03 June 2012

Allan Brito - Blender 3D 2.49 Incredible Machines - Ebook

Things have been moving along lately on the Blender book front, a friend of mine informed me that Allan Brito released a new book called:
  • Blender 3D 2.49 - Incredible Machines
  • Product Specifications: Allan Bito - Blender 3D 2.49 Incredible Machines
  • Price : £15.19 (ebook) (on 1st December 2009)
  • Price : £23.79 (book) (on 1st December 2009)
  • Useful Page Count : 292 (roughly)
  • Format : Book/Ebook

I had previously reviewed one of Allan Brito's other books "Blender 3D - Architecture, Buildings and Scenery", which covered the Architectural Visualisation side of using Blender 3D.

This new book takes a very different approach to teaching the use of Blender 2.49. It does this by taking the reader through the modelling, texturing and lighting of 3 different objects, those objects being: a futuristic gun, a futuristic spaceship (steampunk styled) and finally a robot.

The introduction in the book states that the reader requires no previous experience of Blender to make use of the book. However futher on in the book it is said that the book is not a beginners book and that many things will not be described in detail as the reader is expected to know the basics of how to use Blender in terms of its interface and various buttons and keypresses. After having read the entire book I would say that a beginning Blender user would be able to understand most of the book as most of the time things such as key presses and the basics of how to use Blender are explained in a way a new user to Blender would be able to follow.

The book is organised so as to be read from cover to cover and slowly progress from easy tasks to harder tasks. If you have some intermediate experience with Blender then I think the progression is well graded and will help the reader to quickly progress through the book. If you are a complete beginner some sections of the text will get a little confusing at times but with a bit of re-reading they should be understandable.

One thing that I did notice right away was the awful grammar of the text. This is most likely because English is not Allan Brito native language. Sometimes the grammar issues get in the way of understanding what task he is trying to accomplish. This does not happen often but I did find myself re-reading paragraphs to get his meaning. Now it is important to point out that I am not blaming Mr Brito for the grammar issue, the editors of the book however should have a serious talking to.

I bought the ebook version and that is what I am using to base this review on, this caused me a slight problem because the ebook mentioned some resources and graphics that were available to download from the Packt site, however on going to site the resources are not available for download (yet). As luck would have it though the EBook PDF file had good screen shots and so I was able to copy the resources directly from my PDF reader. Hopefully the site will be updated to have the resouces available from the book.
I am also pleased that packt publishing has removed password protection and you can copy and select parts out of the ebook. They do however plaster your address on every page border which is irksome and if i was a pirate I could remove it easily but still they are heading in the right direction.

The book tries to present the production of the various objects in a way that is similar to how it would be done in a real production studio. While this may help give a glimpse to Blender newbies about how things are done in a real studio, to be honest those that know more than the basics will know that a lot of steps are missing that would be in a real studio setup.

With a few glaring exceptions most of the vital areas of Blender are covered in just enough detail for the information to be useful to a beginner and a memory jogger for a Blender user with some experience. Notable things that were missing from the book were any kind of use of Blender Compositing features, while this is surprising given the aim of the book, there was really no choice given the page count.

Given what was just said above, what was surprising was some of the topics that were covered, specifically the use of external renders such as Yaf(a)Ray and LuxRender. The book goes into a fair bit of detail on setting up Blender so as to use the external renderers. You won't be a Yaf(a)Ray or LuxRender guru but it gives enough to get you going. I am a Linux Fedora user and had to compile my version of the Renders from source and the book does not cover this, so if you in this position you are out of luck. There is a nice description of progressive renders and how they are different from more tranditional rendering systems.

So all in all this is a passable book, useful for the info on External Renders and as a memory jogger for an experienced Blender user.

Review Score 65%