|The Blender Book|
|publisher||No Starch Press|
|summary||One of the best books around to learn how to use Blender, the free 3D modelling and animation suite from Not A Number.|
What it's aboutThis book was originally published in German as "Das Blender Buch." I was a little wary of picking it up simply because it is a translation of the original. Thankfully, I didn't have to worry, as this translation is very fluid and natural. The topics themselves, however, might be a little dense for the first-time reader and may require several re-readings to get the full meaning.
Blender is a free (as in beer) 3D modelling and animation software package. It was developed internally by Not-A-Number (NaN) for their studio work, but was later released to the general public. Blender is very powerful, and likewise very complex. The Blender Book is a gentle introduction for anyone who is interested not only in getting the most out of Blender, but also for anyone who is curious about 3D graphics.
Chapter by chapterThe book starts off with a general overview of what Blender is, how to get it, and why you would want it in the first place. It then gives a very thorough, non-mathematical synopsis of color, 3D graphics, and animation techniques. Chapter 3 begins the Blender-specific topics with a quick overview of the blender interface, culminating in a simple keyframe animation. Chapter 4 introduces the basics of the Blender interface, with descriptions of the different mouse and keyboard functions that Blender uses. Chapter 5 delves into actually modelling objects in Blender, and Chapters 6 and 7 discuss materials and lighting. Chapters 8 deals with path animation, keyframe animation, interpolation curves (IPO curves), and vertex keys. Chapter 9 is a whole chapter about Inverse Kinematics (IKAs), which have been rather troubling for some Blender users. The chapter begins with tutorials for animating a robot arm, and ends with a skeleton animation of a bottle. Chapter 10 discusses particle animation, animating not only a camp fire, but also a rocket with a smoke trail, and a school of fish.
The last sections of the book deal with putting all these concepts together. Chapter 11 introduces the sequence editor, which allows the user to integrate clips with a pretty sophisticated post-production system. The example described in this chapter is a video titling sequence for a beach vacation in Indonesia. Chapter 12 discusses Python scripting in Blender, and how to use it for your animations and as a function plotter. Chapter 13 is the big reward: rendering. Naturally rendering has been discussed before this point, but this chapter contains all the neat tricks which Blender can do with the final rendering. Chapters 14 and 15 are full-scale, top-to-bottom animation and modelling tutorials, which are very useful for both beginners and experts to see how Blender manages to take a project from concept to completion.
The appendices are very well thought out, including a keyboard reference, tips and tricks, command line arguments, a Blender/Python API reference (Overview of Blender Modules), installation instructions, a glossary, and a listing of what's included on the CD. The index is also quite useful, allowing me on several occasions to find information rather quickly.
The pages of the book are very well laid out, with a 10-page full-color insert for those images that need the added benefit of color. The CD-ROM includes the 1.8 version of Blender (an older version, since as of this review Blender is now up to 2.12), and all the .blend files used in creating the animations. It also includes a gallery of the finished animations.
The upshotI have very few gripes with this book after reading it. The Blender Book was published before the program's 2.x series came out. While little in Blender's human interface has changed, it would be nice to have had an addendum for the changes from 1.8 to 2.x. Also, it would have been nice to have this book in full color, but the cost in doing such would have made this book prohibitively expensive.
The Blender Book is a book that I would give (and have given) to any aspiring 3D artist looking to use Blender. With its rich tutorials and its clear explanations of difficult concepts, The Blender Book is the perfect companion for teaching budding and intermediate 3D artists about this exciting and powerful tool.
- Basics of 3D Graphics
- Quick Start
- Blender Basics
- Modeling Tutorials
- Material Tutorials
- Light, Shadows, and World Tutorials
- Keyframe, Path, Lattice, and Vertex Key Animation Tutorials
- Inverse Kinematics Tutorials
- Getting Small: Particle Animation Tutorials
- The Final Cut: Postproduction
- Python Tutorials
- The Big Reward: Rendering
- Laser Tutorial
- Animating a Torpedo Through A School of Fish
- Keyboard Commands
- Tips, Tricks, and Useful Programs
- Command Line Arguments
- Overview of Blender Modules
- Installing Blender
- What's on the CD?
You can purchase this book at Fatbrain.