03 June 2012

www.cartoonsmart.com - Blender Basics Series 4 - Video Tutorial Review

Periodically I like to check various websites that make Blender tutorials and see if anything new has been produced. Though recently I had overlooked one site, that being www.cartoonsmart.com, as I had checked it periodically many times before and had found that they had not made anything new for an extended period. So I thought that they had either stopped doing Blender tutorials or were waiting for Blender 2.6 to come out and restart them. Anyway turns out I was wrong as I went to the site recently and found 2 new tutorials, It really pays to check often. So belatedly here is a review of one of those tutorials, the other review will likely follow soon as well.

The product I will review today is:

Product Specifications:
  • Name: Blender Basics 4
  • Price: $10
  • Type: Video Tutorial
  • Runtime: 3 Hours

Blender Basics 4 is as the name suggests part of a series of Blender Video tutorials created by cartoonsmart. The previous videos build upto this 4th video tutorial. It covers some of the areas covered in previous video series 1 through 3 but also covers some areas that were not covered in the earlier videos.

The various topics covered within the tutorial according to the cartoonsmart website are:
  • Cloth Physics
  • Force Fields
  • Fur Particles
  • Sequencer
  • Compositing Node
  • Render Layers
  • Approximate Ambient Occlusion
  • Subsurface Scattering
  • UV Mapping
  • Appending Actions and Objects
  • Linking Between Scenes
  • Shrinkwrap Modifier
  • Childof Object Constraint
  • Using the Action Editor and NLA Editor
  • Using Blend Textures
Although this 4th video of the series is a follow on from previous videos, by and large you will still be able to follow along with the newest video because all of the resource files that are needed from previous tutorials are included with this video. So although you would certainly benefit if you have seen the earlier videos, you will not be shut out if you have not seen them.

Given the 3 hour running time of the video, plenty of time is taken to go over the various topics enumerated above and for the most part I found all the descriptions of the various topics and techniques used to carry out tasks very clear and well explained. I almost never had to rewind the video to clear up my understanding of what was being carried out within the video.

My personal standout sections of the tutorial were the coverage of Cloth Physics and the Baking of the Cloth in simulations. At least half the running time of the video is taken up demonstrating various techniques involved in using cloth. Another section that caught my attention was the description of how to use the Node Editor with the Z-Mask feature an often overlooked and not very well understood feature of Blender which can be extremely useful.

After the major Cloth Physics section of the video is completed another major topic is covered, that being fur creation. Like the previous section fur is covered in a clear and precise way which should be more than enough for beginning Blender users to get a good understanding of fur and how to use it. The usual areas of fur creation are covered such as clumping and weight painting and child strands and ramp shading of hair strands, combing etc.

The sections on using the Action Editor and NLA Editor are also very useful to the beginner and although not covered in the same depth they are still useful.

All in all the video does what it says it will do in the topics list, very useful for both beginners and intermediate level Blender users. Intermediate level users will like that way the various topics are brought together and used in combination to produce something at the end, and beginner Blender users will like that fact that each topic is explained clearly and be able to pickup the indivdual processes without having to rewind the video too often.

One thing to be aware of however is that the video download is over 600 megabytes in size, so either have a lot of patience for the download or have a reasonably good internet connection speed. That said I had no problems downloading and hopefully that will be the same for you, and the size is justified given the encoding quality of the video.

A video tutorial well worth having in your collection.

Review Score 85%