Blender For Dummies Paperback – Apr 27 2015
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From the Back Cover
- Create realistic animations with this free, open source software
- Build 3D objects with meshes, curves, and surfaces
- Take advantage of new features, including the incredibly powerful Cycles renderer
Jump into Blender and start animating
Is your head full of images that would be marvelous in motion? Make it happen! This plain-English guide shows you how to use Blender, the open source animation suite that lets you produce professional results. You'll learn to create 3D objects, get them moving with animation and rigging, set the scene with cameras and lighting, and maybe even go pro.
- Become friends with Blenderlearn your way around the interface, understand how the editors work, and use the 3D manipulator
- Make a scenecreate 3D scenes, add objects, work with meshes and modifiers, use curves and surfaces, and set colors
- Add texture and lightexplore texture mapping, paint textures on a mesh, and light your scene
- Get movinguse animation curves, create shape keys, add skeletons to your mesh, and animate with armatures
- Share your stuffexport objects, render scenes, and refine them using Blender's video sequence editor and node-based compositor
Visit the companion website at www.blenderbasics.com for supplemental files and a variety of screencast tutorials that illustrate creating, rigging, lighting, and rendering models.
Open the book and find:
- Help understanding how Blender thinks
- How to use the 3D cursor
- An introduction to digital sculpting in Blender
- Ways to take advantage of modifiers
- Tips on adding text
- Different lamp options for lighting
- Important principles of animation
- Ten great community resources
About the Author
Jason van Gumster has used Blender for over 15 years to produce animations and visual effects. He has spoken and given Blender demonstrations internationally for students, professionals, and hobbyists.
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Top Customer Reviews
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
One other thing: I have no interest in the animation aspects of Blender, so I skipped all of Part III, chapters 10-13. They may be the greatest explanation of Blender animation ever written, or they may be the worst thing since that Battlefield Earth movie.
So here's the good. The book has lots of good information, well presented. Somehow, van Gumster has managed to evade the usual Dummies editors who try to make the text "cute," in a misguided attempt to make it engaging, which actually makes most Dummies books grating and annoying. This book has some of that, but it's not nearly as bad as usual.
The first several chapters are very good indeed, and there were a few places I used stickie-notes to mark areas to refer to as I started using the software; the hot-key explanations in chapter 3 is one example. The lighting chapter, chapter 9, is great. I got a real clue about lighting after reading this.
Okay, now the bad. I have three problems with this book: the index, the illustrations, and how it seems to forget that it's an introductory book in the middle of Part II and tries to be a reference instead, failing in the attempt.
The index. It's terrible. Over and over, I looked things up in the index and they weren't there. I wanted to find out how to do an extrusion. You'd look under "extrusion," or "extrude," right? Nope. Nothing there. I finally found it by flipping through the book; later I realized I could have used the table of contents, where one of the headings included the word "extrusion." I did find it later, as a subheading under "Edit mode". So yeah, if you already know Blender, and say to yourself, "okay, I want to go into edit mode and do some extrusion," then you have a chance in hell of finding which of the 479 pages of text deal with extrusion. But if you already know Blender, you're not going to be reading "Blender for Dummies" in the first place. If you are a beginner, which is the target audience for Dummies books like this, it's hopeless.
“Extrude” is just an example; I ran into this over and over.
The illustrations. Many of the illustrations are illegible. Kudos to van Gumster for using a custom theme to try to make things easier to see, but that’s just not going to work when the illustrations are grayscale and tiny. On pages 214-215 there is a sequence of literally postage-stamp sized comparisons of 10 different shaders. And we’re talking small postage stamps; about one-half square inch each (I measured so I wouldn’t exaggerate here). It’s laughable, they’re completely worthless for the comparison purpose for which they’re included. Many of the illustrations show important information as tiny black text on gray background; or in some cases, dark-gray on medium-gray. The illustrations need to be 1) larger and 2) preferably in color. I realize color would drive up the price of the book, but I think that’s important. I didn’t laugh at any of the attempted jokes in the book, but I did literally laugh out loud at the illustrations on page 193: the color picker, rendered in grayscale. Great.
Now the reference-y bit. Somewhere around chapter 6 or so, with the worst in chapters 7 & 8, van Gumster starts taking a catalog approach. Instead of showing you how to do something, he starts just cataloging options of various operations. We get a paragraph on each of the dozen or so shaders available in Cycles; a list of all the panels in BI’s Material Properties; a list of shaders in BI (that’s the part with the postage stamps). What would have worked for these chapters is just to lay out how to do materials and textures, and then build from that.
And one other thing. I get that van Gumster is very, very good with Blender and probably has a lot of cool Blender-fu, and wants to show that off. But for an introductory book, he would be better off doing more introduction. In the two chapters on rendering (7 on materials and 8 on textures), on the third page, barely into rendering, he diverts into how to use both rendering engines in one scene; something that’s unlikely to be a beginner’s requirement, and, if it needed to be dealt with at all, should have been relegated to the very end.
I say with sadness that I found chapters 7 and 8 to be pretty useless for me due to the catalog-everything approach and the explication of esoteric techniques before the basics.
(I’m starting to sound harsh here. Did I mention I really liked chapter 9, on lighting?)
This book is not going to give you everything you need to be good at Blender. You’re going to want to seek out online tutorials, especially videos on youtube or the like, to fill in gaps. But that’s not a flaw in the book; it’s kind of inherent in Blender, due to its unfamiliar UI, and its complexity and power. Van Gumster anticipates this, and Chapter 18 has a pretty good list of such resources.
Okay, so in conclusion:
1. This is a good book, and I recommend it, subject to the limitations I mentioned above.
2. The index sucks, and in technical books, especially introductory ones, the index should not suck.
3. The illustrations suck, and in books explaining graphic software, the illustrations should not suck.
4. It’s not going to give you everything you need to be good at Blender, but will give you a pretty good start.
5. All in all, a pretty good book; with some specific things that should be fixed for the next edition.
Publisher length constraints make any deeper or wider exploration not possible. I am a very
satisfied first time blenderer (I'm sure that's wrong. Safari wanted 'blunderer'. Perhaps they were right.)
I got up and running from no blender of any kind ever, to building things, importing into Unity, with
materials and textures, because of this guy. Considering links, online supplementals, sure was worth
it for me.
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