03 June 2012

David Revoy - Blend And Paint - Training DVD Review

The Blender Foundation has been very busy recently putting out DVD Training Videos. This time around the DVD is from David Revoy, an amazing painter and general artistic genius. He has worked on many major projects and to Blender users is probably most well known for his work on the Sintel open movie. Check out his personal website for examples of his work (www.davidrevoy.com), he also has a blog accessible from him website, which is a very informative read.

Product Specifications:
  • Name: Blend & Paint
  • Author: David Revoy
  • Price: €27.50
  • Type: Training DVD
  • Length: 5 Hours 28 Mins (Roughly)
Topics Covered:
  • Intro To Blender 3D Modeling
    • Blender UI
    • Blender Basics
    • Modeling Part 1
    • Modeling Part 2
  • Full WIP - Mission
    • Vehicle Part 1
    • Vehicle Part 2
    • Background
    • Rendering
    • Texturing
    • Render Layers
    • Switch To 2D
    • Color And Blocking Part 1
    • Color And Blocking Part 2
    • Color And Blocking Part 3
    • Gimp Ambiant
    • Mypaint
    • Gimp Finishing
    • WIP Epilogue
  • Bonus - Speed Blend And Paint Projects
    • Vaisseau 3D
    • Vaisseau 2D
    • Secret Passage - Part 1
    • Secret Passage - Part 2
The first thing to mention is that this DVD uses a combination of teaching techniques to get different points across to the viewer. The first technique is that unlike a lot of other training DVDs which are just glorified time lapse videos, this DVD takes the time to explain the methodology and reasoning behind the techniques used within the videos. So you don't just end up watching someone paint/model and sit there wondering why the work is being carried out the way it is. Once the explanations and reasons are done then the videos go into time lapse/realtime mode and periodically captions are displayed to explain things as they progress.

The DVD starts off by first explaining the basic usage of Blender in terms of its interface and how to use it. The same thing also happens with explanations of both Gimp and MyPaint. So if you do want to follow along with David you should be able to do so. Though be aware this is not a beginners DVD, so not every single features he uses will be spelled out for you though I think that a person with moderate experiences of Blender, Gimp and MyPaint should have not difficultly following Davids process. All the software used in the creation of the art work is also provided on the DVD, as are all the resultant created artwork files. Each saved at different stages throughout the video, so you can examine the state of the files, if you do not want to watch through the entire video collection. Though personally given the purpose of the videos, it would be a big waste if you skipped them as they are packed with lot of useful information and technical details.

After the preliminaries of using Blender and its interface are described David then goes over using Blender to model a 3D scene using very simple modeling techniques. The roughly modeled scene is what will be used in later stages of the tutorial and will be used as a guide to be painted over in later parts of the video. Even though David calls it a rough 3D model, rough is relative, because it still a nicely constructed scene, a lot of people would be totally happy if they made such a "rough scene". Just goes to show how good David is as an artist, that his idea of a rough model is what a lot of people would consider a quality model. The scene that is modeled is spit up into different sections. First the main focus of the scene is modeled which is a spaceship model. Then the platform the space is launched from and background buildings and objects of the scene are also modeled.

The modeled scene is then organised into layers using Blenders render layers feature, which later helps with painting and organization of scene layout and details. Once the scene has been split into layers the next stage of the tutorial begins, that of lighting the scene using various methods such as ambient occlusion, environment lighting and sun lamps. A nice amount of time is used in explaining the theory behind render layers and why they are useful, and how they can be used, almost a mini tutorial within the larger DVD tutorial. Davids explanations of how to carryout good lighting tasks are also very clear and easy to understand.
Once the different layers of the modeled scene have been lighted, basic 3D texturing techniques are applied from within Blender to texture the major elements of the scene. Even though it's very basic texturing techniques that are used, they are very effective and later on in the tutorial speed up painting and detailing a significant amount.

At this point the 3D parts of scene preparation are completed and everything moves towards the 2D painting/texturing and color correction side of things, using combination's of various 2D painting applications. If there was one criticism at this point, it was that David creates a 3D Perspective Grid yet does not explain why it is useful or appear to use it very often, so unless you know ahead of time how to use it and why it is useful you may be left wondering why he bothered creating it.

The real meat of the DVD is given over to the 2D processes involved in painting over the scene he created previously in Blender. The techniques he uses are extremely effective and efficient. It's a joy to watch him work and see the painting come together as he works. It is also a really effective way to show how to use gimps layering and blending systems to increase flexibility when painting over a scene. When rough color blocking is completed David moves on to detailing his work in fine detail. As with previous part of the DVD, as he uses various tricks and techniques, he indicates them and explains how and why they are useful.

The end result is a highly detailed painted scene, it,s not photorealistic but then it is not supposed to be, none the less it looks visually stunning.

After the main painted scene is completed there are 2 extra bonus videos which follow the same process as the first main scene and model freighter ship, while the other extra modeling video models a well scene. The bonus videos are very well done though obviously slightly rougher than the fully detailed main scene, though still stunning to look at and just as educational.

I was expecting this DVD to be a time lapse video just showing David paint, but it really is so much more, the combination of good use of captioning and explanations of what he is doing and why really make this DVD stand out. The attention to detail is really impressive. To beat this DVD you would have to work very hard.

The one minor down side to the DVD is that there is a slight technical issue with the production of the DVD when accessing the video files from the HTML interface on Windows machines only. There has been a patch supplied at the Blender E-shop which you can download for free which will fix the issue. Even if you do not apply the patch you will still be able to ignore the HTML interface and access the videos directly from the videos folder on the DVD.

This is an excellent DVD well worth the money, really an example of how to do tutorial DVDs properly, this is the best Blender Foundation DVD so far that I have watched.

Review Score 90%