11/06/2011

The Official Blender 2.3 Guide: Free 3D Creation Suite for Modeling, Animation, and Rendering Review

The Official Blender 2.3 Guide: Free 3D Creation Suite for Modeling, Animation, and Rendering
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Blender is the most powerful 3D modeling and design program I've had the fortune of using. NOt being able to afford to spend thousands, the price is fantastic. But it's really hard to get rolling on it without good documentation, since the interface is far from intuitive or easy to grasp--it's unlike anything you've ever seen. A manual is really a basic.
Fortunately, the 2.3 guide provides everything you need to not only get started, but learn how to understand the software and figure out how to do more advanced things on your own. Most astounding about this is that the book was written along the same lines as the software--through an open source, community effort.
Just about every instruction is illustrated and walks you through the maze of control panels, menus and tabs. Instructions are explicit and specific (for the most part), and explain just enough to let you know what you're doing (for the most part) without burying you in details. Yes, it has some weird grammar at points, weird typos in various places, and sentences that seem like they came out of babelfish in a few more. Yes, the tone shifts from basic "make a box. click on the little handle dohickey and drag (click and pull the mouse)" in some chapters to three pages of derivatives and formulas for calculating and understanding light falloff ratios that assume advanced expertise in understanding computer graphics programming. Overall, however, it's a very good read, a very good how-to guide.
Before I had it, it took me three weeks to model a stage and a set I've been designing. After reading it, i started from scratch and built the same scene in 1 hour, fixed all my lighting problems in just a few minutes, and got into applying textures and rendering in just an hour more. Great timesaver--now I don't feel like I should really be looking at Maya.

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Blender is the first and only fully-integrated 3D graphics creation suite allowing modeling, animation, rendering, post-production, and realtime interactive 3D with cross-platform compatibility--all for free. Originally developed by Not a Number (NaN) as a commercial product, Blender has since been released as free software, with the sources available under GNU GPL. The Official Blender 2.3 Guide is an introduction to the sometimes complicated Blender interface and a complete guide to everything that Blender can do. Written by the designers who created and currently maintain Blender, the book covers methods of designing models, materials, and light; rendering 3D scenes; creating 3D animations; as well as advanced topics such as using Blender as a video editor. Includes a 4-color insert and a CD-ROM containing Blender for all platforms.


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