chapter that didn't exist in the older version of this book. It covers some of the changes that will be coming when the Blender 2.5x series is stable and finally released. The chapter does not go into any great detail on using the newer version of Blender other than describing how to reorganize its interface. No attempt is made to actually build anything using it. This is probably just as well because since this part of the book was written the Blender 2.5 series has moved on quiet a bit and a lot of the information written about it would be out of date. Even so it does serve as a heads up on what to expect when the new version of Blender is released.

Overall this has been a good book. It won't make you an expert in any of the areas it covers, but it doesn't try to. It gives you enough information to get tasks done. The previous version of this book was littered with grammatical errors and some repeating sections, thankfully this updated version does not suffer from either of those problems and is a very useful book.

Review Score 75%"

Link to Original Source
Books

+ - Blender 2.49 Scripting - Book Review

Submitted by terrywallwork
terrywallwork (1696588) writes "Michel Anders — Blender 2.49 Scripting — eBook

A few days ago I received an email from Packt Publishing informing me of their new Blender 2.49 Scripting book. I was very interested in reading this book as there are very few Blender books that cover the scripting aspect of Blender 2.49 and Python. So I navigated my way to the packt publishing website and ordered myself the ebook version. They were having a special at the time and I ended up getting a full color ebook for less than £9. If nothing else the price is extremely impressive.

        * Product Specifications:
        * Name : Blender 2.49 Scripting
        * Price : £16.99 (on 11th April 2010)
        * Pages : 292 (roughly)
        * Format : eBook

The author is Michel Anders, known as varkenvarken on Blender Artists forum. He is an extremely talented Blender Python scripter and has written many very useful scripts for Blender. Knowing who is behind this book explains a lot about the way this books is constructed.

The teaching approach taken, is to present a series of tasks that need to be achieved and then present sections of scripts that demonstrate the most important concepts and Blender Python code, to allow the tasks to be carried out.

At the beginning of the book a basic explanation of some of the terms and concepts are gone over and a few very simple Blender python commands are demonstrated to do the equivalent of a Blender Hello World script. This beginning part of the book is the only part that really can be classed as beginner level, everything after this has a much steeper learning curve.

Many of the scripts written by Michel are very technically advanced scripts, the same also holds true for this book. Most of the scripts and techniques described within require a very good level of understanding. I debated with myself as to weather it is an Intermediate/Advanced level book, but one thing is certain, if you are a beginning Blender user and your Python knowledge is beginner level, you will struggle to get much from Michel's latest work. I think that to get anything out of this material a very good understanding of Python, Blender and Mathematics (especially vector math and 3D related mathematics) will be required.

Assuming you have the requisite knowledge all the bases of using Blender through Python scripting are covered, for example, setting up materials, ipo manipulation, texture setting, texture nodes and so on. But again very simple things are not covered. To me it seems that it is assumed that you will just read the Blender Python API docs for the very simple things such as how to do rotations and scaling on objects, deleting and adding vertices, etc. You will have to be prepared to get a lot of information from the scripts supplied rather than be spoon fed information.

So if you are very knowledgeable with Blender and Python you will likely find that this book is very handy as it covers ways of scripting and leveraging Blender Python scripting to do some very clever things. I do think it would have been very helpful to have a less steep learning curve but that's a matter of my personal taste.

I am not a Python expert and so this has probably affected my ability to properly appreciate this book, that said I can see that a lot of time and effort has gone into putting this book together, especially given thw fact the Python scripting books for Blender are so few and far between.

It probably hasn't escape most Blender users notice that Blender 2.5 is now currently in Alpha state and it uses completely different scripting model, so stuff learned in this book unfortunately won't transfer to Blender 2.5, as it uses Python 3 and has a completely different API structure.

This book would of been much more relevant if it have been released a year or 2 earlier. Still if you're used Blender 2.49 and need an advanced Blender scripting book, you now have one to read.

I really hope Michel does a Blender 2.6 version when it comes out, and maybe makes it slightly more targeted at beginners and experts, so my head doesn't hurt quite so much.

Excluding the fact that I am not smart enough to fully get this book, excellent work Michel.

Review Score 75%"
Book Reviews

+ - Blender 3D Incredible Machines

Submitted by
terrywallwork
terrywallwork writes "Things have been moving along lately on the Blender 3d book front, a friend of mine informed me that Allan Brito released a new book called:

I had previously reviewed one of Allan Brito's other books "Blender 3D — Architecture, Buildings and Scenery", which covered the Architectural Visualisation side of using Blender 3D.

This new book takes a very different approach to teaching the use of Blender 2.49. It does this by taking the reader through the modelling, texturing and lighting of 3 different objects, those objects being: a futuristic gun, a futuristic spaceship (steampunk styled) and finally a robot.

The introduction in the book states that the reader requires no previous experience of Blender to make use of the book. However further on in the book it is said that the book is not a beginners book and that many things will not be described in detail as the reader is expected to know the basics of how to use Blender in terms of its interface and various buttons and keypresses. After having read the entire book I would say that a beginning Blender user would be able to understand most of the book as most of the time things such as key presses and the basics of how to use Blender are explained in a way a new user to Blender would be able to follow.

The book is organised so as to be read from cover to cover and slowly progress from easy tasks to harder tasks. If you have some intermediate experience with Blender then I think the progression is well graded and will help the reader to quickly progress through the book. If you are a complete beginner some sections of the text will get a little confusing at times but with a bit of re-reading they should be understandable.

One thing that I did notice right away was the awful grammar of the text. This is most likely because English is not Allan Brito native language. Sometimes the grammar issues get in the way of understanding what task he is trying to accomplish. This does not happen often but I did find myself re-reading paragraphs to get his meaning. Now it is important to point out that I am not blaming Mr Brito for the grammar issue, the editors of the book however should have a serious talking to.

I bought the ebook version and that is what I am using to base this review on, this caused me a slight problem because the ebook mentioned some resources and graphics that were available to download from the Packt site, however on going to site the resources are not available for download (yet). As luck would have it though the EBook PDF file had good screen shots and so I was able to copy the resources directly from my PDF reader. Hopefully the site will be updated to have the resources available from the book.
I am also pleased that packt publishing has removed password protection and you can copy and select parts out of the ebook. They do however plaster your address on every page border which is irksome and if i was a pirate I could remove it easily but still they are heading in the right direction.

The book tries to present the production of the various objects in a way that is similar to how it would be done in a real production studio. While this may help give a glimpse to Blender newbies about how things are done in a real studio, to be honest those that know more than the basics will know that a lot of steps are missing that would be in a real studio setup.

With a few glaring exceptions most of the vital areas of Blender are covered in just enough detail for the information to be useful to a beginner and a memory jogger for a Blender user with some experience. Notable things that were missing from the book were any kind of use of Blender Compositing features, while this is surprising given the aim of the book, there was really no choice given the page count.

Given what was just said above, what was surprising was some of the topics that were covered, specifically the use of external renders such as Yaf(a)Ray and LuxRender. The book goes into a fair bit of detail on setting up Blender so as to use the external renderers. You won't be a Yaf(a)Ray or LuxRender guru but it gives enough to get you going. I am a Linux Fedora user and had to compile my version of the Renders from source and the book does not cover this, so if you in this position you are out of luck. There is a nice description of progressive renders and how they are different from more tranditional rendering systems.

So all in all this is a passable book, useful for the info on External Renders and as a memory jogger for an experienced Blender user.

A 7 out of 10 from me."

(1) Never draw what you can copy. (2) Never copy what you can trace. (3) Never trace what you can cut out and paste down.

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