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3.8 out of 5 stars
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on October 15, 2003
Peter Ratner did a wonderful job explaining the complex techniques used to create beautiful animation in a simple, easy-to-digest manner. The chapters flow smoothly and follow a logical step-by-step progression that de-mystifies the oftentimes overwhelming results achieved by industry professionals.
His tried-and-true techniques have helped his students secure careers with such noteworthy companies as Blizzard, Pixar, Square, Metrolight Studios, Big Idea, Bethesda Softworks, etc. His former students have worked on Monsters Inc, Toy Story 2, A Bug's Life, Diablo, Warcraft, Starcraft, Total Recall, Final Fantasy, Veggie Tales, Penguins, Pirates of the Caribbean, The Elder Scrolls and many others that are too numerous to list here.
I'm aware of this because I'm currently a senior animation major and have learned the majority of what I know from Mr. Ratner. I feel justified in my praise of his work. His lessons have inspired me to go above and beyond what I thought was possible and will play an integral role in my securying a career in the highly competitive field of computer animation.
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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.
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on October 11, 2003
I've been an animation student for 2 years and this has been the most helpful book on human modeling and animation I have read. My animations have gone from moving puppets to life-like humans thanks to the priniciples taught in this book. The hair tutorial alone makes this book an invaluable resource for animators looking to create realistic models with natural looking and reacting hair. The lighting discussion has improved the visual quality of my renders ten-fold. Buy this book.
Professors: this is THE book to use in teaching both theory AND application of all that is 3D human modeling and animating.
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on May 26, 2003
This book is definitely at the top of my list as one of the most useful 3D texts that I have reviewed. It is so jam packed with information and illustrations that it will probably take me 3 years to go through it. It must have taken the author twice that long to study the complexity involved with computer animation.
I found that Mr. Ratner covers the most popular modeling techniques such as subdivision surface, NURBS, and
spline modeling. He has the reader start modeling simple objects and gradually builds up to humans. After learning how to model, he shows how to rig up humans for animation. Lighting and texturing is also covered.
Details such as making hair, teeth, eyes, etc. are also in the book and make it complete for the beginner and advanced illustrator to take note of his advice. He even includes an anatomy chapter. He must have been a med student at one time or had one of those plastic see through human figure models where you can take out individual organs. Another chapter tells how to make morph targets for facial expressions and dialogue. He tells readers which basic facial morphs are made (about 50) that lets them create thousands of others by blending variations of them. There is a lot of information about animation techniques and principles. The color insert has human model illustrations from well-known artist around the world. This book
has too much in it to do it justice in one little review.
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on October 8, 2003
This guy who claims to have "20 years CG experience" needs to have his head checked for an overblown ego. I only have 4 questions for him:
1. If you're such an expert why do you still need to read student books?
2. If you know so much more than the author, why aren't you writing your own books?
3. Since you claim to have "20 years of CG experience" where can we find your great work?
4. Why won't you at least give us your name and the companies that you worked for so that we can see what you have accomplished?
I get sick and tired of these know it all critics who claim to have all this experience and knowledge but still need to buy a book to get information that they should have been using for years.
I bought this book and really liked it. It helped me a lot in my animation classes. The author knows what he's talking about and his sample animations are clever and illustrate the principles of animations very well. I wish he was teaching at our university because his students, judging from their animations, appear to have learned a great deal from him. I first found out about this author from using his tutorials which are all over the Internet. Just do a search for his name and you will see what I'm talking about.
To all these self proclaimed experts who love to criticize other people's accomplishments I say stop your whining. In other words, Put Up or Shut Up!
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on January 9, 2004
I bought this book after reading all the reviews thinking it would help me finally make a good human character. Sadly it didn't. The section on modeling the simply stuff like the knife and cow are pretty good but when you get to the modeling of a human part it becomes so vague you have to guess at everything and the picture don't even help that much. You start of with the box and make some cuts then all the sudden it says make a general shape of the head with no help at all. He could have atleast showed it lined up with a referance picture. The guy that said the animations were poor on the cd was right. I mean body parts passing through each other is pretty bad. I know they are student animations but come on do you think thats usefully to me? Another thing that bothers me is the cover. Anyone that looks at this would think wow I can make something like that after reading this book but the fact is that model is created by the great Steven Stahlberg who is as far as I'm concerned the best human modeler out there (He should write a book). Look at the cover model by Steven and compare it to Peters enough said.
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on February 29, 2004
Yup, review of books online is a lost cause. How many times have I bought a book which looked interesting and substantial only to end up with sloppy editing, crappy tutorials, poor writing, uninspiring artwork, and a huge dollar sign on its dust jacket that made me lose a quarter of my arm and leg?
More often than once. That was the case with this book.
Lessons learned? Reading reviews online is a tricky affair. Usually, the attacks are personal. They may find the book hogwash but it might just be the right one for you. Others might even have a violent reaction to the book not because it was really a trashy book to begin with but only because the reviewer misses the whole point. Imagine a raffia hobbyist reacting to a book on Javascript for Rocket Scientists and Engineers.
So no matter how advanced information technology has become there is still no better substitute for fondling the physical diomensions of a book in your local bookstore and reading it at length to have a better grasp of its usability. I know it is hard but walking is such a great exercise it will strengthen your cardiac muscles and save you hours of writing acerbic reviews of books which did not meet your expectations.
May I also remind you this book is a rehash of an old material the author has written almost eight years ago. Nothing much has improved. The author obviously is finding a way to resell an old book by coming up with a new cover but the change is clearly a cosmetic one as the contents are still MEDIOCRE.
You are better off buying Jason Osipa's book. I have it and it is brilliant both for beginners and professionals.
And, please, stay away from all Bill Fleming books on modelling and texturing digital characters. His models look so plasticky. With CGI written all over its pixels. I bought them a few years ago when I was still a fresh-faced newbie. Now they are under my bed gathering molds with my old copies of National Geographic.
I hope I helped you save some money. Support your jobless but very talented friends with it.
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on May 27, 2003
The book is everything you'd expect from the title. It shows how to model and animate a human from start to finish. The book progresses much like a class. In fact it has a proposed class schedule on the back, which is also good for those who are learning at home. Goals w/o deadlines are only dreams.
It begins with some simple models to get accustomed modeling until it progresses to actual humans. It uses two different methods. One with surface/patch modeling. the other uses sub-d. He then progresses to teaching animation, with some classical animation principles, morphing targets for the face, boning and rigging a char, even hair and I think a bit of clothes.
What attracts me to the book is the theory behind all the actual instructions. The book devotes a chapter to anatomy, and consequently refers to it in the following chapters, and also addresses the theories behind animation. It tells you why as much as how. It's pretty much a classroom in a book.
That's also the downfall. If you are not willing to study, do not buy this book. It's not a tutorial that shows every single cut to make or point to move or face to extrude. It shows the basics and requires you to use the theory it teaches to adjust your model. If you are completely new to character modelling get Paul steed's book first. This book should be used as a supplement in a classroom, where a teacher would explain some of the details to the student, or by someone willing to research the info. The latter is not at all easy.
Lastly, it does contain nudity. So unfortunately, i wouldn't recommend this to minors. it's really unfortunate cuz many young ppl are starting in this field, and this book could really give them a jump start. hope that helps.
Oh and as far as my opinion, Excellent book. It's the best character modeling resource, i've found thus far, but it is still only a resource. In the end, learning the craft is still reliant on the student.
Also, all reviews displayed here from 2002 back are from the first edition, which I assume is significantly different.
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on June 9, 2004
I had hope for this book; glowing reviews online and (admittedly) the slick cover compelled me to purchase this to learn about human modelling. While it seems to thoroughly touch upon many aspects of modelling techniques and tools and human anatomy, the book's diagrams are not very helpful and often jump steps. For example, the chapter on head modelling using polygons only shows perspective views, omitting the front and side views, and often skips several steps without much explanation as to why particular polygons were created. The rest of the book acts in a very similar fashion. The author's own models don't look particularly aesthetically appealing, as they look like they come straight out of Poser. This doesn't offer much encouragement. ~_~
For more comprehensive modelling and animation techniques, I'd recommend Maestri's "Digital Animation 2." It is much easier to learn from, and its full-color diagrams and easy-to-digest text help with the learning process.
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on June 2, 2003
3D Human Modeling and Animation, 2nd Edition" was easy to follow and has excellent step by step clear and concise ilistrations. The best thing about this book is that it's not software specific so you can follow along with any software package. It's like having a teacher there showing you and explaining every step. I would recommend ("3D Human Modeling and Animation, 2nd Edition") to any person, beginer or advanced, who wants to learn how to modeling the human figure and the principals behind animating it as well. This book has certanily advanced my skills as a modeler and animator.(Special thanks to the author, Peter Ratner, for the great support in answering my emails).
Kassun Majchrzak
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