The author assumes the reader has the familiarity with Zbrush tools and anatomical study to render the majority of this book a redundant exercise. The bulk of the early tutorials simply reference other anatomy tools or books, with an emphasis on describing what should be where, with almost no attention to technique. As a new user of Zbrush, eager to develop my skills and knowledge, this book has been a reliable source of frustration and irritation, particularly at the author's inability to sympathize with someone ignorant of the tools and techniques - the only kind of person likely to use this book.
Not that Ryan Kingslein is entirely undeserving of his hype and status, though. The accompanying assets and videos are fantastic. After slogging through the second chapter, practically pulling my hair out with frustration, watching the video was a breath of clear, fresh air. Which is to say, the text is unclear. Kingslein is obviously more adept at video tutorials and describing anatomical structures than conveying remotely helpful instructions through writing. I have no doubt that he is a wonderful instructor IN PERSON, but this book is simply not helpful or an effective resource for someone wanting to learn. If that seems contradictory, consider again who would make the most use of this book. Probably someone who DIDN'T already have full comprehension of the topics covered. Providing the assets to "play along" piecemeal, comparing the pupil's models to Kingslein's, only serves to illustrate how profoundly the text of this book fails as a comprehensive educational tool.
I would not recommend this book to anyone. If you are, like me, familiar with 3D content creation but new to Zbrush, there are better, more comprehensive tutorials out there. By all means, look for Ryan Kingslein videos, just steer clear of this book, the pictures are pretty, but don't expect clear instruction on how to come close to recreating them (which is obviously the entire purpose of the book). Kingslein's dropping the ball is most prevalent in the early chapters, which really should not have even been included. "Get comfortable with key Zbrush 4 tools" is first in the list of expectant outcomes from using this book, but that couldn't be more of an unrealistic expectation. Perhaps the bullet points on the back are actually a list of prerequisites. "Get comfortable with key Zbrush 4 tools (before opening this book)".
I can't imagine who this book would actually benefit, considering the knowledge and familiarity required to make the baby steps, BUT THE BABY STEPS ARE INCLUDED, and supposedly prepare the pupil for later chapters. However, the later chapters practically hold your hand; with step by step instruction, in some cases. That would have been REALLY HANDY in the early chapters, but are sadly, missing. There's another thing to note: In the early modeling and polypainting sessions, Kingslein's base mesh is divided into polygroups, but the instructions for that invaluable step aren't in the book, or even referenced. Polypainting and modeling the legs requires hiding part of the mesh, then revealing the hidden portion and mirroring the changes after you're done sculpting the partially hidden mesh. Again, how to do this, OR EVEN THAT YOU HAVE TO DO THIS, is nowhere to be found in the book. You're just supposed to know this stuff!
I have taken no pleasure searching Pixologic, Google, and better tutorials/books for all the missing instructions, while finding zero insightful needles in this haystack of fetishistic reiterations of anatomical observations from other books and resources, which are needed to make sense of the early chapters. USELESS PIECE OF GARBAGE, THIS BOOK!
Again, if you are at all new to character modeling in Zbrush (the Maya portion also assumes intermediate ability and familiarity for beginner-level activities. Why even include them if the reader must already be well versed in these topics?) and are in need of assistance, education, tutorial, guidance, etc. LOOK ELSEWHERE! It sucks. I hate it. One star for pretty pictures, another star for the accompanying DVD.