03 June 2012

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings and Scenery - Chapter 2 of 14 Review

Before I get started in reviewing the rest of the chapters from B3D ABS, I want to have a rant about the overall quality of this book.

My first complaint is that the grammar used in this book is awful. I didn't really notice it in the 1st chapter of the book, but pretty much all the chapters after that were loaded with strange grammatical errors. I don't mean punctuation, as much as I do just wrongly worded/words in the wrong order in the book. Now I know that Allan Brito's native language is not English so he can be forgiven for being lose with the English language. However the publisher and editors that should support (i.e. the Packt Publishing team) Brito by finding and correcting these kind of issue for him, are not doing their jobs correctly.

The proofreaders that were supposed to have proofread this book (Dirk Manuel, Chris Smith); as far as I can tell did no such thing. As no proofreader would leave so many errors in a text. This is what makes the following paragraphs at the back of the book even more comical:

"We welcome all inquiries from people who are interested in authoring. Book proposals should be sent to authors@packtpub.com. If your book idea is still at an early stage and you would like to discuss it first before writing a formal book proposal, contact us; one of our commissioning editors will get in touch with you.

We're not just looking for published authors; if you have strong technical skills but no writing experience, our experienced editors can help you develop a writing career, or simply get some additional reward for your expertise."

There definition of experienced editors leaves something to be desired, if this books is anything to go by.

My second complaint is that most of the text and pictures within this book covered the older version of Blender (2.45) and not the newer 2.46 version. Now I was prepared to put this down to the fact that the book had been printed before 2.46 had come out, and leave it at that, I mean it happens. However on getting through the book I find there is a 2.46 specific section in it. This being the case why was it not possible to make the rest of the book 2.46 specific as the svn and graphicall.org build versions of 2.46/2.45 rinky releases have been around for a long time.

It seems to me that it is very lazy to use old screenshots which no longer match up to the way Blender 2.46 now is. Especially as some of the options and settings that have changed are important.

My third complaint is that at the end of chapter 1, a picture is shown of a ray traced table the implication being that using this book we will be modelling such a table. No such table is ever modelled in this book and certainly anything that is modelled is not modelled to that sort of quality.

The book from the beginning chapters gives the impression that you will be building entire buildings and offices. None of this ever happens. You are left to build partial models and no overall building emerges.

At one point you get to make a floor, window, door and a chair and that is about it as far as object modelling goes. The book doesn't even pull together these individual mode into a whole.

My forth complaint is one that I'm not really sure who to blame so the blame will have to fall to Allan Brito. The complain is that almost constantly throughout the book menus and panels are confused; so often panels that have names are given the title menu. This would be very confusing for a Blender newbie who would start look at the menu bar and not at the panel which is what is really needed.

My fifth complaint is one that I had a feeling would happen; and that is that the book is much too broad and doesn't go into enough depth in most of the chapters to make the information in those chapters useful enough to a professional Architectural Modeller. This is a big problem as it mean that a true Blender Newbie can't use the book very well because it add in a lot of architectural concerns which won't really interest the newbie Blender user. On the other hand a professional Architect wont get enough architectural information and depth from this book for it to be overly useful to them. That's not to say there aren't some useful chapters in the book, it's just that they are spread very thinly.

My sixth complaint is that the person in charge of checking the layout of the book didn't do a very good job as in one place an entire section appears to be repeated twice and numerous times pictures and screenshots were incorrectly placed and indicated to be showing something they were not.

Anyway, all that said lets get on with more chapter reviews....

Blender 3D Architecture, Buildings and Scenery - Chapter 2 of 14 Review

This chapter describes the interface basics of Blender, such as the names of the various bits of the interface. Blender scenes and screens features are given a brief description, with enough information to be able to use them. Having gone through scenes and screen, we are moved onto the various ways in which interface windows can be manipulated in terms of splitting/resizing and closing. The various window types are described and it is shown how to switch between them. The importance of keyboard input is explained and the various uses of Numpad for switching to various viewpoints are described.

Various methods of manipulating objects such as rotation/scaling/selecting and moving objects are explained. How to rename an object is shown, but for reasons only known to the author, using the N key to open the Transformation Properties window to rename objects is not explained.

The Outliner is very well described and most of it's features are described in a fairly detailed ways. Rendering options and the various uses of them are described briefly, as well as the links to the Camera and the rendered scene.

Uses of the 3D cursor and the pivot point are described.

All in all this chapter seems fairly complete.