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Customer Review

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A great effort..., 27 Oct. 2008
This review is from: The Essential Blender: Guide to 3D Creation with the Open Source Suite Blender (Paperback)
I purchased this book quite recently. I am a teacher and I am learning Blender so I can offer it as a no-cost solution to my students who want to learn 3D modelling. I have some experience with Maya previous to this.

I really, really wanted to rate this book more highly- there are a number of really positive features to it, and the aims of the Blender Foundation are laudable and should be supported. However a couple of big irritations stalled me.

First the plus side:

The book is intelligently, humourously written and the editor's bookended comments in particular stand out as amusing and accessible. Also, most of the information covered is presented with sufficient depth to get the new user familiar with most key aspects of Blender.

The commentaries are clear and concise. The theory discussions cover some potentially difficult ideas in a style that grants confidence to attempt using them. The books removes any intimidation a new user might feel.

All of this is good. Finally, the material on the accompanying disc is great (newer Blender is available online but it is unfair to criticise the book for this as Blender's generation cycle is about as lengthy as a fruit fly's!).

What holds the book back from being absolutely essential comes down to a couple of things.

Firstly, the quality of supporting images is appalling. There really is no way to avoid this; greyscale, low contrast images that are on average less than 1.5" across are pretty much useless. This is exacerbated by the fact the text reads as if the writers assumed the images would be in colour, so refer to distinctions that cannot be seen in greyscale (shades of pink for active objects, for example). Even if the option to print in colour was prohibitively costly, some image manipulation to add highlights, arrows, etc. would have fixed this.

Secondly, the book is largely written by contributors, which means in places it has a slightly inconsistent tone, as some take a project-based approach, while some are more general in their application of principles. Also, the quality of the end product varies from chapter to chapter, with the Sculpting chapter monster head being particularly poor (the writer even includes a screenshot of his *second* attempt to show that "another go may well look better"!). This is a shame as it undermines what Blender is capable of- I accept accessibility for newbies is important but this book will be many people's first choice and should be aspirational as well as educational!

So, would I recommend this book? Yes- I enjoyed it, found the discussion sections very useful and the discreet chapters well constructed. Would I work through all of the projects? No. some of them aren't worth it, but the principles can be aplpied to the reader's own work easily. Do I think a second edition is needed? Yes- to address the above, easy fix image isue and have a second pass at the projects and contributions to improve quality and intorduce some of Blender's newer functions. Overall, a great effort and a welcome,but not perfect, primer.
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