Top critical review
One person found this helpful
Not nearly worth the price
on July 13, 2004
This book was assigned for an introductory modeling course that I took at RIT last year. I and all of my (about 35) classmates had major difficulty with it. Our professors got so frustrated with it that they stopped giving us assignments from it within six weeks. If you're an educator, consider the following before giving this book to your class:
The modeling section is unbelievably vague. How do you model the interior of the human ear, or the human torso? Ratner frequently answers both questions (and many others) with, "cut polygons and move points," rarely saying where to cut or what to move. Simple tasks are covered in multiple steps, complex tasks are glanced over. The illustrations are uninformative, often jumping from a rough template to a fully articulated model in one or two steps. Worst, Ratner omits a lot of crucial modeling fundamentals. He never mentions edge-loops, the concept of topology following the contours of form, or the prevailing practice of using mostly quads (in fact, both the patch and subdiv examples are loaded with triangles). Incidentally, the NURBS/patch exercises are incompatible with Maya because of all the triangular patches.
Beyond the modeling section, the book is even less useful. It's not bad, just very incomplete, and what is there is not terribly well-explained. For example, Ratner touches on the principles of animation but gives no tutorials on how to employ them. (The only animation tutorial in the book is a walk cycle, and it's both simplistic and confusing.) Moreover, the example animations from book's accompanying CD are lacking in those fundamentals. Typical of beginners' CG, they show a poor sense of weight, their timing is off, and the characters MOVE, but don't ACT. They're not terrible, but they clearly need work.
Judging from all the glowing reviews, it's obvious that a lot of people disagree with me. Let me clarify what I mean to say about this book: it's not worthless, and it WILL provide someone new to CG with some basic information. However, you can find the same information and much more on any high-end CG website, free, better-written, and with much more detailed tutorials. And, if you want books that go even more in-depth than that, I'd recommend any of the alternatives other reviewers have offered up on this page, especially Richard Williams' definitive text "The Animator's Survival Kit." I would also recommend "Anatomy for the Artist" by Sarah Simblet.