So I thought I knew Blender pretty well, with some gaps, of course. Then I got a chance to review Gordon Fisher's "Blender 3D Basics: The complete novice's guide to 3D modeling and animation". In summary, this is a great book and definitely lives up to the billing as the best starter guide for complete newcomers to 3D modeling and animation. Having seen quite a few Blender books, video tutorials, and written documentation, I'd have to say that working through this book is the best first step before going on to other more advanced topics.
I'll even go further and recommend this book to somewhat more experienced Blender users such as myself. Blender isn't exactly easy to learn on your own, so this book is a great way to tackle the initial learning curve.
As an indie game developer, programmer, artist and musician, this book is a great resource both for improving my Blender skills and also for learning some great things about 3D graphics and animation.
Blender's user interface isn't exactly standard. It's famous for driving people nuts and stumping newcomers. Version 2.6 is a vast improvement over the earlier 2.4 versions, but it's still a bit wonky. On the other hand, the user interface is very keyboard oriented, which is just how I like it. There's just the slight problem of learning the keys and enough of the basics to learn the rest on your own. This isn't some cursory review. I actually worked through the first 330 pages of this 430 page book. I plan to work through the rest in the coming weeks, but I thought that I'd share my impressions so far.
The step-by-step approach of the book is great. Just follow the steps and slowly but surely you'll learn how to use Blender. Anyone can do it. There's no artistic talent required, just an eye for detail. The downside of this way of learning is that if you happen to skip a step or do something slightly differently you might find yourself looking at something very different from the screenshots a few steps later. Never fear, the author did a really great job providing a whole bunch of .blend files to load to get you back on track. The whole experience of working through the steps was truly educational for me, as I'm sure it will be for you as well. My only real criticism is that on occasion I felt that I would have liked an explanation of the steps as I was doing them rather than in the "What just happened" section after completing the section.
Technically, this book is pretty good, though it's not perfect. There are a few typos and, strangely, the occasional confusion of RMB and LMB (right mouse button and left mouse button). In Blender you select layers with LMB, but the book instructs you to use the RMB I a few places. Not a big deal, really. Also, a few of the screen shots don't match exactly what I was seeing when working through the steps, but over 95% of the time they were right on. In all cases I was able to work through the steps and follow along.
So who am I, and why am I writing this? Well, I'm Franz Lanzinger and I received a free copy of the book for the purposes of writing a review both here and on my blog franzgameblog dot com. That being said, I'm not a professional reviewer but a veteran independent game developer with a long track record spanning Atari's coinop Crystal Castles (1983), Tengen Ms. Pacman, and Gubble HD. I'm always happy to discover hidden gems such as this book and share my discoveries.
In conclusion this book is awesome. If you're interested in learning the basics of Blender this is a great way to do it.
I've always wanted to tinker with Blender. There's just something about 3D that's always interested me. The ability to create a 3D world and move about in it is just fascinating to me. That being said, it's not as fun as i would have thought. With that in mind, please consider that I come from a development background--not design. I like objects, polymorphism, garbage collection, and debugging code.
Blender 3D Basics delivers a great introduction to Blender. The author walks you through setting up your environment and configuring the IDE and your multitude of views. Coming from an OOP background, I am not comfortable in this environment at all and was overall frustrated to no end with this book. Like a lot of tools, Blender is something you'll need to play with more to truly become comfortable in it. Which is no fault of the authors or the book.
If you want to get a good start into the world of 3D, i would recommend this book as it provides a solid foundation to using Blender. For me, this book was a sign that my place is with a command prompt and a compiler. ;)
The first impressions on reading this book are that is well written. The writer clearly has thought about how to present the reader with projects that provide a smooth learning curve. No details are left out and animation, not just modeling an rendering, is a focal point from page one.
While reading the book you clearly get the feel you are getting somewhere. Many easy to follow steps guide you through subjects like camera work, animating, rendering a final compositing and even touches on that all important point of animation: telling a story. At the end the reader will be able to create a small animated movie (even in anaglyphic 3d!).
It helps of course that for almost every small step sample files are available for download and the pdf version of the ebook is in color, a necessity for books about graphics in my opinion (although the .mobi version read just fine on my Kindle)
Of course there are some things it doesn't cover : character animation, (which is advanced, but something about armatures would have been nice, even for non-character animation), while texturing, especially UV mapping, is only touched upon. Cycles, the new Blender render engine, is only covered as an addendum but that I think is hardly a problem: thousands of fine animations have been made with Blender's internal renderer and thousands will be.
Conclusion: I am impressed. This is an excellent book for Blender novices. Reading this book gives the aspiring Blender animator the biggest chance of actually finishing something instead of leaving the reader with some boring technical experiments.
As a Blender user of over a year's experience and at near enough Intermediate level, and I still managed to learn a heck of a lot from reading through this book. My first foray into Blender was through a free ebook with a similar title, "Blender Basics (4th Edition)" which really did focus on getting you started and up to speed with a few things in Blender. This book on the other hand actually does a great job of taking you much further, and in an almost comparable amount of time.
The biggest thing that really stood out for me is that the author obviously has an artistic and filmmaking background, as opposed to someone who comes from a computing background which is very often the case in the Blender world. This is a massive plus since he adequately covers a great many areas which aren't covered in most Blender books I have read such as: possible applications of Blender and different areas it can be used in, the history of animation and how computer animation grew from it, composition, forward and reverse kinematics, storyboarding and animatics, and it contains a large number of references to online material which is useful in all these areas.
The Blender specific material is very well presented as well, following the typical sequence: try something out (Time for Action), followed by an explanation (What just Happened?). This is in stark contrast to so many books and especially tutorials which just show you how to do something without any explanation as to what you just did. The material is very thorough indeed and should get a complete newbie up to scratch within no time at all.
There are a small number of errors in the book, but they aren't fatal at all and anyone should be able to figure them out and to figure out what to do to rectify them.
I would strongly recommend this book to any beginner who wants to get up to speed quickly. Yes, there are many internet tutorials out there for free, but nothing beats having one good book on the subject to guide you through a number of exercises which will teach you some of the most key areas in Blender you need to know.
I would especially advise buying the ebook directly from Packt's site since you will also gain access to the PDF and EPUB versions included in the price. That said, if it works out cheaper on Amazon for just the Kindle edition, go for it!!
Whilst modelling the boat I've learned loads of tips and tricks, I wouldn't say I'm an expert, far from it but I can finally use Blender and I've struggled with it for a long time. I have found this book much better than any of the tutorials I've tried to follow online. I fully recommend this book.